Luke 11:42-46– “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.” One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.” Jesus replied, “And 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.
Apparently the Pharisees are “in season” for the Lord of Grace and Truth, and this is not a moment in time when GRACE is being lavished in their direction. It is a time for TRUTH – the truth that God requires from the INSIDE! Jesus speaks condemnation to the hypocritical practices of the Pharisees. He affirms their practice of being careful to bring God their tithes – even from their garden herbs! However, He levels His condemnation against their neglect of some other very crucial behaviors. The Pharisees were sadly lacking in the practice of giving people what they merited (good and bad) and, they were failing miserably when it came to giving God their hearts! Jesus admonishes them that, while they should not neglect tithing, they also ought to have been acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God!
Jesus then rips on the Pharisees for their pride and vanity. They sought after the highest positions in the synagogue leadership if they didn’t have them. If they already held those positions, they did so with some measure of haughty arrogance and possessiveness. By holding these seats and titles they enjoyed a degree of public recognition that they thrived on and that padded their opinion of self-importance. The Lord declares judgment against these attitudes and behaviors. Seeking recognition, fame and power for the sake of gratifying one’s ego and promoting ungodly agendas is wrong and there will be serious consequences for this behavior!
Next, the Lord describes the Pharisees as “unmarked graves” that defile people – because they don’t recognize them as graves. Burial sites were unclean and proximity to them made people contaminated and unclean. Jesus paints the picture that the Pharisees have hidden their hypocrisy so well that they are like a gravesite that is overgrown with grass and plants that make it unrecognizable for what it is. Inside they are full of covetousness, envy, malice and greed; and yet they concealed it so skillfully with their religious profession and piety that they didn’t appear this way on the outside. This meant that those who fellowshipped with them, supported their agendas, and agreed with their teaching, were also defiled with their sin and infected with their corrupted morality. Yet, they were so pious that people did not suspect them as harmful. The contagious hypocrisy of the Pharisees was caught so subtly, people weren’t even aware that anything was wrong! The condemnation is, “Woe to you Pharisees!”
Having heard Him speak these things against the Pharisees, one of the experts in the law let Jesus know that he was offended. This man’s statement, “you insult us also,” allied himself and his fellow lawyers with the Pharisees. It’s a common thing for some people to take offense on behalf of those who are being reproved for wrong behavior and motives. They ought to take correction to heart and humbly support the appropriate changes, but they align themselves with their compatriots and let Jesus know that they’re offended by His bigotry! By this they give evidence that the contaminated spirit and thinking of the Pharisees dwells in their own hearts too. Jesus did not back down as He turned His attention to expose the nature of the lawyers. “You load people down with nearly unbearable burdens, and you won’t lift a finger to help them.” These men were great at creating laws and practices that destroyed God-given liberties. By their authority, they enslaved people to observe numerous and weighty restrictions and laws that God never intended, and that they themselves were often exempt from. Woe to you experts in law!