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In 5:22 the Pharisees and others accuse Jesus of blasphemy, because he has pronounced ‘release from sins’ over the paralytic man. Jesus turns the tables on them:
“Why do you raise such questions in your hearts?…But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to release sins…”
Like with Zechariah, the problem here is doubt and unbelief. By now these leaders had seen enough of Jesus, they should have listened to his mission statement, they should have realised that God had sent him. But they still didn’t get it. Their hearts raised questions that were unnecessary and unworthy. And these set them in direct opposition to God.
In ch.6, Jesus gives an extended rebuke to a whole class of people:
But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation…
As with John the Baptist, social sins are in view. The rich grasp for themselves what belongs to all, and their greed condemns them. But the poor receive blessing from Jesus.
Jesus also rebukes those who seek to bolster their reputation as leaders by judging and condemning others (6:37)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; Can a blind person guide a blind person?”
In context, these are clearly the Pharisees and friends. Their self-righteousness is a tool they use to rise socially at the expense of others.
In ch.7:33 Jesus rebukes the leaders of his generation:
For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; 34 the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
The leaders fail to welcome John and Jesus, because they are not children of wisdom, but of folly. They are so foolish, they repeatedly reject good as evil.
At the home of Simon the Pharisee, Jesus rebukes his host, 7:45
You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet.
Simon did not think he himself was needy or lost. So he wasn’t in a position to receive mercy. The woman was, and receiving it she came to love Jesus the giver of mercy. Self-righteousness left the Pharisee hard-hearted.
In 8:25, after rebuking the storm, Jesus rebukes his terrified followers: “Where is your faith?”
They should have known they were safe in the boat with Jesus, but they didn’t understand, and so acted inappropriately. Fear rendered them foolish.
In 9:53 the disciples would like to re-enact Elijah’s fire-from-heaven-on-the-idolatrous-evil-doers scene.
The Samaritan village did not welcome him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them.
After all this time, the disciples still don’t understand Jesus’ intentions towards outsiders. He has come to save them, not burn them. Once again we are dealing with a lack of wisdom, impaired mental function – they cannot understand what is before them.
The whole generation is indicted in 11:29
“This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”
The generation’s problem? “But when your eyes are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.” That generation cannot see straight.
The Pharisees come in for the most extended rebuke in Luke’s Gospel, 11:38-52. They neglect God’s justice and love; they are hypocrites who present a righteous exterior but inside are greedy and wicked; they love honour from men; they reject the prophets; they oppress the people and hinder them from coming to God.
This self-righteousness is a major emphasis in Luke’s treatment of the religious leaders. It is not quite the classic ‘Lutheran’ sort. It generally has two sides to it: desire for honour from men, and lack of concern for God’s approval.
Those who claimed “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” (11:15) are rebuked sharply at 12:10
“whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
Those who see the Spirit’s work and imagine they are seeing Satan – their distorted view puts them in great peril.
A terrifying rebuke occurs in the parable of the rich man. He had hoarded everything for himself, imagining he could enjoy it all.
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your life will be required from you. Now who will enjoy all the things you have prepared?’
He imagined he was acting in his own best interests, but his foolishness left him destitute.