I am sorry if I have thrown you off a little by giving you what some probably would call old news. I don’t keep up with the news like everyone else, I confess. But sometimes an old news story makes the headlines on the front page in my mind anyway – even if the news is thousands of years old. Okay, so I’m a little slow in catching on to things. I’m just so incredibly thankful I’ve caught on. See, that man beating his breast wasn’t just doing it in front of random people in the general public. He was beating his breast in the presence of the Lord. And his reason for doing this was so amazing – and inspiring – that Jesus decided it was a story worthy of being told throughout the world. It’s not everyday a regular kind of guy just minding his own business makes the news around the world – and across time, huh?
See, this guy was a tax collector. And when he went into the temple at the same time as a Pharisee (one of those people who acted like he knew everything and did everything perfectly), he had a rather unique way of praying. He beat his breast, and adamantly refused to look up to where God sits on His throne in heaven. So what’s the big deal, right? This is the big deal. The Pharisee was bragging to God about how great he was, how he got everything right, and what idiots everyone else around him were for all of their sins. He must have had the longest nose in history, and he couldn’t have been more snooty as he looked straight down it at the rest of the world. Talk about pride. As for the man who beat his breast, he knew with utter humility that he needed God’s mercy because he was totally honest about the fact he was a sinner. The Pharisee believed his own “goodness” was enough. The guy who beat his breast knew without God he was hopeless. The Pharisee trusted in himself. The man who beat his breast knew he could not live on without God’s mercy.
Okay, in a day and age in which our news is so full of craziness that a man beating his breast really isn’t a story at all, I urge you to move this story to the forefront of your mind – and heart. For if you’re anything like I am, you’ve spent far too much of your life thinking you can earn your way to goodness. Maybe you’ve even struggled with the kind of pride like I have in which you think you’re doing better than some of “those people” over there. Well, I’ve got news for you – no pun intended. Lower your eyes, and start beating your breast – so to speak anyway. Because you can’t earn your way to goodness, you can’t earn your way to God, and you can’t earn your way to heaven. The only way to God and to everlasting life in heaven is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The man who beat his breast was sorry for his sins and knew what he needed. He needed the Lord. Got Jesus? Is it time to start beating your breast?
“And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13“But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”” Luke 18:9-14 NASB