Friday after Invocavit
Scripture: St. Luke 11:37-54 (NKJV)
37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. 42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.”
45 Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, “Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.” 46 And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48 In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ 50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”
53 And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.
Appearances can be deceiving. The Pharisees and Lawyers appear to be very pious, devout, godly men. But this is far from the truth. They burden souls with the necessity of man-made works while there is no faith toward God in their hearts. They tithe the most miniscule of herbs but there is no true love for neighbor in their bones. They look like great students of the Scriptures yet they despise God’s holy prophets and murder them, building their tombs to cover the tracks of their transgressions.
Appearances can be deceiving. Christ appears to be rude and even hateful as He preaches against these men. But this is far from the truth. Jesus castigates these men because they are false teachers who are leading His sheep astray into the pit of Hell. Jesus loves all people and wants them all to believe in God’s grace, which He comes to bring in His death and resurrection. These men, with their falsehood, stand in the way of the pious souls who would believe and be saved. What appears as mean and calloused is in reality the depth of love for sinners.
Jesus wants to speak truth to us each week through the Office of the Ministry. Jesus wants to forgive our sins through Word and Sacrament each week. He desires to strengthen our faith through these same means, so that we do not become burdened with falsehood, but stand firm in the faith of Christ alone. Jesus demonstrates His love for you in this: that He wants you to hear His pure Gospel and believe for your salvation.
O Lord, mercifully hear our prayer and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to defend us from them that rise up against us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.