Passage: Luke 11:37-12:3
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
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. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
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.
Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.
One of the experts in the law answered him,
Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.
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.
Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.
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.
When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying:
Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
From the context of our Clayton Church value of Everyday Moments, Jesus’ words are once again quite contrasting and in this scenario, quite inflammatory. As the expert of the law points out, Jesus is indeed insulting them and their knowledge. The ending verse shows Jesus teaching and the use of “yeast” is a reference to the common everyday household cooking product.
Jesus had just finished teaching on the very need to not hide or separate your thoughts in the darkness from the light. A Pharisee invited Jesus to join him in a meal, but Jesus intentionally tested the Pharisee given what had just been taught – by not washing before the meal. Washing in itself carried much symbolism and was associated with the outward and not the inward heart cleansing. So when the Pharisee took notice of Jesus not washing before the meal, Jesus ended up rebuking and disciplining him.
Washing oneself, as the Pharisee did was indeed an outward exhibition activity, which did little to address the heart attitude of greed and wickedness. Jesus highlighted the weakness of attempting to clean oneself externally whilst ignoring the inner values and corrupted hearts. He spoke to the inconsistency in the lack of justice and lack of love for God evident in the lives of the Pharisees whilst focusing on giving God a mere ten percent of their possessions. Jesus also addressed behaviours and attitudes that were signs of the Pharisee’s lost focus – that even their love of important seats and being false in their respectful greetings – and how these fruit were symptomatic of the underlying heart issue.
In reaction to Jesus’ criticism, an expert of the law spoke up in retaliation, saying that what Jesus was saying also insulted his profession. This in turn shifted Jesus’ focus to targeting and pointing out the same hypocritical attitude. On the one hand the lawyers increased the legal burden of the common person which in itself was fine, but to do so without lifting a finger to help made the law experts just as bad as the Pharisees.
Even the past generations who killed the prophets would ensure that the present generation would be held responsible. In building tombs for the prophets, this current generation provided tacit approval for the past actions. All the blood of all the projects beginning with Abel through to Zechariah has been shed and because this current generation would not stand up to condemn it, and instead supports it via their attitudes, would be held responsible by God. For the experts in the law, their position of power was abused further because they held the key to knowledge but denied access and hindered others from receiving and sharing in this knowledge.
With all of these accusations cast, the crowds of Pharisees and teachers of the law both agreed to oppose Jesus and all he taught. They began to fire off many more questions at Jesus hoping to trap him with something he might say/quote. So great was this crowd that trampling became a real safety issue. Jesus spoke quickly to warn his disciples – to be on their guard against the hypocritical ways of the Pharisees. Returning to the original teaching before these terse conversations, Jesus spoke once again on the need to be consistent in both the outward and inward appearances. In the eyes of God, nothing can be hidden from His sight – whether it be our inner thoughts and heart or our external actions and words – all would be called to account before Him.
What I Discovered
- Jesus speaks to His disciples even in times of crowds, and even in the midst of wolves and unfriendly hostile crowds
- Every moment counts before the eyes of God – in secret and in public.
- When we are in positions of leadership, it is all the more important to be mindful of our heart condition so as to not lead others astray.
Obedience Step:”I Will”
I will be mindful of my thoughts and aim to live my life consistently – no matter who is around; in secret or in public. I will ask and seek accountability in this from my life-group.