Woe to the Lawyers

Posted: April 2, 2017 in Luke, Uncategorized

Luke 11:45-54, “Woe to the Lawyers”

Lawyers are often at the butt of jokes – sometimes for good reasons.  Although there are many good attorneys who follow the highest ethical standards, others fit the stereotype of looking for loopholes, never taking responsibility for themselves. 

The only thing worse than a lawyer who fits all of the terrible stereotypes, is a theologian who fits the same ones.  That’s exactly what happened in our text as Jesus continued His woes against the religious hypocrites.  At first He pronounced three woes upon the Pharisees; now He pronounces three additional woes upon the lawyers – the scribes who were the experts in Jewish law.

This whole confrontation came as a result of escalating tension between Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel.  The scribes and Pharisees (as a whole) had never liked Jesus’ ministry, and things were only getting worse.  When Jesus cast a demon out of a man, instead of rejoicing in the miracle, the scribes & Pharisees found reason to criticize and accuse.  They claimed that Jesus was in league with Satan in order to cast out the demons, and they demanded that a miraculous sign be given as proof that God had sent Him to do His ministry.  Jesus responded, demonstrating the foolishness of the Pharisees.  Not only did He have to be stronger than Satan in order to truly cleanse people of demons, but He had performed countless miracles and signs as proof of His authority.  There was one coming that would be superior to the rest: the sign of Jonah, i.e., the resurrection.  That would be the sign of signs, the ultimate proof of Jesus’ authority, and it could not be hidden away.

It was after this list of confrontations that Luke tells the story of a Pharisee inviting Jesus to dine with him (probably a late breakfast or lunch).  It was here that the Pharisee found one more reason to criticize Jesus: He hadn’t engaged in the ritual washing of His hands prior to eating.  Jesus hadn’t broken the law, but He hadn’t followed tradition, and the Pharisee was appalled.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and Jesus pronounced three woes – not just upon this one Pharisee, but upon all the Pharisees with this same attitude.  They were religious hypocrites, sinfully proud, and stumbling blocks for others.  Jesus minced no words in His condemnation of them, and for good reason: they needed to be aware of their sin if they were ever to repent of it.

Of course, Jesus didn’t stop with the Pharisees.  There were others in the room, guilty of similar things.  Jesus pronounces three woes upon the religious lawyers, making it clear that false teachers will be held accountable by Almighty God.  There will always be those who misrepresent God & despise His word; we need to beware, and to take care to know God’s word for ourselves.

Luke 11:45–54

  • Woes to the lawyers (45-52)

45 Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.”

  • Who were “the lawyers”?  These weren’t attorneys; they were experts in Jewish religious law.  Although some disagree, this seems to be another way of describing the scribes.  We tend to think of scribes as ancient Xerox machines or dictation recorders for the kings, but they were vastly more than that.  Because of all of the time they spent copying the Scriptures, the Talmud, and other religious writings, the scribes became experts in the content.  They were the true lawyers of the Hebrews, as they studied the Law of Moses & much more.  In the New Testament, they are often seen with the Pharisees, so it seems that the lawyers Jesus addressed may have been a certain branch of the Pharisees, a kind of subgroup with their own specialized theological practice.
  • In any case, they knew that Jesus hadn’t left them a loophole.  When Jesus condemned the practices of the Pharisees, He condemned the lawyers as well.  Apparently the original Pharisee hadn’t invited Jesus to a one-on-one meal, but there were others present in the room, and these lawyers took offense to what Jesus had said.  He had “reproached” them – the Greek word being the same word from which we get “hubris.”  In the lawyer’s mind, Jesus had a lot of gall saying what He did – He had insulted the scribes & lawyers right along with the rest of the Pharisees, and that didn’t seem fair in his mind.
    • There’s an old saying: “If you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one who yelps loudest is the one who got hit.”  Apparently, this lawyer was “hit” by the chastisement of Jesus.  The word of God had spoken, and it cut him to the heart, convicting him.  That’s not a bad thing.  We may not like conviction & discipline, but if we experience it, it at least means we have the opportunity to repent and correct.  We just can’t let our pride get in the way.  That’s too often our problem.  We experience the conviction of the Lord in some way (perhaps through Bible reading, or through a sermon, or through the counsel of a friend), and we don’t like the thought that we could actually be in the wrong.  Our pride takes a hit, and we yelp.  We moan & protest, trying to argue our point – all the while knowing deep down that we’re wrong.  Here’s a tip: whining won’t change the situation; repentance will.  Instead of moaning, whining, complaining, and protesting, just repent.  Humble yourself in the sight of Jesus, confess your sin to Him, and turn away from it asking for His forgiveness.  He will forgive – that’s a promise from His word to born-again believers. (1 Jn 1:9)  But the longer you push it off in pride, the longer it will be until you experience His cleansing.  Don’t wait; respond immediately.
  • So this lawyer was offended, and probably expected Jesus to apologize & move on.  Instead, Jesus doubled-down, turning His attention directly upon the lawyers & pronounced three more woes to them…

