What does Luke 11:38 mean?
ESV: The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.
NIV: But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
NASB: When the Pharisee saw this, he was surprised that Jesus had not first ceremonially washed before the meal.
CSB: When the Pharisee saw this, he was amazed that he did not first perform the ritual washing before dinner.
NLT: His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom.
KJV: And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
NKJV: When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner.
Verse Commentary:
A Pharisee has invited Jesus to his home for a formal banquet (Luke 11:37). Pharisees follow the Mosaic law but add an extra-biblical Oral Law. These traditions include specific instructions about daily life, such as ceremonially washing hands. They are so meticulous that they wash after leaving the marketplace, and wash eating implements even if they are not unclean (Mark 7:3–4; Leviticus 11:32–33).

We don't know how many times Jesus dines with Pharisees throughout His ministry, but Luke mentions three; in each event Jesus manages to offend His host.

At the first meal, Jesus allows a woman with an immoral reputation to clean His feet with her hair and tears; the Pharisee thinks that if Jesus is such a great prophet, He would know what kind of woman she is and be disgusted with her touch. Jesus corrects the Pharisee and explains she acts so because she knows she is loved and forgiven (Luke 7:36–50).

In this event, Jesus doesn't wash His hands. This doesn't refer to the courtesy of providing water to wash away the dirt and grime of the road. It's strictly ceremonial and not required in the Mosaic law.

In the third event, a Pharisee invites Jesus on the Sabbath. While there, Jesus heals a man. Jesus explains to the Pharisees and lawyers that if they would pull their ox out of a well on the Sabbath, why shouldn't He heal a man? They have no response but to despise Him more (Luke 14:1–6).
Verse Context:
Luke 11:37–44 is a shocking indictment which completes the Pharisees' rejection of Jesus. They appear to be holy, but they are filled with spiritual death. Next, Jesus will turn to the lawyers who claim to follow the Mosaic law but are more faithful to the long tradition of persecuting God's prophets (Luke 11:45–52). While the lawyers and Pharisees attempt to destroy Jesus (Luke 11:53–54), He warns His disciples to stay strong in persecution, knowing the kingdom of God is near (Luke 12:1—13:9). Jesus will speak further about the scribes and Pharisees right before His crucifixion (Matthew 23).
Chapter Summary:
Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray and explains God's intent to give "good" to those who ask. He then exorcizes a demon and refutes the claim that His power is satanic. Jesus explains that unreasonable skeptics will only see the "sign of Jonah." He then criticizes the superficial legalism of the Pharisees. In response, they plot against Him.
Chapter Context:
In what some scholars refer to as "The Travelogue to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51—19:27), Jesus prepares His disciples for His crucifixion and resurrection and the establishment of the church. The description begins with Christ teaching the disciples how to spread the news of the kingdom of God and reaffirming how they will be blessed, culminating in the Lord's Prayer (Luke 9:51—11:13). Luke 11 finishes with accounts of leaders who reject Jesus. The remainder of the travelogue gives a pattern of teaching on the kingdom of God, miracles, and explanations of salvation. Then Jesus enters Jerusalem to face the cross.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
Accessed 5/26/2024 10:24:37 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.