Luke indicated that Jesus said that he was going to tell them another parable (Καὶ εἶπεν παραβολὴν αὐτοῖς). They were to look at the fig tree (Ἴδετε τὴν συκῆν), in fact, all the trees (καὶ πάντα τὰ δένδρα). This is similar to Matthew, chapter 24:32, and Mark, chapter 13:28, who are word for word the same as each other. Mark indicated that Jesus said they were to learn a lesson or parable (μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν) about the fig tree (Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς). Earlier in Matthew, chapter 21:19-20, Jesus had cursed a fig tree for not having fruit, but here there was a lesson or a little parable to be learned (μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν) from the fig tree (Ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς συκῆς). These fig trees play an important role in these stories or parables. Have you ever seen a fig tree?
Luke indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ) that occasions for stumbling are bound to come (Ἀνένδεκτόν ἐστιν τοῦ τὰ σκάνδαλα μὴ ἐλθεῖν). However, woe or be cursed to anyone by whom they come (οὐαὶ δὲ δι’ οὗ ἔρχεται). Jesus admitted that stumbling or sinning might occur, but anyone who brings them should be cursed. This saying about causing little believing children to sin or stumble can be found in Mark, chapter 9:42, and Matthew, chapter 18:6, with some minor changes, with Matthew closer to Mark. In Luke, there is no mention of little children until the next verse, since this warning is more generic here. Do you cause other people to stumble?
Once again, this is a unique statement of Luke, not found in the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus reproved the Pharisees. He said to them (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that they tried to justify themselves (Ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ δικαιοῦντες ἑαυτοὺς) in the sight of other men (ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀνθρώπων). However, God knows their hearts (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς γινώσκει τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν). What is prized or exalted by humans (ὅτι τὸ ἐν ἀνθρώποις ὑψηλὸν) is an abomination or cursed in the sight of God (βδέλυγμα ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ). Once again, Jesus continued with his diatribe against the Pharisees. The value system of the Pharisees was not in sync with the value system of God. They wanted to look good before their fellow men, so as to be praised. However, whatever humans praise, God does not. Do you love human praise?
Luke had Jesus continue with this unique dinner party with the Pharisees. Jesus noticed how the guests had chosen the places of honor (ἐπέχων πῶς τὰς πρωτοκλισίας ἐξελέγοντο). Thus, he told these invited guests a parable (Ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς τοὺς κεκλημένους παραβολήν). This is what he said (λέγων πρὸς αὐτούς). Apparently, the Pharisees often sought after the places of honor as indicated in the last dinner he had with the Pharisees in chapter 11:43. There, Jesus actually cursed the Pharisees, because these Pharisees loved to have the first seats or the seats of honor in the synagogues. There was something similar in Mark, chapter 12:39, and Matthew, chapter 23:6-7. Matthew indicated that Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts and the best or front seats in the assembled synagogues. Mark indicated that Jesus told them to beware of the Scribes, but not the Pharisees, because these Scribes walked around in long robes and loved the front seats in the synagogues. They loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts They were the elite social butterflies. Are you a social butterfly who likes the front row?
Luke indicated that Jesus cursed these Mosaic lawyers (οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς νομικοῖς) who had taken away the key to knowledge (ὅτι ἤρατε τὴν κλεῖδα τῆς γνώσεως). They never entered the knowledge themselves (αὐτοὶ οὐκ εἰσήλθατε), but they also hindered others from entering (καὶ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἐκωλύσατε) into this knowledge. This is similar to Matthew, chapter 23:13, perhaps a Q source, where Jesus said woe to these (Οὐαὶ δὲ ὑμῖν) Scribes and the Pharisees. Here in Luke, Jesus cursed just the Pharisees and the lawyers, without any mention of the Scribes. In Matthew, there was no doubt that Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees (γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι), who he also called hypocrites (ὑποκριταί). Jesus said that they locked people out of the kingdom of heaven (ὅτι κλείετε τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ἀνθρώπων). Although they could not get into or enter heaven themselves (ὑμεῖς γὰρ οὐκ εἰσέρχεσθε), they were stopping or not allowing others to enter (οὐδὲ τοὺς εἰσερχομένους ἀφίετε εἰσελθεῖν) the kingdom of heaven. Not only were they not going to heaven, they were stopping others from going to heaven, a serious charge. Here Luke was the against the lawyers who kept knowledge away from people. Was this knowledge of the kingdom, that they did not enter, and even hindered others from entering? Have you hindered other people from gaining knowledge?