46 And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.

  • Woe #1: They burdened the people.  As the supposed-experts in Mosaic Law, they were the ones to give interpretations of the Scripture to the Jews.  They looked at the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) and were supposed to teach the people what it said & how to apply it.  It sounds basic enough, not unlike what pastors are supposed to do today.  Those who are called as pastor/teachers are supposed to open up God’s word to God’s people, and help them better understand it so that they might better understand their God.  God’s word contains His heart, and so if we know His heart better, than we know Him better.  That’s what is supposed to happen; that’s not what always does happen.  It certainly didn’t among the scribes of Jesus’ day.  Instead of disclosing God’s word to the people, they distorted it.  They added to it.  They mixed it with centuries of tradition and the opinions of fallible men.  The problem with opinions is that everyone has them.  And they are as varied as the people who hold them.  Thus if all we have are the ideas and opinions of men, then we have no standard.  We need something objective – something solid – something unwavering & unchanging.  That’s supposed to be the word of God.  The Scripture is supposed to be our standard, our ruler, our guidepost, our lamp.  It’s the plumb-line that always hangs straight and never changes.  But what happens when you can’t see it anymore?  What happens when it becomes so mixed with the ideas of men & so distorted that you can’t tell what is God’s & what is man’s?  That’s when it becomes a burden.  That’s when it weighs a person down, making them unable to respond to the freedom God offers in the gospel.
    • This is precisely the problem with legalism!  It burdens.  It weighs down.  When individuals or church institutions add to the word of God, they distort it so that it becomes burdensome rather than freedom.  Instead of simply casting ourselves upon the Lord Jesus in faith, now we have certain hoops to go through.  Now we have to look “right” & act “right” & use all the “right” words – if we don’t fit the template that everyone else says we ought to fit, then we’re not really good Christians.  After all, the really spiritual people do ____, so we should too.  No!  That’s adding to God’s word – that is a distortion of the gospel.  That is trusting ourselves & our works rather than Jesus.  Paul ran into this problem with the Galatians, and implored them to remain in simple faith rather than descend into legalism.  Galatians 3:2–3, "(2) This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—(3) Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?"  We’ve begun in faith, by the Spirit – so continue that way.
    • Some of you may have been burdened by legalistic distortions of the gospel.  Maybe you’ve been under a teacher who twisted the word of God, or had someone place legalistic burdens upon you.  Know this: God offers freedom!  Jesus said His yoke was easy & His burden was light.  Cast your simple faith upon the Lord Jesus and you’ll find His freedom!
  • If the distortion of the word of God wasn’t bad enough, the lawyers added to the problem by refusing to give any assistance.  If you’re going to place a burden on someone, the least you could do is come alongside them and help them bear it.  If I tell you to move a couch, the least I could do is pick up the other end.  But that’s not what the lawyers did.  They laid burden upon burden on the people, claiming it was the word of God (when it wasn’t), and then offered them no assistance whatsoever.  Instead of taking people to the hope of the gospel, they left people hopeless under the conviction of law (and it wasn’t even the pure law of God at that, but a distorted, twisted tradition-centered legalism). These lawyers weren’t pastors; they were slave-drivers & task-masters.  They weren’t religious experts; they were religious dictators.  The Scripture is clear that those who teach God’s word & His people will be held to a stricter judgment (Jas 3:1) – these lawyers would certainly find this to be true.
    • This was never God’s intent for His people – not then, not today.  First of all, God’s word isn’t supposed to be burdensome.  Yes, we may experience conviction from time to time, but that’s a good thing in that godly sorrow leads to repentance. (2 Cor 7:10)  When we repent, we’re cleansed, and our burdens are lifted.  But when Christians do experience legitimate burdens, even then we’re not supposed to be left alone to drown.  God calls the rest of us as Christians (including pastors!) to come alongside and help.  We’re supposed to bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)  That doesn’t happen through legalism, but it certainly does through love.

