Luke chapter 11

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What does Luke chapter 11 mean?

Luke 11 finishes the first section of what some biblical scholars call "The Travelogue to Jerusalem" and encompasses the second. In Luke 11:1–13, Jesus teaches the disciples about prayer, rounding out a series of stories on how those who follow Him are blessed (Luke 9:51—11:13). Luke 11:14–54 describes how the Jewish religious leaders willfully reject Jesus, ending with an intense description of their sins.

The section on prayer can be divided into three short teachings. In Luke 11:1–4, Jesus acquiesces to the disciples' request to teach them how to pray by presenting what is often called call "The Lord's Prayer." The words reveal that we are dependent on God for the smallest things, both physical and spiritual. Luke 11:5–8 is the parable of the persistent neighbor which sets the stage for a description of God's love. In Luke 11:9–13, Jesus shows us that if human fathers will give us what is good, we can be sure God will even more so.

The larger section begins with the Jewish religious leaders' rejection of Jesus (Luke 11:14–23). Experts in the Mosaic law from Jerusalem watch Jesus heal a demon-possessed mute man (Matthew 12:22–30; Mark 3:22–27). They declare He does so through the power of a demon. Others demand more signs. Jesus responds to the leaders' illogical conclusion by pointing out that if He casts out demons, He is working against Satan, so how could Satan empower Him? Jesus then illustrates that if He can defeat Satan's minions, He can destroy Satan's kingdom, an explanation that includes a veiled warning for these lawyers.

In Luke 11:24–26, Jesus gives a puzzling explanation of the workings of demons. Readers on this side of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) can apply it to mean that freedom from demons is precarious if we do not fill the void of our hearts with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 11:27–28 seems to be an aside. It builds Jesus' argument about true spiritual understanding as opposed to cultural honor. A woman blesses Mary for bearing Jesus; Jesus responds that the blessed are those who know God's Word and obey it.

In Luke 11:29–32, Luke returns to the crowd members who wanted to see more signs (Luke 11:16). Jesus explains they will see a sign: the people of Nineveh and the queen of the South standing in judgment in the end times. The Ninevites heard a short warning from Jonah and immediately fell into mourning for their sin (Jonah 3). The Queen of Sheba heard Solomon and knew he spoke God's wisdom (1 Kings 10:1–13). If the Jewish spiritual leaders do not open their eyes, former pagans will shame them.

Jesus warns them to interpret what they experience carefully in Luke 11:33–36. If someone's "eye," or way of interpreting what they see, is bad, they will be filled with darkness: they will misunderstand what Jesus is doing. If someone is faithful to God, however, the light in them will reveal the truth.

Finishing out the chapter, Luke records Jesus' pronouncement of "woes" on the religious leaders. In Luke 11:37–44, a Pharisee challenges Jesus because He does not ceremonially wash His hands before eating. Jesus replies that no exterior washing will cleanse a person of the greed and wickedness the Pharisees are known for. He lists ways Pharisees refuse to act out of love for God. Instead, they follow manmade rules that make them look good but lead others astray.

In Luke 11:45–52, a lawyer recognizes Jesus' words apply to them, as well, and Jesus presses harder. Pharisees did not exist in the Old Testament, but scribes did; they had a hand in killing God's prophets when the prophets came with convicting messages. Lawyers were supposed to be teachers, wise in the Law, using that wisdom to validate God's prophets. Instead, the lawyers killed the prophets who proclaimed what they didn't want to hear.

Luke 11:53–54 provides a summary of the fallout of Jesus' altercation with the Pharisees and lawyers. They doubled down on their attempts to provoke Jesus into saying something that would blaspheme God or disrespect Moses. Their attack continued right up through His arrest.

Luke begins the account of Jesus' intentional travel to Jerusalem by describing what it looks like to follow (Luke 9:51—11:13) and reject (Luke 11:14–54) Him. Having set the stage, Luke will continue with two sets of teachings comprised of three sections each. Each contains a teaching about the kingdom of God (Luke 12:1—13:9; 16:1—17:10), followed by two repetitions of a pattern of a miracle, a teaching on the kingdom, and a teaching on salvation (Luke 13:10–35; 14:1—15:32; 17:11—18:34; 18:35—19:27). Luke then records Jesus entering Jerusalem and preparing for the crucifixion.
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