Woe to pharisees and lawyers. Lk 11:37-54 Part 2

Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:00
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Last week we began looking at this passage in to book of Luke where Jesus is warning the Pharisees and lawyers.
The Pharisees and lawyers are both very religious groups.
Seeking to know and follow the law.
The difference between the two types of people were that the Pharisees were adding a lot of oral traditions on top of the law that they said were required to be in a right relationship with God.
The desired to completely separate themselves from anyone who did not follow their rules to the letter.
Jesus though wants to get past this list rules, past the do’s and don’ts and push to the heart of the individual.
God does not what you head knowledge about him, God the one who created you, wants you to be in a loving relationship with him.
God wants you to know that he created you, he formed you, he loves you.
I began asking a couple of questions of us last Sunday to push us to be introspective, looking into ourselves.
How is your heart?
What is going on with your soul?
Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 The Heart of Hypocrisy

J. C. Ryle said:

Let me counsel every true servant of Christ to examine his own heart frequently and carefully before God. This is a practice, which is useful at all times; it is especially desirable at this present day. When the great plague of London was at its height, people took note of the smallest symptoms that appeared on their bodies in a way that they never noticed them before. A spot here, a spot there, which in time of health, men thought nothing of, received close attention when the plague was decimating families and striking down one after another! We ought to watch our hearts with double watchfulness. We ought to give more time to meditation, self-examination and reflection. It is a hurrying, bustling age; if we would keep from falling, we must take time for being frequently alone with God.

God doesn’t want us to simply know about him, to have a head knowledge of God.
God wants our hearts.
To have our hearts is to be in relationship with him.
In our passage this morning we will continue see Jesus addressing exactly that fact.
Knowledge about God is necessary, but what you do with that knowledge is of the utmost importance.
Luke 11:37–54 ESV
37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people 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 whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” 53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
The first thing that Jesus pointed out the the pharisee was his hypocritical nature.
You wash the outside of the cup but the inside remains dirty.
Jesus used an everyday item to relate to the Pharisee what his life looked like.
Jesus then uses the analogy of giving to the poor to encourage people to freely give up those things inside of them that they are holding on to.
Freely give up those harmful things within that you are holding on to.
Don’t close your fist upon lust, upon greed, upon anger, retaliation, hate, unforgiveness, malice, envy, strife.
We pick up this morning in verse 42 as Jesus pronounces 3 woes to the pharisees.
A woe is not a threat but a statement.
It is a sorrowful statement.
One that expresses displeasure.
Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 Woe to Hypocrisy

Here it is a word of sadness for the sorry condition of the Pharisees, who were majoring on the minors, while completely omitting the really important things.

This first pronouncement is a continuation of what we looked at last week.
Luke 11:42 ESV
42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
I do appreciate how the NLT puts this verse.
Luke 11:42 NLT
42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.
Unlike hand washing, tithing was something that was commanded in scripture.
In the OT we read read members of the covenant community were to give one tenth of the gross income to support the worship and work of God’s house.
The rub with Jesus though lies here again in how the Pharisees went about it.
This is a matter of the heart
Specifically the Pharisees hearts towards this act of service to God.
Here we see Jesus addressing the nature of the obedience to the law.
They were taking painstaking efforts to cut exactly one tenth from even their smallest herbs.
Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 Woe to Hypocrisy

Instead of making a rough overestimate in their giving to God, they calculated their offerings down to the last decimal point.