47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs.

  • Woe #2: They despised the prophets.  Their forefathers had despised the prophets, denying their message and even persecuting them to death.  The current generation of lawyers would have done exactly the same thing.  Jesus points this out in their hypocrisy regarding building the tombs of the prophets.  What might appear to be a memorial to honor a fallen prophet was actually a memorial to honor those who killed the prophets.  This might not be apparent to us, but it certainly was to Jesus.  His basic accusation to them was (in the words of TW Manson), “The only prophet you honor is a dead prophet!”  They valued the death of the prophet, because they certainly didn’t value the prophet’s message.
  • Does this same sort of attitude exist today?  Without question!  Obviously, we don’t have dead prophets for whom we build tombs and memorials, but modern Christians certainly give lip-service to Scripture without any intent to act upon it.  We say that we love Jesus & value His word, but our Bibles become little more than paperweights and any intent to actually change our lives in accordance with His word is non-existent.  How is that any different than the response of the ancient Jews to Jeremiah or Hosea?  The word of God via the prophets was ignored by them, all the while with their claim to be the “holy” nation of God.  Modern Evangelicals do the same thing when we’re told to show compassion to the poor, and we don’t.  Or when we’re told to forgive one another, and we don’t.  Or we’re told to love and serve our spouses, when we don’t.  We make all kinds of excuses for ourselves why any particular command in the New Testament doesn’t apply to us, and yet we still raise our hands in worship, play our Christian radios, and claim to be those who love and honor God.  It’s the sin of the scribes, all over again.
  • BTW – don’t miss the fact of the reality of persecution.  God sent prophets to His people, and the prophetic word was despised.  God’s people didn’t want to hear God’s word, and the prophets paid the ultimate price with their lives.  This was expected – vs. 49…

49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’

  • God knew this was going to be the response of the ancient Israelites, because that’s just human nature.  Those who are in rebellion against God want to remain in rebellion against God.  That’s true whether someone is genetically a Jew or Gentile – whether they are a cultural “Christian” or an atheist.  If someone isn’t seeking God, then he/she isn’t going to want to hear from God.  Thus His word is routinely rejected.  This is plainly seen around the world where men and women are reviled, beaten, and even killed for sharing their faith in Christ.  It’s even seen here in the United States with the current cultural response to anything that is related to Biblical truth.  Speak out against abortion, and you’re anti-woman.  Speak out against sexual perversion, and you’re prude & hateful.  Speak up for religious freedom, and you’re intolerant.  Those who rebel against God always rebel against His truth.  What’s surprising about it isn’t the response of the culture, but our own response.  As if we expected it to be any different?  If they hated the prophets of the Old Testament, they will hate the Christians of the New Testament.  If they hated Jesus, they will hate His followers.  It’s that simple.
  • Does that mean we stop going and stop speaking?  Absolutely not!  Notice that this was the plant of God. “I will send…”  God knew exactly what would happen to His prophets and apostles.  He knew the rejection they would face & the persecution they would endure…and He sent them anyway.  It’s not that God desired their murder (perish the thought!), but God knew the people needed to be warned.  If God didn’t send the prophets, how would His people know to repent?  If God didn’t send the apostles, how would the gospel be proclaimed?  Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)  If anyone is to believe, then the message of God has to first be preached.  Does that mean many will reject?  Certainly.  But some will hear.  Some will respond and come to faith.  Those “some” are worth the cost.  We were worth the cost to Jesus when He lay down His life for us.  They are worth no less – Jesus died equally for them.
  • Question: what did Jesus mean when He said “the wisdom of God also said”?  It is a quotation of some sort, but scholars have different theories as to the source.  It certainly is not a direct quote from the Old Testament, though perhaps it could be thought of as a summary of various OT prophecies.  Some think this refers to a non-canonical writing, quoted by Jesus.  Others believe that Jesus is referring to Himself as “the wisdom of God,” considering He says this same basic thing in Matt 23:34, claiming to be the one to personally send the prophets, and others with His message.  This is possible, but perhaps not likely, as Jesus isn’t recorded elsewhere referring to Himself with this sort of title.  (Generally when He refers to Himself in the 3rd person, He calls Himself the “Son of Man.”)  It seems most likely that Jesus refers to the eternal plan and wisdom of God – something of which He’d be privy to as God the Son.  The Son has always known the plan of the Father, and He is able to perfectly reveal it to us.
    • Do you want to know the wisdom of God?  Look to Jesus.  He may or may not have claimed the title for Himself, but there is no doubt that He Himself is the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:30)  In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:3)  We have no greater source of wisdom than that of our Lord Jesus.  In Him we see the plan of God for redemption, of reconciliation, of the consummation of the universe itself.  If Jesus is the wisdom of God for that, what challenges do we face that are too difficult for Him?
  • God may have known that His prophets and apostles would be persecuted and killed, but that didn’t absolve the guilt of their murderers.  Vs. 50…

