WATCHING THE SAVIOUR
We must ever keep in mind that the Lord Jesus was, at this stage in Lukes account, making His final journey towards Jerusalem and that some of the cities that He visited would never see Him again and some of the people of the people He encountered would, likewise, never benefit from the advantage of having spoken with Him in person. The people were watching the Lord Jesus intently and intensely. Some wanted to know how He did things and others wanted to know by what authority He did what He did and others were merely tempting Him. Whatever the particular case, the overall truth of this chapter is that He was being watched and that observation, with some, being, no doubt, because they were aware that the Lord Jesus was not going to be with them forever especially as they had been told as much in 9.22. From the disciples perspective there was not much time left to ask the Saviour directly about matters like prayer. The fact that the Saviour had prayed in chapter 6 had not been witnessed by the disciples but now that they did they were full of questions. It is great when we realise the benefits of time spent with the Saviour and ask questions whereby that quality time can be improved.
So that at the end of chapter 10 and the beginning of chapter 11 we have recorded for us incidents which show the two great means of blessing to the soul the word of God and prayer. It was His own who recognised this great need and were taught the blessings and benefits of fellowship with the Lord Jesus. And yet there were others who had the privilege of being in His physical presence but were there with a completely different attitude than those who were close to His heart and who had teachable spirits. To those who read this and belong to the Lord Jesus we recommend that a teachable spirit is fostered at all times and that conditions prevail in our lives such that we can be taught of God. We do not want the alternative attitude that was displayed in the verses that follow the thirteenth verse of this chapter.
Verses 1-13 Praying
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
The Model Prayer verses 1 4
We have read what is commonly known as the Lords Prayer. However, it is probably better described as a Model Prayer for us to guide us about the things we should regularly include in our prayers. It is clear from Matthew ch 6 v 9 that the Lord Jesus said, After this manner pray So we understand from this that what the Lord Jesus gave us was a pattern or theme to use in prayer and never just a prayer to be used in vain repetition. The challenge is, do we pray? If we do, who do we pray to and what do we pray about? Is this prayer the only collection of words and sentences we use towards God? You will probably have noticed that the words of the prayer are different here to other versions of the prayer you may have read or heard. In Luke the final few statements are omitted.
For example For thine is the kingdom etc appears in Matthew but not in Luke which gives strength to the argument that it is a model prayer with items to include rather than just a prayer to be repeated. Lets look at the statements and requests.
Our Father in heaven The prayer was addressed by Jews to their Father God in Heaven. For them He was afar off and had to be approached with due reverence.
Hallowed be Your name for the Jew it was important to come to God with absolute reverence and godly fear
Your kingdom come the Jews longed for the coming of Gods kingdom upon the earth and to this day still wait for it and the promise of their Messiah
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven the Jews longed for peace and righteousness to prevail on the earth, just as it did in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread historically the Jews knew of Gods great provision for them in giving them bread from heaven (Exodus ch 16), and they recognised that He provided for their daily needs.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us forgiveness was essential to maintain a right relationship with God and with each other.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil preservation in temptation and deliverance from evil served to give strength to the relationship with God and with others.
This all sounds very good and commendable doesnt it, but where does it leave us in 2014? Right at the heart of the prayer is one little phrase which is so important for all us to take notice of. Its the phrase Forgive us our sins. Immediately it goes right to the heart of the matter..its the matter of the heart! The Bible says, The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Jeremiah ch 17 v 9. Sin separates us from God and we need His forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ, because the wages of sin is death Romans ch 6 v 23.
The Midnight Call verses 5 8
None of us like to be woken up in the middle of the night, especially when we are tired and cannot get back to sleep. Here the Lord Jesus uses the illustration of a man who has who has a friend come to visit him and the man doesnt have any food to give to his friend so he goes to his neighbour at midnight to ask if he can lend him some food. The neighbour doesnt want to be troubled at midnight however the man persists and because of his persistence the neighbour gives him what he needs. Its all about persistence. Do we really believe that the Lord Jesus is able to meet us in our deepest need? The need to have our sins truly forgiven? Well, this is His promise, Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out. John ch 6 v 37. The Lord Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. The Bible says, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. I Peter ch 3 v 18.
