Sermon – December 3, 2017: “It’s a Heart Matter”

Luke 11:37-54

Parallel Account

Matthew 23:23-36 (kind of)

Similar things are spoken but Luke’s passage is most likely an earlier occasion than Matthew. Luke has Jesus speaking in the company of Pharisees and scribes while Matthew has him speaking to his disciples and crowd.

Luke’s reason for recording

  • Luke is most likely using this occasion to illustrate the kind of “darkness” the Pharisees keep the people in.
  • Jesus may also be distancing himself from the Pharisees who seem to consider him their equal.

Historical Background

  • Ceremonial hand washing was one of many traditions developed as attempts to include God in the mundane things of life.
  • In the Law, ceremonial cleansing was only required of priests.
  • Jesus objected to such traditions especially when they overshadowed the spirit of the Law.

The darkness of the Pharisees (vv 39-40)

  • More emphasis was put on observing tradition and oral law than the Law itself.
  • There was a failure to see that the true purpose of the Law was to shape the heart.
  • Tradition and oral laws only dealt with outward appearance of obedience to the Law (as does legalism today).

How bad it had gotten for the Pharisees (vv 42-52)

Woe can be expressed as “how terrible it is!”

  • How terrible it is that you pay attention to the fine details of the Law but neglect the overall spirit of the Law.
  • How terrible it is that you seek man’s recognition over relationship with God.
  • How terrible it is that you lead people unknowingly in to sin.
  • How terrible it is that you burden people with regulations you don’t even follow yourself.
  • How terrible it is that you claim to honor those who spoke God’s words but in reality don’t do what he says through them.
  • How terrible it is that you have the ability to help others in their relationship with God but you don’t because you yourselves don’t have a relationship with him.


  • This a warning to churches.
  • This is a warning to pastors and church leaders.
  • This is a warning to all Christians.

God wants your heart more than your actions because your heart dictates your actions.

Implication of Jesus’ words (v 41)

  • We should be more concerned about the condition of our hearts than making sure we don’t do the “do nots.”
  • An overt concern for the “do nots” eventually leads to legalism.
  • If we do out of a pure heart we don’t have to be concerned about transgressing the “do nots”: we will end up naturally not doing them.


  • It is tempting to develop lists of “do nots” and traditions.
  • God is more concerned with the state of the heart than outward adherence to lists of dos and don’ts.
  • We shape our hearts by making what is important to God important to us.
  • We need help to do this.
  • We must be praying and asking God for his help in making the transformation of our hearts happen.
  • We must be engaged in mind renewing activities which make transformation possible.

Transformation Expectation

  • Stop thinking that only your actions matter.
  • Stop trying to make people conform to your idea of what Christianity is.
  • Make the prayer for God’s help in transformation a daily priority.
  • Make mind renewing activities a priority.
  • Don’t be concerned about what man sees, but be concerned about what God sees.
  • Do those things which are truly important to God.

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