50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation.

  • The generation of the scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees in front of Jesus would be held responsible for the spilled blood of the prophets.  All of the prophets who had ever been sent to the Hebrews had been hated by them in some way.  Even Moses was routinely despised by the nation he led, grumbling and complaining against him, ready to stone him.  They had all been hated, “from Abel to Zechariah.”  Although the Hebrew alphabet is different, this is still the basic idea of “the prophets from A-Z.”  Abel was the very first prophet seen in the Scripture, offering true sacrifices to God in the opening chapters of Genesis.  Zechariah was the last prophet mentioned in the pages of the Hebrew order of the Old Testament historical books (2 Chronicles 24:20-21).  All of them were hated, rejected, and persecuted.  God knew their suffering, and He would hold the guilty responsible.
  • But why “this generation”?  Why the generation of the Jews in front of Jesus?  Because the ministry of the prophets led to Jesus, culminating in Jesus.  And just as the previous generations of Israelites had killed the prophets, so they would kill Jesus.  In just a few short weeks, the Son of God would be arrested, tried before a kangaroo court, turned over to the Gentiles, beaten, humiliated, tortured, and executed via Roman crucifixion.  That generation was guilty not only of the blood of the prophets, but of the blood of the Ultimate Prophet, the Son of God.  They were indeed guilty, and they would face their judgments in a few short decades as the Romans came into Jerusalem in 70AD in horrendous bloodshed.  Truly, within a generation’s time, the judgment of God would come.
  • Question: Was judgment reserved only for Israel?  No.  Certainly the generation of Jews who rejected their Messiah faced a special judgment, but it wasn’t only the Jews guilty of Jesus’ blood.  Gentiles were the ones who sentenced Him to flogging and crucifixion.  Gentiles were the ones who drove the nails into His hands and feet.  Gentiles were the ones who pierced His side.  Gentiles bear just as much guilt for the death of Christ.  It was our sin for which Jesus died.  He did not come only to be the sacrifice for the Jews, but for the rest of the world as well.  He gave His life for you & me, and even for all those who continue to hate Him to this day.  And yes, those who reject Him will face their own judgment.  It will be required of them.
    • The good news is that it doesn’t have to be!  If you are convicted of the fact that Jesus died on account of your sins, you don’t have to wallow in guilt and fear of God’s judgment.  You can receive His grace because Jesus died for you!  That was the very reason He died!  That was the death you deserved because of your sin, and Jesus did it in your place.  All you need to do now is receive His gift. 
  • That’s a lot said about the lawyers’ rejection of the prophets, but Jesus isn’t finished.  There is one more woe to proclaim.  Vs. 52…

