Home Page | Parent Page | Index | Previous Page | Next Page

The Gospel according to Luke (11)

10:21 to 11:46

After the praise given by the 70 for the success of their ministry tour, the Lord Jesus joins in with a hymn of thanksgiving to the Father which is similar to Matthew 11:25-27.
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was Your good pleasure. All things have been committed to Me by My Father. No-one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no-one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him." (Luke 10:21,22 N.I.V.).

What profound depths are here! They are beyond the human mind to grasp unaided. Dr. Plummer was right when he said, 'that God had proved His independence of the human intellect is a matter for thanksgiving. Intellectual gifts, so far from being necessary, are often a hindrance'.

Just as humility is necessary to learn God's truth, so a child-like trust, free from unbelief, is essential too, for, as the Saviour said, God has hidden things from the wise and learned, but revealed them to those who have the child-like readiness to trust and receive them.

Christ makes tremendous claims in verse 22. He has all things under His control, and knowledge of the Father is limited by the Son's choice to reveal Him. Furthermore, no one can fully know the Son but the Father. This should be remembered by the Christian know-alls, who talk as though they know everything about the one they call Jesus. If this is true, then they are in advance of the apostle Paul (see Phil. 3:10). We need to remember that He is designated as 'our great God and Saviour' (Titus 2:13 R.V. & N.I.V.). Professor A.T. Robertson rightly says 'it is idle to try to whittle away by fantastic exegesis the high claims made by Jesus in this passage. It is an ecstatic prayer in the presence of the 70 under the rapture of the Holy Spirit on terms of perfect equality and understanding between the Father and the Son in the tone of the priestly prayer in John 17 ... the Son claims the power to reveal the Father, "to whomsoever He wills". This is divine sovereignty most assuredly'.

The Lord Jesus then turned to the disciples and said:

"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." (verses 23,24 N.I.V.).

The expression of humeis (you) is very emphatic in contrast with the prophets and kings of former days. The Lord emphasized the matchless privilege of having 'opened eyes' to see and receive the truth of God, and let no one think that such revelation comes in any other way than through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the great Revealer of Truth. At the same time what a responsibility this brings as well as joy, for no one is given divine truth to hug to himself. It has been entrusted to us to pass on to others so that they may share in it too, and then we can both live it out and witness together.

The Evangelist follows on with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A scribe, an expert in the law, stood up and to tempt the Lord asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' In reply Christ said, 'How do you read it?' As a lawyer it was his business to know the facts in the law and their proper interpretation. He answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbour as yourself' (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18). Christ told him he was correct. 'Do this and you will live' He said (present imperative which means keep on doing this always). But while the lawyer's words were right, the problem was that no one has ever kept on doing this, and to slip once is to fail and break the law. If he could keep the law perfectly always, he would inherit eternal life. The man realised at once that he had got himself into a difficulty, and to get out of it he asked another question, 'And who is my neighbour?'. The Jews split hairs over this question and excluded from being neighbours Gentiles and especially Samaritans ('For Jews do not associate with Samaritans' John 4:9). In order to answer the lawyer's question, Christ gives the parable of the Good Samaritan.

A man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho on a road that was infamous for robbers. He was attacked by a group of them who stripped him of his clothes, beat him and left him half dead.

It so happened that a priest, going down the same road, saw the man, but in order to avoid ceremonial contamination with a stranger, he passed by on the other side. A Levite followed who did exactly the same thing. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him, and Luke the doctor notes that he bandaged his wounds and treated them with oil and wine (soothing oil and antiseptic alcohol). Then, placing him on his own donkey, he brought him to an inn and took care of him, giving the inn-keeper two silver coins to look after him, promising that he would reimburse him for any extra expense.

The Lord then asked, 'Which of these three do you think was neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?'. The scribe could only answer, 'The one who had mercy on him'.

