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Luke 11:37-44

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 20, 2016


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words  Video=75wpm

Easter plans – Thursday night is movie night with “Woodlawn”.  Good Friday at noon is a special service of worship and communion.  Easter morning at 7:00 is a special worship service remembering the resurrection, then the Easter Breakfast, and our morning services at 9 & 11.

Luke was a doctor and a traveling companion of the apostle Paul.

He wrote this book while Paul was in prison.

In writing this book about Jesus, Luke made use of other older documents like the Gospel of Mark, as well as extensive eyewitness accounts.

Jesus’ ministry is well under way, and the people have been amazed not just at the things He’s been teaching, but the things He’s been doing.

11:37-44 Pharisee Woes

:37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat.

:37 a certain Pharisee


The Pharisee

In the days of Jesus, there were different “sects” in Judaism, kind of like different denominations in the church today.
The two main sects we see were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The Pharisees were the more conservative, while the Sadducees were more liberal.
We usually look at the Pharisees as the guys who wore the black hats in the New Testament, and after all, they were one of the groups who tried to bring Jesus down.
We need to be careful that we don’t look at the Pharisees as “those guys”.  We have a lot more in common with them than we think.
Take a test with me.  Which of these statements would you say you believe in?  Yes or no?

The entire Bible is inspired by God.

God has the power to perform miracles.

Angels exist. (the ones with wings, not baseball bats)

There will be a resurrection one day when all people will come back to life and be judged by God.

Heaven is a real place.

I hope you voted “yes” on each of these statements, because they are all true statements.

This is what we believe.

This is also what the Pharisees believed.

Those of us who have been believers for a while run the very real risk of becoming Pharisees.
We will look at some of the negative aspects of being a Pharisee today, and I hope you’ll try and look at yourself honestly in the mirror.

:37 asked Him to dine with him

to dinearistao – to breakfast; by later usage, to dine

Though this might be a dinner party, it’s also possible that this is a breakfast meeting (but probably without the sausage and bacon)

Keep in mind, Pharisees would only eat with “clean” people.  They wouldn’t eat with Gentiles or Jewish people they decided were “sinners”. 

This gives you a clue as what kind of category this Pharisee puts Jesus.

He thinks Jesus is okay.

sat down to eatanapipto – to lie back, lie down; to recline at a table, to sit back

:38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.

he marveledthaumazo – to wonder, wonder at, marvel; to be wondered at, to be had in admiration

washedbaptizo (“baptize”) – to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk); to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe; to overwhelm

dinnerariston – the first food taken early in the morning before work, breakfast; later usage: dinner

:38 He had not first washed

The Pharisee was surprised that Jesus did not perform the ritual hand-washing before dinner.



The Pharisees not only believed that they needed to follow all the commands in Scripture, but they also believed that they needed to follow the instructions in a group of teachings known as the “Mishna”.
In Jesus’ day, the Mishna was still a group of oral traditions handed down from rabbi to rabbi without having been written down.

They would eventually be written down, but after the time of Jesus.

They were considered of equal weight as the Scriptures.

They believed that these were further teachings of Moses that were useful to explain the details of the commandments in the written Scriptures.

Eventually the Mishna would be written down, but in Jesus’ day is was just learned by word of mouth.

When Jesus talks about the Pharisees and their “traditions”, He’s talking about the Mishnah.

There is something a little similar today when a church decides that “tradition” is as important as Scripture.

Within Roman Catholicism, the proclamations of the pope are considered to be as inspired as the Bible.

The Greek and Russian Orthodox churches hold that the teachings of the early church fathers are as inspired as the Bible.

This is why you will see some practices such as infant baptism done, when the Bible says nothing about baptizing babies.

In fact, the Bible teaches that baptism is for those who repent, those who believe.

