‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Does your heart beat… for Jesus?’ Pt.2 Text: Luke 11:37-54
Introduction: Pastor Jason Cole tells the following story: In the movie Godfather pt.3, mafia chief Michael Corleone meets with Cardinal Lamberto, to tell him that executives from the Vatican bank and even an Archbishop, have been involved in a massive case of fraud.
After hearing the news Cardinal Lamberto goes to a fountain, takes out a stone and says: Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time, but the water has not penetrated it.”
He breaks the stone in two, shows the inside to Don Michael and says, “Look. Perfectly dry. The same thing has happened to men in Europe. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity, but Christ has not penetrated. Christ doesn’t breathe within them.”
Last Sunday I spoke about the condition of your heart and I want to continue that conversation today.
I’m currently reading through the Book of Proverbs, thus the ‘Words of Wisdom’ addition to the weekly Bulletin insert.
I came across Proverbs 4:23 which speaks of the great importance God places upon our hearts.
PP: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Everything you do, everything… both good and bad, both eternity worthy and wood, hay and stubble… everything you do & say, comes from your heart.
- So, that makes the condition of your heart, extremely important, the highest priority.
And according to Ezekiel 36:26 there are only two kinds of heart we can have:
PP: And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
You either have a heart of stone or a heart of flesh. To refer back to the Godfather illustration,
- Either your heart is perfectly dry, w/o life and w/o the breath of Christ in it.
- Or it lives and breathes by the presence of Jesus Christ in you.
A heart of stone or a heart of flesh?
- Which one do you have?
As we continue in Luke 11, we’ll see more evidence that the hearts of most of the religious leaders were perfectly dry, w/o life and w/o the breath of Jesus.
- Perhaps we can learn something about our own hearts from how Jesus describes theirs.
- Luke 11:45-54 The Lawyers heart
PP: A. Luke 11:45 The offense
One of the lawyers answered Him, “Teacher, in saying these things You insult us also.”
One of the lawyers answered Him. This tells us there is a another group than the Pharisees at the meal. Let me try to explain the difference in a way that we might understand today.
- Lawyers, were like our Supreme Court. Their job was to interpret God’s Word (the OT).
- The job of the Pharisees was to enforce the interpretations of the lawyers.
- The lawyers thought the OT Law was too vague, so, they added hundreds of their own laws, to God’s Law.
- They believed it would make it easier for the Pharisees to determine who was righteous and who wasn’t.
One of the lawyers, not wanting anyone to think that Jesus was criticizing the hearts of the lawyers present, tells Jesus that what He’s saying is offensive to them, that He hurt their feelings.
- Since it was their job to interpret God’s
Word, they were offended that Jesus, an
ordinary rabbi, was telling them how to do
- And that they were doing it poorly.
Read this too fast and you’ll miss something very important. Did you notice that when Jesus speaks, people react? Case in point.
- Jesus was clearing criticizing the hearts of the Pharisees in the room, yet, at least one of the lawyers felt Jesus was talking about them too.
- Why? Because when God speaks, we all know it, we all sense it.
- Some submit to His voice, while others reject it. The lawyers chose to reject it.
Between you and me, I bet that after Jesus spoke, the lawyer realized…he should’ve stayed quite.
- Luke 11:46-52 3 woes
PP: 1. Luke 11:46 The burden
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.”
When Jesus said For you load people with burdens hard to bear He was referring to the hundreds of extra laws the lawyers added to the Law of Moses. Jesus said those extra laws placed an unbearable burden on the hearts and lives of the Israelites, which they could never keep.
- And when they couldn’t keep them, they were told by the religious leaders that they weren’t righteous and thereby not accepted by God.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Jesus said that even the lawyers didn’t keep all the laws they passed on to the people. Yet we know that they still considered themselves righteous.. How could that possibly be?
- Well, they had become masters of creating loopholes to the laws they made up.
Let me give you two examples of loopholes, some of which continue even today for many Jewish people.
- On the Sabbath, a righteous Jew could not walk more than 5/8’s of a mile from their property.
- But, if a rope was tied from the end of their property to the end of the street, he could go 5/8’s of a mile from that line which now marked the edge of his property. (Barclay)
Listen, that’s just not from Jesus day, it’s a controversial Jewish law that effects many in communities all around us today.
PP: Eruv picture #1 PP: Eruv picture #2
PP: Eruv picture #3
You’ve probably read how many towns are fighting and losing when they oppose the erecting of these property extension lines.
Another related Sabbath keeping loophole they came up with is this.
- If you leave food or an item you own at a location not near your home, that location becomes the edge of your property and you can walk to that location and then 5/8’s of a mile beyond that location. (adapted from Barclay)
Elder Wes also said he was told this while inspecting a job site.
W/o wanting to become too critical of the Jewish people,
- It doesn’t sound like they’re actually trying to honor God by keeping the Sabbath
- when they make so many loopholes to their own laws?
I don’t have the time to go into to it, but Jesus said that the Sabbath law was given for our benefit, not to have authority over us. It was to take one day a week; to rest, to worship the Lord, and to care for one another.
- They took something so simple and made it a burden no one could hold up under.
