LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we began looking at Luke 11, and we made it through verse 28. Just for quick review of what we covered, and what we will cover, I want to read Coffman’s outline of this chapter once again.
This chapter gives Jesus' instruction on prayer (Luke 11:1-13), recounts his refutation of the Pharisees' insinuation that Christ was in league with Satan (Luke 11:14-26), records his reaction to a compliment (Luke 11:27-28), details another instance of his reference to Jonah (Luke 11:29-32), stresses his warning against spiritual blindness (Luke 11:33-36), tells of his lunch with a Pharisee (Luke 11:42-44), includes an additional three "woes" against the lawyers, and concludes with Luke's summary of the intensified evil cabal (kuh-b-owl) against Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees (Luke 11:53-54). (Coffman’s commentary on Luke).
So, let’s begin our study starting with:
Luke 11:29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. 30 "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.
Imagine this crowd gathering around Jesus, yet what do we find Him saying? He says this is an evil generation. This does not fit with the view that some have about Jesus because they want Him to be some loving guy that never says a harsh word. Jesus was right. That was an evil generation, and there has certainly been many more evil generations because man always seems to gravitate to those things that are sinful because, they want to do what they want to do.
When Jesus says they seek a sign, He most likely is referring back to verse 16, which says:
Luke 11:16 Others, testing Him, sought from Him a sign from heaven.
The problem was, many of the Jews wanted Jesus to perform signs to further prove who He said He was, but He had already worked many miracles and had many witnesses to those miracles, but it was never enough for these opposing Jews.
There is a similar attitude today when it comes to people believing in Jesus. You can give them all the proof in the world, but they refuse to open their eyes to the truth. As Paul said:
2 Timothy 3:7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Jesus goes on to say that the only sign they will be given is Jonah the prophet. What does this mean? We learn more about this in:
Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Coffman rightly states:
The sign of Jonah ... is nothing less than the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as typified by the miraculous entombment and delivery after three days of Jonah in the belly of the great fish, this truth having been spelled out in detail by Matthew (Matthew 12:40), and witnessed by the inscriptions in the catacombs for centuries afterward.
Boles also states:
Jonah’s remaining in the belly of the fish became a type of Jesus’ remaining in the grave. This is the sign that Jesus gave as his proof of his Messiahship.
From Matthew’s account, which we also learn from the Book of Jonah, the people of Nineveh listened to Jonah and repented, but these people would not listen to Jesus even though He was far greater than Jonah.
Again, I cannot help but see this same thing going on today. People will listen to a man or woman and do what they say because they respect them, but these same people will not respect Jesus or what God’s Word says. We all must remember, that there is a judgment day coming and we will be judged for who we listened to and followed. So, let’s not be like the majority of this evil generation. Instead, let us be counted among the few who believes in Jesus and lives by what He taught us to do. Jesus goes on to say:
Luke 11:31 "The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. 32 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
We already talked about the men of Nineveh, but Jesus also includes the queen of the South doing the same thing. She will rise up and condemn that generation. Why? Because she went to great lengths to hear the wisdom of Solomon, which of course came from God, but these opposing Jews were not on a quest to learn about Jesus, they were just looking for some way to bring our Savior down. They had the wrong attitude.
We must be careful that we do not have the wrong attitude when it comes to living for God and obeying His truth. There are far too many today who just want to seek God out for what they can get out of the deal instead of really wanting to know Jesus and what God expects from us.
Next, Jesus says:
Luke 11:33 " No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. 34 "The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 "Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. 36 "If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light."
Jesus is making the point that those who seek signs and do not have the right attitude about God, are full of darkness. So, they cannot see clearly because they are not willing to see the light. Jesus has been transparent about who He was, and He has proved over and over again that He is the Messiah.
When your eye is healthy, it will allow you to see things clearly and allow light to enter into your body. However, if your eye is damaged, it will not let you see clearly and the light cannot come in. Therefore, you will be in darkness. In other words, if your focus is on heaven, which means you will be living according to what God wants, then you will clearly see the path of righteousness and will be able to follow that path in every situation. However, if you make worldly things or your selfishness is your priority, then you have become blind to the truth and the only path you can see is the wide road that leads to destruction and your life is full of darkness because you seek worldly things instead of God.
I also like what Boles wrote about our text:
As the lamp is made for light and its useful purposes, so the eye was made for vision, needing therefore to be in perfect condition so as to fulfill its functions well. In like manner the moral light of God comes into the world through Christ to be accepted by men honestly and with an unprejudiced mind. For as a blurred eye dooms the whole body to darkness, so does a prejudiced, worldly heart shut off the light of God and doom the miserable man to the darkness of delusion and death. The “eye is single” when it is undimmed and has its natural and proper powers for straight and clear seeing; when the eye is evil, that is, it lacks its power of clear and correct sight, the body is full of darkness.
We learn from this that we must be honest seekers of truth. When we have this attitude as we live for God, then we are going to be full of light. Where there is light, there is no room for darkness. We must never forget where we learn how to be vessels of light. As David said:
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
I hope each of you continues to strive to make our eyes full of light so that we will have the right attitude and so we will be just like that candle that is used to give light to the whole room.
Luke 11:37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 "Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 "But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.
We have a written record of Jesus dining with several Pharisees. This Pharisee was shocked that Jesus sat down and did not wash up before dinner because it was the custom of the Pharisees to do this and it had nothing to do with germs but had everything to do with ceremony. Jesus rebukes the Pharisee for having the wrong focus because he was concerned about the outside of man and the rituals than what was in a man’s heart.
As I thought about this whole concept, I could not help but think about how there are some Christians that look really good on the outside and they attend the worship services, Bible classes, and they talk the talk, but they are dead on the inside. They live a lie. Their heart is not in it, they just go around pretending, while they are really full of darkness. I feel sorry for people like this because they are just going through the motions and they really do not understand the joy that comes from being a Christian inside and out.
Of course, there are other Christians who lose their focus as well as they concern themselves with things that really do not matter in the scheme of things. Some of the more ridiculous things I think about are those Christians who divide over the color of the carpet or what color to paint a room. We need to be careful that we make sure that we are clean on the inside first, because then everything else will fall into place.
Regarding our text, I like what Boles says about it:
Jesus charged this Pharisee with making the outside clean, but neglecting the inside. He did not object to cleansing the outside, but his objection was the cleansing of the outside and leaving the inside unclean; the Pharisees would substitute the outside cleansing for the inward cleansing; this Jesus severely condemned. Jesus used the common illustration of “the cup and of the platter” because these were on the table while they were eating. It was a severe charge to say that they were “full of extortion and wickedness.” The Pharisees kept the external regulations, but their hearts were full of plunder and wickedness. The psalmist had said, “Thou, desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). A cleansed body does not make a pure heart any more than fine clothes make a noble character.
Next, Jesus says:
Luke 11:42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 43 "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them."
We will see Jesus say similar things at a later date when we get to Mt. 23, but as we just read, Jesus did not hold back when He rebuked the Pharisees. He gives them three woes. In the first woe, He points out how they kept their tithes of mint and herbs, but they were neglecting justice and love of God or as in Matthew’s account, He told them were neglecting the weightier matters of the Law.
Please note, Jesus did not say that they should not concern themselves with those things that were not weightier matters of the law, but that they should be doing both those things. These Pharisees had no problem doing those things that were easy for them to do, but they were neglecting the other things the Law of Moses taught.
We can learn from this that there are all kinds of easy things we can do that N.T. teaches us, but to only practice those parts of the Law of Christ that we like while neglecting those parts that seem hard to us is wrong. We must do our best to keep the easy and the hard parts of the Law of Christ.
Another idea I want to bring out from this example is something the people accuse preachers of sometimes. When a preacher preaches on a topic that seems like a minor thing in their minds, they will complain and say the preacher is majoring on the minors and he should not be doing that when there is more important things to preach on. Now if a preacher only focused on minor things, I would agree, but that is not usually the case. When a preacher preaches the whole counsel of God, he is going to preach on the minor and the major because everything needs to be preached on. Just as I pointed it, Jesus did not tell these Pharisees to stop doing the minor and only focus on the major, no He said do both.
The second woe was made against their pride, because they loved the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. They were all about having people see how great they were. They lived to hear men speak of them highly. As Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount, they would make long prayers so as to impress the people who heard them. This pride of theirs is what made them so blind when it came to Jesus. All they could think about was how the Romans might take away their rights if Jesus had too many following after Him. I believe they also could not stand it that Jesus had the attention of the people, attention that they wanted for themselves.
We live in a time where this attitude is all around. Our society as a whole has a selfish mindset and many want their 15 minutes of fame. Our society loves to be like the world, and they have a hard time looking beyond themselves. Due to the mindset of society, it is harder to reach people with the truth of God’s Word and once you do reach them with it, it becomes challenging to get them to understand the importance of always putting God first in their lives and for them to live and breathe by God’s commands. That is exactly what we need to be doing as we continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord.