The Manifold Blessings verses 9 13
Trusting Christ as Saviour and Lord is not an automatic ticket to abundant wealth and prosperity! However, the blessings of knowing Him are manifold, that is, they are many and varied. When our trust is in Him we learn to come to Him in faith and to ask, to seek and to knock (v 9), and in doing so our lives are enriched as we learn to trust Him. The Lord Jesus gives examples of how earthly fathers know how to give the right things to their children, and when we put our trust in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit enabling us to live lives which please God (v 13).
In conclusion the next time we hear or go to repeat what is known as the Lords Prayer, may it be with a sense of I am already enjoying the goodness of Gods wonderful provision to me in the Lord Jesus because my sins are truly forgiven.
Verses 14-28 Stronger than evil
14 And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered. 15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils. 16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven. 17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. 18 If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub. 19 And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. 20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. 21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: 22 But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. 25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. 26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. 27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
We want now to speak of an act that demonstrated the Saviours power, of an accusation that showed the peoples provocation and of an answer that displayed the Saviours plain speaking to show that there is no middle ground in these things pertaining to God. Everything here is black and white. There is no grey in the matter of commitment to the Lord Jesus. There is no grey in the matter of salvation. We are either with Him or against Him. We are either saved or lost.
Lets not be under any illusions. The power of evil is great and is never to be underestimated. Neither let us be deluded. Evil blights society in general and is a powerful enemy of the soul. Evil had blighted this individuals life and no doubt others in the family circle were adversely affected. Luke does not tell us that this individual was male implying that the principles here apply to male and female alike but Matthew does. This mans problem was dumbness but as soon as the evil was released the person was able to talk. The mans inability to talk being removed must have brought much joy all round. Nowadays there are those who are Satan-inspired and Satan-controlled, rabble-rousers and loudmouths who need to be subdued and how wonderful it is all round when such are broken under the mighty power of God to become useful members of society and, in some cases, useful in Gods things. Verse 14 explains the act performed by the Son of God which provoked an unhealthy response. Then there was an accusation made. In effect they had the audacity to put the Lord Jesus on trial. We trust that there are none who read this who are daft enough to do the same.
The Lord Jesus, it was claimed, cast out demons by the prince of demons referred to as Beelzebub. The identity of Beelzebub is first revealed in the Old Testament, in II Kings chapter 1. There, the Canaanite fertility deity Baal is named as Baal-zebub. The name Beelzebub can mean anything from Lord of the House to Lord of the Flies. In any case, Beelzebub is synonymous with Satan, the chief of the devils or the devil himself.
The Lord Jesus answered the accusation by rebutting the charge. He did so by an appeal to reason and by an explanation of His superior power compared to that of Satan. Satan may be powerful but he is not all powerful, almighty. The Lord Jesus exposed the ridiculous accusation of His opponents. The Lord Jesus said that the accusation that He was in the devils service when He exorcised demons was patent nonsense. This charge of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew and Mark let us know that the people were religious leaders) would never have stood up in a decent law court. On this occasion the Saviour defended Himself and could have done so in relation to further acts of healing and even His preaching.
Exorcising a demon from a man is clearly a victory for good and for God. A house divided cannot stand. United we stand divided we fall we say. So why would Satan deliberately impede his own chances for victory? This strategy would be tantamount to a general sending a battalion to the front lines with orders to shoot its own soldiers. Satan was and is not going to fight against himself. Therefore, the accusation that Jesus was winning battles against Satan by Satans power was patently absurd. There is, however, more to this that is found in other accounts. The Lord Jesus said in the analogous passage in Mark 3, How can Satan cast out Satan? It was not only absurd it was impossible.
