Monday, May 17, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus and the Judgment to Come"

“Jesus and the Judgment to Come”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
May 16, 2010
Luke 11:29-54

We’ve noticed together over the last few weeks that things are heating up for Jesus.  Jesus is getting closer and closer to His fateful time in Jerusalem.  He is disagreeing more and more with the Pharisees and the scribes and the other religious leaders of the Jews.

In this chapter, Jesus has already been accused of working together with Satan!  That’s how “hot” things are getting for Jesus.

And Jesus has some very strong words in return.

In fact, these 26 verses include some of strongest words of Jesus against the leaders of this generation of Jews.

Jesus begins to talk strongly about the judgment to come.

“Jesus and the Judgment to Come”

In today’s passage, there are 3 overlapping groups of people that Jesus talks to and about.

First, “this generation.” Verses 29 through 36.  Jesus is generalizing what He sees as blameworthy in “this generation,” the generation of Jews that are alive right then, right there and are interacting with Him.

He doesn’t mean every single person in that generation–that would include His own disciples.  But He is talking about what He is seeing and experiencing in the present generation in general. And it’s not good.  In fact, it cries out for God’s judgment.

Which is coming.

The second group is one of the leaders of “this generation.”  It’s the Pharisees.  Verses 37-44.

Supposedly, the Pharisees were the holy-ones of Israel.  But Jesus could see right through them, and in fact, He proclaims “Woe” on them.  Jesus says “Woe to the Pharisees.”  Judgment is coming.

And the third group is the scribes or the “experts in the law.”  Verses 45-54.  The “experts in the law” were part-Bible professor and part-lawyer.  And they were supposed to be helping the people to know God, but instead, they were hindering the people from knowing God.  And Jesus says, “Woe” to them, too.

There was judgment coming upon them.

Jesus and the Judgment to Come.

Everyone needs to know that there is a judgment coming.

Our works, the things we have done, will be evaluated by God Himself.

God the Judge.

There is nothing He does not see.

And justice will be done and be seen to be done.

Perfect justice.  Not half-justice like we often see performed today.

Every wrong will be righted.

And every motive and secret will be made known.  And judged.

Today, I want us to walk through this passage, looking at each of the three groups that Jesus talks to and about and...see where they went wrong.

What did they do that was bringing the judgment of God upon them?

What did Jesus see that would cause Him to say such strong words?

Why these people were liable for judgment.

“Woe to You.”

Where did these people go wrong?

And then I want us to purpose in our hearts to do the exact opposite.

So, this is not just an academic exercise.  This is not just history.

This is application.  In reading where they went wrong, we have the chance to trust God and do the opposite by faith.

First, “this generation.”

Jesus says that the judgment is coming for them because they were:


Look at verse 29.

“As 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.’”

I think it’s interesting that as the crowds increased, Jesus’ message got stronger and harder!  We tend to think of people as watering down their messages as their crowds get bigger, because they are trying to please everybody.

But not Jesus.  Jesus is not trying to please people. And these people are not pleasing Him.

They are asking for (really demanding!) a sign.

We saw this in verse 16.  Jesus just did a miracle (healing a man with a demon that made him mute), and these people want a sign!

So Jesus says, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

What was the sign of Jonah?

Well, it was, at least, his preaching.  Jonah came to Nineveh with a call to repentance because there was judgment coming.

And how did the people at Nineveh respond to that message?

They repented, didn’t they?  Dirty Gentiles that were enemies of Jews! They repented!

But there might be more here than just Jonah’s message, right?

What happened to Jonah before he went to Nineveh?

He tried to run from God, right?  And what happened?

A big fish swallowed him.

He was three nights in the belly of a great fish.

Elsewhere Jesus says “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

What is the sign of Jonah?  Perhaps Jesus is also talking about his death, burial, and resurrection!  V.30 “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.”

This generation wants a sign?  There is no greater sign that that.

But how will they respond?

You see, miracles don’t necessarily convince anyone.

We’ve seen that over and over again.  We think that if we just saw a miracle, then we would have faith.

But that’s not how it works. There is always another explanation, another interpretation, another excuse–another call for another proof–if there is an wicked, unbelieving heart.

Jesus gives another example. The Queen of Sheba.  Verse 31.

“The Queen of the South (Sheba, 1 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 9) will rise at the judgment [there is the judgment to come] 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.”

Do you see the picture? 

Do you know about the Queen of Sheba?  She had heard that Solomon was great and wise.  So she made a long journey to see.  And her breath was taken away by how great Solomon was.

