Luke 11:14-54 (NIV)
Jesus and Beelzebub
14Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
17Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.
–from an address given by Abraham Lincoln (who would later become President of the United States) on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting the Illinois Republican party’s nomination as that state’s United States senator. He lost the race to Stephen Douglas.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
18If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub. 19Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
21“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.
23“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.
24“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”
27As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
Psalm 119:57 (NIV)
You are my portion, O LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
The Sign of Jonah
29As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
The Lamp of the Body
33“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”
HERE is an enlargement of an old Sunday School song I used to sing — “Oh, be careful, little eyes, what you see.” Casting Crowns does “Slow Fade.” All of us who have at times walked away from the light of Truth know how important it is to be on our guard, as Jesus warns us.
37When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Jesus did not follow the extremely technical and rigid requirements of ceremonial washing practiced by many pious Jews.
For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. In performing the ceremonial washing, you had to take at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half eggshells. You started by pouring the water over your hands starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers.
A really strict Jew would do this not only before the meal, but also between each course! The rabbis were deadly serious about this. They said that bread eaten with unwashed hands was no better than excrement. A rabbi who once failed to do this was considered excommunicated. Another rabbi was imprisoned by the Romans and used his ration of water for ceremonial cleansing instead of drinking, nearly died of thirst, and so was regarded as a great hero.
39Then 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. 40You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
So Jesus instructs about legalism and hypocrisy:
42“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.
43“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
44“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”
45One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
46Jesus 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.
47“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. 48So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49Because 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.’ 50Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world,
51from 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.
“From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.”
With these words Jesus confirms his witness to the extent of the Old Testament canon. Abel was the first martyr recorded in Scripture (Genesis 4:8) and Zechariah the last martyr to be named in the Hebrew Old Testament order. Abel’s form of sacrifice prefigured Christ’s, and Zechariah was stoned while prophesying to the people “in the court of the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 24:21). Genesis was the first book in the Hebrew canon and 2 Chronicles the last. Jesus was basically saying “Genesis to Chronicles,” or according to our order, Genesis to Malachi, thereby confirming the divine authority and inspiration of the entire Hebrew canon.
I have never understood people who do not want to study the Old Testament; it was the only Scripture that Jesus had!
52“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.”