Luke 11

Luke 11
by Pastor Mark Hudson

We begin this chapter with the disciples asking Jesus a question, “Lord, teach us to preach.”  Or was it, “Lord, teach us to heal the sick”  or maybe “Lord, teach us to feed 5,000 people.”  No, they asked Him to teach them to pray.  Can you imagine how Jesus prayed? What a privilege to hear the Lord Jesus pray.  I would guess most of us need help praying.  So, Jesus gives them a model of prayer.

He follows that with exhortations and encouragements to pray.  The first, found in vs. 5-8, is about persistence or imprudence in prayer.  This is followed by vs. 9-11 encouraging us to pray with boldness and to ask in prayer.  In verse 8, the word translated as imprudence in the ESV is only found here in the N.T.  The point seems to be on such a bold request not on his repeated request.  Who would ask someone for help at midnight?  But because he does bother not just his friend but his friend’s entire family, he does get the neighbor whatever he wants.   Be bold in prayer.  Ask God for what you want.  Don’t hold back.

In vs. 9-13 we are told (“and I tell you”) to ask, seek, and knock.  Then comparing our willingness to give good gifts to our children, our Lord tells them how eager their heavenly Father is to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.  God is a giver who loves to give.  So, we should ask Him for what we need and even what we want.

In v. 14ff, Jesus’ relationship with the Pharisees (v. 15 – “some of them”) is getting even more serious.  Jesus is constantly doing good to people. Here he is healing a mute by casting out a demon.  The people marvel (as they should) but the religious “leaders” claim that His power is from Satan which is an incredibly serious thing to say.  This is blasphemy.  While they never verbalized their accusation Jesus read their minds.  Jesus challenges and rebukes their hellish thinking.  They contradict themselves (v. 19).  If God is doing this work, the kingdom has “come upon you.”  Jesus is the stronger One and now Jesus says to them, “If you aren’t on my side, you are against Me.”  Jesus, by implication, states that you are therefore, against God.

In the next section, vs. 24-26, Jesus seems to imply that whoever believes in Him must keep pursuing Him.  If Christ changes a person, that same individual can’t be done changing with no effort in following Christ. The “changed” person must keep believing, repenting, obeying.  If not, that person that God did a work in, can become a house swept and put in order for . . . more demons.  This is a fascinating story to remind us not to be passive but follow Christ.

Luke 37-54 is a troubling section for anyone who does not love and obey our Lord Jesus.  A Pharisee invited Jesus to eat with him, so Jesus accepted.  The Pharisee started dinner by judging Jesus.  Jesus, either knowing his thoughts, observing a look, or responding to the Pharisees words lovingly says what He should to deliver him and the other Pharisees from their bondage to sin.  Imagine being on the receiving side of Jesus’ words.  Does not our Lord go right to the heart of the matter?  First, the Pharisees major in externals.  “Inside you are full of greed and wickedness.”  It would be unkind and harsh if it were not true.  But they needed to hear the truth if they were ever going to come to the truth.

No wonder the Pharisees hated Christ.  The Pharisees emphasized outward appearances and rules at the expense of what God values: internal integrity and justice and the love of God.  Jesus knew God and the Pharisees did not.  Our Lord was humble and meek while the Pharisees loved the attention of others (v. 43).  Jesus valued God’s approval while the Pharisees needed man’s approval.  They were polar opposites.  Jesus ends His analysis being saying the Pharisees are full of death.  What damning, yet of course, true words.

Then a theologian or scribe says, “Hey, that insults us too.”  “You are worse,”  Christ exclaims.  Instead of making it easier to know God, you bury people with your (not God’s) rules that crush others.   You don’t help but rather hinder people from knowing God.  Your fathers killed God’s prophets and you are just like them. In fact, because of who I am and your rejection of me, you will be held to a higher account.  You will bear the unending wrath of a holy God.

“For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”  What serious words of condemnation.  David P. Murray uses an illustration something like this.  Imagine people giving food and money to help the people of Ukraine.  They give out of compassion and concern for the elderly, the poor, the children, and those who have lost their homes or businesses.  Then imagine one person accepting all the food and money and putting it in a warehouse, locking the warehouse and tossing the key to the bottom of a lake.  This is what the scribes are doing.

You might expect (or hope) that the Pharisees would respond with repentance.  You would expect they might say, “Oh, Lord.  Save me from my sin.  I have followed my own way and I need your help.  Save me!”  Or “Is it true?  Please forgive my blindness and my failure to serve God and others.  Oh, save my soul!”

Oh, no.  Verses 53-54 vindicate our Lord’s words.  They are “lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.”  This is their response?  We will cancel Him!  We will shut Him up.  We won’t listen to Him.  We will listen for how we can get Him once and for all.

This shows us how corrupting religion can be.  Religion can blind, feed our anger and pride and blind us to our own faults.  Oh, may this never be true of us.

Dear Lord.  Keep us from sinning in this way. Keep our pastors, elders, deacons, staff, and all of us from ever getting close to being so hard hearted.  Make us tender hearted, soft, and pliable to Your Holy Spirit.  We love You and never want to bring dishonor to You.  We want to serve others and point them to Christ.  Keep us repenting, God-centered, humble, and watching over our own hearts.  We never want to dishonor Your perfect glory and majesty by our rebellion.  When we do, and we certainly do, pour out Your Spirit so we come back to You repenting and looking to Christ alone.  In His name, Amen.