[Luke 11 Part 2] Jesus Exposes an Assassination Plot: In Luke 11, part 2, Jesus goes to dinner at a Pharisee’s home with a group of scribes and lawyers. While reclining at supper, He is asked many questions by these religious experts. Jesus reproves them exposes them as assassins in a plot that was carried out in the very holy place before the altar of incense.
[Luk 11:33-54 KJV] 33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth [it] in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness. 35 Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. 36 If thy whole body therefore [be] full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. 37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. 38 And when the Pharisee saw [it], he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. 39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. 40 [Ye] fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. 42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. 44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over [them] are not aware [of them]. 45 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 46 And he said, Woe unto you also, [ye] lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. 49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute: 50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. 53 And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge [him] vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: 54 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
In verse 33 of Luke 11, Jesus says, “no man lighting a candle puts it in a secret place … but on a candlestick that they which come in a may see the light…” What does this refer to? This is where we learn a lesson about letting scripture interpret scripture. Proverbs 20:27 tells us that the “spirit of man is the candle of the Lord…”
The person lighting the candle here is the Lord, as John 1:9 states that Jesus is the light that illuminates every man that comes into the world. What is this statement in v. 33 telling us then? It is not the purpose of God to cloister the church behind walls of religious infrastructure but to put us on display to the world that the world might see the light. The question is, does the world see Jesus, does it see the light when it looks at the church, or does it see something else? The bushel in Jesus’ statement that interferes with the light is defined in the original language as “a certain, dry measure…” Have you ever sat in a dead, dry service? Wouldn’t you rather be a part of a living, dynamic spiritual community? God hasn’t called the church to be an insular, religious culture but to be a kingdom-oriented culture, embedded in the world, but not of it, sharing the light of the Gospel and the life of Christ to those that are in darkness.
In v. 34, we are urged to let our eye be single. What does this mean? In 2 Cor. 11:3 the apostle Paul said the following:
[2Co 11:3 KJV] 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The word simplicity in this verse can also be interpreted as “singleness, or singularity.” My wife Kitty makes the statement that we have a “simple Savior…” We are to live with singleness of heart. Christ is not divided. Christ is not separated within Himself, yet the body of Christ is divided into 1000’s of different sects, each with the opinion that they are endowed with an inalienable right to segregate themselves from and maintain a distinctiveness from every other member of the body of Christ. The divisiveness in the body of Christ causes it as a whole or AS A BODY to be full of darkness, as Jesus says in v. 34. Is there darkness in the body of Christ today in the culture of the church? Does the church see Jesus when it looks at us? Do we see Jesus when we look at ourselves as a whole? Or do we see something other than Jesus, thus demonstrating what Jesus is speaking of in this passage in Luke 11? What is the solution? V. 35 tells us to take heed that the light we are living in, the wisdom we are living by, does not originate in spiritual darkness. How do we avoid this? By keeping the main thing, the main thing. By keeping our eyes upon Jesus, and avoiding sectarianism, division, strife, judgmentalism, and religious snobbery in relationship to one another.
In verse 37, Jesus accepts a Pharisee’s invitation to dinner. Have you ever been invited to sit down to a meal with a Pharisee? How would you know if you had? In this case, v. 38 shows us that the Pharisee was an offendable person. Do you have an offendable person in your social circle? That is the hallmark of a modern-day Pharisee. Psalm 119:165 says that those who love God’s word are in nothing offended. The Pharisee surely thought he was a great advocate of the law of God, but his offendable nature exposes the real condition of his heart. He is offended that Jesus did not observe ritual ablutions, by failing to wash His hands before dinner. Jesus observes the Pharisee’s reaction to this and rebukes the man for focusing on outward appearance more than upon inward purity.
In v. 41, Jesus goes on to declare that if the Pharisee at whose table He reclines at meat truly wants to be pure before God, it has nothing to do with observing religious rituals but about examining his giving habits. What a telling remark Jesus makes here. He is saying that spiritual purity is reflected not in what we would consider a separated lifestyle but in what our attitudes and actions are in the area of giving of our substance in support of the poor and support of the work of God. Many Christians today are deeply offendable when it comes to the issue of giving of their substance in support of the work of God. They accuse preachers of always being after their money; they accuse the poor of trying to take advantage of the generosity of others. Jesus tells the Pharisee in neglecting the giving of alms, etc., that he is passing over judgment and marginalizing the love of God. What does the love of God have to do with whether the Pharisee gives alms or tithes to the temple? Because as Jesus says elsewhere, “if you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto Me…”
In verse 45, a lawyer also attending the supper at the Pharisee’s house speaks up saying, “hold on, in saying these things you are reproaching us also…” Apparently the lawyer, an expert in the instruction of the word of God and the law of God, felt exempt from the sharp rebuke Jesus spoke over the Pharisee. How do you identify a lawyer? In this case, a lawyer is one who assumes when a rebuke is given that it doesn’t apply to him. Have you ever heard a message preached, and thought “I wish brother so and so was here to listen to this because it really applies to him…” If we catch ourselves thinking this way, applying the message given to someone other than ourselves, we have identified ourselves as lawyers that Jesus goes on in v. 46 to speak very sharply toward. The lawyer, according to Jesus, is one who imposes heavy burdens upon others that they feel they are totally exempt from. Purpose in your heart to break the habit of applying a Christian message to someone other than yourself.
Jesus then goes on and rebukes the whole of the Jewish leadership, holding them accountable for the blood of the prophets, and for being those that in time to come will continue to spill the blood of the prophets and apostles that will be sent unto them. He holds them culpable for every murder that has ever been committed from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias, who was assassinated between the altar and the temple. Wait just a moment! Who is this person? It is none other than Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who served in the temple and was cut down while the censor of incense was still in his hand, standing before the altar of incense in the holy place. At the time, this was a great mystery, a death that occurred in the very holy place. No doubt, the Pharisees and Lawyers suggested perhaps that God Himself had struck down Zacharias, but Jesus by word of knowledge exposes the plot and the assassin at the very table where He was sitting down to supper with the Pharisees and Lawyers. Being exposed the Pharisees and scribes protest with great violence and anger against Jesus and from that moment begin to lay in wait for Him, seeking an accusation by which they might put Him to death.
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