Reading: Luke 11:37-54
And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 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. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 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. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. 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.” Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, “Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.” 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. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 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. 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.” 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: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
We’re picking up this passage again today, in which we meditated a little in our previous installment. The Pharisees and scribes are confronted by the Lord for paying attention to outward appearances, and establishing rituals whose sole purpose is to cover up their hypocrisy. The way in which many scribes and Pharisees were living out their faith was proof that their hearts were far from God.
However, this was not their only problem. Not only did they not reflect hearts that sought God, but they were an impediment for people who wanted to follow God to do so.
With their long list of insignificant commandments, with their impositions on the people that they themselves were unwilling to fulfill; what they were doing was making people believe that this was what it meant to love God.
They were teaching that loving God consisted of outward appearances, of endless rules and regulations, of games for power and influence.
As it says in verse 52, they were not seeking God from the heart, and even worse, they were an impediment for others to do so.
How many times do we reduce the Christian faith to a list of what pleases or doesn’t please God? God is Holy, and seeking holiness is a characteristic of God’s children, but the Gospel is the good news that in spite of the fact that we don’t want to be holy, but rather remain in our sin, there is One who transforms our hearts at their core.
The Gospel can’t be reduced to, “Now that you go to church, you can no longer do this and that.” We cannot change ourselves, let alone change others. Everything we do, all our effort, doesn’t do a thing if we don’t do it in complete dependence on the Lord Jesus.
The saddest thing is that if we stop looking to the cross, if we stop depending on Jesus, we are losing the wonder of the grace of the gospel, to the point of becoming a stumbling block for others.
MEDITATE: When someone observes our lives, do they see someone who depends each day on the grace of God? When we share the Gospel with others, are we directing their gaze to Jesus, or to our own righteousness?
Translation By: Emily Stader
Reading: Luke 11:37-54