“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14).
As in Luke 14:11, Jesus illustrates again illustrates the concept of the “upside-down Kingdom.” For justification cannot come by works, by religion, or any other man made attempt to reach God. Christ is clear that it is only through recognizing our helplessness and repenting of our failure that we shall be found, just as He explained repeatedly that “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33). Even in the Old Testament, again and again, disaster is promised to be averted if only God's people will humble themselves and repent of their ways (2 Chronicles 7:14, 33:23, 36:12, Ezra 8:21)! It's a paradoxical principle of humiliation before exaltation, which is seen best in Christ's ministry on earth.