Woe to the Lawyers

It seems there was a pretzel stand out front of an office building in New York. One day, a man came out of the building, plunked down a quarter, and then went on his way without taking a pretzel. This happened every day for three weeks. Finally, the old lady running the stand … More



The lawyers (scribes) of that day were teachers of the Mosaic law who claimed that nobody could understand and explain the law except them (v. 45). In contrast to the day in which we live, their civil law was the same as their religious law, so these lawyers were called students of the Old Testament.

Jesus then pronounces three woes on these lawyers:

  1. For adding burdens (v. 46) - They laid down all kinds of burdensome regulations which they taught as essential to salvation, yet they gave little heed to these rules themselves. What a tragedy when “ministers” create problems for people who already have problems
  2. For building tombs (vv. 47-51) - They built elaborate tombs professing to honor the prophets of old while their own conduct showed that their real state of mind was the same as those of their ancestors who murdered these prophets. Church history shows that the true servants of God are usually rejected by the people who most need their ministry.
  3. For hindering instead of helping people come to God (v. 52) - It was bad enough that they refused to enter the kingdom themselves but they were also hindering others from going in. The Scribes and Pharisees tried hard to find a legal way to get rid of Jesus (vv. 53-54).



I need to be careful that I do not have religion but a relationship with the Lord. It is wrong for me to give people the impression that the Holy Spirit cannot teach anyone who does not know the Hebrew and Greek. The most important principles for me to have in Bible study are a yielded heart and an obedient will.

Luke 11:45-54 (English Standard Version)

One of the lawyers answered him, "Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also." And he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,' so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

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