To continue His rebuttal the Lord Jesus revealed His superior strength over Satan. The Lord here told a story about a strong man and his house and there are other details given in Matthew and Mark. The Lord said that a man could not plunder another mans house if he was of equal or lesser strength. A robber must be stronger than his victim to bind the master of the house and steal his goods. I suppose these days with electronic surveillance and the like the battle between would-be robber and the robbed is more in the mind than it is the body but back then it was not the case. In this short parable, Satan is the householder, the one who has a soul under his control, and the Lord Jesus is the one coming to plunder his house and loose the soul. The conclusion is that since the Lord Jesus is able to move into Satans territory and spoil his kingdom, He cannot be Satans equal or lesser minion; He cannot be his servant; He must, of necessity, be stronger than the devil. There is a greater power than the power of evil.
And then the Saviour made a remarkable statement and in doing so widened the topic to deal with personal faith. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. Anyone who thinks that there is some middle ground between siding with God and siding with Satan is deluded. To sit on a fence that isnt there is daft in the extreme. That is the position of the agnostic. He says he sits on the fence but there is no fence to sit on. Here the Lord Jesus shakes the notion of a fence, and dismisses it declaring people either on Gods side or Satans side. There is no other side. But there is more. A man that has benefited from the power of God to heal and to remove demons dare not leave an empty house. So often we see that with drink and drugs and the like in the physical realm that there is some form of rehab, detox, diet, nicotine patch or whatever and then after some months the person is back where they were and even in a worse condition. In the spiritual realm a man simply exorcised of an evil spirit must fill that vacuum, fill that life with God or it will be refilled with more evil spirits. It is not merely a case of feeling His power but subjecting myself to it and coming onto His side. When God changes a life He does not create a vacuum. It is not a case of I do not do this or that, or I do not go here or there but of this is what I am doing with Gods help.
Finally, the Lord Jesus answers His accusers by a revelation of who the recipients of Gods favour are. In verse 27 a woman in the crowd yells out a word of blessing on the Lord Jesus by reference to His mother. Perhaps she was the only one who recognised the magnitude of what the Saviour did that day. She may not have wanted to yell out but perhaps she felt that an injustice was done that day. Someone had to speak up for Him and she may well have thought that she alone was the one to do so. The Lord Jesus replied diverting the attention from Himself as was His wont, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and do it. To be favoured physically by having demons removed or whatever the healing happened to be was a start but this was just the physical and not the spiritual. He had come to do a spiritual work that meant dying upon the cross for sins that needed to be forgiven on a just basis. It wasnt merely a sacrificial life that He lived as on its own it would not have provided a permanent remedy for sins. The one whose life was a sacrifice gave Himself upon the cross, blood was shed and His life given, so that eternal salvation could be offered.
The evidence is before us. Its our turn now. The Lord Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the blind to see and the deaf to hear; He demonstrated His authority over Satan by exorcising and banishing the demons as we see here. He claimed to be the Son of God, and substantiated that claim with signs and wonders. He was not only their Messiah. They did not merely reject Him as such but as the Son of God, their God. All the evidence is found in this book. We must decide. There is no middle ground. The people of His day erred in that they were so religiously biased, so spiritually blind, that they put themselves in the position of being unable to arrive at the right conclusion. Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God, and the only name given under heaven whereby men are saved.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not on trial in this place tonight as He was back then but eternity is at stake. Perhaps one of the most important questions Jesus ever asked was this, Who do you say that I am? Either, as one has said, He is liar, He is a lunatic or He is Lord. If a liar then He was not a good man but an evil man look at the evidence as presented to us here; if lunatic then we should detect a man exhibiting signs of megalomania, egotism, narcissism, or madness, but we dont we find one who is kind, selfless, compassionate, and willing even to surrender His life for others; and one who elicited wonder, faith, friendship and loyalty from others. The only alternative left, and the conclusion to which all the evidence points, is that the Lord Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be - the only begotten Son of God and the Lord of heaven and earth. It is not Him on trial in 2014. It is our hearts that are on trial. With Him or against Him. Saved or lost. There is no middle ground. There is no fence. What the Lord Jesus calls for is whole-hearted reliance, complete trust and obedience; to be with Him and not against Him. What we want to do is hold on to the world, and all of the pleasures, promises and rewards it offers with one hand, and clasp on to Christ for heaven with the other. But it doesnt work that way. His call is for a total commitment of all that we have and all that we are. He calls as Lord and that demands my all for if He is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all.
