On the Way to THE CRUX: Reflections on Jesus’ Journey to the Cross
Week Two: No Amount of Proof is Sufficient for those Who Choose Not to Believe
Read Luke 11:14-54 NASB
Week One is based on the first two occasions which transpired while Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. It dealt with rethinking our concept of being a neighbor. We were given the chance to re-evaluate the way we treat the people around us especially those who are in need including our enemies. We learned as well that spending quality time with Jesus has lasting benefits.
This week’s reflection focuses on the next episode as Jesus continues to press on to Jerusalem. Jesus was met by oppositions to his authority by some people in the crowd, and from the Pharisees and lawyers (Luke 11:14-54). The first opposition came from some people in the crowd who questioned his act of driving out demons. Some accused him of doing it by the power of Beelzebub, “a name of Satan or the prince of evil spirits” (Strong-Lite) while some demanded sign from heaven to test him. Jesus’ response shows him to be “a teacher of high morals. The condemnation of his contemporaries as evil shows him to be impatient with low morals.” (Gundry)
As to the sign, it would be his resurrection from the dead. “By their rejection of Jesus, they were guaranteeing that in the judgment day they would be in a far worse position than the heathen. The queen of the Gentile kingdom of Sheba recognized Solomon’s wisdom, and the people of the heathen city of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching, but the Jews of Jesus’ time stubbornly refused to accept him as the Messiah.” (Bridgeway)
The second opposition came from the Pharisees and lawyers (vv. 37-38). Jesus was invited to have lunch in the house of a Pharisee. Jesus obliged and reclined at the table but the Pharisee was surprised to see that Jesus had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. The ceremonial washing or “dipping of the hands in water before eating and often between courses for ceremonial purification” (RWP) was not part of the commandment in the Law of Moses but was added in the tradition of the Pharisees.
Jesus replied with a series of woes which started with exposing their hypocrisy, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.” (NASB). They seem to be righteous in the outside but wicked and proud in the inside by disregarding charity, justice and love of God.
The lawyers felt insulted when they heard Jesus speak against the Pharisees. This was probably because they were the professional teachers of the law. Jesus’ response was even more severe, because they burdened others with laws that they were unable to keep themselves. “They honored dead prophets with lavish tombs, but persecuted living prophets who brought them God’s message. Some they killed, as their ancestors had done in Old Testament times. They shared in the violence of their ancestors, and would suffer accordingly.” (Bridgeway)
Instead of repenting, the Pharisees and teachers of the law (lawyers) were enraged and asked him many questions attempting to entrap him, that they might find the reason to accuse him. The word ‘provoke’ in Luke 11:53 in the King James Version means that “they put many questions to him about various matters, without giving him proper time to answer. They hurled questions as fast as possible, and about as many as possible, that they might get him, in the hurry, to say something that would be wrong, that they might thus accuse him.” (Barnes)
That was a blatant show of shrewdness and injustice! Hence, this week’s reflection is entitled, “No Amount of Proof is Sufficient for those Who Choose Not to Believe”. As Stuart Chase said, “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible” (www.goodreads.com). These types of persons were a regular part of the crowd that followed Jesus’ itineraries. They were there to trap Jesus not to learn from him.
In the same way, there are people who are out to find fault instead of good deeds, injustice instead justice, negligence instead of performance, and hate instead of love. If you are in this predicament, you can look up to Jesus for inspiration. He engaged his critics head-on, defended his authority and exposed the wickedness and hypocrisy of his detractors.
Questions for Reflection:
Based on Jesus’ example, Can you think of ways on how to deal with disbelief?
Is there an instance in your life that you doubted God’s authority? What did you do to overcome it?
Gundry, Robert H. A Survey of the New Testament. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, Inc., 2002.
Zondervan NASB Study Bible. New American Standard Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999
MySword for Android: For Barnes, Bridgeway, RWP and Strong-Lite)
Bible Gateway: www.biblegateway.com