Luke 11 – Reading Helps

1-13

  • Instead of recounting the Sermon on the Mount in one place like Matthew, Luke spreads the teaching throughout his book.  In these verses he records Jesus’ teaching about prayer from the Sermon and adds a parable that is unique to this account.
  • The model prayer shows the importance of making God the priority of our lives rather than our needs.  By the same token, it’s okay to ask Him for our needs once we understand that our lives are not to be focused on us.
  • The parable in vss 5-8 is amazing in that Jesus actually tells us to be persistent in prayer.  He could say that God is sovereign and all-knowing, so He doesn’t need to hear more than once what our requests are.  But that’s not at all what He says.  The story He tells is of someone wearing a friend down to get what he wants.  The friend doesn’t give in to the request because of friendship or concern, but simply to make the requester go away.  While the illustration can’t be that we are to wear God out with prayer and get what we want by making God get to the point where He’ll do anything to make us go away, it IS to be so persistent that we’re like the one who does that to his friend.  It’s an amazing truth.
  • If we think through the implications of this teaching, it is that there’s value in the pursuit of God.  God doesn’t need us to persist in prayer so He’ll remember to respond to the request, and it doesn’t make sense that He makes us prove how much we really want something by seeing how long we’ll ask for it.  No, what apparently is true is that we benefit from pursuing Him.  He wants us to pray and pray and not give up because that very persistence makes us trust more, know Him more, and become more like Him.  Pursuing God enhances our sanctification.
  • What this illustrates is that we are to pray until we get an answer.
  • Persistence leads directly into vss 9-10.  We are to ask, seek, and knock, and we are to KEEP asking, KEEP seeking, and KEEP knocking.  Those who do, receive what they ask for, what they seek, and what they try to open.
  • Vss 11-13 show God’s stance as the receiver of prayer.  He’s the good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children.  He loves His children and will ultimately give them what is best.  Crucially – He won’t give them bad gifts even if they ask for them.
  • Ultimately what God longs to give His children is Himself.  Prayers that align with this desire are answered (I Jn 5:14-15).  This is the message of vs 13.  God wants to give us the Holy Spirit – He wants to give us Himself.
  • This means He longs to gives us the strength and ability to please Him.  Which means we are to continually and persistently ask for this.  When we do, He answers.  He longs for our obedience and as a good Father will enable us to do so.

14-16

  • Amazing unbelief by the Jews.  They watch Jesus miraculously cast out a demon and allow a man to speak, and the response by some is that He must be able to cast out demons by the power of Satan while the response of others is that this miracle doesn’t really prove anything and He needs to show them something that REALLY proves He’s the Messiah.

17-26

  • These verses answer the accusation of the first group who claims He casts out demons by the power of Satan.  He first uses logic: how could it make sense that Satan would help Jesus cast out the servants of Satan?  If Satan works against Satan, doesn’t that defeat the purposes of Satan?  Their accusation thus makes no sense.
  • Since that’s true, then Jesus casts out demons by the power of God (finger of God – vs 20).  And if THAT’S the case, then unbelief has implications.  “If I’m casting out demons by the power of God, then not accepting me means you’re not accepting the One who sent Me.”  The kingdom of God has come upon you.
  • In vss 21-23 He uses an illustration to show what’s happening right in front of them.  The strong man who guards his homestead is Satan.  The stronger man who attacks him and overpowers him is Jesus.  The possessions that were guarded by the strong man and that are plundered by the stronger man are those under Satan’s control before Jesus comes to them.  Jesus overcomes the power of Satan and frees those under Satan’s control.  The kingdom of God has come to free believers from Satan’s power.
  • In light of Jesus coming to free those who believe in Him from the power of evil, we should understand that there are only two camps.  Either you’re for Jesus or you’re against Him.  And if you’re against Jesus, you’re bound by evil.  Only two camps – no gray areas for the undecided.
  • To illustrate the two camps truth, Jesus tells another parable.  The man who has the spirit leave him is the current generation of the Jews who have been exposed to the truth.  They have experienced Jesus’ power and have the ability to have their lives changed.  But by ultimately rejecting Jesus, they end up worse off than if they had never experienced Him at all.  Their second state is worse than their original state.
  • Some things to note about the demon illustration:  waterless places refers to belief that demons were prevalent in the desert (which is why some doubted John the Baptist).  Seven is always a number of completion to the Jews and probably implies that this last state is permanent.  The fact that the demon refers to the man as my house shows that he assumed he could go back.
  • There is another, lesser, lesson in this parable.  Nature and our souls abhor a vacuum.  It’s not enough to treat the symptoms of our besetting sins.  We can’t just eliminate bad behaviors.  We have to replace them with a love of what’s godly.  Vacuums are filled and the second state can be worse than the first if we don’t fill our souls with what’s good.

