Luke 11-12

Luke was a skilled and organized writer. He reported the events of Jesus’ life with clarity and sophistication. In Luke 11-12, Luke noted how Jesus used the Old Testament autobiographically to announce that the history of Israel reached its zenith in His ministry.

(1) In Luke 11:29-32, Jesus compared Himself to Jonah and Solomon to rebuke those who demanded a sign from Him. Jesus condemned the generation of His day because they continually sought a sign that He was the Messiah—even though He performed many miracles in their presence (Matt 12:39-42//Luke 11:29-32). To them He promised the sign of Jonah, saying, “For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation” (Luke 11:30). Jonah was three days in the fish before preaching to Nineveh, and Jesus would be three days in the tomb. While the fish was sent to keep Jonah alive, the sign of Jesus was greater—He died and was raised to life. No sign could authenticate Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah more than His death and resurrection. If the crowds and Jewish leadership would not believe the empty tomb, no other sign would be given them. Yet Jesus knew the hard-heartedness of the day. Since the Jewish leadership rejected Him, while the wicked city of Nineveh repented at the words of Jonah, “In 40 days Nineveh will be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4), the people of Nineveh would rise up in condemnation of those who rejected the greater ministry of Jesus. Likewise, since the queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to hear the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kgs 10:1)—and Jesus’ generation rejected His superior wisdom—at the judgment she would rise up and condemn the hardness of those who rejected Jesus.

(2) In Luke 11:47-51, Jesus denounced the Pharisees for acting consistently with their fathers, those who had killed the prophets like Abel and Zechariah. In Gen 4:8, Cain killed his younger brother Abel in a jealous rage. When the Lord confronted Cain, He told the murderer that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground (Gen 4:10). Since Abel died unjustly, he became a martyr, a prophet of righteousness. Toward the end of his life, King Joash of Judah turned from the Lord (2 Chron 24:15-22). Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest acted as a prophet and confronted Joash, and the king responded by having Zechariah stoned in the courtyard of the temple (2 Chron 24:21). Throughout Israel’s history, from the time of Abel to Zechariah, Israel rejected the prophets. Because the Pharisees had rejected Him, Jesus inferred that it was as if His opponents were actually participating with their forefathers in the persecution of all the prophets (Matt 23:34-36//Luke 11:49-51).

(3) In Luke 12:53, Jesus cited Mic 7:6 to inform His disciples that their devotion to His kingdom would cause separation in some of their closest relationships. Micah confronted Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord and one other. In Mic 7:6, the prophet lamented the social decay in Judah—so fractured was the nation that no one could be considered a loyal friend, not even those in one’s family. While Micah argued that the divisiveness of his day was the result of unfaithfulness to the Lord, Jesus said that all who are faithful to Him would have to endure loss of relationships as close associates and family turned from following Him (Matt 10:34-36//Luke 12:49-53). Jesus did not come to bring peace to all human relationships, but peace between God and His people—which would cause many to oppose His followers and separate from them. “They will be divided,” Jesus said, “father against son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:53).