“Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said.”
“Yes, “said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’ As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world— from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation. What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.”
As Jesus was leaving, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees became hostile and tried to provoke Him with many questions. They wanted to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him.Luke 11:47-52
Two difficult parts:
“For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments!”
- What is Jesus talking about here?
- Is this a reference to something Biblical or something outside the Bible text?
- Some background information we are not aware of perhaps?
- What monuments is Jesus referring to?
- Are they literal or figurative?
- Did the experts in the Law build these monuments?
- Why would they build monuments to the fact that their ancestors killed the prophets sent from God?
It is not exactly something to be proud of. Jesus’ comment leads us to the conclusion that the experts in the Law are guilty by reason of applauding or celebrating the fact that their ancestors killed the some of the prophets.
Gill’s commentary in E-Sword has a long list of the locations and the graves of some of the prophets.
” . . . and near the river Hiddekel, Ezekiel the prophet was buried. In this account, many things may be observed, which confirm and illustrate the words of the text. And certain it is, that it was accounted very honourable and laudable in persons, to beautify the sepulchres of the patriarchs and prophets. Benaah, R. Jochanan’s master, is said to be “a very wise man, and a judge, and understood mysteries and parables; and painted the cave” of Adam the first, and the cave of Abraham.”
Jesus is surely not reprimanding them for taking care of the prophets monuments or tombs. Rather He is saying you are like your ancestors who killed the prophets in the first place. Firstly because you have the same spirit of opposing the prophets now. The same spirit of rejection and opposition that was in their ancestors was also present in them. They were now rejecting the latest prophets to appear. Namely John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Both are referred to as being greater than the prophets of old and yet they are being rejected by these Pharisees and the experts in the Law. Not only that but there is an element of farce involved here. They applaud and honour the prophets of old yet don’t take to heart their words or their prophecies. They rejected the words of the prophets and in so doing they rejected the prophets themselves. And now they were rejecting the ones who come after them. Indeed Jesus tells them that God said it would happen: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’ Who is being referred to here? Well the latest one is John the Baptist and it is highly likely that Jesus is including His own pending death in that statement. Oh they may not have actually killed the prophets of old themselves but by their attitudes and rejection they might just as well have done the deed. It is because of their words and their thoughts which indicate their rejection of Jesus and their agreement with the beheading of John the Baptist that they are being rebuked for. The same spirit is in them that was in the their ancestors and given the right circumstances they would do exactly the same thing.
“This generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world.”
Ouch. That seems harsh doesn’t it? Really? Will the current generation of Jews living when Jesus said these words will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world? My goodness that is harsh. But doesn’t Ezekiel record the words –
“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
“As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.”Ezekiel 18:1-4
This is referring to the principle of the sins of the fathers being applied to the subsequent offspring up to the 3rd and 4th generation. Yes that is a principle of God but if there is no change then it is like the wrath of God is poured out on this generation who either committed the sin or are implicated in it by neglecting what they should be doing. Guilt by association. The prophecies of the Bible are not linear in their application. There is a degree to which the prophecies of God are cyclical and have multiple applications. With each occurrence the outpouring of God’s wrath is cumulative. God’s revelation is progressive; through wave upon wave of revelation He is restoring His Truth. With each succeeding wave the revelation becomes clearer. Subsequent generations have no excuse for their ignorance and so the full wrath of God will be applied to them.
In the same way the message of the prophets is cumulative, so too is the opposition that Jesus faced. The opposition is intensifying. The full impact of Jesus wrath is felt by these leaders of Israel. Why? Because they are repeating the same mistakes as the generations before them. But their accountability is another level higher. They are the recipients of progressive revelation and now they have the ultimate Prophet standing before them. The Truth is right before their eyes and still they reject Him. Only wrath and judgement remain for them. Not only do they reject the truth but they lead others to follow them. They develop followers who are just as lost and devoid of truth as they themselves are. They even prevent the ones who want to know and follow God from entering the Kingdom of God because of their twisted teaching. The one of whom the Scriptures spoke is standing before them. The very Scriptures they have learned by heart, and yet they reject Him. They can quote the verses that talk of the signs that will accompany the coming of the Messiah but they fail to recognise the fulfilment because of their stubborn refusal to admit they are wrong and repent. They are totally and utterly guilty. A scary place to be. It reminds me of associated passages in Romans that I have gemmed before. (See Gems 140, 141 and 143).
I have tried to be brief on this section. No one responded to the previous Gem. Not one person whether by email, Twitter, Facebook or the Berean Insights website. I am getting the message that you are all tired of this section on opposition. But this is what Luke wrote and what is recorded in the Word of God. This is the emphasis God wants to bring to our attention. Of course it is not pleasant. Our itching ears want the good, positive pleasant stuff. But we have to have the bad news before the good news can truly be Good News.
The Gospel does two things: It comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.David Pawson
The truth that sets us free will make us feel bad before it makes us feel good.David Pawson
God’s goal is not our comfort; it’s producing in us the character of Christ so the world will be drawn to Him.Anon
We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. So we condemn others and excuse ourselves.A R Bernard