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Luke 11:37-54

  • What is your overall impression of Jesus's relationship with organised religion? Can you think of any particular stories that stand out?

Read Luke 11:37-44 [1]

  • According to Jesus, what was wrong with the religiosity of the Pharisees?

  • Do you think Jesus wanted them to have less 'rules' in their lives? Why/why not?

  • What sort of religion was Jesus advocating for instead?

  • The Pharisees were very concerned with outward appearances, of looking good and being well respected. Do you think we are in danger of making a similar mistake as Christians today?

  • Can you think of any examples where you personally have been more concerned with acting religiously than caring for the poor, or desiring God's justice and mercy for others? If you're feeling brave, you might like to share about it, and tell how God brought you to your senses!

Read Luke 11:45-54

  • What is different about Jesus's woes about the experts of God's law?

The experts of the law were concerned with telling everyone how they should live, and judging them for not living up to this impossible standard. Read the following quote from Leon Morris, describing one of the many laws these experts taught:

On the sabbath, they taught, a man may not carry a burden ‘in his right hand or in his left hand, in his bosom or on his shoulder’. But he may carry it ‘on the back of his hand, or with his foot or with his mouth or with his elbow, or in his ear or in his hair or in his wallet (carried) mouth downwards, or between his wallet and his shirt, or in the hem of his shirt, or in his shoe or in his sandal’ (Shabbath 10:3). Multiply this by all the regulations of the Law and ordinary people have a burden beyond bearing even to know what they might do and might not do. But there is also a multitude of loopholes for a lawyer who knew the traditions which enabled him to do pretty well what he wished.

  • How do you imagine their interpretation of God's laws became this complicated?

  • Do we ever overcomplicate what it means to follow God as Christians?

  • What sort of religion was Jesus offering people instead of all the complicated legal frameworks these legal experts had devised?

  • How would you sum up Jesus's expectations of his followers. Is he demanding a lower moral standard, or a higher one? (Or something altogether different?) Work together as a group to create a summary statement.

Spend some time praying together. Invite the Holy Spirit to convict you and inspire you to a deep, Spiritual religion - not like the religion of the Pharisees or lawyers, but the true religion of Jesus.

[1] Leon Morris on verse 44:

"Jesus regretfully goes on to liken the Pharisees to graves which are not seen. To come into contact with a grave was to incur ceremonial defilement. A problem was posed by the fact that people were sometimes buried in unmarked graves and the unwary traveller could easily walk over such a grave and all unwittingly contract ceremonial defilement. There is irony in the comparison of the religious Pharisees, who thought so well of themselves, to these unsuspected sources of defilement. People who walked over unmarked graves became ceremonially unclean. And people who walked in the teaching and ways of the Pharisees became morally unclean.

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