‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Does your heart beat… for Jesus?’
Text: Luke 11:37-54
Introduction: PP: When Kathy and I vacationed in southern California last November, we got to see the old cruise ship, the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach. It was a pretty cool sight. In her time, the Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936.
Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum.
- During the conversion process, her three smokestacks were removed to be scraped and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled. Nothing was left of the ¾ inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed.
- All that remained were more than 30 coats of paint. The steel on the inside had rusted away. (Jeff Simms)
Everyone, even the engineers thought the stacks were solid because it looked like the steel it was made with. But it was just a whole lot of paint covering over the decayed underneath.
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount said:
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
The word pure in the Greek is katharos, it’s were we get the word catharsis.
- Catharsis is a psychological term for purging or cleansing of our heart, mind, and life of all that’s unhealthy… it’s getting everything off our chest.
Having a pure heart, refers to a cleaning on the inside, that can only be done by God through faith in Jesus. King David knew that, after he sinned with Bathsheba he wrote: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
- We walk in right relationship with God.
- We enjoy sweet fellowship with God.
- We… see God,
- when we repent, as David did, and ask God to cleanse us from the inside out.
- Our heart then becomes pure and it beats for Jesus.
PP: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.(Matt 5:8)
In our text we’ll see that because of pride, among other things, the religious leaders, didn’t have the pure heart Jesus spoke of.
- So, they didn’t walk in right relationship with God, they didn’t enjoy sweet fellowship with God, they didn’t… see God.
Yet, they were not only religious people who were supposed to know and see God, they were religious leaders who were supposed to teach the people about knowing and seeing God.
How could they do that? They couldn’t, at least not in any authentic way. Why?
- Because they misunderstood what it meant to have a pure heart.
For them, it was an external matter. They worked very hard to clean up their lives, on the outside, by what they did, in particular through keeping the Law of Moses and by the many, many other laws they came up with that aren’t found in the Bible..
- In essence the people saw the many, many layers of religious paint the religious leaders had amassed over their lives.
And the people bought it, but not Jesus. Jesus will show the Pharisees and lawyers
- that while they may appear morally pure on the outside, (nicely painted)
- inside, their hearts were corrupt, decayed like the crumbling smoke stacks of the Queen Mary.
You see the religious leaders had forgotten at best, or didn’t care at worst, that God doesn’t look on the outside, but on the heart. Something they would have known by how David was chosen as Israel’s king.
- PP: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
And when God looks at your heart, He wants to see it beating for Jesus. He didn’t see that in the religious leaders. Let’s take a look at what He did see.
- Luke 11:37-44 The Pharisee’s hearts
PP: A. Luke 11:37-38 The matter of cleanliness
While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked Him to dine with him, so He went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that He did not first wash before dinner.
Let’s state from the get go that this was not a friendly invitation to lunch. For some time now, most of the religious leaders had rejected Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and were looking for ways to force Him into a corner so that He would say something they can put Him in prison for… or worse, have Him killed.
Jesus, knowing the Pharisees intentions, still agreed to have dinner at his home.
- Again… folks when you look closely at Luke’s Gospel, you’ll find it saturated with grace.
Jesus seized every opportunity to do good, every opportunity to share His Good News, every opportunity to lead sinners to repentance, this was no different.
- I wonder how we’re doing with the opportunities the Holy Spirit gives to us? Just a thought.
Back to the text. Jesus goes into the Pharisee’s home and immediately sits at the table. The guys who invited Jesus was astonished, the text says, that before Jesus sat down a the table, He didn’t wash His hands first.
- What’s implied here is ‘Jesus didn’t wash His hands…like we did.’
While they were astonished, we’re not told that anyone, said anything about it.
Jesus, being God and knowing their thoughts, uses this to correct the Pharisees practice and perhaps lead them to repentance. But, He didn’t mix words.
PP: 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. You fools! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?” (Luke 11:39–40)
Did Jesus just call the Pharisee who invited Him to lunch, as well as all the other Pharisees present, greedy and wicked?
Let me step back a moment to say that when Jesus was with the crowd just before lunch, He was talking about the light of Jesus and the darkness of sin.
- He said that they should all be careful that what they think is light inside them,
- is not actually darkness… sin.
Here, in a smaller group, with just the religious leaders, Jesus expands upon that by saying that the light they think is in them, is in reality darkness; the sins of greed and wickedness.
You would have thought they would have responded to that… but they were more concerned with Jesus not washing His hands before lunch.
- For them, it had absolutely nothing to do with hygiene.
- And everything to do with the fact that Jesus wasn’t respecting one of the many traditions they had added to the Law of Moses.
Jesus understood this hand washing had nothing to do with having a pure heart for God. He knew the elaborate and very specific kind of hand washing had everything to do with appearances.
So, He intentionally didn’t wash His hands, knowing it would be an opportunity to correct the Pharisees and give them a chance to repent.
He even pointed things back to the Father when Jesus said Did not He who made the outside make the inside also.
Jesus is saying
- ‘Look, God made all of you, the inside and the outside…
- you can’t care for the exterior (what you do on the outside) at the expense of the inside (who you are, in the heart)
Jesus finished this conversation on what God considers being clean, by graciously telling them what to do to make it right. He said
- PP: But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. (Luke 11:41)
Scholar JC Ryle explains it this way: Give first the offering of the inward man. Give your heart, your affections, and your will to God, as the first great alms which you bestow, and then all your other actions, proceeding from a right heart, are an acceptable sacrifice, and a clean offering in the sight of God (Steven Cole)
However, the Pharisees sin ran deep. So, Jesus gets more specific about the darkness that’s in them.
- Luke 11:42-44 3 Woes
PP: 1. Luke 11:42 The tithe
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.
Woe. Three times Jesus says Woe to you as He addresses the Pharisee in the room.
- He’s not suggesting they slow down as if they were horses…
- Woe here is an exclamation of grief, of deep sorrow and
Jesus wasn’t beating them up, He was expressing the deep, heartfelt sorrow and grief he had for them and for how they were not helping people get right with God.
Here’s the picture:
- The Pharisees were exact about how they counted out even the smallest plants in their gardens and gave a 10th of them as an offering to God.
- Notice, Jesus isn’t saying tithing is bad,
- after all He did say These you ought to have done. These what? The tithe.
The problems was, because their hearts were dark, they were not listening to the cries for help from the people.
Again make no mistake, the Pharisees knew God’s Word, but they only followed the parts they liked. And the part Jesus was referring to they didn’t like.
PP: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
You can’t do any of that if your heart is dark, if your heart beats… for something, anything, other than Jesus.
Jesus ends this woe by saying yes, tithe, but listen to your heart, and help others in need.
PP: 2. Luke 11:43 The best seat
Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
In Jesus’ day, distinctions were made both in where you sat in the synagogue and in how people greeted you in public.
- So the Pharisees sought and got the best seats in the synagogue.
- And they would seek the longest most elaborate greetings in public. Just a hello wouldn’t do for them.
Showing that the Pharisees loved being the center of attention. They loved being respected for the high positions they held. They loved… being loved! (Pride)
Jesus is saying
- the Pharisees were more interested in being seen by the people, as if they were righteous,
- than in actually, being righteous, before God.
Does that make sense?
Again they knew Scriptures like:
- PP: The Lord tears down the house of the proud (Proverbs 15:25a)
- Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)
- Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the Lord has spoken. (Jeremiah 13:15)
One last woe to the Pharisees.
PP: 3. Luke 11:44 The unmarked grave
Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.
This really seems foreign to us, but would have cut them to the heart.
- Jesus is accusing them of making the people unclean because they, the Pharisees, the religious leaders, are unclean before God.
They knew Jesus was referring to Numbers 19:16 which says: Whoever in the open field touches someone who was killed with a sword or who died naturally, or touches a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
Jesus was telling them that just as to come in contact with a dead body makes you unclean before God, when the people come into contact with the Pharisees, they too become unclean.
I hope you caught this:
- What started out with the Pharisees thinking Jesus was unclean because He failed to ritualistically wash His hands before lunch,
- turns in to Jesus showing them that they’re the ones who are unclean, by how they live.
Jesus was telling the Pharisees they were as good as dead… with no spiritual heartbeat.
Conclusion: So, where does that leave us this morning?
- This text is for those who think that they can be good enough to please God.
- This text is for those who believe they can earn God’s favor.
- This text is for those who are trying to look religious, to be a Christian, w/o actually committing to Jesus.
- This text is for those who before God have no spiritual heartbeat.
Your response is to do what Jesus wanted the Pharisees to do… repent.
- PP: To recognize and ask God to forgive the darkness, the sin in your heart.
- To turn to Jesus, by faith, trusting that He died on the cross to pay the debt of your sin against God.
- To ask Jesus into your life, to make your heart beat only for Him.
If you have yet to do that, Jesus’ offer of grace is being extended to you… this very moment.
For those who’ve already done that but have found their heart beating, now and then, for things other than Jesus, there’s a few things we can take home.
PP: First, don’t focus your energy on what you do for Jesus.
- Let your priority be, who you are in Jesus.
Second, don’t major on the minors in how you relate to others.
- Live justly, love kindness and walk humbly before God.
Third, as a church let’s never make distinctions between people.
- Age, color, education, money, ethnicity, gender
- We’re all one in Christ, we’re all equal at the foot of the cross.
PP: Fourth, don’t be the person who talks about being a Christian and carries a Bible around, but badmouths your boss or gossips about someone.
Fifth, and perhaps the most important, remember to keep the inside of your cup clean before God.
- When I’m done with my morning coffee, I take the cup to the sink, empty out any coffee that’s left and wash it.
- A clean heart demands we get rid of the dirt, the sin, in our lives.
And King David tells us exactly how to do that in
- Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
- For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
- Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
- Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
- Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then your heart will once again beat… for Jesus!