Jesus told this powerful parable to illustrate how God wants us to pray in Luke 18:9-14. The download below includes the complete printable lesson plan, several craft ideas, and bonus coloring pages. It’s everything you need to prepare for your class this weekend.
Complete Sunday School Lesson Luke 18:9-14 PDFDownload
“The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”
from Luke 18:9-14
What is Humility? Sunday School Lesson for Kids
Young children may not yet befamiliar with worrying about public prayer, but they have certainly encounteredboasting and bragging. This lesson looks at the parable of the Pharisee and taxcollector to discuss the meaning and importance of humility, and remindsstudents that our prayers and our lives should be focused on God.
Lesson focus: When we brag about how great we think we are, it places all of theattention on our own power, and neglects the importance of God’s work in ourlives. We should in humility focus on Christ first and foremost, and rememberthat our strength comes from Him.
Passage: Luke 18:9-14; James 4:10; Matthew 6:7-13; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
Read about taxes in the Bible as you prepare your Bible lesson
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (See notes for specific agemodifications)
Materials Needed: Construction paper; envelopes; stickers; glue; tape; scissors; decorativesupplies; balloons; blocks; cups; Bibles
- See our children’s sermon on Luke 18:9-14
- Prayer Coloring PagesandP is for Prayerfrom our Bible Alphabet Series
- Prayer Hands activity for kids
- See our entire series and free coloring bookThe Lord’s Prayer for Kids
- See our example“Sinners Prayers” for children
Lesson Introduction:Activity Games for Kids
Lesson Opening: Use one of the following games or visuals to illustrate for kids the dangers of boasting:.
- (Younger students) Balloon blast…talkabout how pride can puff us up, sort of like a balloon. Demonstrate this live!Explain that when a balloon gets too full of air, one of two things is likelyto happen: Either you let go and it flies recklessly away (with a funny pfffftsound), or it….POPS!
- What’s inside counts…show studentstwo mugs or cups, making sure they only see the outer part at first. One ofthem should be nice and clean on the outside, but have dirt or grime inside.The other mug should be older or a bit dirty on the outside, but clean within.Which would they rather drink out of? It might be surprising to see that thepretty and “clean” one was actually too nasty to drink out of safely. Explainthat the topic today involves how our heart’s inner intent is more importantthan what the outer words or deeds proclaim. (This illustration works formultiple age groups).
- (Older students, or younger ifsimpler blocks are used) Use Jenga blocks to explain how bragging can lead to afall. As you have students list things that someone might boast about, stackthe blocks higher and higher, until the tower falls over. Describe how trustingour own power rather than setting foundations on the Lord can lead to collapse.
What isbragging? What does it mean to be humble? Explain to students that today theywill be talking about humility. This means putting others first,especially putting God first, and not thinking too highly of your ownabilities. God cares most about our hearts, and He knows our hearts. Sometimeswe might get excited about an achievement and want to tell someone, which isfine. But we shouldn’t do so at the expense of someone else’s worth orfeelings. We want to make sure we keep our eyes on Christ.
“Pharisee andTax Collector” Sunday School Lesson from Luke 18:9-14
Ask students if they pay attentionwhen things happen in church…who remembers what the pastor’s sermon was about?What songs did the choir sing? Was there a prayer given? (Older students may bebetter at this than young ones.)
Then ask students what they thinkabout such things…what should be our purpose when we come to church, or pray,or talk to people? Sometimes church can feel a little “showy.” Sometimes when people pray out loud, theyworry over what others will think, and maybe use fancy language.
This was a problem in the days ofJesus, as a matter of fact. He told a story about two men who were praying, butfor different reasons:
He also told this parable to somewho trustedin themselves that they were righteous,and treated others with contempt:10“Two menwent up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee,standing by himself, prayedthus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week;I give tithes of all that I get.’ -Luke 18:9-12
Ask students: How does this man’sattitude sound? Sure, he is telling God “thank you,” but he’s also braggingabout how much better he is than other people. How will that make them feel?And is anyone more or less important to God?
No! He loves all of His createdchildren. So who do you think this Pharisee was really trying to get tolisten?? Other people, probably…
Well, the parable had anothercharacter:
But the tax collector,standing far off,would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, butbeat his breast, saying, ‘God,be merciful to me, a sinner!’14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. Foreveryone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So Jesus is saying that this prayerwas more precious and meaningful to God. Why? Remember that the tax collectorswere not too popular in Jewish society. Here is this “bad guy” begging God formercy. But he is talking to be heard by GOD. No one else is around. He isn’tbragging or boasting. His mindset is one of genuine humility. He knows that heis nothing without God.
