Luke 11:37–54 (ESV)
Woes to the Pharisees and Lawyers
37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.
39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools!
Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves,
and people walk over them without knowing it.”
45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these
things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they
killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so
that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 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 required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who
53 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, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
Jesus’ harshest criticisms are directed at those religious
leaders and experts in Scripture who place their traditions above God’s Word and refuse God’s call to repentance. Measure all traditions against God’s Word, especially the standards of mercy Jesus emphasized. Give thanks to God for faithful
traditions that agree with His Gospel, which alone grants us salvation in Christ.
I pray: “Not what I feel or do Can give me peace with God; Not all my prayers
and sighs and tears Can bear my awful load. Thy work alone, O Christ, Can ease this weight of sin; Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, Can give me peace within.” Amen. (LSB 567:2–3)
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The
Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 1739.