But Jesus says there is now one greater than Solomon and you don’t have travel a long distance to see Him.  He’s right here.  It Jesus Himself.

And do they?

Do they see who Jesus is?

No.  And at the judgment, the Queen of Sheba will say, “It was obvious!”

And they be condemned.

And then Jesus goes back to Jonah and the Ninevites.  Verse 32.

“The 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.”

One greater than Solomon.
One greater than Jonah.
And this generation is missing it altogether!
It is a great and grievous sin to be blind to who Jesus really is.

Because the facts are all out there.

I think that’s what Jesus is saying with His allusions to light and eyes in verses 33-36.

“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.”

I think the light here in this context is Jesus’ own preaching and teaching that points to who He is.

He is laying it all out before this generation.  Greater preaching that Nineveh got, not hidden, not under a bowl, on a stand, anyone who comes may see the light.

Hide it under a bushel, No!  Jesus has let it shine.

But were they letting the light in?  V.34

“Your 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.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Now, I’m not altogether sure I know everything that this means, but what I think He’s saying is that our spiritual eyes can be open to the light or closed to the light.

And if we have good eyes that let in the light of the preaching of who Jesus is, then our whole self will be illuminated.

That’s why were pray, “Open the eyes of our heart, Lord!”

And when we do see Jesus for who He is, that shines to others.  V.36

“Therefore, 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.’”

And other people will see it.

We will glow with Jesus’ light.

That’s why He says that He is the light of the world and if we believe in Him then we are the light of the world!

So, here’s the application.

Don’t be like this wicked generation that is BLIND to Who Jesus is.

Open Your Eyes to the Light!

Is this same thing happening today?

Are there people who are blindly missing who Jesus really is?

Unfortunately, yes.  We live in another wicked generation that is full of people who are willfully blind to the true identity of Jesus.

We need to pray for the people we know and love to open eyes to the light.

Who are you praying for right now?

Who are you praying that their eyes will be opened to the light?

This week, our family was given a gift of a big fish tank.  Actually, two fish tanks, and the smaller one is the one we’re using right now.  Just to get used to the idea.

And in the process of fixing up the fish tank to use, I found our old little fishbowl.

Do you remember that fishbowl that we had up here for the 2007-2008 school year?

It still had the little orange cards in it that with the names of those who we had been praying for.

Who are you praying for right now that their eyes would be open to light of Jesus?

I’m praying for some of you.

I’m sure that in a crowd this big, that not everyone here is yet open to seeing who Jesus really is–Jesus as God.  Jesus as Savior.  Jesus and King.  Jesus as the all-satisfying bread of life.

If your eyes are good, letting in the light of Jesus, then you will be full of light.

I want that for you.  But if your spiritual eyes are bad, then you will be full of darkness.

Open Your Eyes to the Light.

Now, Jesus gets specific with the Pharisees.  One of them invites him to his house which provides the occasion for a stinging object lesson.  Verse 37.

“When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table.  But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.”

Now, stop there a second.  This doesn’t mean that Jesus ate with dirty hands.

It means that Jesus didn’t do the ritual washings that the rabbis and the Pharisees had adopted for ritual purity.  The Old Testament law did not mandate these rituals, but at the time, anyone who wanted to be “spiritual” did them.

Jesus did not, and that surprised this Pharisee.

And Jesus uses this moment to offer a stinging rebuke.  V.39

“Then 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.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Jesus is saying that judgment is coming on the Pharisees because they were:


Jesus is such a master of the word picture and the teachable moment!

These Pharisees loved their cleanness.  Their ritual purity.

They had all kinds of rules about how you washed your hands.

First this hand, up to the wrist, then the second one, in a certain way.

And if you did it wrong, you had start over again.

But Jesus could see right through them.  He could see into their hearts.

And He says that, inside, they were full of greed and wickedness.

He begins in verse 42 to pronounce 3 “woes.”  Three judgments.   Three anouncements of judgment to come.

And all of them relate to this idea of hypocrisy.  Being one thing on the outside–looking good, and another thing on the inside–being really bad.  V.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 (justice and love of God) without leaving the former (tithing) undone.”

These Pharisees were amazing legalists.  They did the letter of the law perfectly.

“Tithe?  You bet.  We tithe our gardens!  If I found a penny on the ground, I would cut it up into 10 pieces and make sure that it got put into the treasury – and everyone see it.

But you have a need?  You’re struggling?

