Luke 11:43

ESV Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
NIV Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
NASB Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the seat of honor in the synagogues and personal greetings in the marketplaces.
CSB "Woe to you Pharisees! You love the front seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.
NLT What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces.
KJV Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

What does Luke 11:43 mean?

Jesus has been judged by His host for not rinsing His hands before He eats. The Pharisees do this when they follow the Oral Law. What follows are strong words about how the Pharisees value outward displays of piety and honor from the public more than pure hearts and justice (Luke 11:37–42).

Luke 11 includes several stories of how the Jewish religious leaders reject Jesus. Even though He has already healed the blind, deaf, and mute—healings specifically related to the Messiah in Isaiah 35:5–6 (Luke 7:21–22; 11:14–23; Matthew 12:22–24)—some of the scribes and Pharisees demand even more miraculous signs from Him.

Here, we see another way their thinking is twisted. What they value most is the praise of men. The Pharisees "do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long" (Matthew 23:5). The disciples are to obey and serve quietly, with no fanfare, so their reward will be from God, not on-lookers (Matthew 6:1–4).

These religious leaders like being the main act in a religious "show." They like to see flashy miracles though they don't trust the power behind them (Luke 11:14–16). It's stunning to think they watched Jesus cast out a demon, then called Him unclean because He didn't rinse off His hands before He eats.

It is possible to have a good, godly reputation and be respected in both church and in the community, while remaining humble. We can obey God and do good while keeping a "broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17). We must remember that everything good in us is from Jesus (James 1:17). We deserve neither the good He gives us nor the good He puts in us. It should not be our goal to win adoration for what Jesus has done for us but to serve others in His name and to His glory.

Matthew 23:6–7 also records Jesus condemning the Pharisees' hypocrisy at a later event.
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