The point here is this…
- You’ll never be righteous before God by keeping the Law of Moses, the laws of the Jewish religious leaders or even rules made up by the church.
- You’ll never be accepted by God because of the things you to do to try to please Him.
Please extend to me a few moments to show you what God has to say about works, the Law and being right with Him.
- For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
Gospel writes went to great lengths to show that Jesus was greater than Moses. That means the grace/truth of Jesus is greater than the Law of Moses.
- For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
- For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
- For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” (Galatians 3:10)
- You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law… (Galatians 5:4a)
The Law was never intended to make us right with God. It’s intent was to show the depth of our sin against God and to realize we truly need God to intervene on our behalf.
In other words, Jesus was telling the religious leaders, and everyone today, that all your attempts to please God by how you live, will fail!
- Because your heart is still a stone, lifeless, w/o the breath of Jesus.
Glory to God!! He has intervened, by offering us a heart transplant:
- He takes out our heart of stone
- and replaces it with a living, Christ breathing heart of flesh
- when we place our faith in Jesus.
A lot easier than trying to obey rules you can’t possibly keep.
- Luke 11:47-51 The prophets
PP: Luke 11:47-51
Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 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.
OK, that’s just outside our wheelhouse. Let me see if I can simplify it and give us something to take home.
Jesus is saying that the lawyers showed honor to the prophets by erecting tombs/monuments to them.
- Prophets were individuals who spoke to the people for God in the OT.
Jesus added that their fathers / ancestors persecuted and killed the prophets.
Jesus was saying that when a prophet is alive and standing right in front of you, like He was, like John the Baptist had done, they, just like their ancestors, wanted to kill them.
The end result is this:
- The lawyers will be held responsible before God for persecuting and killing of the prophets of their time, as their ancestors were.
Here’s our takeaway from all that. You probably didn’t think there’d be one.
- By persecuting and killing the prophets, both by their ancestors and by the religious leaders in Jesus’s day,
- what they were actually trying was trying to kill God’s Word to them. To put it another way, reject it, have nothing to do with it.
- And people continue to do that.
It’s not that people don’t recognize God’s Word as truth… God implanted that knowledge inside everyone. (Romans 1) They just don’t like what they hear.
- Because it forces them to acknowledge God’s rightful authority over them
- and that they’ll need to make changes in their lives that they don’t want to make.
So they do what people have always done, they reject God’s Word as truth and choose to live apart from it.
- There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 16:25)
They think it’s OK to reject God and His Word… that there’ll no consequences.
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)
There are consequences, however, experiencing the wrath / eternal judgment of Almighty God.
But, there are some who accept God’s Word as truth, and it changes their lives; not only for the time they spend here on earth, but for eternity as well.
- Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts.
- For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, (Romans 1:16a)
Folks, be careful, what you do with God and His Word, your very life… depends upon it.
- Luke 11:52 The key
PP: Luke 11:52
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.
Here the thing. The lawyers twisted, changed and added to God’s Word so much, that it wasn’t recognizable to the people.
- They made it so confusing that the average Israelite had no idea what to do, how to live or what God actually expected of them.
Jesus is saying that the lawyers had
- the key to honoring God,
- the key to being right with God,
and they hid it, denying people access to God.
- This was their most heinous sin.
What’s the key the lawyers hid from the people? We get a hint from Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:3
PP: And this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Knowing God and His Son, Jesus, is what’s behind the door that the key opens. What’s the key to opening that door?
PP: You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” (John 5:39)
The key is God’s Word. It’s how we know God, and can come to know Jesus.
- Do you know the Only True God and Jesus Christ, whom God sent?
- Or, have you, like the religious leaders and so many after them, rejected Jesus?
III. Luke 11:53-54 The room heats up
PP: Luke 11:53-54
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.
Don’t need to say much here. The Pharisees and lawyers had it with Jesus. And they were more than angry.
PP: I get the picture of someone being interrogated by the police, trying to force a confession out of them.
But in this case, they were unsuccessful.
Jesus goes outside and was greeted by an even larger crowd, Luke 12 says many thousands. Jesus now begins to talk to His disciples, those who were already following him. We’ll look at what He told them next Sunday.
Conclusion: When I think of the religious leaders in Jesus’s day I ask myself, ‘How can people so committed to honoring God with their lives, fall so short of actually doing it?’ And then I add ‘Can we be guilty of the same thing?’
- In your time of desperation; of despair, of confusion, of… sin, do you set aside the grace of God and cling to your guilt?
- In trying to walk with God; do you often emphasize, what you do, rather than, what Jesus has already done for you?
- In your relationship with others; are you more concerned about getting them to live up to your expectations, or helping them to see what God wants for them?
- When you come across some truth in Scripture that you don’t particularly like; are you more likely to reject it, or seek help from a brother or sister in Christ to align your life to God’s Word?
- Does how you live; what you say; help or hinder someone’s understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ?
Finally, we return to where we began, what’s the condition of your heart?
- Do you have a heart of stone that rejects the Word of God and Jesus His Son?
- Or do you have a heart of flesh; that’s alive by the breath of Jesus Christ?