- Last week was Fall Festival in the Tri-State area. Did you go and if so, what was your favorite thing you did (or ate) there?
- This past Sunday (10.10.21) marks the 11th anniversary of One Life. What is one positive memory that you have from your time at One Life?
BIBLE ENGAGEMENT – LUKE 11:37-44
CONTEXT: In the text you are about to read, a Pharisee (religious leader) invites Jesus to eat with him. It is important to remember that in Jesus’ time, this type of dinner would have been a formal thing. By this time, Jesus was one of the most intriguing personalities around, and this Pharisee would have invited other important leaders to come be a part of it. Not only that, these dinners were almost like a symposium, where crowds would gather outside and observe the conversation.
37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
42 “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.
43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
BIBLE ENGAGMENT QUESTIONS
- What stands out to you from this text?
- What questions does it raise?
- What does this text reveal about Jesus’s priorities, practices, life? Asked another way, if you didn’t know who Jesus was, and you read this text, what would you think about Him?
- Ultimately, what is Jesus speaking out against here?
CONTEXT: One question that stands out is, Why would people get so offended by Jesus not washing his hands? Well, there would have been a hand-washing station right when you entered the home and everyone would have stopped and done a ceremonial cleansing. Some of the more conservative people there would have been incredibly offended by Jesus’ actions. So, what is the big deal about that? Watch this video for a little more context on ceremonial hand washing.
WATCH HAND WASHING VIDEO
After watching the video, you may be thinking, that seems like a nice thing to do. Why would Jesus avoid it? Well, if you go back into the Old Testament and look up “ceremonial washing,” you would not find it. It is not in there. The Israelites DID have ceremonial washing as a part of the priest’s life when they were IN THE TEMPLE. However, around 587 BC, the Babylonians defeated the Israelites, destroyed the temple, and exiled almost everyone 1500 plus miles away to Babylon. The Israelites believed that all of this happened because they had forgotten their covenant with God.
When they arrived in Babylon, they no longer had a temple. However, many good-hearted Jewish leaders wanted to reestablish the covenant with God and reestablish it stronger than ever. So, what was once reserved for priests in the temple became a recommendation for everyone. Ceremonial washing would be a common practice in the daily lives of all Jewish practitioners. Again, this was born out of innocence and a desire to live correctly before God. However, as it was passed down, it became something different. This, along with many other non-scriptural “rules,” became a strict code that Jewish leaders required of anyone who would consider themselves a “good Jewish man or woman.”
HERE is the main point… All religious practices have an inherent danger.
- For instance, you could be an axe murderer, do all the ceremonial washing correctly and people would say, “Look at him, what a holy person.”
- You could give 15% of your income away and still be corrupt.
- Can you think of other examples within the Church (or culture) that started out with good intentions but lost site of the original heart of the practice?
- What is one religious practice that still is very powerful in your life?
- When you think of religious practices you are a part of, how do you keep them from becoming a hardened “rule” or “fake religiosity?”
- On Sunday, Bret mentioned that one inherent danger is that it becomes fake “religiosity.” He said the other inherent danger is doing them for “merit.” What do you think that means and how is it contrary to the gospel?
- What practices in your life lead to greater love of God and a greater love of people?
- How can your group/team help each other live with authentegrity? How can you help each other avoid fake “religiosity?”
CLOSE IN PRAYER
If Jesus responds this strongly to hypocrisy or “religiosity,” what do we need to know, and what do we need to do to avoid getting caught up in it.