The third woe talks about their hypocrisy. In order to better understand what Jesus was talking about, I think His thought is made much clearer when He basically says the same thing later on in:
Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
This all goes back to Numbers 19:16, which states that a person will become unclean for 7 days if he touches a grave. Since that was the case, the Jews would paint the tombs white so they could easily be seen, which is why Jesus makes the reference to whitewashed tombs. In other words, the Pharisees looked righteous on the outside, but they were unclean on the inside because they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
In Luke’s account, Jesus is saying since these men appear to be righteous on the outside but are really corrupt on the inside when men come in contact with them, they have no idea that they are corrupt and, if they listen to them or follow them, then they can cause them to become corrupt without even realizing it just like a man could become unclean for stepping on an unmarked grave without knowing it. As Jesus said in another place:
Matthew 15:14 "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
There are always going to be people like this who you will meet that act like righteous people, but they are full of sin on the inside. Hopefully, we never find ourselves being like this. One thing we must not do as Christians is to make other men or women our rock no matter how righteous they seem to be because men and women can fail us. So, always make God your rock because He will never fail you. That way, when someone you respected goes in the wrong direction, you will not follow them because you are rooted and grounding in the way of God.
After this strong rebuke to the Pharisees, we read:
Luke 11:45 Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also."
The lawyers also called scribes in the N.T. knew the law well and were associated with the Pharisees, which is why one of these lawyers felt like Jesus rebuke applied to them as well. In fact, he felt insulted by what Jesus said, which is what the word reproach means. These men were responsible for much of the wrongful interpretation of the Law and were guilty of adding to it and taking away from it. This lawyer, may have wished he had not spoken up at this time because notice Jesus’s response:
Luke 11:46 And He said, "Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 "Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 "In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 "Therefore the wisdom of God also said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill 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 to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. 52 "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered."
If that lawyer felt insulted before, I wonder how he felt now. First, Jesus points out how the lawyers were good at binding heavy burdens on others while they would not practice what they preached. In fact, Jesus said they would not even lift a finger to touch the burden they bound on others. This is what is called hypocrisy. As Christians, we need to make sure that we are not guilty of the same thing because it is easy to tell others what they should do according to God’s Word, but it is another to live by it, but that is exactly what we must do.
Second, He talks about the tombs they were building for the prophets their fathers killed. I think Coffman explains this woe well. He writes:
The hypocritical conduct of lawyers in building impressive tombs to the honor of God's prophets whose words they themselves despised and were in the process of violating (through their opposition to Jesus) was one and the same quality of action as that of killing the prophets. The character of those tomb-builders made the tombs they built monuments to the killing, and not to the prophets! It was in that light that Jesus looked upon those tombs, viewing them as evidence that the evil generation before him was of the same perverse and rebellious nature as that of their ancestors. Summers observed that "The lawyers kept the view alive (that God's prophets should be killed) by building the memorial reminders." Phillips' translation catches the spirit of the Lord's word in this place thus: "You show clearly enough how you approve your fathers' actions. They did the actual killing and you put up a memorial to it." (Coffman’s commentary on Luke)
These Jews, or ones like them, would also play their part in putting Jesus’ to death as well, but there was going to be a consequence for all this shed blood of the righteous, which would be the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70.
Then Jesus gives them the 3rd woe, which was about them taking away the key of knowledge. As I mentioned already, they had perverted the Law of Moses by misinterpreting it and by adding on traditions as if they were from God. Not only were they leading their people away from God and His kingdom that Jesus would build, they would not enter into it either. This is what happens when man changes up the Word of God to fit with what they desire, which why it is so important for preachers and teachers alike to preach the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Finally, we read:
Luke 11:53 And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.
As you would expect, these Pharisees and scribes were furious. If looks could kill, Jesus would be dead. They began to oppose Jesus and question Him. They kept thinking that surely they could ask a question or make an argument that would render Jesus speechless thus showing that He is not who He claimed to be. Of course, we know that perfect argument or question never came about because Jesus is the Son of God, therefore it would be impossible to prove otherwise.
We need to realize that anytime we stand up for the truth, there are always going to be those who will argue with us and try and find someone to discredit us or the truth that we speak. While it would be great to be unstoppable like Jesus, we may fail at times, not because we do not have the truth, but because we may not have the wisdom on how to deal with a false argument that has been brought up that we never heard of before. However, the more we study and learn to present God’s truth, the better we will become at answering those questions or false arguments that man may come up with, but whatever you do, never give up on preaching and teaching the truth.
I hope we learn from this lesson to never be like the Pharisees and scribes Jesus rebuked. Instead, let us be children of God who are committed to putting God first in our lives and who are willing to live by every Word of God from the minor to the major.