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These two parables reflect a characteristic emphasis in Luke's Gospel that the Good News of salvation is for all, not merely the righteous and the elite of society.
The widow and the tax collector - represented those whom the average Jew did not view with favor. Yet Jesus portrays them as the heroes of His stories. This would have surprised His first-century listeners, who would have expected the Pharisee, for instance, to come out on top. (In Jesus' day, the Pharisees were generally viewed with awe for their spiritual reputation.)
Luke, a Gentile, may have been particularly struck by the grace demonstrated through Jesus Christ. He brought salvation, not merely for Jews, but also for Gentiles. Jesus offered hope to the poor as well as the rich. He befriended tax collectors and other social outcasts as well as the righteous and respectable.
It's been said that the minister's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. These stories show Jesus extending grace to the needy and issuing warnings to the spiritually proud.
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