Jesus told a parable of 2 men. In some ways these 2 men were very much alike. They both believed in God, they were both men of prayer, and one day they both went to the temple. But at the end of that day, after they had left the temple, one man was right with God, the other wasn’t. One man left the temple justified by God, the other left the temple in the same state that he arrived.
The parable that Jesus told can be found in Luke chapter 18 verses 9-14.
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
When we gather around the Lord’s table to take communion it is a time to examine ourselves. It is a time that we should seek to be justified by God, not to justify ourselves to God. It’s a time for honest reflection. But honesty comes with a price and it is a price that some people are unwilling to pay.
Honesty means that we are willing for the light of God to shine into our lives exposing every wayward and misaligned thought and attitude of the heart. And the price that we must be willing to pay for that light to shine in our hearts is our pride. We must let go of any self-righteous hope that deceives us into believing that somehow we can be good enough, or even worse yet, are already good enough to stand justified in the presence of God based on our own works.
Letting the light of God shine into our hearts is a humbling experience. And when the light shines the brightest into the darkest areas of our lives it leaves us like the tax collector, standing at a distance, with our head down, uttering the only words that we have to offer, “God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
As we gather around the Lord’s table, it Should be a time of honest reflection, but it is also Should be a time of remembrance. Remembering that God hears our pleas for mercy. Remembering it is God who lifts our heads, draws us close into his presence, and justifies us through the death, burial and resurrection of His son.So through reflection, we come to the Lord’s table humbled. Through remembrance, we leave the Lord’s table renewed in our confidence that we have been cleansed of our sins.