Deuteronomy 31-34; Luke 11

Luke 11:45-54 Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them. Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

There is something poignantly comical about this passage.  A Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner, and when he and the other Pharisees react badly to Jesus eschewing the ritual washing, he hammers them with a series of “Woe to you” imprecations.  When one of the scribes complain about it, Jesus does not apologize, he proceeds to hammer “the scholars of the law” in their turn.  Jesus goes full Moe Howard furious on the Pharisee and his guests, and the passage ends with a note that they “began to act with hostility toward him”.  Hmmm, do you think?  Trying to put this in a modern context, let’s say you invite your pastor over for dinner, and you comment on his picking up the wrong fork, and he responds “Oh you Smiths!  Although you know which fork to use, you are filled with plunder and evil.  Woe to you Smiths!  You tithe in quarters and dimes – and throw in the occasional Washington – but you pay no attention to the judgment and love for God.”  After several more “Woe to you Smiths!” would you smile and say “Father, would you like some more gravy?”  Funny stuff really.  And Jesus did this out of total and unconditional love.  How many of them I wonder took Jesus to heart and eventually became saints?

GOD’S ANSWER:  Sometimes you hurt the ones you love.

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