For those reading through the entirety of the gospel of Luke during Lent, here are some thoughts on chapter 11.
After Jesus leaves the home of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), he begins (or continues) to get tested, cross-examined, and criticized, especially by some in the crowds. In turn, I sense Jesus getting a little testy, cross, and critical!
Even when a woman in the crowd raises her voice and says to Jesus with affirmation, “Blessed is the womb that bore you,” Jesus has a rather sharp response: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
It seems to me the rest of chapter 11, perhaps even the rest of Jesus’ teachings in Luke, hinges on that statement: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
And all I can say about verse 37 onward is WOAH!
There is a lot of woe talk. Woe to Pharisees, woe to lawyers, woe to anyone everyone who is clean on the outside, but greedy and wicked on the inside. To anyone and everyone who neglects justice and the love of God (11:42), Jesus says, “Woe to you!”
The added detail in 11:44 is rather chilling: ”Woe to you! For you [the religious leaders—Pharisees] are like “unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” Equally chilling is what Jesus says to the lawyers v. 46 onward: “Woe to you! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them…For you have taken away the key of knowledge…”
So yeah, is it any wonder that the scribes and Pharisees grew “very hostile” toward Jesus (Luke 11:53)?
Is it any wonder they ramped up their cross-examination of him? Chapter 11 ends with more chilling words: They waited for Jesus, “to catch him in something he might say.”
Of course what I catch Jesus saying most clearly is this: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” And my, how we still like to maneuver around Jesus’ harsh criticism of greed, pride, and injustice. We probably find ourselves cross-examining Jesus more than we care to admit.
Later this week I’ll post some thoughts on Luke chapter 12.