A GOOD MAN AND A BAD MAN
Jesus told a story about a religious leader and a tax collector. The religious leaders in Israel were very good men. They were very careful to obey a long list of rules. Everywhere they went they did good things to show everyone how good they were.
People hated tax collectors. Most tax collectors cheated people. They charged people too much money. They kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors were very bad men.
In Jesus’ story a religious leader and a tax collector went to the temple to pray.
The leader stood in the temple where everyone could see him and looked toward heaven. He prayed like this. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men who do very bad things. I thank you that I am not like this sinful tax collector. Twice a week I refuse to eat so that I can pray to you. I give one tenth of all my money to the temple to serve you. I thank you that I am so good.”
The tax collector stood a long ways away where few people would see him. He was too ashamed to look toward heaven. He prayed to God, too. He said, “God forgive me. I have sinned and hurt you.”
Jesus said that God forgave the tax collector for his sin. But God did not forgive the religious leader’s sin.
The leader thought that God would forgive him because he had done so many good things. But God is holy. He can’t forget about sin until it is punished. No matter how many good things we do, it is never enough to make the bad things right. God cannot allow any sin to go unpunished.
Later, when Jesus died, he was punished for our sins. If we are sorry for our sins and ask God to forgive us, he will forgive us. God can forgive our sins because Jesus was punished for our sins.
tax collector (n)
Present Past Past Participle Future
forget forgot has forgotten will forget
- Why did the religious leaders in Israel do good things?
- Why did the people hate tax collectors?
- What did the religious leader thank God for?
- What did the tax collector say when he prayed to God?
- Whose sin did God forgive?
- Can we ever do enough good things to make the bad things right?
- If we want God to forgive our sins, what must we do?