”You experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:46–54)

What is the key to knowledge that the experts in the law took away? The experts in the law had a wrong interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures and as a consequence not only didn’t know the way to the kingdom of God, but had made it hard for anyone else to find it. Their interpretation of the scriptures had created a mass of regulations. They were preoccupied with minutiae and spent no time on the key: the love of God.

Because the experts in the law failed to recognize the preeminence of God’s love, and the love that people should have for one another, they obscured not just God’s word, but God as well, making it hard for people to see the way of salvation. Instead, all they could see were the regulations that they had no hope of keeping and the condemnation that they could see no way of escaping. The experts in the law succeeded only in making people feel guilty and hopeless, instead of showing them that God offered them hope and a way of escape because of his great love.

Jesus shows us the way to life and joy and peace. He lifts us up from our prisons, breaks our chains, and sets us free.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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