Luke 11:45-54 (CEV)
45 A teacher of the Law of Moses spoke up, “Teacher, you said cruel things about us.”
46 Jesus replied:
You teachers are also in for trouble! You load people down with heavy burdens, but you won’t lift a finger to help them carry the loads. 47 Yes, you are really in for trouble. You build monuments to honor the prophets your own people murdered long ago. 48 You must think that was the right thing for your people to do, or else you would not have built monuments for the prophets they murdered.
49 Because of your evil deeds, the Wisdom of God said, “I will send prophets and apostles to you. But you will murder some and mistreat others.” 50 You people living today will be punished for all the prophets who have been murdered since the beginning of the world. 51 This includes every prophet from the time of Abel to the time of Zechariah, who was murdered between the altar and the temple. You people will certainly be punished for all of this.
52 You teachers of the Law of Moses are really in for trouble! You carry the keys to the door of knowledge about God. But you never go in, and you keep others from going in.
53 Jesus was about to leave, but the teachers and the Pharisees wanted to get even with him. They tried to make him say what he thought about other things, 54 so that they could catch him saying something wrong.
There is a Dutch treat called a Stroopwaffel. It is basically two mini waffles, stuck together with a thin layer of caramel sauce. They look like a hard cookies in the package, but they are the exact diameter of a basic coffee mug, and if you rest them on top of a hot chocolate or mug of coffee, then the caramel melts a little bit and the Stroopwaffel becomes the most simple yet wonderful treat imaginable.
They happen to come in a package of eight, which is perfect for our family of four, because when we buy them, everyone knows that they only get two.
However, each of us has a unique way of enjoying our Stroopwaffels. One person has both within hours of them showing up in the house. One person has one the first day and one the second day, rationing them, but only just. One person forgets we have them until they see someone else eating them, and then happily goes and enjoys theirs. And the last person waits … and waits … and waits … to have them. Because we all have access to the Stroopwaffels, and because we all take time to enjoy our Stroopwaffels, it doesn’t really matter that we do it differently (although I’m sure you can imagine that there is some good-natured teasing that goes on about it.)
But what if one person claimed that they were the only ones who had access to the Stroopwaffels? What if they said they were the only one who could dispense the genuine Dutch goodness contained in that bag? Worse yet, what if it was someone who not only waited and waited and waited to open them, but stuck them in a cupboard and never, ever offered them???
That would be totally unfair!
So not cool!
How would you feel if it was you who had bought them for us, or even made them for us, as a special gift, and you came over one day and discovered that the Stroopwaffels were hiding in the back of the cupboard, and when you tried to serve them up for us and that Stroopwaffel access-denier tried to stop you from offering them to the rest of us?
How would you feel?
I think that might be how Jesus is feeling in the passage above. I think he had been part of creating this wonderful, amazing, beautiful gift for humanity – a relationship with God that was offered back to us, mended and restored in spite of all of the brokenness that living on this earth causes us – and he shows up to find that the Pharisees have not only not opened the present, they haven’t let anyone else open the present, either! In fact, they’ve decided to stand guard in front of the door to the present and make sure that nobody even finds a way to pick the lock and break in to get the present.
Not exactly the best way to appreciate a present, now is it?Journal Questions:
- Do you think that the Pharisees saw this the same way that Jesus did? Do you think that they thought of themselves as refusing the gift God had given or barring others from experiencing the gift?
- Why do you think Jesus said that this was what they had done? (Can you come up with some examples?)
- Jesus tells us that this gift of relationship with him is available for everyone. What do you do to enter into this gift yourself?
- What do you do (or what could you do) to draw others into this gift?