March 24, 2020 – Tuesday
Luke 11:49 NIV
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.’
This remark of Jesus comes towards the end of His list of woes for the Pharisees and experts on the law. While the Pharisees and experts on the law are listed separately, they were in effect one group with members with different roles to play or live out that supported each other. So who were the Pharisees and the experts on the law?
The Outline of Biblical Usage begins the definition of Pharisees as A sect that seems to have started after the Jewish exile. In addition to OT books the Pharisees recognised in oral tradition a standard of belief and life. They sought for distinction and praise by outward observance of external rites and by outward forms of piety, and such as ceremonial washings, fastings, prayers, and alms giving; and, comparatively negligent of genuine piety, they prided themselves on their fancied good works. And ends with They were bitter enemies of Jesus and his cause; and were in turn severely rebuked by him for their avarice, ambition, hollow reliance on outward works, and affection of piety in order to gain popularity.
Then the lawyers or experts on the law who in the NT were interpreters and teachers of the Mosaic law according to the Outline of Biblical usage and Strong’s Definition says according (or pertaining) to law, i.e. legal (ceremonially); as noun, an expert in the (Mosaic) law.
With this in mind, what caused Jesus to say Because? He had just stated 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. Jesus was declaring they were no different from those who came before them who killed prophets then built tombs honoring them. Then in our verse of the day they too will kill and persecute prophets and apostles sent by God. By their actions against the prophets and apostles of Jesus’ time, they will show there is no difference between them and their ancestors. In fact Jesus went on to say 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. Then just in case the experts on the law, the teachers on the law, thought they had escaped His wrath and judgment He added 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.” Earlier He had said to them 46 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.
He is calling out both groups as hypocrites and some versions of the Bible include this description of them. They were hypocrites for various reasons, but most boiled down to enjoying the status of being a Pharisee or a known expert on the law, but with no interest in helping others live as Godly people. Instead they only cared to point out where others failed or did not do near enough while never examining themselves or their own hearts. It is no wonder Jesus had a list of woes for them.
For us, we may see a warning in these woes as well – to avoid using our knowledge to lord it over others without helping others in their lives showing the love of Jesus in our actions and in our hearts. In doing so we might show the way for them to also walk with Jesus and live in God’s will.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton