Jesus takes on the Bible profs
How to pray1 One day Jesus was somewhere praying. When he got done one of his disciples went up to him and asked him, “Please sir, would you teach us to pray? John taught his disciples how to pray.” 2 Jesus said, “Pray like this:
‘Father, I wish that everyone would respect your name and who it represents.
I want you to lead us as our king now.
4 And forgive us for sinning,
because we forgive people sinning against us.
Don’t test us with temptations.’
Why pray5 Then Jesus said, “Let’s say you go to your friend’s house at midnight. Standing outside the door you say, ‘Buddy, can you spare three loaves of bread? 6 A friend of mine on a trip has stopped by, and I don’t have any food to serve him.’
7 So your friend calls out from inside the house, ‘What are you doing bothering me this late? My door is already barred up for the night and my children are settled into bed with me. I can’t get up now to get you anything.’ 8 Listen, I’m telling you that even though this man won’t get up and help his friend at first, he will eventually. He’ll do it because he doesn’t want to get publicly embarrassed by his friend’s shameless persistence. 9 So I’m telling you this about prayer: ask if you want to get something, and you’ll get it. Look if you want to find something, and you’ll find it. Knock if you want someone to open a door for you, and the door will open.
10 Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who looks will find. Everyone who knocks will see a door open up.
11 Let me put it this way, suppose you ask your dad for a fish. Do any of you have a father so miserable that he would give you a snake instead?
12 And what if you asked for an egg? Would he give you a scorpion? 13 Come on now, compared to God you people are downright wicked. But if wicked humans can give wonderful gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give you? He will even give you the Holy Spirit if you ask him.”
Accusing Jesus of being a demon14 One day Jesus performed an exorcism. He cast out the demon of a man who couldn’t talk. When the demon came out, suddenly the man could talk. People were astonished. 15 But some of the people in the crowd said, “Beelzebul, the Prince of Demons gives him the power to cast out demons.” 16 Others wanted to test his power, so they started badgering him—insisting that he call down some kind of miracle from heaven.
17 He knew what they were thinking. He said, “A nation split in two can’t survive when one side fights the other. Feuds do the same thing to families, absolutely destroying them. 18 So what sense would it make for Satan to fight against himself? If demon fought demon, how could Satan possibly keep his kingdom from collapsing? 19 And oh, by the way, if it’s the Prince of Demons who gives me the power to perform exorcisms, who gives your people the power to do it? Those exorcists are going to condemn what you said about me. 20 But if the hand of God himself is giving me the power to exorcise demons, you can count on this: the kingdom of God has come—and it’s right here, now. 21 A strong man bulked up with weapons can guard his palace and protect everything he owns. 22 But when someone stronger comes along, attacking and defeating him, the man loses everything to the intruder—including the weapons that gave him so much confidence.
23 Either you’re for me, or you’re against me. Either you’re rallying around me, or you’re blocking my way. 24 When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert looking for a place to rest. When it doesn’t find one, it says, ‘I’ll go back to where I came from.’ 25 When the demon returns, it finds the house cleaned up with everything nicely reorganized. 26 So when it moves back in, it takes seven other roommates with it—demons even more evil than the first one. When they all get in there, they just settle down and take over. Now all of a sudden the demon-possessed man is worse off than he was before."
27 Jesus was still talking when a woman in the crowd interrupted him. She cried out, “Happy is the mother who brought you into this world and who nursed you through your childhood.”
28 Jesus answered, “Actually, the people who are happy are the ones who hear the message God is sending them, and then obey the message.”
Jesus takes a page from Jonah’s book29 The crowds got bigger. Jesus told the people, “What an awful generation this is. It wants to see a sign, but I’m telling you the only real sign they’re going to get from me is what I’m calling the Sign of Jonah. 30 Jonah’s story and ministry convinced the people of Nineveh that God sent him. I’m going to do that for this generation.
31 The queen of the southern kingdom will stand up on Judgment Day and condemn the people of this generation. She came a good long way from a distant land to find out for herself if King Solomon was as wise as people claimed. Look, I’m telling you that something far greater than Solomon is here right now.
32 The men of Nineveh will condemn this generation, too. They repented when they heard the preaching of Jonah. Yet today, someone greater than Jonah is here.
Let the light in33 People, no one lights a lamp and then stuffs it in a hole in the ground or under a basket. We raise the lamp high, on top of a lampstand. We do this so people can see the light and find us. 34 Open your eyes. They are your lamp. If your eyes are working right, your life is full of light. But if your eyes are sick, your life is full of darkness.
35 Make sure your life is filled with light, and not with darkness that you only think is light. 36 If you do this, your whole life is filled with light. There is no darkness in you. There is nothing but light like the glow of a lamp.”
Jesus gets tough on religion leaders37 When Jesus got done talking, a Pharisee invited him to a meal. So Jesus went to his home and sat at the table. 38 Something surprised the Pharisee; Jesus didn’t baptize his hands in a ceremonial washing before sitting down to eat.
39 The Lord told him, “I’ve noticed that you Pharisees are good about washing the outside—like washing only the outside of a dirty cup or a dirty bowl. But you don’t do anything about the dirt on the inside. On the inside, you’re filthy with greed and meanness. 40 This is nonsense. Don’t you know that God made the inside, too? 41 If you want to clean the inside, try giving some money to help the poor. That way you’ll be clean inside and out.
42 I’ve got some bad news for you Pharisees. You give a ten percent tithe on the tiniest of things you own—mint and rue and all of your little garden herbs. Big deal. You ignore justice and the love God wants us to show one another. You should have done all these things. 43 I’ve got more bad news for you Pharisees. You love the seats reserved for dignitaries in synagogues. And you sure do like the attention you get when you’re out in public. 44 Here’s the bad news. You are like unmarked graves. You contaminate people because they trust the ground they walk on, but it’s polluted."
45 One of the scholars—an expert in Jewish law—told Jesus, “Teacher, you just insulted us, too.”
46 Jesus said, “Yeah? Well I’ve got bad news for you scholars, too. You crush the people with oppressive rules, and you do nothing to help them deal with it. 47 Bad news. You build monuments to the prophets your fathers killed.
48 That makes you an accomplice. You see what has happened and you approve. You show your approval by building monuments, which are like trophies of the prophets your fathers killed. 49 No doubt, this is the very reason God in his wisdom said: ‘I’ll send them prophets and apostles—but the people will persecute and kill some of them.’ 
50 So here it is. This generation, here and now, is being charged with the murder of every prophet since the beginning of time. 51 It starts with the murder of Abel and goes all the way to the murder of Zachariah, who was killed at the Temple, between the altar and the sanctuary. Count on it, this generation will be held responsible for all of these murders.
52 Bad news for you scholars, you experts in the Jewish law. You have the key to knowledge. But you don’t use it for yourself, and you don’t let others use it, either. And others certainly want to use it.” 53 As Jesus began to leave, the scholars and Pharisees assaulted him with hostile questions on lots of different subjects. 54 By ganging up on him like this, they hoped to catch him saying something they could use against him.
Often translated, “lead us not into temptation,” the Greek word can mean: trial, testing, tragedy, affliction, or temptation. In this context, after a sentence about forgiveness of sins, “temptation” seems to fit the main idea Jesus was talking about, many Bible translators agree.
The Greek word describing Satan is the title Beelzeboul. But it’s better known as Beelzebub, which is how it shows up in ancient Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. The word is one of Satan’s titles. It literally translates as “lord of flies,” which sounds like a good book title.
Matthew reports Jesus explaining the Sign of Jonah in more detail. Jesus says that just as Jonah lay in the belly of the fish for three days, Jesus will lay in a grave for three days (Matthew 12:40).
The ruins of Nineveh lie in what is now Mosul, a large city in northern Iraq.
1 Kings 10 tells the story of the queen of Sheba. It’s uncertain where Sheba was located. But based on the gifts she brought in her caravan, one guess is the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, which is south of Saudi Arabia.
1 Kings 10:1.
More literally “body.”
The literal translation is “reclined.” The tables were apparently low to the ground, and people reclined on mats or pillows placed on the floor beside the tables.
The Greek word is baptizō. One of the rules that Pharisees observed – not rules in the Bible, but rules comparable to those we might find in church manuals – was to wash their hands before a meal. This didn’t have anything to do with hygiene. It was about spiritual cleansing – a ritual closer to baptism then to a bath.
Jews typically marked their graves and tombs so no one would accidentally touch them and become ritually defiled. If a Jew accidentally touched a grave, they had to wait a week before they could worship God at the Temple (Numbers 19:16).
Though this sounds like a quote from the Jewish Bible, it doesn’t show up in any of the known Jewish writings yet discovered. Jesus may have been delivering this message as a prophet himself, some Bible experts say.
2 Chronicles 24:21-22.
After reading the sample prayer Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, in Luke 11:2-4, how do you think that compares with the prayers we hear in church or the prayers we pray at home?
How would you sum up Jesus’ main point in his mini-sermon about prayer (11:5-13)?
Jesus says, “Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who looks will find. Everyone who knocks will see a door open up” (11:10). How would you defend that statement to someone who has been asking and not getting, looking and not finding, knocking and getting no response from high heaven to low Earth?
When some people in the crowd accused Jesus of using Satan’s power to cast out demons, Jesus said it wouldn’t make sense for Satan to fight against himself (11:18). That may not seem like a foolproof argument because it would seem Satan can certainly use that tactic as a trick. If you were going to help defend Jesus against the accusation that he gets his power from the devil, how would you do it?
When Jesus is talking about demon possession he seems to be hinting that demons find a welcome home in “the house cleaned up with everything nicely reorganized” (11:25). Could that be a metaphor? Could “the house cleaned up” refer to someone whose life is neatly packaged, but uninhabited by God?
What do you think Jesus is talking about when he refers to the “Sign of Jonah” (11:29)? And do you think he did for his generation what Jonah did for the people of Nineveh: “convince the people… that God sent him” (11:30)?
Jesus told people, “Open your eyes. They are your lamp” (11:34). What do you think Jesus meant when he talked about our eyes having the power to light up our life or to leave us in darkness?
LIFE APPLICATION. In the sample prayer Jesus gave his disciples, he said we should ask God to “forgive us for sinning, because we forgive people sinning against us” (11:4). Some sins are difficult to forgive in this lifetime, if not impossible. What do you think that means to us when it comes to getting God’s forgiveness?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus accuses the Pharisees of looking holy, spiritually speaking, on the outside but being grungy on the inside. How might that apply to some religious people today? We’re talking categories, not names of individuals.
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus got really tough on the religion leaders of his day (11:37-54). In what ways might some religious leaders today deserve similar criticism? Again, categories, not names.