Summary: Jesus words of rebuke in Luke 11 hit the nerve. Those he spoke to were determined to get revenge. If only they could have seen who He is. If only we could see today.
We are entering the middle of Luke’s gospel now and already Jesus is engaging battle with the Jewish leaders. This is an ongoing battle that will ultimately lead to Jesus’ crucifixion and he knows it well, but does not show any signs of shrinking back. Jesus’ very presence should command respect, but their eyes are not able to see who he is. When he casts out a demon in verse 14f some people said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons.” Others want a sign.
That initiates a response from Jesus that grows in intensity and rebuke until we see at the end of the chapter where his enemies are furious at him. Some of these are hard words to hard hearts.
Just walk with me through the chapter and see what I mean. The first 13 verses are nice. They are a lesson on prayer where, after Jesus prays, one of his disciples asks him to teach them to pray like John taught his disciples. Jesus gives an abridged version of the Lord’s Prayer (we can see the fuller version of it in Matthew 6:9-14). Jesus follows that model prayer by encouraging them to be persistent in praying with a story, very similar to what he tells them in chapter 18:1-8. Jesus reminds them that God, who is good, wants to give us good things, even the Holy Spirit, if we ask.
By the way, how many of us have asked God to give us the Holy Spirit? I wonder how many of us actually have the Holy Spirit but don’t realize it. Perhaps we should pray, “Lord give us the Holy Spirit and also let us know when we have Him, and teach us to follow His leading in our lives to glorify your name, by following what he has inspired in your word and receiving his empowerment in us to do it.”
After Jesus teaching on prayer we come to verse 14 where the conflict begins. Jesus encounters two forms of unbelief. First, when he casts out a demon, some accuse him of doing it by the power of the Devil. Others, for some strange reason, keep seeking a sign from heaven from him. Jesus deals with these in turn in verses 17-36. In both cases he points to what they do not see. In the case of those who accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebul, Jesus argues four things: 17-23
1. If Satan is divided against himself his kingdom is finished.
2. If you say I cast out demons by the devil, by whom do your sons cast them out?
3. If I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you!
4. Someone stronger than Satan is here and whoever is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me scatters.
In other words, Jesus is saying that if you are against me, God’s kingdom has come upon you and by rejecting me you are not in it!
Then to those who were seeking a sign Jesus says: 29-32 (29-30 read) In other words, Jesus says, “You want a sign from heaven? I am the sign!”
Jesus is only emphasizing that they can’t see who he really is. Greater than Solomon, greater than Jonah, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, stands with them and they can’t see it. This reminds us of what John’s gospel says, “He came to his own and his own did not receive him.”