Then Luke indicated that Jesus turned on these lawyers, also. Jesus cursed them also (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν Καὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς νομικοῖς οὐαί). They had loaded people with hard burdens to bear (ὅτι φορτίζετε τοὺς ἀνθρώπους φορτία δυσβάστακτα). At the same time, they did not lift a finger to ease their burdens (καὶ αὐτοὶ ἑνὶ τῶν δακτύλων ὑμῶν οὐ προσψαύετε τοῖς φορτίοις). There is something similar in Matthew, chapter 23:4, where Jesus said that the Pharisees and the Scribes, not the lawyers, tied up heavy burdens on the people that were hard or oppressive to bear. They put these burdens on the shoulders of other men, but they themselves were unwilling to lift a finger to help them remove these burdens. These heavy burdens of the Torah may have been their multiple perplexing oral interpretations of the law rather than the law itself that was usually considered a blessing. Here in Luke, Jesus was talking about lawyers, who may have been Pharisaic lawyers of the Law of Moses, who also would not help others in any way. Do you know any religious lawyers?
Luke indicated that Jesus continued to pick on his dinner guests, the Pharisees. Jesus cursed these Pharisees without naming them. He said woe to them (οὐαὶ ὑμῖν) because they were like unmarked graves (ὅτι ἐστὲ ὡς τὰ μνημεῖα τὰ ἄδηλα) that people or men would walk over without realizing it (καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ περιπατοῦντες ἐπάνω οὐκ οἴδασιν). There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 23:27, where Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes. There was no doubt that Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees because of their false hearts. They were like whitewashed tombs, that looked outwardly beautiful. However, the inside of these unmarked tombs was full of the bones of dead people and other kinds of filth or impure things. Thus, the Pharisees appear to look righteous on the outside to others. However, on the inside, in their hearts, they were full of hypocrisy, iniquity, and lawlessness. Matthew went into more detail than Luke did here, sitting with them at dinner. Have you ever complained directly to people at a dinner party?
Luke indicated that Jesus the Lord cursed the Pharisees again. This friendly dinner took a strange twist. Jesus said that woe would come to them, the Pharisees, (οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις) because these Pharisees loved (ὅτι ἀγαπᾶτε) to have the first seats or the seats of honor (τὴν πρωτοκαθεδρίαν) in the synagogues (ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς). They loved to be greeted (καὶ τοὺς ἀσπασμοὺς) in the market places (ἐν ταῖς ἀγοραῖς). There is something similar in Mark, chapter 12:39, and Matthew, chapter 23:6-7. Matthew indicated that Jesus said that these Pharisees and Scribes loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts and the best or front seats in the assembled synagogues. They loved to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Matthew also went on about the use of the term Rabbi. Mark indicated that as Jesus told them to beware of the Scribes, but there was no mention of Pharisees, because these Scribes walked around in long robes. They loved to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. They loved the front seats in the assembly synagogues They loved to have the chief places of honor at banquet feasts They were the elite social butterflies. Do you like privileged public positions?
Next Luke had the Lord Jesus curse the Pharisees the way that Matthew had done. Jesus said woe to them, the Pharisees (ἀλλὰ οὐαὶ ὑμῖν τοῖς Φαρισαίοις)! They had paid their tithes (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε) of mint (τὸ ἡδύοσμον), rue (καὶ τὸ πήγανον), and every kind of herb (καὶ πᾶν λάχανον). However, they had neglected (καὶ παρέρχεσθε) justice (τὴν κρίσιν) and the love of God (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ). They ought to practice these things (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι), without neglecting the other things (κἀκεῖνα μὴ παρεῖναι). This is like Matthew, chapter 23:23, where Jesus cursed the Pharisees and the Scribes. Matthew indicated that Jesus said woe to them because of their insistence on tithing. He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants, instead of the more serious matters of the law. Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice, mercy, and faith. They should have spent more time on these issues without neglecting the other things. This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities, with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law itself. Luke had almost the same critique here, but the tithing herbs are slightly different. He also wanted their concerns to be about justice and God’s love. Otherwise the critique was pretty much the same. Do you neglect justice and mercy in your life?
Luke indicated that Jesus said that both Chorazin (Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν) and Bethsaida (οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά) should be cursed. Jesus said that if the deeds of power or the miracles done among them would have had been done (ὅτι εἰ…ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in Tyre (ἐν Τύρῳ) and Sidon (καὶ Σιδῶνι), they would have repented or had a change of heart (μετενόησαν) long ago (πάλαι), wearing sackcloth (ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ) and sitting in ashes (καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι). This is similar to Matthew, chapter 11:20-21, indicating a possible common Q source. Matthew indicated that Jesus denounced or reproached these various Galilean towns where he had worked his powerful miracles of healing and curing. Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways. Jesus complained about two particular towns, Chorazin (Χοραζείν), that was about 3 miles north of Capernaum, and Bethsaida (Βηθσαϊδάν), about 5 miles north of Capernaum on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. All these towns were fairly close together. Jesus’ reproach started with a typical prophetic curse of “woe to you” (Οὐαί σοι), especially used by Isaiah. Jesus also mentioned the Phoenician Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon that Isaiah, chapter 23:1-12, and many of the other prophets had wailed against. Jesus said that if these same miraculous deeds had taken place in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, something that Chorazin and Bethsaida had not done. What kind of town do you live in?