Dinners in the first century were often occasions to discuss weighty issues.
Jesus wasn’t invited to the Pharisees house to chit-chat about meaningless issues. He was invited to be tested and examined by religious authorities.
Jesus turned the discussion to what should have become self-reflection on the part of the authorities.
God has impressed on me the full force of Jesus’ counsel to the legal experts. He has required me to evaluate my ministry based on what he said.
— Luke 11.45-46 – One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them.”
President Lyndon Johnson said in a interview with Dick Cavett, “Anybody can sit on the sidelines and tell people what is wrong. It is far more difficult to find workable solutions.”
In a similar fashion, preachers and teachers can easily point out what is wrong with their listeners. After all, we are sinners who continually fall short of the ideal.
What is needed is solutions. We need to be able to show by our example and teach our listeners how to live a Jesus-kind-of-life.
If we do that, we will have learned the message Jesus conveyed during the dinner.
The Hard Job of the Prophets
Possibly, one of the most difficult jobs on earth is that of a prophet.
The prophet speaks for God and calls a society that has mis-placed values into alignment with God.
A true prophet must contend with false prophets who tell powerful people and the general public what they want to hear.
It is possible that the prophets were some of the most disliked persons in their culture.
E. Stanley Jones is one of the most famous and revered Methodist missionaries in history. He served the majority of his ministry in India.
Jones supported India’s movement toward statehood away from British colonial rule. He was an outspoken critic of the way the British exploited the Indian population.
At one time, Jones was banned entry into India, while his wife continued to serve there.
History looks back on Jones as a hero, but at the time he was despised by many for aligning with the Indian people.
Jesus and the Prophets
Jesus confronted the religious authorities, who had the same attitude as those who opposed E. Stanley Jones, with the hypocrisy of their behavior.
— Luke 11.47-51 – “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed.
“So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.
“Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’
“So that this generation may 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 perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.”
The prophets stand on the right side of history in the face of the powerful decision makers of culture.
They proclaim God’s wisdom to people who are unwilling to receive their message and repent.
In the end, those who refuse God’s message cannot say that they were uninformed. They heard God’s message and refused to receive it.
The Message of Isaiah
I am troubled by what I see in America and around the world. I have begun to use the Book of Isaiah to inform my prayer time.
Isaiah’s message is one that needs to heard and obeyed.
If God leads you, I think you will profit greatly by reading and praying about what Isaiah has to say to our generation.
Men in Suits
When the housing “bubble” burst in 2008, I thought that the problem was that men who wear suits told men who wear blue jeans that they would afford a house they couldn’t actually afford.
People who use their intellectual and educational advantage to take advantage of the less fortunate will one day stand before God.
When the Psalm writer says, “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14.1), the writer is not talking about people who deny the existence of God.
He is describing people who believe they will never be held accountable for their actions. They believe they can “eat up my people as they eat bread” (Psalm 14.4) and not have a reckoning.
Jesus has a message for the powerful who use their power only for their advantage.
— 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.”
Jesus spoke harsh words, not to get people “told.” He attempted to shake people out of their self-centered stupor and bring about repentance.
He does the same to us. He calls us to align our lives with his will.
Let’s remember that Jesus is addressing religious leaders. Their desire in life should have been to serve God, but it wasn’t.
May we, the religious people who read this passage, respond with faith, courage and repentance.
Rudy Ross and I discussed this passage on YouTube. Unfortunately, when I checked the video, there was no sound. In fact, there was no sound on six of the videos that we produced.
Rudy and I will record more videos on Monday and we will start showing them on Tuesday, December 14.
Please email your prayer request to email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.