Jesus was not afraid to call the Pharisees and temple priest hypocrites. They were supposed to be the representation of the law and the connection between God and man. Yet they didn’t live according to the law themselves, instead they often exhausted the Jewish people for more money and favors.
The parable Jesus tells highlights the importance of not how you start but how you finish. God, the father of endless mercy will always be satisfied with the man who does what he asks of him. The tax collector may live a life of sin now, but he eventually turns his life around.
The Greek word “metanoia” means loosely a spiritual conversion when reading the Septuagint but more accurately translated as “the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life.”
Jesus through this parable calls upon all to have a metanoia, following God and being faithful to his will requires being focused on him internally and externally. Authentically living for and desiring to love the author of all creation.