What does this mean for us? It meansthat what matters most is our purpose, our true heart’s aim. If we want othersto see us doing good deeds, we are probably still working for our own creditand gain. We want to brag only about Jesus. If we are working for what otherpeople think, we will never be satisfied, and always be worried! We need onlyconcern ourselves with what GOD thinks of us.
Additionally, let’s not forget thatwhen we pray, it’s for an audience of one. God is the most important one toshare with. And Jesus gave us a great example of how to pray:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases asthe Gentiles do, forthey think that they will be heardfor their many words.8Do not be like them,for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed beyour name.
10Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give usthis day our daily bread,
12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13Andlead us not into temptation,
butdeliver us fromevil. -Matthew 6:7-13
This does not mean that we have topray these exact words each time we approach God. However, it does make for agreat model for our prayers, and an example of how and what we should say whenwe talk to the Lord.
We can also rest assured that when weapproach God with honest humility, great things can result! Access thefollowing verses as closing reminders for students, and discuss what they mightmean…
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. -James 4:10
And because of himyou are in Christ Jesus, who became to uswisdom from God,righteousness andsanctification andredemption,31so that, as it is written,“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
-1 Corinthians 1:30-31
Close the lesson with prayer and thank God for loving us and being present in our lives. Ask for help in being humble and letting the intent of our hearts be focused on the Lord.
Sunday School Crafts:Prayer Pocket Envelopes
The complete directions for this craft are included in the download above. You can also watch our video demonstration to help you prepare it for your Sunday School class.
- Construction paper or note cards
- Felt or fabric (optional)
- String or ribbon
- Markers/decorative materials
- Envelopes (letter sized)
- Stickers (optional)
- Choose envelope or felt/fabric. Ifchoosing fabric, use glue or pins to secure in a “pocket”
- If using the envelope, cut the topflap off and tape the sides.
- Add stickers or decorative flair, ifdesired.
- Decorate the note card with prayerreminders or prayer requests.
- Place the card into the envelope.Encourage students to carry around or hang in a prominent spot. Praydaily!
Extra Bible craft ideas…. If you have more material, time, or crafting ability in your group, it might be fun to make another special “prayer prepared” item, such as a prayer pillow or a kneeling pad. Use cloth, cotton filler, and more to make and decorate.
Sunday School Coloring Pages on Prayer
P is for prayer coloring pageDownload
Time to Pray coloring pageDownload
More Kids Bible Lessons on Humility
Jesus Confronts Hypocrisy and Embraces Humility (Luke 14:1-14) Bible Lesson
Kids are naturally egotistical, and have no problem boasting or viewing the world as surrounding their needs. In today’s culture of self-esteem encouragement and “everyone’s a winner” mentality, it’s easy for this concept to solidify. There is nothing wrong with positive attitude boosting, of course…until it leads to pride and entitlement expectations. Throughout His ministry, […]
Lesson: A Job in Job…Humility in the face of an Awesome God
Trials of Job…patience of Job…resilience of Job…when we think of this long-suffering Old Testament hero, we normally think of Job in terms of what he had to endure and what we can appreciate from that. However, there is another message in the book of Job that may be of even greater long-term value, and that […]
This lesson is another in a series from Proverbs that our entire church is doing. The lesson was prepared for a small group of students ranging from age 5-10. This lesson focuses on how the path of pride leads to destruction and the path of humility leads to wisdom. Bible Passage:Proverbs 11:2, 16:18, 29:23, Daniel […]
Pride vs. Humility: A Bible Lesson For Children
This Children’s Bible lesson about pride and humility would serve well in Sunday School or Children’s Church. It is based on several key Bible verses about being proud and humble. Be sure to modify it for your children’s ministry setting. Please leave your feedback in the comment box below. Objective: To define pride and humility […]
New Sunday School Curriculum: Our Bible lessons are designed to keep the kids’ attention and show how God's Word makes a difference. Every series is flexible enough for a wide-age group and affordable enough for small churches. Download afree Bible lesson in pdf
or view our latestSunday School curriculum for kids
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector meaning is that God loves and appreciates those who follow His laws and commandments, but those who acknowledge their sinful ways and ask for His mercy are closer to His heart.What is the children's lesson in Luke 18 9 14? ›
We should not brag or boast in our own power, but take heart that God loves us and listens to us all the time. Bonus Activity Ideas: See our Bible crafts for the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector.What is the object lesson of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? ›
Lesson focus: When we brag about how great we think we are, it places all of the attention on our own power, and neglects the importance of God's work in our lives. We should in humility focus on Christ first and foremost, and remember that our strength comes from Him.What is the Sunday school lesson Luke 18 1 8 for kids? ›
Lesson focus: God is a good Father who wants to bless our lives and cares for us. We know that He will listen to our prayers, and even if we don't always get what we think we want, we know that God has our best interests in mind. He always loves us and hears us.What is a Pharisee simple definition? ›
ˈfa-rə- capitalized : a member of a Jewish sect of the intertestamental period noted for strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for insistence on the validity of their own oral traditions concerning the law. : a pharisaical person.What is the prayer about the parable of the Pharisee tax collector? ›
Luke 18:10 says, "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess."What is the message of Luke 18 14? ›
14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."What does Luke 18 teach us? ›
Jesus uses this parable to teach his disciples never to give up. He shows them the importance of persistence and resilience. He knows that life involves disappointment, loss, injustice, and persecution—all very good reasons to give up and lose hope!What is the childrens message in Luke 14? ›
God is already offering us God's love, respect, honor and glory, which means we don't need to chase after it or try to get it from other people. We don't need to be like the dog or cat that chases its tail all the time.What did you learn from the biblical story of the Pharisee and the tax collector and Jesus and the blind man? ›
This parable primarily shows Jesus teaching that justification can be given by the mercy of God irrespective of the receiver's prior life and that conversely self-righteousness can prohibit being justified.
The other you'd be surprised to see show up. He is a tax collector and considered a bit of a lowlife, someone who has betrayed his kinsmen. They both go to pray, and in the end, only one goes home right with God. The surprise is that it's the tax collector, not the religious leader.What is homily the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector? ›
The Pharisee came to God complaining about others' sins and did not go home with the peace of God in his heart. On the other hand, the tax collector came before God in complete humility, admitting who he really was, and went home at peace with God.What is a short reflection on luke 18 1 8? ›
Jesus told the disciple about the story of the Widow and the Unjust Judge . The Widow wants justice but the Judge doesn't want the Widow to let her what she wants. In reality, people is like the widow, people want justice and wants us to be fair, but the society doesn't let the people to have equality.What did Jesus teach in the temple as a child? ›
Luke shows that the young child Jesus spoke with real wisdom and authority as he sat among the teachers in the temple. He spoke that way because God is his Father! As was seen in a Jewish school at the time, Jesus was listening to the teachers and asking them good questions.What is the Sunday school lesson in Luke 18 16? ›
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16). The children will: Know that Jesus welcomes children. Feel happy and accepted as part of God's family. Respond by showing Jesus' love to other children.Who are Pharisees from Bible for kids? ›
The Pharisees were considered to be very important, holy men who made sure that the people of Israel kept God´s law. The Pharisees had read most in the scriptures and were supposed to know everything about God. But Jesus knew they were false. He called them “hypocrites, serpents”.Who is a Pharisee today? ›
In a Christian context, a modern day “Pharisee” is someone who follows the impulse to be seen as righteous by obeying certain laws, while ignoring more important matters of the heart.What do the Pharisees represent in the Bible? ›
Pharisees were members of a party that believed in resurrection and in following legal traditions that were ascribed not to the Bible but to “the traditions of the fathers.” Like the scribes, they were also well-known legal experts: hence the partial overlap of membership of the two groups.What lessons can Christians learn from the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector? ›
In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Jesus shows us how we should pray—not with pride, comparing ourselves to others, but in humility, needy for God's mercy.Who was the tax collector in Jesus time? ›
In Jesus' time, Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in Jericho. The Book of Luke describes how Zacchaeus, like other tax collectors working for the Roman Empire, was seen as a sinful figure of ill-repute: self-enriching, corrupt and traitorous to the Jewish community.
