Background Scripture: Luke 11:37-44
Lesson Context: The religious leaders undoubtedly heard what Jesus was teaching and doing as He traveled to Jerusalem. The New Testament Gospels describe Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees more than any other party of first-century Judaism. The Pharisees believed that by faithfully obeying even the smallest parts of the law, they would experience blessing from God. In an effort to follow the law faithfully, the Pharisees had established a tradition to guide their behavior.
Two People (Luke 11:37-41):
A. Jesus and a Pharisee (vv. 37-38).
37. “And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to eat.” Our Lord having proved the truth of his mission, against the malicious cavils of his enemies, in that manner as stated, when he had made an end of speaking, one of the Pharisees present invited him to dine with him. It is not said whether he gave him the invitation as a mark of respect for him, or with an insidious design. Nevertheless, Jesus accepted the invitation.
B. Inside and Outside (vv. 39-40):
38. “And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.” Jesus went in and sat down at the table without washing, as, it seems, all the other guests had done. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled, expressed great surprise at our Lord’s showing such an open contempt of their traditions.
39. “And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” Jesus said, Ye are at great pains to keep every thing clean that touches your food, lest your bodies should be defiled in eating; but ye are at no pains to keep your minds clean from pollutions that are incomparably worse; – the pollutions of rapine, covetousness.
40. “Ye fools did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?” Wherefore ye are grossly stupid and foolish, not to see, that, if God requires purity of body, because it is his own workmanship, he will much more insist on purity of mind, which is the nobler part of human nature. And therefore, instead of that scrupulousness with respect to meals and washings, which engrosses so much of your attention, you ought to apply yourselves to the duties of justice, mercy, and charity, as an evidence that your hearts are right with God.
Generosity and Cleanliness (v. 41).
41. “But rather give alms of such things as ye have: and, behold, all things are clean unto you.” Jesus command appears to deny the value of one practice (washing) in order to uphold the value of another (giving). However, it is the intent rather than the act itself, that determines the purity of the act.
Three Woes (Luke 11:42-44):
Against Injustice (v. 42).
42a., 42b., 42c. “But woe to you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and run all manner of herbs. And pass over judgment and the love of God: these might ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
B. Against Pride (v. 43).
43. “Woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the market.”
C. Against deadly influence (v. 44).
44. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”
References: Benson Commentary, Enduring Word Bible Commentary, International Sunday School Lessons, Standard Lesson Commentary, KJV 2023-2024