A lectionary reflection of mine on the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector has just been published over on Political Theology Today. If you think you’ve seen it before, you probably have. It was written for Political Theology Today three years ago, but I accidentally doubled up with another contributor, so I posted it on my blog instead. However, this week the lectionary reading came around again and I finally have a chance to post it on Political Theology Today as first intended.
If the second half of Luke 17 is concerned with the manner of the coming of the kingdom of God, much of the chapter that follows addresses the manner in which people will receive its blessings. In a series of parables and teachings, Jesus presents this in terms of a number of different categories: vengeance (vv.1-8), vindication (vv.9-14), reception (vv.15-17), inheritance (vv.18-23), and entrance (vv.24-30).
While it might be easy to read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector merely as a teaching concerning the contrasting private relationships individuals have with God, when we situate the parable upon the broader canvas of Jesus’ teaching regarding the coming kingdom, further dimensions emerge.
In particular, it underlines that fact that the actions of the various characters in this parable and the teachings that surround it—the persistent widow, the rich young ruler, the tax collector and Pharisee, the disciples—are oriented towards the horizon of a future and public action of God within Israel’s and the world’s history. This day would bring both vindication and judgment: there would be deliverance and reward for some, and exclusion and shame for others. It would publicly reveal where everyone stood relative to God’s purposes in history.
Read the whole thing here.