Hyam Maccoby speculated that Jesus was himself a Pharisee and that his arguments with Pharisees is a sign of inclusion rather than fundamental conflict (disputation being the dominant narrative mode employed in the Talmud as a search for truth, and not necessarily a sign of opposition).What is the summary of Luke Chapter 18? ›
Summary: Speaking to His disciples, Jesus warns against temptations to sin (17:1-4), the power of even small faith (17:5-6), and to maintain humility as servants (17:7-10). He cleanses ten lepers (17:11-19) and offers a saying about God's kingdom (17:20-21).What can we learn from luke 16 14 18? ›
INTRODUCTION: The interaction between Jesus and the legalistic religious leaders of His day intensifies as His ministry approaches its culmination. Despite all of their scheming and insidious plots and lies and treachery, their wicked hearts are exposed time and again.What is the prayer for Luke 18? ›
Luke 18:1–8 Prays For Mercy And Justice
And we ask again. We ask again for your provision, we ask again for your help, God, we ask for justice. We ask for mercy, we ask for healing. And we ask for you to do that, which only you can do.
Luke shows Jesus—fully God and fully human—moving among the people in compassion to free them from the myriad of things oppressing them. The disregarded, the outcast, the forgotten and the marginalized all got to see and experience the love of Christ—even if Jesus had to confront the Jewish leaders to do it.What is the sermon in Luke 18 in the Bible? ›
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary. 'What is the Sunday school lesson for Luke 14? ›
Jesus was explaining that if we try to think too much of ourselves, sometimes it backfires. We cannot earn our own success, in the long run. Jesus advised people to take a lesser spot. If we are thinking less of ourselves and aiming to serve God, we let other people go first.What is the childrens message on luke 18 1? ›
And, God cares very much about you and me – and for all of us! Which means, unlike the judge, God wants to hear from us – wants to hear from us about how our day went, things we like, and things we are worried about and afraid of.What is the children's Bible lesson on Luke 2? ›
Children's Sermon Lesson
The story reminds us that Jesus was aware of His identity as the Son of God, but also obeyed His parents and was responsible to them as a human. Mary and Joseph thought Jesus was lost, but He was where He belonged.
The gospel of Luke is continuing to ask and answer the question: Who is in the kingdom of God? Or to put the question another way: Who can be justified before God? In this parable Jesus is going to show who is justified before God and how such a one is justified.
Similarities Between the Prayers
The tax collector and the Pharisee were both in the Temple – the place of worship. They both prayed – they directed their words to God. They both stood up as they did this. They both even spoke of themselves as they prayed.
Pharisees were a relatively closed society of like-minded people devoted to religious purity. They were not a politically powerful group in Palestine like the Sadducees.Why was the prayer of the Pharisee not pleasing to God? ›
The Pharisee is not actually condemned by Jesus. In fact, many of the things he does are good. However, his prayer is less acceptable to God because he trusts in his own righteousness, whereas the tax collector throws himself wholly on God's mercy.Was Paul a tax collector or Pharisee? ›
Paul received mercy from God and forgiveness. Saul the self-righteous Pharisee became Paul, the “tax collector,” the one who rejected his own righteousness and looked to God for the righteousness of Christ.What was the Lord Jesus answer when the Pharisees asked if they should pay taxes? ›
Jesus paused and looked intently at the Pharisees. “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” he said. All who heard Jesus were amazed by his perfect answer.What was so bad about tax collector in the Bible? ›
So tax collectors often forced people to pay far more than they actually owed, and they kept the excess. In addition, they were seen as traitors by the average Jew, because they were working for the hated Roman government that was occupying their country.Which character unique to Luke's Gospel is described as a tax collector rich and short? ›
Sight, Wealth, and Stature
In that town is a man named Zacchaeus who is not just a tax collector but a chief tax collector which means, as Luke's Gospel explains, that he is rich.
The Pharisee thought of no one other than himself and regarded everyone else a sinner, whereas the publican thought of everyone else as righteous as compared with himself, a sinner. The Pharisee asked nothing of God, but relied upon his own self-righteousness.What is the moral lesson did you understand in luke 18 9 14? ›
Those who prays proudly to God, boasting of his religious deeds will be heard and recognized by God but God cannot hear if we boast in ourselves and despise others. This parable presents both an opportunity and a warning. Pride leads to self-deception and spiritual blindness.What is the context of Luke 18 9 14? ›
Jesus wants to teach people the importance of praying with the right attitude. This parable is aimed at those who think they are very righteous and look down on others – that is, the Pharisees. Jews had to pray three times a day and people would go to the temple for private prayer.