52 “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

  • Woe #3: They hindered people from the kingdom.  Not only had they burdened men under legalistic tradition, distorting the heart of God in the Scripture – not only had they despised the word of God, rejecting and persecuting those sent to proclaim it – they also stopped people from understanding the gospel, hindering them from hearing what God had for them in His word.  Through their knowledge of the Scriptures, they held “the key of knowledge,” yet they didn’t use it to unlock the gate to the kingdom; they left it locked & threw away the key.  It was as if they set themselves up as a blockade in front of the gate.  They had no interest in humbling themselves before Almighty God & trusting in His grace to enter the kingdom – and they weren’t going to let anyone else go by them either.  If they let people know God for themselves, then all of a sudden the lawyers wouldn’t be necessary.  They’d lose their position of influence.  Better to keep people ignorant & in the dark than to allow them to be saved.  Their selfish desire for power and pride brought them to commit the ultimate crime: holding others back from the grace and salvation of God.
    • Think about it: of all the things that could be done in the world, what could be worse than to keep someone from salvation?  Robbery is awful, as is assault, torture, and all other kinds of physical crimes.  Murder is the ultimate crime in this life – but it is still limited to this life.  Yet to keep someone from salvation?  That is to commit an eternal crime.  That is murder them in the life to come.  Better for that person never to be born!
  • Yet that was what these scribes had done.  Their legalism & tradition blocked men & women from the kingdom of God.  Their distortion of the Scripture hindered others from knowing the truth.  The very law that could have been their schoolmaster to bring them to faith in Jesus became a twisted prohibiting law binding men & women to their sin.  They never humbled themselves before God in faith, because they never saw the need.  The false teaching they received caused them to think that they could earn their way into God’s favor, that they could be good enough, do the right things, make themselves better, all in an attempt to bribe themselves into the kingdom.  It was all a lie, fed to them by their false teachers among the scribes, lawyers, and Pharisees.  Certainly the religious lawyers cared nothing about the truth, but they kept others from knowing it for themselves.
    • Doctrine matters.  Never let anyone tell you that doctrine isn’t all that important – that it’s all secondary to how you live your life.  As long as you’re a good & decent person, what does it really matter what you believe about theological things?  It does matter…it matters greatly.  Not only because what you believe affects what you do (doctrine always informs practice), but what you believe greatly affects your eternity.  Hell will be filled with people who consider themselves “good & decent.”  They may have been good in their own mind, but they still had sin before God that was undealt with & unatoned for.  The most decent person you know has still sinned against God in some way – and without the sacrifice of Christ for them, they are still doomed for hell.  That’s why doctrine matters.  False teachers present a false gospel, and a false gospel is no gospel at all.
    • The key for us is to be able to discern the true from the false.  How was it that the ancient lawyers were able to hinder the Jews from knowing the heart of God?  They were the ones who had the Scripture.  There were Torah scrolls in every synagogue, readings were done every week, and every Jewish male had certain passages memorized – but it wasn’t as if every Jewish family had their own scroll to study on a daily basis.  It wasn’t as if all of them could read Hebrew on a regular basis, besides a few key passages.  The knowledge of the Scripture was held by a religious few, and everyone else had to rely upon them. – The good news for us is that this is no longer the case!  Much of the cause behind the Protestant Reformation was the translation of the Bible into the common languages & its distribution among the masses.  Men and women were finally able to read the Scripture for themselves.  Today, Scripture is available everywhere…especially here in the United States!  We have dozens of English translations (seemingly a new one every year), abundance of Bible teaching, commentaries and other scholarly resources available at the click of a button online.  If you’ve got a smartphone with data connection, then you’ve got theological libraries in the palm of your hand.  Bottom line: we have zero excuse not to know the Bible for ourselves!  When someone tells us something from the Scripture, we don’t have to take their word for it – we can look it up.  We can compare what is being said to what was originally written, and we can know whether or not it’s true.  That’s not being paranoid; that’s Biblical wisdom, as demonstrated by those in ancient Berea. Acts 17:11, "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so."  Be a Berean!  Bereans aren’t hindered from the truth because they see it for themselves.  Bereans aren’t limited by others on their knowledge of God’s word, because they read it with their own eyes.
      • Does this mean we can ignore the vast number of teachers given to us in the church?  Of course not – solid Bible teachers are a gift from the Lord to help equip the church for the work of the ministry. (Eph 4:11-12)  But it means that we can verify the things we are taught.  We have the key of knowledge ourselves, and we have a responsibility to use it.
  • Jesus gave quite an indictment to the lawyers!  They didn’t take too kindly to it.  Vs. 53…
  • Response of the scribes & Pharisees (53-54)

