Rebukes in Luke – 3: Rebuking the leaders

Posted: October 29, 2012 by J in Bible, Theology

What is Luke’s view of sin? We’re using the rebukes in Luke as an index or indicator of what part sin is playing in the story.

Jesus rebukes the crowds: 12:56

You fools! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

They have such clear sight for predicting the weather, but they are blind to what is happening around them: God’s kingdom arriving. And because of this bizarre blindness they fail to respond rightly.

In 13:15 Jesus rebukes the synagogue ruler, who tried to stop healings on the Sabbath:

“You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?”

This ruler lacked basic human compassion – he treated little people as less valuable than his own animals.

A leading pharisee who hosts Jesus comes in for a serve: 14:12

Jesus said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite these sort of people – your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours…

The host was only interested in important people who could pay him back the honour, not in honour from God. This is the Pharisees’ signature sin: desiring honour from men rather than God. This is their brand  of self-righteousness.

We see it again in the next rebuke, 16:14:

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.  So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.

They are self-righteous in order to impress other people, but that won’t impress God. He sees the greed in their hearts.

The Pharisees are again in the firing line for self-righteousness at 18:10 in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector.

The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people:

Presumably the Pharisee is hoping people will hear his prayer and be impressed: that’s why he prays in public like this. The sinful tax-collector who stood far off, went home approved by God, but the Pharisee was rejected for exalting himself.

Jesus rebukes Jerusalem: 19:41

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it,  saying, “If you, even you, had only recognised on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

The city’s downfall is her blindness. She like Zechariah and others suffers from mental disorder: like a dementia sufferer, she cannot recognise what is before her eyes or work out which course of action is best.

Once in Jerusalem, Jesus rebukes the temple authorities in 19:46

“It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’;
but you have made it a den of robbers.”

They have stolen the place of prayer from the people and from foreigners, and are using it for their money-making.

The scribes are especially condemned: 20:46

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

As before it is greed, cloaked by self-righteous position-seeking, that is the religious leaders’ downfall.

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