Lesson focus: When we brag about how great we think we are, it places all of the attention on our own power, and neglects the importance of God's work in our lives. We should in humility focus on Christ first and foremost, and remember that our strength comes from Him.Who is the first teacher of Jesus when he was a child? ›
“The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets, He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He was now taught at His mother's knee.What did Jesus study and learn as a child? ›
Like all Jewish boys, He studied the scriptures and Jewish laws. Joseph and Mary obeyed the commandments, and Jesus learned from His earthly parents. Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40).What was 12 year old Jesus doing in the temple? ›
At age twelve, Jesus is listening to teaching in the temple during Passover. But 20 years or so later, he is the Teacher in these same courts, and his many, many hearers are still struck with his insight and authority.What is the moral lesson of the Pharisee and the tax collector? ›
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector meaning is that God loves and appreciates those who follow His laws and commandments, but those who acknowledge their sinful ways and ask for His mercy are closer to His heart.What is the prayer for Luke 18 9 14? ›
He does not even say, "God be merciful to me an honest sinner. Here I am, Lord, willing to tell you the whole thing. Surely you can't pass by honesty like that." In fact, he does not even say, "God be merciful to me a praying sinner." He casts it all away. He says, "Lord, I haven't a thing to lean on but you."What does Luke 18 1 8 mean for kids? ›
Lesson focus: God is a good Father who wants to bless our lives and cares for us. We know that He will listen to our prayers, and even if we don't always get what we think we want, we know that God has our best interests in mind. He always loves us and hears us.What lesson does the parable teach? ›
First and foremost, the Parable of the Talents teaches us that we are put on Earth to work. This is evident not only in this particular parable, but in several other Bible stories.What is the lesson or message of the parable? ›
The central message of this parable is to be ready for Christ's return. Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour when the end will come, only the Father in Heaven knows. Jesus is instructing His disciples to be vigilant in their walk with the Lord and be ready at all times for Christ's second coming.What did you learn from the biblical story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and Jesus and the blind man? ›
This parable primarily shows Jesus teaching that justification can be given by the mercy of God irrespective of the receiver's prior life and that conversely self-righteousness can prohibit being justified.
This story seeks to remind students that God should always be number one, and if we don't place Him in that priority spot, negative things can happen. We never know what God has for our lives, and we can't cling to “stuff” for our happiness.What are the 5 most important parables of Jesus? ›
These were: the Ten Virgins, the Rich man and Lazarus, the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Artists famous for depicting parables include Martin Schongauer, Pieter the Elder Bruegal and Albrecht Dürer. The Workers in the Vineyard also appears in Early Medieval works.What does the parable of the three servants meaning? ›
The first two servants are able to see God in a positive perception, as understanding, generous, and kind, while the third servant sees God as harsh, demanding, and critical. Finley suggests these interpretations among the teachings for Christians: The nobleman (Lk 19:12), or the man (Matthew 25:14) is Christ.What are the 4 themes of parables? ›
- God's Kingdom.
- End times.
- The First Parable: The Lost Sheep.
- The Second Parable: The Lost Coin.
- The Third Parable: The Lost Son.
It has been noted, since the late nineteenth century, that the parables in the Gospels fall into three groups. These are usually given the names (1) similitude, (2) parable, and (3) exemplary story (sometimes called illustration).What is the meaning of Luke 18 14? ›
Luke 18:14 (NIV)
Of this verse the Bible Knowledge Commentary states: “God opposes the proud. The word “opposes,” or “resists,” is antitassetai, a military term meaning “to battle against.” To the humble, however, God gives grace.
Introduction to the Parable of the Persistent Widow
Jesus uses this parable to teach his disciples never to give up. He shows them the importance of persistence and resilience. He knows that life involves disappointment, loss, injustice, and persecution—all very good reasons to give up and lose hope!
In Jesus' parable, the rich man's sin was not that he was rich; it was that he refused to care for a person in need. His stony heart ignored the call to share food with the hungry and to provide shelter and clothing for people in need (Isaiah 58:7).What lesson can be learned from the rich farmer in Luke? ›
Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:13-21
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.
The Parable of the Rich Fool is a parable of Jesus which appears in The Gospel of Luke. It depicts the futility of the belief that wealth can secure prosperity or a good life.