The Jews, like many people, have their traditions.  In “Fiddler on the Roof”, we learned that tradition was how a Jew kept balance in their life.
Video:  Fiddler on the Roof – Tradition!
In Jesus’ day, Jewish tradition had developed involving elaborate rituals for ceremonial purification.
They believed they needed to wash their hands in a certain prescribed way, not to get rid of germs, but for ceremonial purposes.
Some would even wash their hands between courses during a meal.
When a Pharisee had been to the marketplace or a large gathering of people, they would wash just in case they had accidentally brushed up against an unclean, dirty, rotten person.
All throughout Israel, the archaeologists have dug up ancient “mikvaot”, or ritual baths meant for immersion of the entire body and not just the hands.
When it came to washing of hands, tradition required that you do it in a certain way, following a specific set of guidelines.
The Pharisee is surprised that Jesus isn’t washing His hands according to tradition.
Large stone vessels of water were kept for this purpose as ordinary water may be unclean. 
You must use at least a 1/3 cup of water (1/4 log).  The water is first poured over the hands beginning at the finger tips and running down to the wrists. 
The palm of each hand was to be cleansed by rubbing the fist of one hand into the other. 
Again water is poured over beginning at the wrists and running down over the fingertips.
Not all traditions are bad, but when you are doing something only because of tradition or because of habit, you are stepping closer to being a Pharisee.
When your traditions go contrary to the Scriptures, you are going to have a problem.
God wants us to know Him personally, not through tradition.  God wants us to know Him in truth, according to the Scriptures.

:39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness.

cuppoterion – a cup, a drinking vessel

dishpinax – a board, a tablet; a dish, plate, platter

make … cleankatharizo – to make clean, cleanse; from physical stains and dirt; utensils, food; in a moral sense; to free from defilement of sin and from faults; to pronounce clean in a Levitical sense

inward partesothen – from within; within, that which is within, the inside; your soul

is fullgemo – to be full, filled, full

greed harpage – the act of plundering, robbery; plunder spoil

This is the stuff you get when you rip someone else off.

wickednessponeria – depravity, iniquity, wickedness; malice; evil purposes and desires

:39 make the outside of the cup …clean

The Pharisee is one who is only concerned about what others see, not what’s going on in the inside.

So it’s early in the morning and you’ve just made a pot of coffee.

You look for a clean cup on the shelf and up on the top shelf you can see a cup that looks just fine.
You take the cup down off the shelf, but when you look inside you see mouse in it.
Are you going to drink from that cup?  Even if the outside is clean?

Some people have different ideas of what “clean” is.


Soap and Water
A pastor was asked to dinner by one of the ladies in his church who he knew was a bad housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life.  “Were these dishes ever washed?” he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the grit and grime.  She replied, “They’re as clean as soap and water could get them”.  He felt a bit apprehensive, but blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes.  When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, “Here Soap! Here Water!”

:39 inward part is full of greed and wickedness

wickednessponeria – depravity, iniquity, wickedness

Last week we talked about the “evil eye”, or as some translations read a “bad eye”.

The word for “wickedness” here is basically the same word as “evil” or “bad”.

We talked about the connection between the “evil eye” and the desire for wealth and the things that belong to others.

Jesus seems to be using the word in the same way, pairing it here with “greed”.

Pay attention because Jesus will slip the topic of money into the conversation.  Pharisees do tend to have a problem with money.

:40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?

:40 Did not He … make the inside also?

foolsaphron – without reason; senseless, foolish, stupid; without reflection or intelligence, acting rashly


The real work is inside

The Pharisee might tell himself he is working hard on the outside for God’s sake, but it’s really just about impressing other people.
God made the inside just as much as He did the outside.
I believe the more important work is what you do on the inside.
The Pharisee is the one who is only concerned about what others see, not about what God sees.
The Pharisee makes sure that everyone around him is impressed because on the outside he has it all together.
The work that God wants to do in your life beloved is centered on the inside, not the outside.
God knows that if you will allow Him to clean up the inside, that the outside will take care of itself.
The problem we often have at church is that we find ourselves surrounded by people who can only see the outside.
In order to fit in, we work on the outside instead of the inside.
And that requires that we learn to put on a “mask” when we come to church.

Video:  Masks

Don’t fool yourself.
You don’t get healthy by working on the outside.
You only get healthy by working on the inside.
I have found that people who struggle unsuccessfully with addictions will often do things backwards.
They will focus on how they can change their outward actions that others see, while ignoring the more important issues on the inside.
Real sobriety doesn’t come from learning to stop your wrong behavior and just white-knuckling it.

Real sobriety comes when you learn to work your steps, all your steps.

It comes as you learn to face and clean up the mess on the inside.

When you clean up the inside, the outward actions are much easier to deal with.