53 And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.

  • Remember Jesus’ words in vss. 46-52 came at the same occasion where He spoke earlier to the Pharisees.  So now it was “the scribes and the Pharisees” who voiced their offense and objections to Jesus’ rightful condemnation.  They couldn’t believe that someone would dare criticize them in such a way.  They were the religious experts, after all.  They had gone through formal training.  And who was this Guy?  Just some upstart Teacher.  Sure, He performed incredible miracle they could not deny & taught with authority they could never have – but He ought to know His place.  They were the religious leaders; not Him!  (In their mind!)  They became hostile to Jesus, and continuously interrogated Him. 
  • The word for “cross-examine” is interesting, in that it’s used in Classical Greek literature to refer to teaching by dictation, or through repetition.  The idea was that teachers would expect their students to repeat back to them what was taught them, word-for-word.  Obviously the context is different here, and Luke seems to paint the picture of these religious teachers being so offended that they all began shouting out theological questions, expecting Jesus to be able to rattle off exact answers, as they were taught by their rabbis.  It like they were trying to catch Him off-guard on Bible trivia or theological dilemmas.  The bottom line was that Jesus had ticked them off, and they were so mad they were sputtering, looking for any excuse to tell Jesus He was wrong about something.
  • Of course, this was the pattern that would continue until Jesus’ arrest and trial.  The religious leaders constantly sought out some excuse to trap Him & discredit Him.  If Jesus could be proven wrong, then He would be removed as a threat.  He could be laughed off as just another uneducated rube from Galilee who thought He could cause trouble for the elite from Jerusalem.  They would be sorely mistaken!  Jesus can never be trapped, never caught off-guard or unaware.  They might as well have tried to stop the sun from rising every day than catch the Son of God in a theological trap.  It simply cannot be done.

For all of their expertise in the Law, the scribes showed that they despised the Law.  They added to it, distorting it – they ignored the message of the prophets & persecuted those who taught the truth – they kept the heart of God hidden from the people, making it impossible for them to know Him.  It’s no wonder that Jesus pronounced woes upon them!  God takes this sort of distortion and false teaching seriously, and He will hold those who do it to account.

Some of you may have experienced this kind of legalistic, binding, distorted false teaching in the past.  Perhaps it was through a different Christian tradition, where you felt as if you could never get close to Jesus & always needed some other priest or person to mediate for you.  There was one more block between you and God.  That’s not the gospel!  Jesus is the one Mediator between God & man.  We go directly to God through faith in Him.

Perhaps it was through a pastor at another church.  Pastors aren’t perfect (by any stretch of the imagination!), and sometimes say things we regret.  But those who abuse and twist God’s word will be exposed & be held responsible to God.  (That’s true regarding pastors or anyone else.)  Remember (1) you have a Teacher in the Holy Spirit, and as you seek Jesus in faith, you can be sure that He will teach you the truth – and (2) we have the unfiltered truth of God in our hands when we hold our Bibles.  Whatever is taught to you in whatever pulpit (including this one!), be sure to take it back to the word of God and look at it with your own eyes.

One other thing needs to be said by way of warning: this isn’t only the Pharisees & scribes, or even the modern-day equivalents…it can also be us.  Be careful!  We don’t want to be the ones who lay legalistic burdens upon others.  We don’t want to be the ones who despise God’s word & ignore it.  We don’t want to hinder someone else from seeing Jesus.  Beware that you don’t.  You keep walking humbly with Jesus by faith, and it won’t be a problem.  It’s when our pride & self-sufficiency creeps up that we get into trouble.  If this is you – if God the Holy Spirit has convicted you of this, you need to repent & do it today. 

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