Reading for Monday, March 19: Luke 11
I’m late making today’s post, so I’ll keep it short.
By now in Luke’s Gospel, we’re accustomed to the emphasis he places on Jesus’ prayer life. So it’s no surprise that Jesus teaches his followers the importance of prayer. I’ve never noticed before that his disciples are prompted to ask Jesus about prayer because John taught his disciples to pray (v1).
Jesus teaches his disciples to call God “Father” as they pray, a familial, intimate term. But He also instructs them to keep the name of the Lord hallowed, revered. These two polarities are brought together in the prayer for the Kingdom to come, a cry for the holy to come near, intersecting humanity.
As Jesus continues to cast out demons, some begin to question Him, even turning on Him as if He were casting out demons in the name of Satan. But Jesus rejects this notion, challenging the crowd with the following words: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters,” (v23). In Jesus, God’s decisive victory over the powers of hell, there is no middle ground. To not be with Jesus is to be against Him.
Jesus continues to throw down challenging words in this chapter. A woman in the crowd tries to lavish Him with words of praise, but he rebuffs her, saying, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (v28). He condemns the crowds for being part of “an evil generation”, (v29) seeking signs and wonders. And He reserves His harshest words for the Pharisees and lawyers here, referring to their inner greed and wickedness. “For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God,” (v42). “For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it,” (v43-44).
Although these words sound harsh, they show us the full character of Jesus. Not only does Jesus bring a word of comfort and hope, He also brings judgment. He speaks the hard truth about sin and it’s effect in our lives. He doesn’t just tickle the ears; He convicts the soul. This, too, is part of His faithfulness to God’s call. This is part of His work as the Messiah of God.