Jesus Verses The Bar

SCRIPTURE: Luke 11:45-54, NLT

45“Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.
47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago.
48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments!
49 This is what God in his wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’
50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—
51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.
52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
53 As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke him with many questions.
54 They wanted to trap him into saying something they could use against him.


Jesus leveled three hard blows to the Pharisees and then a Lawyer comes to their defense, “Teacher, you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.” No apology from Jesus, instead He g turns on the Lawyers with three more denunciations or woes to them. The Pharisees viewed themselves as being ‘clean’ but Jesus exposed their ‘uncleanness.’ The lawyers viewed themselves as wise and educated but Jesus exposes their folly and ignorance.
These guys are slow learners. If you don’t want the unvarnished truth, you need to stay away from Jesus. He literally tells it like it is.

There are three jolting accusations:

I. WOE TO THE LAWYERS WHO LACK COMPASSION–those who increase the burden

“What sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.”
  • Being called to teach or preach God’s word is an awesome responsibility and one that I do not take lightly. Matter of fact, the older I become the more serious I take this responsibility. There is an old saying, “Simply because the water is muddy, it does not mean that it is deep.” The Jewish Scribes/Lawyers had the gift of muddying the water. When they finished teaching, you knew less than you did before they began. This is one reason Jesus drew such huge crowds. He told simple stories to illustrate the truths of scripture. Jesus cleared the murky water so that ordinary people could understand the truth. On the other hand, the Scribes made things too complicated to understand; they actually obscured the truth.
  • God made it crystal clear what He expects through the O.T. prophets. Micah sums God’s requirements up in chapter 6:8, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. {NLT} I also like the GNT…The Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. GNT The Hebrew word translated mercy by most is khä·sad’ and is one of the few words I remember from seminary. It is love displayed in kindness and mercy. This comes out in the NCV. The Lord has told you, human, what is good; He has told you what He wants from you: to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God. 
  • So, God requires three basic things:
  1. To do what is right–practice justice.

  2. To show kindness and mercy to other.

  3. To walk humbly with God.

  • What is complicated about these requirements? Is there anyone in the audience that does not understand to some degree what the LORD is communicating through His prophet?
  • The Scribes had taken the simple and clear teachings of Moses and had added detail upon detail until the laws didn’t even resemble the ones that Moses gave and were light years away from the original intent of the law.
  • Take the Sabbath law. The Scribes had over 350 laws to govern the Sabbath day and they were so complicated that it took a Scribe to interpret them. Example: Jews were not to walk more than 1,000 feet from their home on the Sabbath. The Scribes had engineered sub-laws, addendum’s that permitted you to walk farther under certain conditions. These laws were like the fine print in a contract, they were confusing.
  • I’ll give you a good example: don’t you hate it when there is an Amendment on the voting ballot. These amendments are never simple, they are not easy to understand. In most cases, we have to call a lawyer or a State House person to get clarification.
  • The same thing is going on today that was taking place in Jesus day, our Congress makes laws that we can’t understand and they so construct them in such a way that life becomes more difficult for us but not for themselves because they inserted loopholes in the fine print that we don’t know are there. The exact same thing was happening in Jesus day.
  • Should our purpose in life be to make things more difficult for others? Shouldn’t our goal be to lighten the load, to ease the burden. How many Congressmen in Washington DC have given serious thought to lightening our huge tax burden. Do you think Robert Aderholt or Richard Shelby cares about the burden we are carrying or that it is getting heavier by the day due to all the entitlements and the fact that more than 50% of our population contributes nothing but demands everything. Trust me folks, they don’t care about the burden we carry and they have no intention of making it lighter.
  • If it seems that Jesus was angry with the Scribes, this is the reason: they made life more difficult for common people who were trying very hard to meet the demands of the law.

II. WOE TO THOSE WHO PERSECUTE THE PROPHETS: those who build monuments to the past

What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments!
  • This one seems a little vague until you understand what they were doing. This generation that Jesus is addressing honored prophets if they were dead. They honored Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and all those of the O.T. but they did not honor John the Baptist, the last of the OT prophets. The dead prophets did not disturb them or threaten their way of life. Clearly they rejected John and they were rejecting Christ THE PROPHET prophesied by Moses whom they idolize.
  • Have you ever met one of these creatures that loves, idolizes and adores the former pastor but they have no use for the one who is present. This doesn’t happen to me that much, matter of fact, it has been years but I have had members come to me bragging on the former pastor…he did this, he did that…and there have been times when I was tempted to say, “If things were so great when he was here, why did he leave? Better still, why didn’t you go with him when he left.”
  • Bottom line: the Scribes/Lawyers were hypocrites. They didn’t love prophets at all, their phony memorial services at the tombs of prophets was a forest, totally sham. Had they loved Elijah, they would have loved John the Baptist, he was the spitting image of Elijah, almost a reincarnation of the Phantom Prophet–the weird, austere recluse who had no affinity for fellowships or social interaction. Elijah was a voice, a clear, firm and hard voice proclaiming the truth and John was his spitting image. John ruffled feathers, he rubbed the hair on the cat the wrong way. John was offended the sensitivities of the religious elites: they viewed John as uncivilized, uneducated and unbelievable. In short, they rejected John, just as they rejected Jesus.
  • Jesus said, “You folks are hypocrites, you are just like your ancestors. They were prophet haters and so are you. You don’t honor prophets anymore than your ancestors who persecuted and killed them.”


What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”

  • Paul states in I Timothy, This is good and pleases God our Savior,who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. {I Tim.2:3-4} Clearly, it is God’s will for people to know the truth. The last thing in the world, we want to do is obscure the truth, hide the truth: it would be like hiding a lamp under the bed so that people who stumble in the dark. Is there a pure motive for wanting to keep people in the dark?  I don’t think so!
  • Martin Luther, the reformer, did not want lay people in the dark. He pushed for translating the bible into the common language so everyone could have a bible. William Tyndale died because of his conviction that everyone should have a bible. The very book we take for granted came to us by the blood of martyrs. The church of the middle ages fought profusely to keep us in the dark and of course one of their reason was: they did not want to be held accountable for violating the word themselves, which they were doing. Luther made an extensive list of things the church was doing that were not scriptural.
  • The opponents of new English translations don’t want people to know the truth. People don’t like modern versions because they are clear and understandable. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse when you have a clear understanding. Some people prefer a bible that says, “Don’t muzzle the ox that treads out your grain,” to one that states clearly, “Don’t starve your pastor.”
  • It’s one thing for you to reject the TRUTH {Jesus} but it is another thing to hinder others from coming to know the TRUTH.


I will tell you plain and simple: I am an exponent of the truth. I want to know truth. I want to preach truth. If I am in error, I want to be corrected. If your theology is based on one verse or a dozen, you are not walking in truth. The bible must be interpreted in its context with Jesus Christ as the lens. We interpret everything through His life and teachings. David hated his enemies but Christ teaches us to love ours. We interpret what David said through what Christ teaches. Bottom line is: I am after the truth and Jesus is truth.

  • The truth is–we have all sinned and fall exceedingly short of the perfection we see in Jesus.
  • The truth is–God is holy and thus our sin has separated us from Him
  • The truth is–Our sin must be dealt with if we are to have fellowship with God
  • The truth is–Jesus dealt with our sins on Calvary’s Cross
  • The truth is–You have a decision to make, you must turn your back on the world or Jesus, which will it be? Jesus said in John 8:51, “I tell you the truth, whoever obeys My word will never see death.”
  • How can you obey? Trust Him, Confess Him, Follow Him

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