Luke 11:47-54 NRSVue
47Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. 48So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49For this reason the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. 52Woe to you experts in the law! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
53When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees became hostile to him and began to interrogate him about many things, 54lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Here Jesus is confronting people who, for reasons of vested interest, are resisting the challenge of the truth that Jesus brings.
How does a righteous and angry Jesus make me feel? Do I want to run away? Do I start getting righteous myself?
Can I get in touch with the parts of myself that resist the call and action of Jesus? I might humbly ask for help to change.
If any group should read these words with uneasy stomachs, it is religious officials. It was that group of Jews, the scribes and Pharisees, that lay in wait for Jesus, trying to catch him. They felt threatened by his demand that we go beyond the letter of the law to the weightier issues of justice and love.
Lord, show me the points in my life where I feel endangered by the truth. I like things to be predictable and stable. But sometimes your voice sounds in the interruptions, the issues that threaten my self-satisfaction. Give me the grace to listen even to those voices that disturb me.
Many professional religious people of Jesus’ time remembered only the law, but forgot what the law is for. Jesus is tough on them for killing the words of the prophets, for their pomposity and religious pride. He knew this would spark off their hostility. He was prepared to engage the opposition of anyone as he wanted to proclaim always the love of God his Father for all.