Jesus vs religion…Matt Chandler on Luke 11

Luke 11, we’ll pick it up in verse 37.  Hopefully we’ve been able to 

distinguish between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of religion.  I’ll point it out to you once 

again.  Jesus tends to be for people who are really a mess.  He tends to speak softly to them, very gently 

to them.  But when people got religious and started to try to lay religion on other people, Jesus got very 

upset.  Look at verse 37.  “While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he 

went in and reclined at table.  The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before 

dinner.”  Let me explain something cultural to you.  This in not what you do with your kids before 

dinner.  This is not about germs or external cleanliness; this is a spiritual, religious act for them that 

was symbolic.  “And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of 

the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You fools! Did not he who made the outside 

make the inside also?  But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for 

you.”  Here’s what He’s saying:  “You’ve spent so much time building up this religious persona of 

external perfection that you’ve neglected the state of your heart.  So in the end, you’re dead, dry and 

dirty, and if you would just be honest about where you really are, both would be clean.”  Let’s look at 

where He goes after that.  “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and 

neglect justice and the love of God.”  Here’s what He’s saying: “Externally you’ve got all the rules 

down, but you have no real love for people and you have no real love for God.  “These you ought to 

have done, without neglecting the others.”  So just for the record, He’s saying, “You tithe, you do these 

religious acts well, but you don’t love people and you don’t love God.”  And then He says, “You 

should love people, you should love God, but you should tithe too.”  Let’s keep going.  Verse 43, “Woe 

to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.  Woe 

to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”  Now does 

it sound like pretending you’re okay when you’re not and building a religious persona and spending all 

the vitality inside of you trying to be good is what God is after in Jesus Christ?  You don’t have to be 

an intellectual to see that Christ is looking at these very religious men and saying, “You’ve missed it.”   


I love this next part.  Verse 45, “One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you 

insult us also.””  Here’s why I love texts like this.  Do you remember that picture of Jesus that we grew 

up with where He’s a white guy and He’s got product in His hair?  He’s the most effeminate looking 

dude you’ve ever seen in your life.  He’s like wearing a white bathrobe and His hands are folded.  This 

is not that Jesus.  And one of the things that has happened because of this push and pull in culture is 

that Jesus has been relegated to the role of “Love Fairy,” this effeminate male that runs around

sprinkling love on everyone.  But here’s the thing about genuine love.  Genuine love has a ferocity to it.  

Genuine love engages in places where it hurts.  So yes, love wins, but it’s holy, ferocious, truth-filled 

love.  The lawyer should have just kept his mouth shut.  I would have just sat against the wall and said, 

“I’ve been telling ‘em.  I don’t know why they won’t listen.”  But instead he just threw it out there.  So 

look at Jesus.  Let’s watch this “I love everybody” effeminate Jesus.  “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.””  So here’s the job of a lawyer.  The lawyer is to take the sacred text 

and teach it to God’s people in such a way that they are lead to and walk with God.  And what He just 

accused them of doing is taking the light yoke of God and increasing it to where it’s so burdensome 

and impossible that it will crush men and putting that on them.  When Jesus says, “My burden is easy; 

My yoke is light,” yoke is what a rabbi would call his teachings.  It’s not a reference to farming.  He’s 

saying, “My teachings are light.  They’re simple.”  He said, “Woe to you lawyers.  You’ve made this 

thing unbelievably complex.  Woe to you lawyers.  You put impossible rules on My people.”   


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