Religion Without Renewal
Pray from the heart: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psa. 51:10).
Read LUKE 11:37-54
 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.  But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.  Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But now as for what is inside you-be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.  “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.  “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.  “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”  One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”  Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.  “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them.  So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.  Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’  Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,  from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.  “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”  When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions,  waiting to catch him in something he might say. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was the basic failing of these Pharisees and teachers?
The Pharisees were knowledgeable about the law and meticulous in their observance of its most minute details. One could say they were preoccupied with religion (38). However, it was a role they played—or play-acted!—and that did not spring from a renewal of the heart (39). Jesus exposes the hollowness of their religious life (39-41) and later warns his disciples against such hypocrisy (12:1). It is this lack of inner heart conversion that Jesus denounces in six “woes” (42-52), which are not merely laments, but also connote judgment.
While scrupulous about minor matters of the Law (42a), the Pharisees were shockingly neglectful of God’s fundamental concerns (see Mic. 6:8): social justice and the love of God (42). The intent behind their actions was not to honor God, but to earn public praise and honor (43)—the synagogue and marketplace being prime places for public social interaction. Ironically, those obsessed with ceremonial purity are compared to objects of defilement (44). In a similar vein, Jesus pronounces woes against those who are experts in the Law yet deficient in love (46-52).
Do you say or do things to look good to the world? How will you stay focused on being good (in God’s eyes)?
Lord, help me to share Your fundamental concerns and focus on You and them, not on the approval of others.