Two men go to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee thanks God that he is “not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector”. He fasts twice a week, he tithes his income. The wretched tax collector, on the other hand, says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus comments that it is the tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, who goes home “justified” (Lk. 18:10-14).
In a detailed critique of Tom Wright’s book What Saint Paul Really Said Phil Johnson argues that this parable teaches exactly what Wright wants to deny about justification—that it has to do with “individual guilt and forgiveness”. This is where Jesus “expounds most clearly on the principle of justification”. It shows that he was “fully in agreement with the classic Reformed interpretation of Paul”. It’s as though Jesus had read Paul, foreseen the Reformation, and thought up a little story to illustrate the point!