Study 16 - Luke 11:14 – 12:12
As they moved towards Jerusalem antagonism to all that Jesus represented grew. There is no clear pattern in this passage. Problem piled on problem; attack followed attack.
Question 1: According to the experts those of us who live in the Western world live in a Christianised, but now post-Christian society and therefore in a situation much less clearly defined than it was in New Testament days. Then they knew who the enemy was. We can be much less sure. Apathy, rather than antagonism is our main enemy. Do you agree? If so, give examples of where this can be seen.
Our world is clearly Christianized by its historical background. But there is a steady movement to a more secularized society in most of the Western world, showing in slightly different ways in different countries. In the UK this shows in strong arguments in the media that ‘religion’ is to have no role at all in politics or civic life. The adviser to one former Prime Minister announced that ‘we do not do God’. What is called ‘multiculturalism’ is appealed to to prevent any idea that Christianity has a special role in society in spite of it having been dominant for more than 1000 years.
It is important for you, as it is for us, to think through how the culture of the society in which we live interacts with our Christian faith.
Read Luke 11: 14 – 28.
Jesus clearly divides the world he lived in into two warring parts: the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God (11: 18, 20). (By using a word about war I do not mean that there is any place for physically aggressive fighting in our faith. Defence may be another matter.)
Question 2: Can we divide our world the same way? What are the implications of doing so?
We need to be very careful here. It is all too easy to think where we are is the Kingdom of God and what opposes us is the kingdom of Satan. It may be but it may be just our arrogantly self-centred view of the world. Yet Satan is an all too real force in the world; indeed it is easy to argue that he has been more active than usual in the last 100 years in all the wars, massacres and famines that have plagued the human race.. We ignore him at our peril.
Question 3: When Jesus talks in terms of warfare (Luke 11: 21 – 23) he distinguishes between those who are with him and those who are against him. Where is the front line today between those he describes as ‘with me’ and those ‘against me’?
The answer to this one will vary according to where you live. As a general statement perhaps it is best to say that those, and only those, who are prepared to say “Jesus is Lord” are those who are with us.
Question 4: Luke 11:24–26 suggests that turning over a new leaf is counter- productive. Can you illustrate this from your own experience by citing the case of someone who tried to turn over a new leaf without a spiritual dimension to it and slipped back into their old ways, or worse?
Question 5: In what way does 11: 28 take 10: 39 forward another stage?
Mary was commended for listening. This verse says we must not only hear the word of God – we must do it. And, remember, Jesus means by ‘doing’ action in the world, in loving other people and acting in their support, not just sitting in church and attending worship or praying regularly. There are plenty of other religions in the world which are all about doing the right religious things; none others which are so focussed on our behaviour towards other people.
We read Luke 11:29–36. The emphasis in Luke 11:16 and Luke 11:29–32 is on the absence of any sign except the presence of Jesus. But at least they looked for a sign. If our generation does not do so, the likely judgement on them (or should that be ‘us’) sounds as though it will be grim.
We read Luke 11:37–54. If you belong to an ordinary small Protestant church, as we do, our religiosity may appear to an outsider very vague and unfocussed compared with that of most overtly religious people (high Church of England, RC, Muslim, Mormons, Hindu etc.). We have no liturgy, no splendid ceremonies and ceremonial wear, no prescribed level of contribution, no required standards of behaviour. So we escape the accusations of Jesus in 11: 39 – 52. Yet we are not blameless!
Question 6: For each of the 7 Woes (counting 39 – 41 as the first) think of how they might be reworded to attack our weaknesses (mostly the exact opposite of theirs).
Would the Lord say ‘woe’ to us? I don’t need to tell you what I think the answer to that question would be!
Finally we read Luke 12: 1 – 12. These verses are about is about a demand for a total commitment that is quite frightening. We can (do?) often slide sideways from these statements in a smoke screen of words.
Question 7: Which statement in these verses, Luke 12: 1 – 12,
- do you find most difficult?
- do you most encouraging?
Of course the answer to that one is up to you. For me the most difficult is the idea that those who do not follow Jesus will be thrown into hell; and the most encouraging is the fact that God knows all about all the sparrows that squabble in our back garden thinking they are singing when they are making the most awful noise. There is great hope for you and me in that statement.