I have just read this morning Luke chapter 11. I noticed particularly the section between verses 37 to 54 and it struck me that the Saviour was in no way ‘mealy-mouthed’ when responding to the foolish actions and words of men.
I noticed the blunt language He used in the these verses when speaking to the religious leaders of Israel came after He had been in prayer!
“And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples,” Luke 11:1. His prayer was most impressive for it was followed by a request from a disciple that He teach them to so pray.
This He did and we have in verses 2-4 the ‘disciples’ prayer’.
I also noticed that His bluntness of speech in no way contravened good manners. That would be impossible for the One of Whom it is said: “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” 1 Peter 2:22.
He directed these plain words of condemnation at a man and his friends, who were doubtless there alongside Him, as He partook of refreshments in the home of a Pharisee. The Pharisee was ready to find fault with the actions and behaviour of the Lord Jesus, not because He contravened the Law of God, but because He did observe the ‘man-made’ laws of the Pharisees. “And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner,” Luke 11:37-38.
This was an elaborate ‘washing’, invented of men and had nothing to do with common hygiene! Dr John Gill comments on this verse so: “The Pharisees not only washed their hands, by immersing them up to the elbow before eating; but when they had been at market, or among any large number of people, or had reason to think they had, or feared they had touched any unclean person or thing, they immersed themselves all over in water: and which is the sense of the word βαπτιζομαι, (washed or baptised) here used.”
It was this insulting observation that brought forth the frank denunciations of the Saviour for He knew exactly their ways. How unwise to enter a controversy with the One Who is called ‘The Word of God’! Likewise, it is utterly foolish to challenge assertions that are thoroughly based upon the Holy Scriptures.
That I have encountered of late and the ‘wisdom’ displayed by the critics is of the nature of this Pharisee’s rationale! It has been said that I was ’too blunt’. ‘I could have been more gentle and soft’!
Dare I say that were I to do that, I would not be following the example of the Saviour. Sin is SIN and must be called such! I would rather be called a ‘spoiler of a wedding day joy’, than be deemed guilty on that Great Day for failing to warn plainly of error and wrong-doing and thereby aid some in their foolish pressing on down the road of rebellion against God with its terrible consequences!
A SPADE must be called a SPADE, when we are dealing with eternal issues. We must leave no room for misunderstanding. That was the Saviour’s way.
I noticed also that men can engage in that which they deem most proper and acceptable but which is deeply offensive to God. The ‘holy’ habits of the Pharisees and Scribes and Lawyers brought upon their heads repeated ‘woes’ from Christ. The word ‘woe’ is a pronouncement of ‘deep grief’. That is what the men who invented ways of behaviour that were contrary to the Word of God were bringing upon their heads and the heads of any who followed them in the folly. Arguing against the Saviour’s reproaches only increased their guilt as verses 45 – 52 indicate.
“Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 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. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 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. 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,” Luke 11:45-52.
Finally, I also noticed how these men who were out of love ‘bluntly’ told their sin, added to their guilt by rounding in anger upon the Saviour. “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: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him,” Luke 11:53-54.
In this they showed extreme foolishness and if they persisted in that attitude are today paying the dreadful price of spurning the the wise and kind words of a loving Saviour.
Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd).
Monday 27th November 2023