Luke 11:44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”
Luke 11:45 ¶ One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.”
Luke 11:46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
Luke 11:47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.
Luke 11:48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.
Luke 11:49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’
Luke 11:50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,
Luke 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.
Luke 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
A bad church experience is hard to shake off. There is a whole trend going on now of people airing those bad experiences in deconstruction videos where they complain about all of the things that went wrong in the church and then use that to explain why they don’t have faith any more.
There is a delicate balance between having wisdom and authority, but at the same time having the humility to show that you are figuring it out as you go. Sometimes I want a sign on a pulpit that says “I’m gonna fail you. I’m not all I’m cracked up to be, but let’s help one another draw near to Jesus!”
I think that is worth the perspective of this passage today. In all of this harsh criticism of the religious leaders, it is the leaders that Jesus is criticizing, not their religion. He is listing specific things that they taught and the way they taught it, too.
At the same time, He is taking an active role in doing it the right way. He Himself is putting in the hard word to lead people and to ease their burdens — something the Pharisees were not doing.
A meme I saw early in the Pandemic said:
My wife and I play this fun game during quarantine, it’s called “Why Are You Doing It That Way?” and there are no winners
Jesus didn’t just criticize, He put effort into His words. Piling on Laws and rules and musts and shoulds doesn’t help anybody out, especially somebody that has enough struggles without you.
Let’s give out the keys of knowledge, the knowledge of Jesus’ grace, and not hindrances. Let’s criticize with our awesome example as one in the arena, and not an armchair Pharisee. Let’s be the coach that sweats from mutual exertion instead of anger and high blood pressure.
The Lord’s burden is light, but His cheers for our victory are loud.
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