Luke and The Lost
Our next passage calls for repentance of anyone who seeks to do church without being the church. If you read and ponder carefully, we can see our own sins of rule keeping without building relationships, judgmental presumptions of new people who walk through the doors apprehensively, churches that become clubs that keep people out with their snobbish unwritten laws, small groups that gossip rather than helping each other change behaviors, using finances to maintain institutions rather than helping others find and follow Jesus. This list can go on and on. It is time for the church, everywhere, to repent. Jesus gets to the heart of the matter with the Pharisees. Before we look down on this group of religious scholars, let us take a long, deep look within ourselves.
We are so worried about identity theft these days. Be more worried that our identity is stolen by the evil one!
Luke 11, The Message
37-41 When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.
42 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.
43-44 “You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery. Frauds! You’re just like unmarked graves: People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never suspecting the rot and corruption that is six feet under.”
45 One of the religion scholars spoke up: “Teacher, do you realize that in saying these things you’re insulting us?”
46 He said, “Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.
47-51 “You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. The tombs you build are monuments to your murdering ancestors more than to the murdered prophets. That accounts for God’s Wisdom saying, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, but they’ll kill them and run them off.’ What it means is that every drop of righteous blood ever spilled from the time earth began until now, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was struck down between altar and sanctuary, is on your heads. Yes, it’s on the bill of this generation and this generation will pay.
52 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”
53-54 As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage. They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth.
Think about it…
–When Jesus comes, what will He say? “Well done!” OR “You’re hopeless!”
Dear Heavenly Father,
Unintentionally and intentionally we have sinned against You with our thoughts, attitudes and actions as individuals and as Your church together. You see our hearts. Cleanse us from the inside out. Help us to follow Your example of seeking lost people and pointing them back to You, not an institution or club. Deepen our relationships with You and others. We love You, help us to love others like You love us. Sacrificially and unconditionally. We cannot do this alone. Help us Holy Spirit to BE the church, to BE the one who loves well.
In Jesus Name, Amen