Pastor's Pen for 05/03/2017He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (Luke 18)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Two men go to church to pray. But only one prayer is heard. Looking at the Pharisee, he looks good from the outside. He lives a good life. He is a moral person. The Pharisee will even tell you how good he is. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ (Luke 18)

Impressive résumé. But God is NOT impressed. The Pharisee's prayer is filled with self-righteousness. This Pharisee has no need for the Savior. All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64) The Lord comes to cut down those who brag and boast of their righteousness. These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage. (Jude 1)

The tax collector prayer is completely different. NO long list of all the great things he has done. The tax collector comes with his sin. He is seeking the mercy of God. The tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Luke 18) Here is the repentant sinner confessing his sin to the Lord. His head is down and he beats his chest in sorrow over his sin. God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses. (Ephesians 2)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1)

Jesus has come for sinners. The tax collector, liar, thief, and idolater. Jesus comes to call sinners to repentance. Jesus has come to take your sins away. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5)

The Word of God goes forth and justifies sinners. Jesus bled and died for you. Your sins are forgiven. The Good News of the Gospel to comfort troubled sinners in their hearts. Peace be with you.

Why does God do this for you? He is merciful. He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3) In Holy Baptism God's mercy is poured over you. Birthing you into the Kingdom of God. God's mercy is all a gift for you to be received by faith.

The Lord fills the hungry up with His mercy. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4) With repentant and humble hearts we can draw near to the throne of grace. In The Lord's Supper sinners fall down on their knee with hearts bowed before God to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. Repentant sinners feasting on forgiveness.

You have received the mercy of God. You are the justified sinner. You now are merciful to your neighbor. Bringing your prayers and petitions to the Lord. Praying for mercy for yourself, your family, church and community. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5) In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Chief of Sinners Though I Be LSB 611:1
Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me,
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine.

Rev. Lance D. Berndt is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church ( in Omaha, NE.