Journal Luke 11 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went and reclined at table. The Pharisee was ASTONISHED to see that he did not first wash before dinner.
And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside…you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? (Luke 11:37-40)
Observation: Observable, surface piety, without change within, is the contemptuous definition of religion. The inclination to be a Pharisee isn’t relegated to the 1st century alone.
Analysis: Jesus didn’t give any person associated with the established “religious” order a break. None of them.
Quote in verse 45: “One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” Jesus basically answered, “Yes, I did. How perceptive…” and they went on to explain why.
Why, then, is this important to study, to regard? Because, without warning, anybody can fall into the Pharisee Trap. What is the Pharisee Trap? To think what I do, defines what I am. If I look pious, then I must be pious. If I look like a Christian, then I must be a Christian.
The difference is Pursuit.
Did these guys pursue piety to honor God? Jesus identified their motivations, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greeting in the marketplaces.” (v43)
Does this define what I am? Sometimes, if I am transparent about it. It isn’t a one and done decision; that possible Pharisee attitude is a “look in the mirror” exercise and, if found, confess and lay it at the foot of the Cross.
What do I want? What is that description? Not only do I look in the Word to define that, but I can look at the Heroes of the Faith and our Church fathers to think it through. John Bunyan was said about, “If you cut him, he will bleed the bible.” And what do I know about Wilberforce, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and more recently, Packer, Sproul, Sinclair, Dever, Tozer, Bridges, and Piper?
Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
Pursuing God is serious business. It leads to joy but includes difficulties. The Road of Righteousness is narrow and full of obstacles—and at the end, Joy forevermore.
Prayer: Father, I remember that pastor that told the youth group, “If you want to accept Christ, be sure you mean business…” or something similar. I remember going outside under the awning and not looking back. Things haven’t always been smooth. I haven’t followed you fully every day. But, maybe, in the last part of my life, I haven’t swerved too much. Doesn’t matter. Today is the day of salvation. Your mercies are new today. Your Grace is all that I need…today.
Keep my feet pointed in your direction. Keep my eye fully upon You. You are my keeper, my defender, my joy. AMEN.