Sorry, I already gave at the office.”  “Woe to you.”

V.43 “‘Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.”

Again, that looks good on the outside.  “O, Pastor Matt, come up here and sit up front.  We’re so glad you’re here.”

They were proud.  They weren’t humble.

They might have made a great show of being humble!

But they loved to be made much of. 

V.44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

Those are strong words!  Could Jews just walk on a grave?

No, they would become unclean if they did.  But Jesus is saying these guys are full of hidden impurity.

If you hang around these guys then you will be defiled without knowing it.

They look okay, but they are actually dead inside and harming those who come into contact with them.

Dirty on the Inside.

Now, this is a problem for church people.

We can get all cleaned up on the outside and look really good.

Pastors can do it.  Elders can do it.  Ministry leaders can do it.

Church-goers and pewsetters can do it.

Just because we look good on the outside does not mean that we really are.

And there are few things that Jesus hates more than religious hypocrisy.

Is homosexuality bad?

Yes, it is.   The Bible makes it clear.

But Jesus barely spoke about homosexuality.

What Jesus speaks out about the most in the Bible are those who claim to be godly and get all cleaned up on the outside, but fail to clean the inside of the dish.

Clean the inside of the dish.

That’s a way of talking about repentance and faith.

It’s heart-work.  It’s turning in your heart and trusting God’s promises, and living out your faith from the inside.

No pretending.

Being real.

In verse 41, Jesus says, “Give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Now that’s a hard sentence to translate, but I think that the point is clear, that God wants us to clean the inside of our hearts by changing what we have in there–and that will lead to a change of lifestyle–including giving to the poor, and loving justice and loving God.

When I read verse 42 about tithing but neglecting justice and the love God, I think of Micah 6:8.

You know that verse right?

“He show you what is good and what the Lord requires of you.”

Is it a 1/10 of your garden?

No.  But it generosity and compassion and justice.

“But to do justice.  And to love mercy.  And to walk humbly with your God.”

We need to stop pretending.

And be real.  Real with God.  And real with others.

That’s clean on the inside.

In verse 45, one of the experts in the law (a scribe) take umbrage at Jesus’ words to the Pharisees.  V.45

“One of the experts in the law answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.’”

Yes, very good.  You’re getting it!  V.46

“Jesus 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.  ‘Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them.  So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.  Because 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.'  Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from 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.  ‘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.’”

Jesus says that jugdment is coming on these experts in the law because they were:


“You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who are were entering.”  Woe to you.

There are another three “woes” here in verses 46-52.

The first is that these people were loading people down with burdens but not helping them.

Again, this is legalism.  They were all about law and not about grace.

I worry about this with my preaching.

I want to preach in such a way that we feel the call of God, the conviction of God, to do what we should do by faith.

But I don’t want to load anybody down with burdens and not help them find the grace and power of God to do what God wants them to do.

Hear grace from me.  God wants to empower you to be the people He wants you to be.

The second woe is because they built tombs in supposed honor of the prophets but they didn’t listen to the prophet’s message and make it accessible to the people.

The only paid lip-service to the prophets.  And that made the liable for judgment.

It’s terrible judgment. 

V.50 says that they will be held responsible for the blood of all of the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world!

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others that are responsible, but they were given a great gift and they ignored it.

In fact, they made it harder for people to understand.  V.52.

They took away the key of knowledge.  They hindered people from entering the kingdom by grace.

And make no mistake.  They understood what Jesus was saying.  V.53

“When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.”

They hated Him now!

It was just a matter time before they would plan to kill Him.

They understood that Jesus was pronouncing judgment to come on them.

Woe to them who block the way to God!

The opposite, of course, is to open the way to God.

To Give People the Key of Knowledge.

And that’s the GOSPEL.

That’s the good news of GRACE.

That’s the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection–all that the prophets foretold.

People need the key to knowledge.

Are we going to share it with them?

What are we doing to tell people about Jesus?

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk about Jesus, but it was one where I was going to have to introduce to the conversation.

Often, I’m talking about Jesus with folks who have question.  That’s easy.

I love to give away the key of knowledge to those who ask!

But this was a trickier situation, and it required me to steer the conversation that direction.

And I failed to.  I hope for another chance soon with this same person.

But I was convicted that I had not given them the key to knowledge.  I chickened out.

How about you?

Are you holding onto that key?

Or are you giving it away?

It unlocks all of the doors to the kingdom!

Judgment is coming on those who block the door.

How much more reward will there be to those who swing it wide open?

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom