Jesus initiates the end game

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God
Praise God for the sending of his Son into the world. Praise God that everything that happened in Jesus' life, sufferings and all, as in our life, was foreordained. Acts 2 :23.
 
Acknowledge Sin
Pray that we may truly know that God's Sovereign purposes are perfect, and that they are for the good of his people and his glory.  Confess the sin of not always accepting this. Romans 8:28.

 

 

Please read Luke 11:37-54            Jesus initiates the end game.
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you turn to read his Word. 
 
V37. An invitation to dine.
Jesus receives an invitation from a Pharisee to come to his home for a meal. It's interesting that the man extends such an invitation given the interaction Jesus has just been having with the Pharisees and Scribes, but he does, and Jesus accepts it.  
 
Throughout their history, God's people have been commanded to welcome others into their homes to show love. We read of Abraham offering hospitality, Genesis 18, and Job, even though he was sick, he refused to neglect the opening of his home to others, Job 21:32. One of the reasons given for God's command to offer hospitality was because his people had once been strangers in need in Egypt themselves, Leviticus 19:33,34. Paul writes 'practice hospitality', Romans 12:13, and the verb he uses means to do so continuously. The fact that he cites it as a prerequisite for choosing church leaders, I Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8, speaks to its importance. Peter likewise says, "Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining." 1 Peter 4:8,9. The writer to the Hebrews puts it this way, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to show hospitality, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:1,2. An amazing and wonderful thought. The sad thing is that this Pharisee extended his invitation to Jesus, but didn't comprehend that he was inviting the Son of God into his home.
 
V38. How could he?
Jesus comes into the man's home and reclines at the table ready to enjoy the meal that has been prepared for him and those present. Nothing noteworthy there. Well, actually, there is. His failure to engage in the ritualistic or ceremonial washing of his hands leaves the Pharisee speechless. This wasn't a matter of hygiene, it was part of Jewish tradition and considered as binding as the Law of God; one commentator says, it "was considered more binding than those of divine law." So, this was a serious mistake on Jesus' part in the eyes of this Pharisee, a really serious mistake, and the man's reaction means that no one has to guess what he is thinking.
 
V39. You fools, it’s about the heart.
Jesus responds. Now we need to be clear. Jesus has not picked a fight over a simple custom; this is about how a person is made right before God. So, this is a life and death issue. In speaking to this man, Jesus addresses the entire Pharisee party. The critical point he is going to make is that life is not about the 'doing of things'; it is about experiencing God's work in their hearts.  
 
The Pharisees had mastered the art of doing things to give the appearance of holiness, and through doing so, they believed and deemed themselves to be holy before God, while their hearts were filled with greed and wickedness. They are fools. They are devoid of sense. Jesus' call to them through the statement about 'almsgiving' is that they seek God for a new heart, and so should be enabled to give out of a clean heart.  
 
V42. A torrent of ‘Woes’.
The torrent of woes is the Lord's verdict on these men, first the Pharisees and then the Lawyers. In respect of the Pharisees, they address things they hold precious because they speak to their self- righteousness. Things that they see as elevating them above others in the righteousness stakes; but in reality, they are things that merely manifest the rottenness of their hearts.
 
The strenuous tithing of even the smallest flowering herb was practiced with such diligence; and yet the critical matters of justice and love of God they neglect, as though they were of little significance. Yes, offer a tithe of everything to your heart's content, Jesus says, but where are you at on the fundamentals? Jesus denounces their pride. Their need for the prominent seats in the synagogue, and their craving for the overzealous greetings in the market place, with all the deep bowing and soliciting of honoured names and titles. Jesus denounces them and declares that, for all their pretence and pomp, in reality, they are those who are of no consequence, forgotten and trampled over like old unmarked graves. There's no hint here of desecration; it's merely that their lives are not visible in terms of what matters. What a contrast to how they see themselves.
 
V45. You’re insulting us!
One of the Lawyers, those who gave themselves to the study of Old Testament Law, speaks. He states what they all must have been thinking, ‘Teacher, you're insulting us’. It is quite a tame response given what Jesus has just declared upon them, namely that they are fools; that for all their tithing – their mark of righteousness, for all their self-seeking and craving for adulation, they are nothing more than unmarked graves. You would think that they would have attacked him, but they didn't, and Jesus doesn't apologize or back off. No, he turns on the Lawyers as a party and hammers them. Through their rabbinical traditions they had been heaping more and more laws and demands on the people, to such an extent that the ordinary man couldn't cope. Which is bad enough, but to lay that on people, and then fail to fulfil the fundamentals so abysmally themselves, well, what is that all about?
 
V47. Woe to you for your murderous ways and obscuring God’s Word.
As for the past, these Lawyers would ardently claim that they would not have killed the prophets of old, but Jesus says nonsense; the fact that you are building special tombs for those prophets doesn't mean that you are honouring them – it shows the opposite. It says that they were condoning these murders and were, in fact, through these construction projects, working to silence the voices of the prophets forever, even though the guise is one of 'hero' worship. Had they wanted to honour them it would have been easy to do – simply believe and do what these prophets of God taught.
 
The final woe reveals yet another paradox. These Lawyers profess to teach the meaning of the Law. But because their expositions are so filled with riddles, they’ve made it impossible for people to obtain a true knowledge of God. Preoccupied and enamoured with the mysteries they had concocted, the fact that they have so obscured the Wisdom of God that the people can’t understand it, is irrelevant to them; for these men it’s all about displaying their ability.
 
V53. A new phase kicks off.
Although they bite their tongues at the meal, word spread quickly about what Jesus had said.  A corner had been turned; a bridge had been crossed.  Jesus had launched an all-out attack on them and these Lawyers and Scribes weren’t going to sit back and take it quietly. They are enraged, and the more they talk about what Jesus had said, the more engaged they become.  The strategy adopted is a simple one – get him to incriminate himself.  Bombard him with questions: provocative questions, numerous questions, questions on anything to do with the Law in the hope that he will say something that contravenes the Law, and then they will have him. The game has changed.  Previously it was a case of – ‘who is this guy, and who does this guy think he is?’  Now it is – ‘we have to get him’, and all their energy and cunning will go into trying to do so. 
 
Jesus accepted the invitation to this meal, and he chose not to wash his hands because he knew what would transpire. This is the beginning of the end game, and God is in control of every twist and turn.

 

 

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 73C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
 

 

Memory Verse.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word. 
Matthew 6:9-12a
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,"
 
 

Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 84 - What does every sin deserve?
Answer - Although some sins will be more severely punished than others, yet every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life and the life that is to come.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
 
 

Thank God.
Thank God for the honesty of his Word.
Thank God that his desire is not for outward activity based on human ability, but on inward love and obedience, founded on his grace.
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC