Intro: Last week, I shared a devotional about religious spirits—demonic influence that seeks to deceive and lead people away from the truth of God’s redeeming love for them, as well as his perfect work of grace to deliver them from evil. Jesus dealt with these wrong spirits all the time, because they masqueraded as the purity of God [pretending to be angels of light] in outward physical appearances, but Jesus knew on the inside their souls were a mess and their hearts were far from his love. In fact, Jesus’ greatest correction took place with the religious leaders [Pharisees] and religious scholars whom he left to shepherd and guide his people toward the Kingdom, so they could be healed by the truth. These leaders were so busy exalting themselves and accusing others of unrighteousness, Jesus declared judgment over them.
In our passage today, Jesus has an encounter with religious spirits; it takes place at a Pharisee’s dinner table. Jesus does not stop to do the usually ceremonial hand washing before eating; therefore, the hateful accusations directed at the true Light begin. Jesus is deliberately provoking these demonic spirits, so he can get the attention of these deceived hosts. Sometimes I marvel at the fearlessness of Jesus each time he confronts evil. He is always motivated by love [wanting their wholeness], so he never budges from speaking the whole truth.
God has compassion on his human creation, because he remembers we are made from the dust. May we have mercy, a heart for justice [help others rise to the righteousness of Christ], and love unconditionally without enabling the destructive habits of others. If all we do is focus on the failures and sinfulness of unbelievers or the spiritually immature, like the scholars and Pharisees, we have not passed through the Kingdom’s doorway ourselves. God is love—regenerating and compassionate—so start praying for God to move in miraculous ways to bring new life to those around you. Be the Light!
Luke 11:43-48, 52 (VOICE) Woe to you, Pharisees! Judgment will come on you! What you really love is having people fawn over you when you take the seat of honor in the synagogue or when you are greeted in the public market.44 Wake up! See what you’ve become! Woe to you; you’re like a field full of unmarked graves. People walk on the field and have no idea of the corruption that’s a few inches beneath their feet.
Scholar (sitting at Jesus’ table): 45 Rabbi, if You insult the Pharisees, then You insult us too.
Jesus: 46 Well, now that you mention it, watch out, all you religious scholars! Judgment will come on you too! You load other people down with unbearable burdens of rules and regulations, but you don’t lift a finger to help others. 47-48 Woe to you; you don’t fool anybody! You seem very religious—honoring the prophets by building them elaborate memorial tombs. Come to think of it, that’s very fitting, since you’re so much like the people who killed the prophets! They killed the prophets; you build their tombs—you’re all in the same family business!
52 So, religious scholars, judgment will come on you! You’re supposed to be teachers, unlocking the door of knowledge and guiding people through it. But the fact is, you’ve never even passed through the doorway yourselves. You’ve taken the key, left the door locked tight, and stood in the way of everyone who sought entry.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for making your children lights in the world. May we have the wisdom to stay the course in love, so we can help others enter into your Kingdom living. Help us to speak the truth with compassion and listen carefully as the Spirit guides our way each day. Cause us to be bold and fearless against evil, because greater is the One who lives in us than anything or anyone we encounter in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.