Verses 29-36 Greater than
29 And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. 30 For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
36 If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.
The crowds were increasing but why was this? The people wanted to see a sign, a spectacle. They were crowded upon Him. The world is evil and we must recognise this today as the Saviour did in His pronouncement here. We must recognise its evil and acknowledge our own sin. The emphasis here is on the evil generation and the Saviour had its leaders in mind. The leaders were in control and they sought for signs which was a mark of their evil. It was the attitude that said, If I could see I would believe. (see Luke 16.31 and link this with the story of Lazarus in John 11). The Pharisees had such evil hearts that they were intent on killing Lazarus himself as many had believed on the Lord Jesus as a result of seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. They did not want to see signs in order that they should believe for when one was given to them they immediately wanted to kill Lazarus so that the sign could be removed. It is not signs but faith that brings a person to God. The sign to Nineveh was of Jonas (or Jonah as we know him from the OT). We were reminded of the story of Jonah and then we focused on the phrase that the Son of man was to be the sign for the generation to whom the Lord Jesus spoke. The Son of man was the Lord Jesus Himself. There are many instances where he is so called in this particular book (not as many as there are in Matthews record) but He is also referred to as the Son of Man in the OT in Daniel 7.13, I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. That particular prophecy was about the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. It underlines the fact that the Lord Jesus was truly man and truly God. The rescue of Jonah by God was a sign to the Ninevites that Jonah was from God. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus was going to be a sign to that generation that He was from God. Remember, too, that Jonah did wickedly and God dealt with him such that, eventually and to Jonahs discomfort as he had gone to preach of God overthrowing Nineveh, they repented. We learn something here that aversion of divine judgment comes with repentance and faith and not mere faith. What do we know of repentance?
The queen of the south in verse 31 is the Queen of Sheba (I Kings 10) who came to test Solomon wisdom with hard questions. He answered them all. There was no breath left in her. She ran out of questions. She said that the half had not been told such was Solomons ability and wisdom. There was a greater than Solomon among them in the one who spoke, even the Lord Jesus. They dismissed His ability. The Queen of Sheba did not do that with Solomon. She accepted his wisdom. We likewise must not be so consumed with our own understanding that we despise His wisdom. In general the people did not listen to the Lord Jesus. Will we listen to Him? He is greater than Jonah and what a change took place as a result of his preaching. He is greater than Solomon and the Queen of Shebas breath was taken away. What about our reaction as we hear the very words that the Lord Jesus spoke those 2000 years ago? Is there a change in our hearts? Is there amazement as we consider Him? There should be as He is greater than these. Indeed He is greater than all.
There was someone greater than Jonah who was there. No one in the OT had descended as far as Jonah for he said that the earth with its bars were around him forever. The Lord Jesus was greater than Jonah in that He actually went down into death for three days and three nights (and was not merely preserved alive in the whales belly) and then rose again. There was no one who ascended the heights that Solomon reached but there was a greater than Solomon in front of them for here was the personification of divine wisdom Christ the power of God, Christ the wisdom of God. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as the lily in the field for his glory was acquired glory. The glory that the Saviour manifest was intrinsic glory.
In verse 33 mention is made of the lamp and where it is put to shed light. We put a light high up so that it makes a difference. Thinking of Gods word as a light to our paths and a lamp to our feet, do we put that light on high so that it makes a difference or does it get hidden? Is it just pulled out on special occasions when we need it daily? Gods word should have a prominent place in our lives such that we can see it and see by it.
In verse 34 we read of the healthy eye. The healthy eye is the eye that looks at things spiritually. How are our eyes? Are they spiritual eyes? We will end up in moral darkness if our eyes are dark. If our lives were filled with the light of the world, that is the Lord Jesus, then our lives would be affected. Putting the Lord Jesus second in our lives is to fail. With Him in the preeminent position then our lives will be fulfilled.
