“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. 47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 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.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 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. 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.” 53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.” Luke 11.46-54
This rebuke from Jesus towards the Pharisees and experts in the law reminds me of when an emotional damn bursts and a person finally lets out all their steam. Like when a married couple is having an arguement about one thing, but everything else that person has done wrong in the last year (or decade) comes spewing forth. The list just keeps adding up!
This appears to be the case here with Jesus. He is letting these guys (Jewish men specifically) have it. He is letting loose with both barrels and is blasting away. He is sparing no expense in telling them exactly how he feels.
The previous lesson contained three specific “woes” and now we have at least that many more. What are they? First, Jesus accuses the “experts in the law” (a title which Jesus uses as tongue in cheek) who “load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” The Laws of Moses were burdensome. There were 613 commandments the people were expected to handle. Trying to obey the law became their god rather than loving God himself. They were more concerned with making sure the people followed the rules then followed God with their hearts.
Second, Jesus says, “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.” The experts, and their forefathers, killed the prophets sent their way but built tombs in their honor. They are living in hypocrisy and will be responsible for the blood shed.
Third, Jesus says, “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.” Could this be that they loved knowledge rather than knowing the Creator? They missed the point. The Laws were intended to draw people into a knowledge and love of God rather than a system of rules and regulations. The experts “have not entered” into this knowledge of knowing, and they have “hindered those who were entering,” — the people to whom they are serving.
Jesus is, once again, pretty ticked off. He’s done. He’s finished. This is the last phase of his life and he’s speaking truth to those who need to hear it the most. He’s reordering the system of Judaism, some of whom listened and lead early Christian churches. Others ignored his warning, remained staunch Orthodox Jews, lost the Temple, were sent into captivity, and their ancestors are attempting to recreate the religious system today that existed then. They are serving the Law and missing the Law Giver.
I realize this is pretty heavy! Let’s take a breather and give thanks to Jesus who came in the flesh. He came so we might know him, love him and serve him. His commands are for our good but for our freedom. Let’s embrace the God who called us into a relationship with him. By his grace and for his glory.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me. When I am lost and in despair, you bring light my way. You are the sun and the moons, the creator of all things, the one who started my life and the one who beats my heart. Help me know you deeply and to help make you known. Do not be silent. Do not be still. Awaken your people. Call forth your servants into actions so they world might know your love and your Kingdom come. For you are good and your love endures forever.: