45 One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.’ 46And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. 47Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. 48So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, “I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute”, 50so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, 51from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. 52Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.’
53 When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile towards him and to cross-examine him about many things, 54lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
The conflict continues. Jesus had denounced the Pharisees. But then one of the lawyers spoke up, saying hey, you’re insulting us as well! And Jesus says that they are, indeed, a part of the problem, in three ways:
- They burden the people – giving tedious ways to obey the law that makes life hard for the people who try to fulfill it; judging others for their attempts that fall short; being hyper-critical of others. Neither do they try to help the people; they never take away a rule or a criticism, they only increase their judgmentalism.
- They build memorials (tombs) for the prophets – but they themselves do the very things their ancestors did, in their own way killing the prophets. Jesus may also be referring to their coming actions – his own blood will spill, and together with that of all the prophets, will cry out for justice, holding them accountable.
- They take away the key of knowledge – Jesus himself – preventing the people from entering where they themselves do not enter. Jesus, as the key of knowledge and the Wisdom of God, represents love, truth, and hope for the people. But the Pharisees and the Lawyers hold out judgment, oppression, and fear as the way to God. “This generation” will be charged with the blood of the prophets – and of Jesus – is likely a prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and Israel in 70 CE.
And so – where does “this generation”, our own, burden the people instead of giving love and joy? Where do we build great memorials, but fail to teach the love of all people? Where do we block people from finding the truth and love of Christ, by setting up rules they cannot obey? Where do we persecute Jesus?
One final note today: Friday is my day off, but I have been sending out this devotion on Friday mornings. I am pretty overwhelmed right now; I will be taking Fridays off and will be sending this out five days a week rather than six. Thank you for reading and studying with me!