In-Spite-Of and not Because-Of

October 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Fred Craddock, in his commentary on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), writes, The Pharisee is not a venomous villain and the publican is not generous Joe the bartender or Goldie the good-hearted hooker. Such portrayals belong in cheap novels. If the Pharisee is pictured as a villain and the tax collector as a hero, then each gets what he deserves, there is no surprise of grace and the parable is robbed. In Jesus’ story, what both receive is “in spite of,” not “because of.”  The trap of this parable is to think I am fortunate that I am not like the pharisee.  In doing that, I am actually exactly the same as the pharisee!  But is that not precisely Jesus’ point that we should realize we all need his undeserved mercy?

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