The Lord, practically applying the story said, 'Go and do likewise' (verses 30-37). Christ gave a vivid and powerful picture of the vice of Jewish ceremonial cleanliness at the cost of greater moral principles. Here we have another example of Luke's favourable regard for those outside Judaism.

This parable, if practised, would remove racial prejudice, hatred and class jealousy.

The Evangelist now records the visit of the Lord Jesus to the home of Martha and Mary. These were two sisters and Martha probably the elder one. As so often happens, they were different in temperament. Martha, continuously active in the home, and Mary more contemplative, though we should not assume that she was not practical as well. She had wisely decided that listening to the wonderful words of the Lord was more important than the housework for a while.

She sat at the Lord's feet, which was the normal practice when being instructed by a rabbi. Paul says he was brought up 'at the feet of Gamaliel' (Acts 22:3 A.V.).

Martha was evidently irritated at Mary's attitude, for she went to the Lord, asking Him to influence Mary to help her. The Lord Jesus, Who loved them both, said to Martha gently:

"Martha, Martha, ... you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (verses 41,42 N.I.V.).

Some manuscripts have: 'there is need of few things'. Christ seems to say that only one dish was really necessary for the meal instead of 'many' about which Martha was so anxious. As someone has said, the best dish on the table was fellowship with the Lord! It is the old question about getting priorities right.

Chapter 11

The chapter begins with an introductory explanation which is not given in the other Gospels. Here again we have one of Luke's characteristic references to the Lord Jesus praying. This was so impressive as to rouse in the disciples a desire to be taught how to pray.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (verses 1-4 N.I.V.).

The Lord here gives the substance of the model kingdom prayer in Matthew, but in a shortened form. There is no need for us to assume that He gave this prayer only once. He knew the need for repeating truth.* The address to God as Father is distinctly Christ's idea. A Jew would normally say 'Lord God of Israel' or some such phrase. 'There is no evidence that Jesus meant the form to be a ritual' (A.T. Robertson). 'Hallowed' means venerated or treated with reverence, and this is directed against blasphemous or irreverent mention of the sacred Name which is a Hebraism for the nature and character of God. Added to this, we should remember that John 1:11-13 clearly teaches that the family of God is limited to those who have received Christ. Only such can truthfully address Him as Father.

The prayer does not teach that God's kingdom is already here. If so, there would be no need to pray for it to come. Temptation does not mean temptation to sin, for God never entices anyone to do this (James 1:13). The word means testing, which is quite a different thing (Luke 22:40). At the time this prayer was given, the King was present, but the earthly kingdom people who formed the centre of this kingdom rejected and murdered Him, so this great Messianic kingdom portrayed in the Old Testament is in abeyance, till, as King of kings, and Lord of lords, He comes the second time, when it will be said with truth, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign for ever and ever.' (Rev. 11:15 N.I.V.).

Christ follows this instruction with the parable of the importunate friend which is like the importunate widow of 18:5. A friend comes to ask for food at a most inconvenient time, namely midnight. At first the man refuses, but because the friend is so urgent about it, he finally gets up from bed and gives him what he wants. It is important to realise that this parable is not given to imply a corresponding reluctance on God's part to give. Some seem to think that if they keep on praying long enough, they will finally induce God to give them what they want. This is dangerous and untrue, for He will never give us what is contrary to His will, no matter how long and forcefully we pray. We must never put pressure on God. He certainly does not heed it, for if a reluctant man yields to importunity how much more will God, who is not reluctant, respond to prayer!

The parable is given to heighten the comparison between the two. There are two extremes to avoid (1) not praying and asking at all when James 4:2 becomes true '... You do not have, because you do not ask God'; and (2) going to the other extreme, as the parable shows, and trying to compel God to answer in the way that we want.

So the Lord sums it up by saying:

"... Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (verses 9,10 N.I.V.).

At the same time other Scripture makes clear that the asking must be according to God's will, 'If we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us' (1 John 5:14).

And the Lord's last words were:

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (verse 13 N.I.V.).

The gift of the Holy Spirit here was linked with His guidance and power. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer was future at Pentecost and afterwards (compare John 14:16,17).

As the Lord Jesus was driving out a demon from a dumb man the crowd watched with amazement. Some said that He was doing it through the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons (the spelling varies in the manuscripts).

These blasphemous accusations here in Judaea were the same as in Galilee (Matt. 12:24,27). In Matthew they were linked with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but this is not mentioned here. By merciless logic, Christ lays bare the hollow insincerity of such arguments. If He was working by the power of Satan, then Satan was working against himself! 'If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand?' (verse 18).

The Pharisees and some of the crowd had deliberately made their choice and had taken Satan's side. Their accusation against the Lord clearly showed their evil minds within. They could not deny the reality of His miracles, so they explained them away by saying they were accomplished by Satan's power. In doing this they overthrew the salvation of God and put themselves outside of that salvation into eternal darkness.

Christ pointed out that there could be no middle position. 'He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me, scatters' (verse 23 and compare Matt. 12:30 ). This generation which had seen so many confirmations of the Lord's Messiahship and yet rejected Him, was a wicked and impertinent one for they asked for another sign, after all the signs which Christ had given. The same thing had happened in Galilee (Matt 12:38). By this demand they meant some spectacular display of heavenly power such as Messiah was expected to give and as the devil suggested on the pinnacle of the Temple. Christ asserted there was no further sign for them except the sign of Jonah (verses 29,30) which was one of death and resurrection and He Himself would be such a sign to this generation (verse 30).

Verse 33 is another example of how the Lord repeated truth (see 8:16). The Lord continues and compares the vision of the eye with the vision of the mind. 'Single' means normal, healthy, but 'evil' signifies disease. According as we have sound or diseased eyes we have either light or darkness. Similarly there is mental vision and if that is not sound we are also in darkness and conscience becomes corrupted. 'See to it then', the Lord said, 'that the light within you is not darkness' (verse 35). And had this been true of the religious leaders, they would not have asked for yet another miraculous sign.

In the incident that follows, Christ deals with the question of cleansing, as to what was real or false. A Pharisee invited Him to take a meal with him which was probably breakfast, and was surprised when he noticed that the Lord did not first wash His hands (verses 37 & 38). It was the custom of the Jews to dip the hands in water before eating and often between courses for ceremonial purification rather than cleanliness.

In Galilee the Pharisees and scribes had severely criticized the disciples for eating with unwashed hands.

Knowing the Pharisee's thoughts, Christ 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." (verses 39-41 N.I.V.).

With the Pharisees, the less important side of the cup and plate, that not containing food, is cleansed. As long as the outside looked all right, that was all that mattered. Both the inside and the outside should be clean, but the inside first. And so it should be with man. It is his inside (the mind) that first needs attention and cleansing, otherwise the outside cannot be clean and upright.

Then follows a condemnation by the Lord which foreshadows the terrible exposure of the scribes and Pharisees that He gave later on in the Temple (Matt. 23). He shows up their pettiness in taxing garden herbs, like mint, and neglecting the weightier things; their ostentation in taking the chief seats in the synagogue where they could be seen and admired. They were likened to unmarked graves.

All this must have cut them to the quick and stung one of the lawyers to say, 'Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also' (verse 45). So the Lord proceeds to give the lawyers three woes as He had done to the Pharisees. The teachers of the law had weighed down the people with a terrible load of petty interpretations of the mosaic law which they did not carry out themselves.


* For a fuller discussion of this prayer, see the author's commentary on Matthew in The Berean Expositor vols. 51 to 55.

Edited on June 23, 1996 / Updated on June 23, 1996
The Alachua Freenet does not endorse or disendorse the content of this document. Everything is the author's private opinion.
Location: http://www.afn.org/~leo/be_luke_11.html
Contact: Leo Wierzbowski / leo@afn.org

Home Page | Parent Page | Index | Previous Page | Next Page