“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.” Luke 11:52 (NIV)
Jesus is visiting the house of one of the religious leaders. They notice that Jesus is not fulfilling the customary manners. Does He point out our tendency to get stuck on the expressions? Does He direct us beyond the act? Does He draw us back to what is going on inside? Does He lament the fact that we jump at the chance to carry out our routines, acts and rituals? Somehow do we lose sight of where the heart is tuned? Could we be taking out the love of God from what we are doing just so that we can get on with it? How often does this happen? Do we do it all the time?
But Jesus isn´t finished there. Does He go on to bring the point further home? Does He take the opportunity to show us all our responsibilities? Would He have us know that others may be affected by our negligence? Could we unknowingly mislead some poor unfortunate soul by our oversight? Could our best intentions and most pious acts lose some of the love and compassion the Lord has for His children? In fulfilling our duties as upstanding citizens and good people, could we somehow become impersonal? Could we lose the weight of healing we could provide for those around us by going through the motions instead of caring for others? Could we get lost on the action and therefore separate ourselves from the Lord in some small way? Might we hinder another from coming near to God because they cannot see His love in what we are doing? What kind of people we are being? Is God´s love shining clearly through us? Can those around us sense that the Lord is loving them through us?
The Savior uses words that might hurt. His accusations may be painful to bear. But will we pass them off on another to avoid any uncomfortable blame? Would we remove ourselves from His warnings to stay away from hurting our egos? Would we lose the opportunity to investigate our own intentions? Would we hinder any chance of realizing guilt? Would we eliminate our chances of turning to Him for healing, just to spare ourselves a little discomfort?
Is it possible that by not taking Jesus serious, we could be confirming that we already are deceiving ourselves? When Jesus speaks of past generations rising up to accuse, would they be able to point their finger at us? We may like to take these texts and point our accusations at the Pharisees and teachers of the Law in Jesus´ day. But if we fail to see our own short-comings, could they turn on us? Would those whom we are accusing have a chance to place the blame on us?
Shall we pray that each of us bring our case to the Lord? Could we all benefit from His guidance and council? Would we like to be sure now that we are not cleaning the outside of our bowls and leaving our hearts untouched and uncleansed? Is the love of God shining clean, bright and beautiful within all that we do and say? Are we forgetting to feel for those around us as we refine our outward appearance? Are the teachings and encouraging of Jesus reaching us deep enough to bring His desired change in us? If we accept His warnings, would there still be time to seek His help and assure His healing? If we don´t, to whom should His woe go out to? Is He saying woe to someone else? Or is He saying woe to us?
Dear Jesus, come, search our hearts? No matter how painful, show us our short-comings. We want Your love in us. We want to stand clean by Your side. Examine with us how much of Your love we are sharing with those around us. Purify, refine and heal us. Restore us and fill us with YOUR love. Let Your warnings work timely healing in us today!