“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others. “Woe to you Pharisees! You love the front seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. “Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves; the people who walk over them don’t know it.” One of the experts in the law answered Him, “Teacher, when You say these things You insult us too.” Then He said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers. Luke 11:42-46
In these verses, Luke documents some pretty stern words that Jesus shares with the Pharisees. Let me emphasis that “woe” is used to express grief, regret, or distress. In these passages Jesus is showing his distress and sadness for the lack of understanding and hypocritical ways of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were all about the show: they prayed in the streets not privately and they gave their ten percent, but were the first to neglect someone’s needs. The scribes were also being addressed. Jesus called them out for how they documented all the immeasurable expectations others were to follow and condemned them when they didn’t meet them, all the while looking the other way for themselves.
That particular verse (v. 46) struck a significant cord in me. Then He said: “Woe also to you experts in the law! You load people with burdens that are hard to carry, yet you yourselves don’t touch these burdens with one of your fingers.
It reminds me of how quickly we jump to judgement when another denomination or Christian doesn’t do exactly what we do or believe exactly what we believe. Now, I’m not talking about the common theme that is the foundation of Christianity: The life, death and resurrection of Jesus! I’m talking about the man made laws of wine vs. juice at communion, to dance or not to dance, baptism by sprinkling or submersion, baby dedications or baptisms, no communion until you are baptized or as soon as you accept Jesus, drinking is a sin vs. getting drunk is a sin. . . . Oh, how I could go on and on.
The point is that we get bogged down in the rules when it’s the resurrection that really matters. We load ourselves down with burdens that we carry and use to judge others while believing everything we do it the right and best way. There is only one right way and that is the way to Jesus! Everything falls off the back of the truck and the load becomes lighter when we look to the one whose “yoke is easy and burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)
Jesus! It’s Jesus! He is God’s Son and God delights in Him, He put His Spirit on Him so that He could give us Living Water, take our weaknesses, flaws and fears away and place us in the palm of His hand. We are not to worship laws over our Lord and we are not to fill the storerooms of our hearts with evil, worldly ways or deceit. We must look beyond the differences and look for what is important, for truth and overarching commonality that ties us together as Christ followers.
Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again three days later. We are the only religion that serves a risen Savior. Let’s revel in that and be bound together in that glorious news!