If you’ve successfully stopped your outward addictive behavior for a number of years while avoiding the inside, you have become a Pharisee.

You will be caught in traditions, pride, and your insides will not change.

:41 But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.

:41 give alms of such things as you have

But ratherplen – moreover, besides, but, nevertheless; besides, except, but

almseleemosune – mercy, pity; a donation to the poor

We often think of it as giving money to a homeless person, but root of this word is really all about “mercy”.

things as you haveeneimi – to be in, what is within

are cleankatharos – clean, pure; in a Levitical sense; clean, the use of which is not forbidden, imparts no uncleanness; blameless, innocent

You could translate this verse like this:

Give mercy from what’s inside and behold all things are clean to you”


Inner mercy

If you want a cup to be truly clean, you start with the inside.
You make your life clean by learning to give mercy (alms) from a clean inside.
That kind of means you have to get mercy inside you to begin with.
Paul wrote,
(Ephesians 4:32 NKJV) And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

The word “forgiving” is the word for showing “grace” or mercy.

We need to be forgiving of each other, but you can’t do it if you haven’t tasted Christ’s forgiveness for you first.

Do you realize that God loved you so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to die and pay for your sins?
Do you realize that God actually wants to show you mercy and forgive you if you will turn to Him for help?
When you’ve received mercy on the inside, you can then give it to others, and you will find yourself clean.

:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

you titheapodekatoo – to give, pay a tithe of anything; to exact receive a tenth from anyone

mintheduosmon – sweet smelling, garden mint; a kind of small odoriferous herb, with which the Jews used to scatter on the floors of their houses and synagogues

ruepeganon – rue; a shrubby plant about 2 feet (60 cm) high, of medicinal value

herbslachanon – any pot herb, vegetables

These are all “exterior” kinds of things to give.

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

:42 you tithe mint and rue … herbs

The word “tithe” means a “tenth”.

When the offering bag came around on Sundays, the Pharisees were sure to put exactly a “tenth” of everything they owned into the basket.

That even included the plants they had growing in their spice garden outside the kitchen window.
I imagine all the little chia pets were missing exactly 1/10 of their leaves.

:42 These you ought to have done



There are folks who will say that Christians don’t need to be tithing because tithing is an Old Testament requirement and we are part of the New Covenant.  They usually skip over this verse.
Pay attention to what Jesus says here.  He doesn’t say they should stop tithing.
In fact, He says they ought to be tithing.
He just doesn’t want us tithing at the expense of holding back on justice and the love of God.
If you want a New Testament example of giving, Jesus pointed her out one day:
(Luke 21:1–4 NKJV) —1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
More than the amount that you give, Paul taught that the important thing was your attitude in giving, it’s what happens on the “inside” of you.
(2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT) You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

:42 justice and the love of God

justicekrisis – judgment; right, justice

These were the things that the Pharisees neglected while they paid so much attention to their tithing.

The Pharisees were good at “judging” other people, but not good at “justice”, at doing the right thing.

They even took advantage of the most helpless among the people.  Jesus said:
(Mark 12:40 NLT) Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public.

The Pharisees did not know the love of God and certainly did not pass it on to others.

The Pharisees were always finding things to be critical over others, condemning the very people who were trying to seek after God.
Several times Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 in rebuking the Pharisees:

(Matthew 12:7 NKJV) But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Jesus is again contrasting the inner versus the outer.

The Pharisees concentrated on the outer such as tithing, while Jesus put the focus on the inner, such as justice and the love of God.

:43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

you loveagapao – of things; to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

best seatsprotokathedria – to sit in the first seat, the first or chief seat

Don’t think of the highest seats at Angel Stadium, this is the “place of honor”.

greetingsaspasmos – a salutation, either oral or written

marketsagora – any assembly, especially of the people; the place of assembly; market place, street

:43 you love the best seats


Wanting attention

It’s a pretty common human trait.
Most of us like getting attention.
I sometimes think that “attention” is kind of like a drug.
Once you tasted what it’s like to get attention, you can become addicted to it.
I wonder if this isn’t a part of the “reality TV” industry, where people are famous simply for being famous, not because they actually have any talent or skill.

When the attention starts to slow down, it seems that some of these folks do something outrageous to try and get the attention back.

