Luke – Doors Wide Open!
As a young adult married couple, both public school teachers, settling into the life we worked hard to attain with three beautiful, bright children, all was good. Because life was good, our banker called to invite us to dinner. Wait, What?! We were so surprised and honored that a banker would invite us anywhere. He sounded so friendly over the phone, so inviting and ready to meet us outside the bank. We went only to find out he was selling shares into what looked to us to be a pyramid scheme. What a disappointment to be invited only to be disillusioned by what he really wanted. He used his position and our relationship to try to get us to join in on his bad business practices. His motives were not pure. Sigh.
In our passage today, one of the religious elite, a Pharisee, invites Jesus into his home for a meal with less than pure motives. In those days to invite someone into your home to a meal, to sit at your table was an honor. Many Jewish rituals had to be performed, however, as this was deemed a “formal” occasion. Jesus sat down, without the ritual hand washing that didn’t really “clean” your hands, and with knowing the real motivations of their hearts for inviting Him. The criticizing of Jesus began. The real reason for inviting Jesus was brought to the light of day. They wanted to discredit Jesus in every way. But Jesus knew and was ready for it.
Jesus turns the tables, so to speak, to remind them that the inside of our hearts guides our outside actions. If our hearts are unclean, what does it matter when we try to present ourselves as clean on the outside? That does not work in God’s Kingdom. Jesus was invited. Jesus used the situation for a teachable moment.
Following all the rules without having an intimate relationship with God through Jesus is no life at all.
Luke 11, New Living Translation
Jesus Criticizes the Religious Leaders
37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.
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.
43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”
45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— 51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
53 As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions. 54 They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him.
WE LEARN WHAT BREAKS GOD’S HEART…
1. To pretend we are clean on the outside without first asking for God’s cleansing on the inside. God created both.
2. Greed – Taking instead of giving.
3. Pretend to be someone we are not.
4. Using power and position to make other’s lives miserable.
5. Keeping all knowledge of God to ourselves.
6. Keeping people from coming to God.
7. Pointing people to ourselves and expecting them to be like us who have led the church all of our lives and know all the rules both written and unwritten…instead of pointing them to Jesus to be like Him.
Yikes…Am I a Pharisee? Do I behave more like Jesus or more like a religious elite?
Have I cleaned up the inside?
How do I clothed the outside? As a representation of Christ or the world?
Am I making this too complicated when what Jesus expects and what God requires is simple?
Love God. Love Others.
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
We must be reminded daily to begin each day cleansed from the inside out so others will begin to see you in us. Help us to be led by Your Holy Spirit. Help us to love people, all people, like you love us. I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. Thank you for forgiveness when I mess up when trying to love others or trying to present myself as someone else. Thank you for each fresh, new day. Thank your for the renewal of Your Holy Spirit in me, washing over me with gladness and peace. Thank you for our relationship.
In Jesus Name, Amen