Unexpected Outcomes

Unexpected Outcomes

Luke 18:9-14
February 4, 2024


All who exalt themselves will be humbled,
but all who humble themselves will be exalted.

from Luke 18:14


No one doubts that God sees things differently than we do, but we often make choices and judgments assuming our values are the same as God's.

Over and over, Jesus reveals God's heart and purposes as being surprisingly different than our own - the surprise is often the value God places on outsiders and people we often look down on.

Some examples from recent sermons from the Gospel of Luke:

  • More rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents than 99 people who do not need repentance - Luke 15
  • The welcome the prodigal son receives from his father upon his return - Luke 15
  • "What is prized by humans is an abomination in the sight of God" - Luke 16:14
  • A Samaritan leper is the only one out of ten that Jesus healed that praises God and returns to thank Jesus - Luke 17:11-19

In Sunday's Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector who go up to the temple to pray. That Pharisee boasts in prayer that he is not like all the other sinners and that he is devout. The tax collector, distancing himself from others in shame, prays, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!"

One is a person who does and says all the "right" things and the other is a notorious sinner.

Unexpectedly, Jesus reveals that God forgave the brokenhearted tax collector who was guilty of innumerable sins and not the self-righteous Pharisee who does so many right things.