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This is the Kingdom way of life. Luke 11.37-54

Luke 11, Part 2 (6)

Pray Psalm 139.23, 24.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Sing Psalm 139.23, 24.
(Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, as You only, Lord, can do.
Test my thoughts and contemplations, whether they be vain or true.
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, nothing that Your Spirit grieves.
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, unto everlasting peace!

Read Luke 11.1-54; meditate on verse 37-54.


1. Why did Jesus pronounce woes on these people?

2. How did those people respond to Him?

This long passage is all about the Kingdom, so let’s start with verse 52.

The parallel of this verse is Matthew 23.13: “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” This was the real problem with these religious blowhards. The key to knowledge is the Kingdom of God. We know nothing, or, at best, know anything only imperfectly, unless we know it with reference to the Kingdom of God. Our knowledge is improved and perfected from within the framework of the Kingdom of God, when seeking righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit is our overarching and all-pervading goal (Rom. 14.17, 18; Matt, 6.33).

True knowledge – Kingdom knowledge, the knowledge Jesus came to bring – is an inside-out proposition. The religious leaders and their lackeys had spent generations concentrating on outward conformity to specious rules and protocols: wash this, don’t eat with them, no more than so many steps on the Sabbath, and bundles more. The result? They knew nothing at all (cf. Matt. 22.29).

So Jesus didn’t wash His hands. Horrors! Proof that He’s not the real deal! By this time, Jesus has had enough of these stupid quibblers. He tears into them with a vengeance, pronouncing woe on their outward appearances and pasted-on religion. Inwardly, He knew, they were “full of greed and wickedness” (v. 39) rather than the virtues and values of the Kingdom of God. All they cared about was looking good before others (vv. 39-44). Now they knew how they appeared to the Son of God.

And that ticked them off big time (vv. 53, 54). He had accused them of being of the same lineage as those who killed the prophets (vv. 48-51), those who didn’t want to hear about the rule of God as their King. These would prove the accuracy of Jesus’ argument by nailing Him to the cross.

The Kingdom is an inside-out proposition. God searches and knows us. Let’s make sure that what He sees is pleasing to Him, inwardly and outwardly.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Since “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” so “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3.16, 17), we would do well to hear these confrontational words of Jesus and take them personally to heart.

All those “Woes” are directed straight at us. Those words of warning weren’t just for the Pharisees, lawyers, and disciples of Jesus’ day; they are for every day, past, present, and future. So, let’s ask ourselves:

Do we care more about how we look on the outside, as a Christian, than we do about our heart condition?
Do we do all the correct churchy things, but lack love for God and others? (1 Cor. 13.1-8).
Do we like being well thought of at church and in the community, but our insides are rotten to the core?
Do we sell our souls to be popular at church and ignore the needy in our church and community?
Are we dead on the inside and don’t even know it? (Lk. 24.5)
Do we expect others to keep the law, but we equivocate on it ourselves?
Do we load others with expectations that we are not willing to countenance and keep?
Are we prophet killers? Do we hate those who preach and tell the truth?
Have we, through hypocritical living, kept out or hindered others from seeking the kingdom?
Are you mad at Jesus for saying these things? (Lk. 11.39-54).

We can easily answer “No” to all those questions by getting our focus onto Jesus, His Word, His Kingdom, His desires for our life well-lived, and being filled with His Holy Spirit (Lk. 11.13).

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”
“Cleanse me from secret faults…” (Ps. 19.7-9, 12).

He longs for us to be filled with His joy whilst living our converted, wise, rejoicing, enlightened, enduring, true, righteous and cleansed life. Inside-Out.

For reflection
1.  What do we mean by saying that Christian faith must be “inside-out”?

2. Why did Jesus lay all those woes on the religious leaders of His day?

3. How would you counsel a new believer to cultivate an inside-out faith?

We should all look to our hearts, that they may be cleansed and new-created; and while we attend to the great things of the law and of the gospel, we must not neglect the smallest matter God has appointed.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 11.37-54

Pray Psalm 139.1-10.
Wait on the Lord in silence to search your soul and to enlarge your vision of the coming of His Kingdom in and through you.

Sing Psalm 139.1-10.
(Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
You have searched me, Lord, and known me, when I sit and when I rise.
From afar, my thoughts discerning, all my path before You lies.
Every word, before it’s spoken, You behold and know it well.
Both behind me and before me, Your sweet Presence I can tell!

Just to know this is more wondrous than my seeking soul can know.
From Your ever-present Spirit there is nowhere I can go.
Whether high above the heaven or below the earth in hell,
even there Your hand shall lead me and Your Right Hand hold me well!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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