In their rule keeping they lost what we are told to do as Christians today.
2 Corinthians 9:6–8 ESV
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
The pharisees had lost their joy of giving generously to God.
It had become simply a duty that was required of them.
This is a question we must ask of ourselves as well in examining our own hearts.
Am I giving of my time, of my finances to God, cheerfully?
We all know it is hard to give cheerfully at times, especially when you don’t have much to give.
But that is just it, God wants your heart.
Especially when it is hard, when our time is pressed, when our funds are tight, God wants our hearts.
Our giving in those times reflects our hearts towards God.
It is the internal battle of devotion to ourselves or devotion to God.
I have had to wrestle with this myself, why do I do the things I do, why do I serve the way I do?
I can tell you it is not because I am a pastor.
I do the things I do, serve in the manner that I do because of the the amount of service God has shown me.
That doesn’t mean that it is not difficult or tiresome at times.
But I am reminded often as I think about what Christ has done.
The service he has provided for me.
My response, and I must check my heart and motives in this often is to
Romans 12:1 ESV
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
My hope and prayer is that each of you are doing the same thing yourselves.
Desiring to serve God because of what He has done for you.
Jesus makes his next statement as proof that the Pharisees were not doing this.
Jesus says they neglected justice and the love of God.
Jesus is not condemning the tithe, rather he is addressing the distorted priorities that the Pharisees have.
Giving a tenth of their smallest garden herbs while neglecting justice and the love of God.
They did this by taking every rule to the extreme, and looking down upon others who did not, when even they could not keep the rules perfectly themselves.
Jesus description of them in Matthew is telling
Matthew 23:2–7 ESV
2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
PHYLACTERY (φυλακτήριον, phylaktērion). Prayer boxes that Jewish men wear on their foreheads or left forearms as a devotional aid during statutory times for prayer.
To tithe mint and rue, and at the same time to practice injustice towards the stranger, the fatherless and the widow and to show no love for God,
Jesus is saying that they made a complete mockery of the spirit of tithing and of its true purpose, and turned it into a heartless, mechanical, financial operation.
They had become heartless towards God.
How is your heart towards God?
What are you doing and why are you doing it.
Admittedly, we don’t always feel it, (feelings can be fickle) there are times when we must doing things out of compulsion.
We must train our hearts.
Think of raising children, we often teach them to do things they do not want to do because we know it will be best for them in the long run.
But if we are doing that, if we are training our hearts and they are not changing.
We need to evaluate first our relationship to the Lord.
Is there a relationship there to begin with?
If I have that relationship, have I developed a legalistic attitude towards God?
Am I giving of my time and finances so that I can get in to heaven?
Or am I cheerfully giving out the love that I have for my savior and what He has done for me?
Desiring as well that others might also come to know Him.
Jesus next woe addresses the pride of the Pharisees.
Luke 11:43 ESV
43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
There are a number of similarities to our church going culture today.
Most often today in church, we avoid the front row,
Perhaps some of the reason is fearing exactly the reason that the Pharisees wanted to sit there.
A false belief that sitting up front will make us look super spiritual or something of the sort.
This is exactly what the Pharisees wanted.
They wanted the front row to look more spiritual.
Luke Original Meaning

They love the front seats in the synagogue and the special greetings they receive on the road. Such privileged attention leads to an elitist mentality rather than to the commitment to serve.

We can’t exactly equate the synagogue of Jesus day with church today though.
Synagogue of Jesus day was the show in town, it was the place to be.
We would have to put it more in the category of a concert or other public event.
When we think of those sort of events, where are the most coveted seats?
The front row!
You have the best view, you might look cool on the screen being up close to the stage.
When we bring this back into the church today though, you can perhaps hear better, you have the best view, if you are a people watcher like myself, you are less likely to be distracted by what is happening in front of you.
The church today is sharing the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the greatest news and the greatest show on earth!
Where you sit in church does not matter.
There are reasons we sit in certain places, children, tradition, etc.
Jesus doesn’t care where you sit in church, he cares that you are here, and wants your heart to be here as well.
Not distracted or putting on a show.
Jesus third woe to the pharisees follows along this same train of thought addressing their pride.
Luke 11:44 ESV
44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
‌ Jesus describes them as being like death for others, since they are like an unmarked grave over which people walk without knowing.
They are the conductors of spiritual uncleanness, because they do not model real spirituality.
Such leadership is destructive, so Jesus pulls no punches in condemning it.
Pride tends to make us into nonlisteners.
We can speak, but we cannot hear.
We think no one has anything to tell us.
This is a prideful mindset no matter what aspect of life we find it in.
None of us are perfect, none of us are all that and bag of chips.
A prideful mindset is death to relationships and death to genuine spirituality.
If we are tempted to criticize others we should do so only with the attitude that we too are tempted and might fall into sin (cf. Gal. 6:1).
‌Judging by what Jesus has said thus far, the gravest danger often comes from theologically informed, religiously active, morally conservative people whose hearts are far from God.
Hypocrisy and pride kill relationships.
Nothing is deadlier to the life of true godliness than spiritual hypocrisy.
These woes are a devastating condemnation of pride and self-assurance in the pursuit of a godly relationship.
The neglected heart has become a blind and hard heart.
So again I ask you to consider,
How is your heart?
What is going on with your soul?
God wants all of you, your whole being, not just the little bits here and there.
He wants you, your heart, he wants to grow in a relationship with you!
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