The Story of a Son an internet sensation with the author unknown but there are claims on the internet that this predates the modern era as it appeared in a book published in 1954.
A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. The son went off to war and was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.
About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, Sir, you don't know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art. The young man held out his package. I know this isn't much. I'm not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.
The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It's a gift.
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel. We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture? There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one. But the auctioneer persisted, Will someone bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200? Another voice shouted angrily, e didn't come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids! But still the auctioneer continued, The son! The son! Who'll take the son? Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. I'll give $10 for the painting. Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. We have $10, who will bid $20? Give it to him for $10. Let's see the masters. $10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20? The crowd was becoming angry. They didn't want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. Going once, twice, SOLD for $10A man sitting on the second row shouted, Now let's get on with the collection! The auctioneer laid down his gavel, I'm sorry, the auction is over.
What about the paintings?
I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!
God gave his Son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is, The Son, the Son, who'll take the Son? Whoever takes the Son gets everything. Without the Son we have nothing. With Him we have everything.
Verses 37- 54 Rebuking Pharisees and lawyers
37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. 40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. 44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. 45 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. 49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. 53 And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: 54 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
It was a certain Pharisee who bade the Lord Jesus dine with him. He existed but both times that he is referred to he is the Pharisee or a certain Pharisee. There are three occasions when an individual Pharisee is mention in Lukes gospel Luke 7 verses 36, 37 and 39, here in verses 37 and 38, and Luke 18 verses 10 and 11. The only other time that a Pharisee is mentioned in the singular is in Matthew 23. The Pharisees, scribes and lawyers were an everyday part of Jewish religious life and there are numerous encounters between these and the Lord Jesus. Pharisees are mentioned 29 times in Matthew (30 including the singular), 12 times in Mark, 21 times in Luke (28 times including the singular) and 20 times in John. The Pharisees were a sect that seems to have started after the Jewish exile. In addition to OT books the Pharisees recognised in oral tradition a standard of belief and life. They sought for distinction and praise by outward observance of external rites and by outward forms of piety, and such as ceremonial washings, fastings, prayers, and alms giving; and, comparatively negligent of genuine piety, they prided themselves on their fancied good works. They held strenuously to a belief in the existence of good and evil angels, and to the expectation of a Messiah; and they cherished
the hope that the dead, after a preliminary experience either of reward or of penalty in Hades, would be recalled to life by him, and be requited each according to his individual deeds. In opposition to the usurped dominion of the Herods and the rule of the Romans, they stoutly upheld the theocracy and their country's cause, and possessed great influence with the common people. According to Josephus they numbered more than 6000. They were bitter enemies of the Lord Jesus and His cause; and were in turn severely rebuked by Him for their avarice, ambition, hollow reliance on outward works, and affection of piety in order to gain popularity. They were full of self righteousness. The Lord Jesus had run into trouble with these for He had sat with publicans and sinners.
This Pharisee was amazed that the Lord Jesus did not wash His hands before He ate. As with the other individual Pharisees in Luke 7 and 18 there was a condemnation in this case by his amazement at this action that He made. We do not read that he said anything. The Lord Jesus could read the heart without any give away look on the face or words spoken. We do not always read each other correctly. We may well be polite on the outside (just like the cup and platter were clean on the outside) but inside it can be altogether different. The Pharisees made a show of things so that each one who saw was made to think that all was well within when it was not. They had the letter of the law but not its spirit. It was the Lord who spoke to this Pharisee. Often we read that Jesus said something but here as on another few occasions in Luke he tells us that it was the Lord who spoke. The cleansing was ceremonial but the Lord Jesus homed in on something that was far more important. It is not what goes through the body that makes it unclean but what arises from within. The Pharisees had looked into the law and the scribes wrote it down but they were far from its spirit. Their inward part was full of ravening (extortion, robbery) and wickedness.
A little word was given to believers at this stage. It is all too possible for believers to fall. There is a little phrase in scripture which says overtaken in a fault. This does not refer to habitual sin but something that happens in a moment of time. We can easily be defiled by sin. Thank God for His provision when we fall (the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all unrighteousness) but there is a need to recognise Gods holiness as believers and the need for personal holiness without which no man shall see God. Be ye holy for I am holy.
Verse 40 The one who had said that a soul was in danger if he or she said, Thou fool now utters a similar phrase. Foolish men, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? Surely He alone has the right to call anyone a fool to that persons face? In the next chapter we are going to see that God from heaven addressed a man who relied on his own wealth (the abundance of the things that he possessed) and ability as a foolish man. Here God on earth did the same as far as religious pretence rather than a teachable spirit was concerned. To clean up on the outside was one thing but the real need was on the inside as well. They were treating themselves like a plate that had no inner being and were just concerned with the cleanliness of the plate not only as part of ceremony but, in picture, as it was in their lives. God had made them with both an outside and an inside and both alike needed cleansing.
Verse 41 Then the Lord Jesus spoke of alms (the giving of money or food for the poor). They were to give of what they had. By being pretentious and making a display they did not do themselves any credit nor did they gain merit as far as God was concerned. Luke speaks of the rich men in the 21st chapter of this book (see below) and the analogous passage in Mark also describes people some of whom were rich and another who was poor.
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
Verse 42 Then the subject matter is tithing. This verse also marks the first time that the Saviour has uttered a woe against the Pharisees in this section and in this book. Woe is an expression of regret (not remorse). They tithed things that were of no consequence and made a big deal about it. This was all that they did. The scribes among them were guilty of robbing widows houses (what an awful indictment) according to the last verse of Luke 20. All these things were being done and they were passing over the judgment and love of God. These things should have been uppermost in their minds but instead they were dismissed from their minds such that society was adversely affected. To tithe herbs was OK but not at the expense of the things that were far more important. It is sadly possible to get so legalistic that, for the sake of something that is relatively minor, we overlook the thing that is major. Legalism is a curse in whatever context it is found and the Lord Jesus knew that and condemned it and the ones practicing it.
Verse 43 Then there was the matter of the seats. There was an over inflated ego present in the Pharisees that demanded that they be given the best seats at the synagogues and greetings in the market place. There was a danger of this attitude being brought over to the church age and it is for this reason that these verses were written in James 2
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
If we accept the adulation of men then there is little room for the Lord Jesus to give His commendation. It is His commendation that is important and not mans.
Verse 44 The third woe was to do with graves. The Lord Jesus referred to Numbers 19.16 where touching a grave caused a person to be unclean and defiled. His meaning was obvious. These religious fools were full of greed and wickedness, seemingly so clean on the outside and paying their tenth down to the garden herbs, but neglecting justice and the love of God. They wanted to be seen and recognized by people in public but the people who took their influence and example from them did as much as walking over graves without realising it. They were affected in much the same way as a person would be defiled by walking over a grave but such was the insidious nature of the pretence that such people did not realise what was happening to them. The Pharisees defiled people and the people had no idea. The Pharisees did not love the people they purported to guide. They didn't love God. They only loved their religion.
Verse 45 The lawyers were taken aback by all that was said here and one of them pleaded their innocence. There are about 600 actual laws in the OT (The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי"ג מצוות: taryag mitzvot, 613 mitzvot) is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b see Wikipedia 613 commandments) . The lawyers had wrote and added until there were many thousands of rules. They believed obedience to their rules and codes was more important than obeying the law itself. It no longer was the Law of Moses. It was the Law meaning the law of the Scribes and Pharisees. They were culpable for leading people astray as well as the Pharisees. The two groups went hand in glove.
Verse 46 Condemnation ensued from the mouth of the Saviour. Here was one whose purpose in coming was not to condemn the world but who uttered condemnation on this occasion and to this group of people. The laws that they had added to what God had said had made the peoples lives so burdensome and grievous and yet they declined to be subject to the same burdens.
Verse 47 Then there was the fifth woe and the matter of the sepulchres. They made a great show of building structures to commemorate the prophets but it was people just like them who had refused to hear what the prophets had said and who had indeed beaten, stoned and even killed them. On the face of it the lawyers had respect for the dead but they were from a breed whose forbears had killed them. What was the point of making something of the prophets lives when the words they said had been refused?
Verse 48 They bore witness that they allowed the deeds of their fathers. The tombs may have suggested otherwise but there had been no change of heart. The fathers may have done the killing but the sons had tried by raising tombs to these men to cover up the fact that they were just like the fathers without the sticks and stones in that they, like them, had refused to hear and were aggressively making sure that their words were not heard by those who needed to hear them. The raising of sepulchres to prophets whose words were not heard was tantamount to killing them in the first place (see Mark 12.1-12).
Verse 49 Here were men who persecuted the Lord Jesus and the disciples. Instead of listening to their words they sought to undermine them on every possible occasion.
Verse 50 This generation was the one of whom all the prophets blood that had been shed from the foundation of the world was going to be required. They were going to be punished for the rejection of the word of God at the prophets mouths down through the generations. Soon they were going to reject and slay the Saviour Himself. Judgment was to fall upon them.
Verse 51 The Saviour was specific. The blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias was involved. The following comments are taken from the Pulpit commentary associated with this verse at http://biblehub.com/luke/11-51.htm. It is considered wise to check the veracity of the statements contained here. The reason, probably, why these two are selected out of the long red list of the noble army, must be sought for in the special position which the recital of these two deaths occupies in the Jewish canon of Scripture; the death of Abel being related in Genesis, the first book of the canon, that of Zacharias in the Second Book of Chronicles, which occupies the last place in the sacred volume (is the Jewish canon). They were simply two martyrdoms of illustrious men at the beginning and at the close of the long many-coloured story of the chosen race. There is no doubt that the Zacharias here alluded to was Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada the high priest - a prophet and preacher of righteousness, who at the commandment of the king was stoned in the court of the house of the Lord. This is related in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, in the same passage which was evidently in the Lord's mind when He pronounced the awful woe upon the generation then living. This martyrdom of Zacharias was to his Jewish listeners a very familiar and painful memory. It evidently ranked among the most terrible crimes committed by their fathers, and was the subject of some wild strange legends in the Talmud. The martyr's blood would not dry up; it was still bubbling when Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans took the temple. No sacrifices availed to stop the awful flow. Tradition assigns one of the four great sepulchral monuments at the foot of Olivet, alluded to above, to the murdered Zacharias.
There is a principle here in that God requires that which is past (Ecclesiastes 3.15).
Verse 52 This is the sixth and final woe in Lukes account (note that Matthew has seven woes). It was not just that they had not entered in themselves but that they had taken away the key of knowledge and others had not been allowed to enter into all that God had for believing people. They had access to something of value that they would not avail themselves of but which that they would not let anybody else have either. They should have heralded the arrival of the Lord Jesus. They decried scripture. They were engaged in a deprecation of the word of God. They did not encourage others to enter in to all the blessings that God had for men and women and boys and girls in Christ. They hindered rather than helped. No wonder they felt the sharpness of the Saviours tongue. No wonder their reaction in the final verses of the chapter.
Verses 53-54 When attacked they resorted to attack. They had no defence. They could not justify what they were doing. They went on the offensive with the words urge vehemently being used. The idea in the words used is that they were terribly angry. They were in the wrong. Period. That should have been the end of the matter but instead they covered their guilt with a front of a feeling of injustice. Is that what we do?
Such was their anger that they laid in wait for the Lord Jesus. It was one man against many and they all intent on catching something out of His mouth. How futile. What a waste of anger. He would not be drawn (the word for provoke is to draw out). He would not be caught out. The attitude on the part of the group of people at the commencement of this chapter is correct. They were hanging on the Saviours words for the right reasons and there was no anger, no negative response. The attitude at the end of the chapter is entirely different. The words spoken by the Lord Jesus were different as well but we must ever remember that whether we are being taught (beginning of the chapter) or our errors are being exposed (end of the chapter) to be humble enough to be taught and to be corrected. We do not unteachable and incorrigible either unbelievers or saints.