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Friday, March 6, 2015

TOMS: Luke 11

For an introduction to this series, click here.

March 6, 2007

This chapter starts off with  the Lord's Prayer and a parable about prayer. I'm sure you are familiar with the Lord's Prayer, so let's go on to the parable. A man has a friend come to visit at midnight, and he has nothing to feed him with. So he goes next door to his neighbor's house and starts asking him for food. The conclusion of the story is this: "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (11:8-10)

Luke then records a similar statement that Matthew gives us in the Sermon on the Mount about the son who asks his father for food. I have a problem asking God for things. I often feel like it's insulting to God to ask for something that I can do for myself. Now certainly the Lord does not reward laziness, but He does command us to pray about everything.

Next, some of the Jews accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. This is the ultimate insult to God, to attribute His obvious good work to the power of the devil. Jesus replies: "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?" (11:17-18) This accusation proves the stubbornness of the people. They could see the mighty hand of God at work in their midst, but instead of praising God for His goodness, they were trying to prove that it wasn't really God doing the work.

Then Jesus tells a very interesting story: "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first." (11:24-26) 

This parable teaches us the principle of replacement. It is not enough to just get rid of a besetting sin or bad habit. You need to have something to put back in its place. I have seen, and I'm sure you have seen, lots of people who make a positive step in their life, and they don't follow through, they just kind of stay in place. Unfortunately they don't stay there for long; they soon end up in a worse place than they were before.

Jesus then confronts the Pharisees directly, pronouncing a series of woes on them similar to Matthew 23. Luke adds a new one though that is very interesting: "Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it." (11:44, ESV) Walking into or over a grave was a minor offense in Moses' law. It was one of those that if you did it you were "unclean until the evening." The P's professed to be the spiritual leaders, the paragons of virtue. Jesus points out that they were actually unknowingly trapping people in their false teaching. There are lots of teachers out there that we need to be wary of. I usually don't like to look at the next chapter, but in 12:2, the same context as all the woes, Jesus tells the disciples, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." There are some seemingly good teachers out there who are really setting a trap for your mind and your soul.

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