“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.” (Luke 11:52, NIV84)
“Woe to you…” Words of warning that would cause any one of us to pause for a moment to assess the source and the context. A parent might warn a child about potential punishment for poor choices that might be made. A friend might warn another friend about the pitfalls he sees his friend falling into. A boss might warn an employee about poor performance and potential termination if the poor performance continues. But, the source of warning in our verse for today is Jesus, and the context is the knowledge of salvation. Woe! God Himself is warning the Pharisees, Scribes, and teachers of the law that they have so distorted the truth that they have disqualified themselves and anyone who might listen to them. Not a warning any of us would want to hear.
So, what were their issues and what can we learn from them so we do not put ourselves in a position to face a similar warning. In each case, they put their interpretation of God’s Word in priority to its intended meaning. The Pharisees, Scribes and teachers of the law were famous for adding and adding and adding to God’s Word. They had over 600 commandments when God began with 10, and most knew that they could all be boiled down to two (love God and your fellow man). In adding all these laws to God’s Word they robbed God’s Word of its authority and power. They saw themselves as masters of the Word of God instead of being mastered by the Word of God.
Even today we need to be cautious and heed Jesus’ warning to not distort His Word. We need to let God’s Word be God’s Word. We need to surrender our minds, hearts, and faiths to its Lordship. Let’s make sure that we remain overwhelmed by God and His Word and not our own brilliance and knowledge. We bring nothing to the table but a broken life that needs the touch of the Great Physician of body and soul.