27-28

  • A small interruption to the flow of the story but one that actually furthers the point Jesus wants to make.  A woman in the crowd decides to pronounce a blessing on His mother.  Jesus doesn’t argue against it but says that much more blessing accrues to those who hear Him and believe.  Blessed are those who accept Jesus.  Blessed are those who are with Jesus and not against Him.

29-32

  • These verses answer the second group that asked for a sign after Jesus cast out the demon.  Jesus calls them wicked for wanting a sign (which goes along with Gabriel’s reaction to Zacharias in 1:18 when he asked for a sign).  No sign will be forthcoming – Jesus isn’t a magician that has to prove Himself.
  • The only sign they’ll receive is the sign of Jonah.  Just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the fish and then lived to tell about it in Nineveh (which implies that the Ninevites knew about his experience), so this generation will see Jesus spend three days and nights in the tomb.
  • The Ninevites will stand in judgment and condemn this generation because they repented when they saw the sign of Jonah and heard Jonah’s message.  Likewise, the Queen of the South who came to Solomon and believed will stand at judgment and condemn this generation.  In both cases, they – who were Gentiles (this fact has to rile the Jews listening to Jesus) – believed someone not as great as the One who comes to the present generation of Jews.  Jesus will actually die and rise again – unlike Jonah who only typified death and resurrection.  And Jesus brings the actual gospel as opposed to what Jonah preached.  And yet the Jews will not believe.  Ultimately their condemnation will be greater because of who it is they reject.

33-36

  • This metaphor at first seems random and out of context.  What Jesus seems to say, however, is that He brings light, and the response to that light governs the lives of those the light comes to.
  • This is a different illustration than Lk 8:16 or what’s in the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus does not make the point here that believers need to shine in the darkness.  This refers to the kingdom of God and how people respond to it.
  • The lamp is likely the kingdom.  It’s the message Jesus brings.
  • Some respond well to the light – they have healthy eyes that allow the light to shine in them.  And some don’t respond – they have bad eyes that don’t allow the light to illumine them.
  • When the light comes in, it lights up the WHOLE body.  It affects all of life.  There’s no such thing as partially lit.  This goes along with what Jesus said in vs 23 – you’re either in or out.  There’s no part-way with belief.
  • The implication is that those who demand a sign live in darkness.
  • Note that there’s an admonition to believe (vs 35).  This isn’t a state that can’t be changed.  Everyone confronted with the light has the choice of how to respond to it.

37-41

  • A Pharisee asks Jesus to lunch.  Jesus goes but doesn’t ritually wash before the meal (and this is likely intentional – social norms call for ceremonial cleansing – Jesus apparently wants to provoke the Pharisee).
  • Note that the Pharisee doesn’t say anything – Jesus just knows his thoughts.
  • Jesus condemns him (and all who think like him).  Jesus criticizes his hypocrisy.  His kind are all about outward actions with no true heart change or belief.  Motivation and love aren’t important to them – it’s all about looking religious.  Jesus HATES their hypocrisy and calls them out.
  • Note what He says in vs 41.  If the Pharisee were to give alms with the right heart attitude – not just to appear righteous or fulfill a commitment or custom – he could live rightly.  It’s the heart attitude that should govern actions.  Giving is the right act; but giving with the right attitude is key.  Interesting that Jesus homes in on giving.  It’s giving that’s hardest to do for those who love the world and giving with the right attitude is harder still.  It separates the sincere from the religious.

42-52

  • He continues to condemn the religious leaders.  They put burdens on others they aren’t willing to bear themselves.  They do things to look good without having the right heart attitude.  They build tombs for the prophets that were killed by their ancestors, but their hearts and actions show that they would’ve agreed with killing the prophets if they would’ve been alive at the time (and they’ll prove this by heartily agreeing with Jesus’ execution).  In short, they’re hypocrites and Jesus condemns their hypocrisy.  Nothing makes Jesus angrier than seeing religiosity with no sincerity.  Motives count.
  • Note the complete lack of self-awareness in vs 45.  “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.”  Uh, yes – that’s exactly the point.
  • In verse 51, Jesus points out that they are guilty of the blood from Abel to Zechariah.  The fact that this is A to Z is coincidental.  Those letters are meaningless in Greek.  The point he makes is that they are guilty of the first and last murders in the Old Testament.

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