Lawyer Drawing Fire

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.”

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.”  As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:45, 52-54 ESV)

A soldier on patrol watches his team get chewed up by machine gun fire, and miraculously wasn’t hit.  So he stands up from the cover he was using and says, “Ha! Missed me!” and is promptly shot by the machine gun.  Such genius is this lawyer, this master of minutia, this detail-oriented interpreter of Moses.  He gets the small stuff, the minor stuff, and misses the rather important things by a rather wide margin.  Can’t hit the side of the barn, but seems to be able to hit everyone in front it…

The setting here is like the previous entry, dinner with the Pharisees.  A Pharisee sees that Jesus doesn’t wash His hands and is surprised.  Jesus then takes the opportunity to correct the Pharisee’s entire perspective claiming they are merely exterior believers but interior sinners.  It’s meal time, and Jesus is serving up the guests…again!  There’s Pharisee “woe” all over the floor, they’ve been criticized right to the core, below the surface, and to the heart.  I would think that the “lawyers” in the group would consider themselves in the category Jesus criticizes and be done with it, but no.  This guy has to suggest that Jesus unintentionally came close to criticizing the lawyers.  Not a bright guy.

Do you wonder how many of the other lawyers threw a roll at the guy who made the comment?  The audacious assumption on the part of the lawyer is that Jesus wouldn’t criticize the lawyers. Who would dare do such a thing?  For whatever reason (too important, too “dangerous”, too whatever) Jesus wouldn’t dare such a thing.  Or would He?   In a sense Jesus says, “Oh, wasn’t I being obvious enough? Okay, here’s some specifically for you guys.”  Jesus levels blow after blow (or woe after woe) on these experts in Scripture.  Not the attention the lawyer expected.

The criticisms include loading the people with burdens they refuse carry and participation in the slaughter of the prophets.  That wasn’t bad enough, Jesus then winds up with the charge that these lawyers have taken away the “key of knowledge”, the very thing they were supposed to provide to the people.  They have kept others from knowledge and refused to enter themselves.  These scholars have hindered knowledge rather than inspired it.  Essentially, Jesus describes their complete failure.

So, what’s the lesson?  Where’s the application for us?  What do I need to do in response?  Well, first and most obvious, don’t assume I’m above any lesson of Jesus.  But second, and more important, heed the woe!  Why not receive the criticism, examine my life, and make changes?  Where do I do the minor stuff and miss the greater issues of giving into the lives of others in love?  Where do I hide my weakness from others to gain their respect?  What do I instruct others to do that I don’t follow through on myself?  How do I claim to respect the heroes of faith, but really behave like those who murdered them?  How am I hindering faith and knowledge rather than providing the key?  Unless I’m willing to sit down to the meal with Jesus and hear His words and receive His correction I might as well be eating dust.

I like minutia.  But do I love my neighbor as myself?  Do I want the respect of others and do I hide who I am to get it?  What if I were to love the unlovable and the outcasts?  What do I teach?  Am I willing to live the lesson not just speak it?  Is it enough to confess that I can’t or that I haven’t?  Such a confession may make me more transparent, but does it still burden others with that I refuse to carry?  Do I want the “status quo” more than deeper experiential knowledge of God?  Am I threatened by change?  Do the views of others threaten me?  Personally, I think I hide behind my views so that in trying to be more fringe and “out there” in my views, I protect myself from the radical views of others.  On the other hand I really enjoy discussion at the edges of Scriptural Interpretation and theology.  I don’t know.  This will take some thought and prayer for me to really hear my Master reveal the areas I need to grow.  It’s time for me to have a meal with Jesus.  He says He stands at the door and knocks.  Perhaps I should open it and let the meal commence!

What do you learn from the woes of the lawyers?


Well, What Do You Know?

Turning to the disciples, He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” (Luke 10:23-24 NASB)

There is a certain aspect to the “prophets of old” that always intrigued me.  How much did they understand about what they were writing when it came to the “Messiah”?  Was it simply a “Messianic Hope”? O was there something more?  Or was there something less?  From what Jesus says here privately to His disciples, I get the impression there was something more and less.

This passage follows immediately on the return of the seventy sent ahead of Jesus into various villages.  They returned rejoicing and saying that even the demons were subject to them.  Jesus responds with a brief charge to be more joyful over their salvation than that demons were subject to them.  But He then praises the Father before everyone that He has revealed these things to such simple folk.  Then He says this to His disciples privately.

What I gain from this series of events is that these “prophets and kings” who wished to see and hear these things are the ones who prophesied Jesus’ coming.  And from how Jesus words it, they were aware that something big was coming without knowing the details.  They wanted to know more, but didn’t.  They longed to experience the things that they were saying was coming.

So in terms of inspiration of Scripture, this tells me a lot.  One of the problems I’ve had with so-called messianic prophesies is that they seem so vague.  I think sometimes people apply them to Jesus, when they could be applied to other events or people as well.  I know that sometimes it’s both-and, not one or the other (both then and in the future with Jesus).  But I think this nebulous wording really is what Jesus is getting at.  The prophets themselves really didn’t know any more.  They wanted to, but weren’t given more info.

What this means for me is that my Master really doesn’t feel the need or obligation to provide all the detail.  And I learn this is true even with the “big things”.  It’s frustrating, and I have to admit I find it confusing in the midst of the “big things”.  The truth is though, that these sorts of things build my faith.  Of course, I have to have a little faith first, but these then “bulk it up”.

Think about what it must have been like for the disciples to hear Jesus say that.  It was probably exhilarating, but also intimidating.  These same prophets and kings were the “heroes” and “fathers” of old.  They were the “great men” about whom were the stories on which these disciples were raised.  And here they were gaining a benefit these great ones wanted but never got.  I hope it gave them shivers.

Keep in mind, having experienced all this “greatness” they still didn’t understand who Jesus was, and had no idea what He was going to do.  So, hearing and seeing what the “great ones” never did didn’t make them “greater”. They were still ordinary men.  That’s comforting to me.  My Master may not reveal it all to me, but He also doesn’t expect me to be so great I’m able to “fill in the gaps”, understand the unstated, be suddenly brilliant.  That’s good, because I’m not likely to be or do anything like that.  I can be me, simply as I am, and He will show me what I need or what He wants.  And it all works out.

What’s your view through the knothole? (sorry if that seemed rather abrupt, but I was done…)

Ho The Ancient Women Prophets

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 ESV)

There are very few references to prophetesses in Scripture.  But none really like Anna. This lady is constantly in the Temple, and she is there practicing spiritual disciplines as part of personal worship. We don’t have this pattern in a prophetess elsewhere. Taken out of context as we have, you may miss the pronoun referring to Jesus. Here she prophesies about Jesus, but not just everyone, but to those ‘waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem’. These are the elements of this divergent pattern I want to look at.

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