In my last post, I started looking at a conversation that Jesus had with a Pharisee who invited Him for a dinner. The Pharisee was surprised that Jesus didn’t observe the traditional washing ceremony before the meal.
The Lord took the opportunity to explain to this religious leader the difference between the inside and the outside. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
Now Jesus continues with this discussion.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
Luke 11:43-44 NIV
Again, the Lord brings up another area where these leaders choose appearance over substance. They are very people conscious. They’re always looking for the approval of those around them.
It’s a lot like our present political system. It’s not about what you know as much as who you know, and what they think of you.
Even with the Pharisees, it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong. That usually didn’t figure into it. They wanted to express the opinion that most of the “important people” would agree with.
That’s why Jesus had a problem with this group. He looked at them like they were unmarked graves. In walking through the area, it may look like a beautiful field full of wildflowers. But people don’t know that right under their feet were dead bodies.
These religious leaders looked great on the surface. They made a public spectacle of their praying, tithing, fasting, and sometimes even giving to the poor. The problem was that their motives were anything but pure.
They wanted to look good in the eyes of the people. They may have looked good on the outside, but as far as God was concerned, they were dead inside.
In saying this, Jesus got a reaction from one of the listeners.
One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Luke 11:45 NIV
One of the teachers of the law got upset at what the Lord said. Of course, he proved the advice that sometimes you should just be quiet and take it! The Lord now turns His attention to these teachers.
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”
Luke 11:46 NIV
These religious “lawyers” were another level of the problem. They were experts in the letter of the law. Most of it was traditions added to the law by various Rabbis over the years.
They would teach people what the law said. They gave Israel all of the do’s and don’ts of the law. Most of the time they were rebuking the people for any minor infraction that they were caught doing.
Instead, they should have been teaching about why the law was important. They should have been teaching the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God. But, in their zeal to be seen as experts, they represented God as merely a bringer of death and judgment.
It’s unfortunate that there are many Christians who do the same thing. They make up all of these rules that you need to follow in order to “make it to Heaven.” One of them even told me flat out, they believed it was easier to get saved than to stay saved.
That doesn’t sound like the God I serve.
“I’ll make it easy for you to be saved through Jesus Christ. But, at the first misstep, I’ll send you to hell.”
The fact is, when we bow our knee to Christ, His blood covers our sin, past, present, and future. I know that there are people who twist this truth so they can live however they want. We need to realize that Jesus Christ is the burden remover. I praise God for His great salvation!
Question: What burdens has the Lord removed from your life?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi