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God’s Word for You

Luke 11:52-54 the key of knowledge

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 2, 2018

52 Woe to you experts in the law, because you took away the key of knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were trying to enter.”

Jesus uses the word “key” (kleida, κλεῖδα) side by side with the idea of a door or entrance. You Pharisees and scholars took away the entrance to knowledge, and you never even used it yourselves. How did they take the key away? With their words. All a scoundrel has to do is to question the truth of the Bible, and his hearers will find the way blocked. During the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944-1945, German commandos led by Otto Skorzeny used stolen American uniforms, Jeeps and weapons to confuse Allied troops. One of their tactics was to change road signs in western France so that American and British units would be misdirected. This is what the Pharisees were doing with their oral traditions that kept people from taking the word of God at face value. And there are plenty of fools and liars today—they can pick the cell into which they belong—who throw doubt into the minds of their people about the truth of God’s word, and then all acceptance, faith, and understanding dissolves. It only takes a statement like, “Job and Jonah are make-believe,” and the corners of someone’s faith begin to crumble. A vague lie such as “the concept of ‘resurrection’ is spiritual” can cause a dying Christian to fall into the most terrible despair. Statements like, “the Bible contradicts itself” or “we know that this isn’t what really happened” are very nearly grounds for excommunication all by themselves when spoken by a called minister of the gospel. The Christian church has always been plagued by hypocrites, from its very beginning. Perhaps I’m too naïve to understand why anyone would want to side with Judas rather than Paul, but many do. “Watch your life and your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourselves and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).

53 When Jesus left there, the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to oppose him fiercely and to question him closely about many things. 54 They were plotting against him to trap him in something he said.

When I worked with my dad as a housepainter, we often worked on older homes. The outside window casings of those older homes needed special care, a lot of scraping and sanding to get down through the layers of old paint to the good wood once again. But sometimes I would scrape at a window casing, and my scraper would suddenly gouge push through the whole piece of wood into thin air because it was rotten inside—it had rotted away to nothing at all. Jesus was showing the Pharisees that this was the problem with their faith. They were worried about the surface of their lives, making them look attractive and wholesome, but they were rotten down below, and there was really no faith at all anymore.

This enraged the Pharisees and their scholars so much that they followed Jesus as he got up to leave and were still questioning him as he went out into the street. They “began to oppose him fiercely” and wanted “to question him closely.” Why? To trap him with his words. If they could catch him making a mistake, or overstating something, then they could ridicule him for it and ignore the sharp condemnation he had just proclaimed.

If they were really being honest about their self-righteousness, they should have welcomed Jesus’ words. Wouldn’t it be good to have some imperfections pointed out so that they could be smoothed over, like a painter with his scraper and sandpaper? But they were really just rotten and empty inside, and their plots today were going to grow into a murderous plan in the future.

You already have the key to eternal life. You have faith in Christ crucified. Use this key to unlock all the mysteries of God’s holy word, for they all lead back to the cross of Jesus. Remember that the blood of Jesus covers over all of your sins, and also the sins of all of the sinners who surround you. Learn to forgive them as you have been forgiven, and if one of them, locked in anger or misunderstanding, refuses to forgive you, bless them and pray for them and do not worry. Your Lord knows your troubles. Never doubt that the hand that was pierced for your iniquities is still at work today with love and protection for you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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