7670 - Six Woes

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One day Jesus was invited the home of a Pharisee. Pharisees are declared to be hypocrites in the Bible. This is a word used in the Greek theatre. It literally meant one of the actors who wore a mask and played a part. The part they portrayed on the stage was not related to their lifestyle. These religious leaders taught one thing and lived a different way.

Listen as I read Luke 11:39-54.

39Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish [a] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

43"Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

44"Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it."

45One of the experts in the law answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also."

46Jesus replied, "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.

47"Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49Because 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.' 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51from 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.

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."

53When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54waiting to catch him in something he might say.

Six scathing rebukes Jesus applies to the religious leaders of that day.

Woe to you for tithing little things like seeds of garden herbs. You are so legalistic, but you refuse to give true justice and to love the people for whom you have responsibility.

The second woe relates to pride. These leaders craved position and power. They desired to be elevated above others. Jesus pointed out that was sin.

Woe number three related to the meticulous effort these leaders made to keep their appearance of purity. This was a mask because within, their hearts were sinful.

Woe number four related to the teachers of the law. By their teaching they placed heavy burdens of legalistic rules upon the people, yet made no effort of love to help the people in life.

Number five relates to these leaders building tombs for prophets, which had been persecuted and killed by their forefathers. The rejection of Jesus by these teachers continued the pattern of their fathers, so they too were held accountable.

Lastly, woe number six was directed to the teachers. Jesus said, “You have taken away the key to knowledge.” This refers to their refusal to accept the fulfillment of God’s Word by the life and work of Jesus as Messiah; furthermore, their rejection kept others from accepting Jesus as the Messiah.
These words call each of us to examine our lives to be sure we are obeying the Lord’s Word and not treating it lightly.