October 21 – Luke 11:37-54

Monday, October 21, 2013

Luke 11:37-54 – Six Woes

Perhaps it was the Pharisee who accused Jesus of allegiance with the devil, or maybe one of those who demanded a sign, but with no good will, he invited him to dinner in his home. He had listened to the entire exchange, but had heard nothing … nor had the other Pharisees who were also traveling in the crowd.

Jesus knew all along what their intentions were and though he was rude by not washing up first, he had something to say to them. The Pharisees placed a great deal of importance on the ritual of washing up before eating. In fact, eating with unwashed hands was a sin as great as that of impurity.

The hypocrisy in a Pharisee’s life was that they created so many rules to purify themselves on the outside in accordance with the Law, that they completely ignored the original intent – that of purifying the heart.

Jesus begins the metaphor of cleaning a cup, but before he gets in too deeply, he simply accuses the Pharisees of being greedy and wicked. They are fools, caught up with rituals and making things look nice on the outside. But, God created both.  Jesus offered them an opportunity to make themselves clean – by helping the poor, but their ignorance to his call on their lives was complete.

Luke moves the story of Jesus accusation of hypocrisy into the six woes that Jesus proclaimed. The first is about giving. Petty tithing is likened to washing the outside of a cup and doing nothing more. Justice and love should be practiced – even if only a tenth of their time were given to those attributes, their lives would be different.

The second woe is for those who like to be seen in public religious places and like to be seen publicly greeting others. Their inner lives are filthy, but they make a good show.

The third woe is in regards to death. If you touched a dead person or a grave, you were unclean for seven days. They were unclean, yet kept their sins hidden. Just as if they had walked over a grave without anyone knowing it … they were contaminated.

Turning to the scribes … or the ones who are experts in the Law, Jesus responds to their accusation that he is insulting them (Luke 11:45).

These are the men who interpreted the Law and created situations for the people of Israel that they could not bear. They set them up and then refuse to help them. His fourth woe is against these people.

The fifth woe is in regard to the tombs that were held in high regard. It was much more important to decorate these sites of ancient days than it was to care for the people who were in need. For that matter, the tombs, in many cases, were of those who killed prophets and those who came to preach the good news. This generation was the final generation of Israel that would live in the old days. They were to be held responsible for the sins of the nation. From this point forward, Jesus’ blood would heal those who came to God.

The final woe cites their refusal to share the knowledge of the Lord with everyone. The scriptures were the key to the living God and their interpretations closed up the true meaning of God’s word.

Jesus walked into the lion’s den and when he left, the lion was snarling.