For some strange reason, all three of the College preachers at the Church services I attended yesterday had independently decided to preach on Luke 18:9-14 (The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector).
I guess it’s no great surprise, the passage is a great choice for an evangelistic talk – it resonates with the Australian tall-poppy syndrome and it’s a beautiful piece of story-telling. I love the rich telling of the Pharisee, ‘taking his stand’ before God, while the tax-collector ‘stands far off’ and strikes his chest in grief.
Jesus concluded his parable like this: “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
It’s a warning, and also a promise. And it’s intended for both believers and non-believers in Jesus. It definitely has plenty to say to me at the end of Mission week.
This week we’ve participated in the ministry of glory, so that:
We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2Corinthians 3:18 HCSB)
But Jesus reminds us that we are still humble folk, and at the end of the week, particularly frail and weak and tired.
But it’s also a promise: that the seemingly foolish things we’ve done, the humiliation in the eyes of the world, the frustration of being unheard or misunderstood – it will all be reconciled:
so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7 HCSB)
We are confident of this future because:
He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6 HCSB)
Which means that all our hopes for Mission week are based on Easter – a fact that was right in our faces all week. The main sign at the front of the Springwood Anglican Ministry Centre has this verse as its caption:
… if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith…
But Christ has been raised from the dead.
(1Corinthians 15:14, 20 HCSB)