When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness after being delivered from Egypt, a fellow named Korah tried to get some of the people to rebel against Moses’ leadership:

(Numbers 16:3 NKJV) They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”

They were claiming that Moses was the one who loved being exalted, when in fact they were the ones who wanted to take Moses’ spot.

When King Saul disobeyed God’s orders and he was rebuked by the prophet Samuel, you might get to think that Saul was truly repentant, but you hear him let something slip as he talks to Samuel:

(1 Samuel 15:30 NKJV) Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord your God.”

Though Saul was initially a reluctant king, he had gotten used to the honor and attention that came with being a king.

On Thursday morning the Ladies are going to be looking at a fellow named Diotrephes

John wrote about this fellow:

(3 John 9 NLT) I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us.

In vs. 9, the NKJV translates it that he “loves to have the preeminence among them”. 

He loved having attention.

And though sometimes we are drawn to certain people who live in the spotlight of attention, you need to be careful just what traits you admire about them.

John was the one writing about Diotrephes, but John himself used to have the same problem.

(Mark 10:35–37 NKJV) —35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

They wanted position.  They wanted attention.

While the other ten apostles were upset at James and John because they had made the request before they could, Jesus used the moment to teach a lesson.

(Mark 10:42–45 NKJV) —42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Maturity is not about getting attention or being in the spotlight.

Maturity is about being a servant.

Ultimately, there is only One who deserves attention.
God should always be the one that we want to be in the spotlight.  I like to think of “glory” as a light, as a spotlight.
(Isaiah 42:8 NKJV) I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images.

On Thursday night we were looking at Psalm 47

(Psalm 47:1–2 NKJV) —1 Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! 2 For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.

There is only One truly deserving of praise.

God is the One who is great.

God is the One who can truly help others.

Draw people’s attention to God.

Jesus said,

(Matthew 5:16 NKJV) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

:44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.”

scribes – these are the men who made the written copies of the Scriptures, the ones who knew the Scriptures the best.

hypocriteshupokrites – one who answers, an interpreter; an actor, stage player; a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite

gravesmnemeion – any visible object for preserving or recalling the memory of any person or thing; a memorial, monument, specifically, a sepulchral monument; a sepulchre, a tomb

appear notadelos – not manifest, indistinct, uncertain, obscure

:44 like graves which are not seen

Jews needed to be careful about the ceremonial defilement that came from touching a dead body.

This came from the Scriptures.
(Numbers 19:16 NKJV) Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
Because of this they would be careful to mark graves very carefully.

Jesus is saying that when you spend time with a Pharisee, you are walking over an unmarked grave, and are finding yourself contaminated, unclean, without even knowing it.


Wash or defile?

When people spend time with us, one of two things are going to happen.
They will either feel “washed”, or “defiled”.
It all depends upon what’s inside of us.
Examples of defilement:


When a guy’s heart is filled with all kinds of lust, and he spends some time with a gal, even in church, a gal ends up feeling kind of dirty afterwards.  And for good reason.


For some people in sales, all they live for is the sale.

They don’t really care about you, all they care about is how much money they’re going to make off of you. 

For those of you in a sales position, you need to be extra careful that you don’t abuse your friendships with others by using your friends just to make a buck.


When a person wants something I’ve got, whether a possession, a position, a relationship, anything, you’re going to feel defiled.  You’re going to hear a lot of criticisms, a lot of jabs.

In contrast, Jesus wants us to be washing one another.
On the Thursday night before He died, Jesus hosted a Passover feast with His disciples.  Before the feast, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.
Feet-washing is different than the ceremonial hand washing that the Pharisees practiced.

Feet-washing was truly a practical thing.

People walked the dirty streets in opened toed sandals.

But feet washing was done by servants, not the master of the feast.

Video:  The Gospel of John – Jesus washing feet. (John 13:1-15)

(John 13:1–15 NKJV) —1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, “You are not all clean.” 12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Jesus said we would be “blessed” or happy if we would learn to wash one another’s feet.

I think this goes way beyond literal soap and water.

I think it’s about things like bearing each other burdens, praying for each other, listening to the other person unload and confess their sins without condemning them.

The key is humility.  Jesus took the role of a servant when He washed the disciples’ feet.

The greatest antidote against the disease of the Pharisees is humility.