In my previous post about Jesus confronting those who needed it for the sake of Biblical correctness, I shared the motive as well as the necessity of confronting what is false. We learned why Jesus thought it was worth ruffling a few feathers at times in order to speak up for what was right but also to speak against what was wrong.
I highlighted some confrontations Christ entered into and what could be learned from each encounter. The lessons back then are just as relevant to our day and time. Since we are called to follow the example of Christ (Hebrews 12:1-3), learning from the exact representation of God the Father (Hebrews 1:3), let’s continue the examination of Luke 11:27-12:3 NIV which describes several bold confrontations.
1 and 2 were listed in a previous post. See this link.
3. Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for judging others when they need to be examining themselves.
37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Luke 11:37-42
The Pharisees were allowing legalism to compromise their own obedience. In their zeal to judge others, they neglected the greater priorities of faith- loving God and others.
Christ is addressing the tendency we all have as believers- faith comparison. If you have ever noticed, we tend to fault others rather easily while we gloss over our own sin/weaknesses. It is human nature to compare our strength to someone else’s weakness. Not surprisingly, we end up looking “better” than them. In these moments, we self-righteously look down our nose at their faith while we feel puffed up about our own.
We know that “We all possess knowledge.”But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
This passage goes on to explain through verse 13 the context of food offered at idol sacrifices but the point is that the more we grow in our religious knowledge the more we can feel puffed up with pride, leading to the judgment of others. Jesus sets the standard for our faith- Christlikeness. He is the pinnacle of what we aspire to so what marked His life?
Love and humility.
The true measure of mature faith is not how much we know. It is how much we love others and exercise humility.The true measure of mature faith is not how much we know. It is how much we love others and exercise humility. Click To Tweet
If we use our time to fault others then we are wasting opportunities that should be used to examine our own hearts before a Holy, Perfect God. I have always liked what Billy Graham said.
It is God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and my job to love.
As religious leaders, we should hold up God’s Truth as the standard and teach it fervently and unapologetically. As religious people, we should seek to live by that Truth as we share the righteousness of Christ equally with the love of Christ.
4. Jesus calls out those using selfish motives in ministry.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.” Luke 11:43
The Pharisees’ motive in ministry had become selfish. They had begun to enjoy the power and authority given them through their role of shepherding God’s people. The privileges of their position ultimately compromised their purpose. They ceased to serve God’s purpose so they could serve their own. The perks of serving the religious community became the idol of their hearts.
Instead of serving others they used their position to be served. The religious leaders used their role for their own personal gain at the expense of God’s priorities and their own obedience to His commands.
This is always a temptation for those serving in ministry. As we become more fruitful, we can have the lure of enjoying the accomplishments more than our actual relationship with the Lord. Humility again is the key to staying pure in heart, selfless in our pursuits for God’s kingdom. We must never partake of the public platform of ministry at the expense of personal spiritual application.We must never partake of the public platform of ministry at the expense of personal spiritual application. Click To Tweet
5. Jesus addresses those falsely representing themselves spiritually.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” Luke 11:44
The Pharisees had carefully concealed their own spiritual condition but they were the “walking dead” nonetheless. They portrayed themselves as spiritual role models, healthy and holy in God’s sight. In fact, Jesus thought the very opposite of the identity they paraded before others.
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20
Just as the inside of a grave was considered defiled, what was inside the religious leaders equaled that offense to Jesus. As He came into public ministry, He openly tried to correct the faulty representation of the religious leaders to their community.
Just as much in our day, some of the most self-righteous people are oftentimes the ones who are the most inwardly corrupt. We must always hold Christlikeness as the comparison for spiritual maturity. A tree is known by its fruit.
6. Jesus condemns those who should be explaining the Word yet they are the very ones making it burdensome and complicated.
45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Luke 11:45-46
The experts in the law should have been explaining the law but instead, they were the ones complicating it. Over the years, they had added hundreds of traditions that the people were ordered to follow, in addition to the original “law” handed down by God. They had so confused religious expectation, misrepresenting God to His people, that it had made the Jewish faith burdensome rather than joyful.
That is why it is so important to be in the Word for ourselves. Whenever we depend on others to be our primary source of information about God and His commands, we place ourselves in vulnerable positions. Whether in Jesus’ day or ours, we must study the Bible so we are able to catch any falsehood. There are religious organizations today leading their communities astray by redefining what God declares as Truth and His expectations for His people.
What was true back then is still true today- God said what He meant and He meant what He said.
7. Jesus calls those to account that distort God’s Word, using their role for personal gain at others’ expense.
52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” Luke 11:52
In verses 47-52, Jesus reminds the religious leaders how they have interfered with God’s Word to His people for many, many years. They have persecuted the prophets sent to correct the people when they were straying from God’s intended purpose. Their ultimate goal was to silence those who were telling the nation how God wanted a correction in their course. The religious leaders wanted to appease the nation instead, in order to keep in their favor. They were ultimately misleading them, assuring them that they were ok in the sight of God rather than under His discipline.
When modern day religious leaders in churches say that homosexuality or living together before marriage is acceptable in God’s sight then we are repeating the sin of the experts in the law. No one wants to hear such holy standards we are commanded to live by but we need to nonetheless. We must resist altering the righteousness God expects of us no matter what generation we live in. His Word is eternal and the ultimate authority for faith and practice, whether we like it or not. Just because we think it is irrelevant does not alter the fact that one day we will still be judged by it.
All in all, the point of Jesus’ confrontation with people was this- Examine yourselves and correct your course! Ignorance over our own sin issues can be devastating and Jesus did not want that to happen to the world He came to save.
Is it worth it?
This intense exchange between Jesus and the religious leaders became a turning point for Him. It says in verse 53-54 that they began to oppose Him fiercely, hoping to catch Him in the wrong as they besieged Him with questions.
We do not need to think that it will cost us any less as we learn how and what to confront in our day. All I can say is that Truth matters and is vital for protecting the Biblical definition of saving faith.
What good will it do if people have “faith” but in the wrong things? If it matters what we believe as true, it matters even more that we confront what is false.It matters what we believe as true so therefore it matters even more that we confront what is false. Click To Tweet