Luke 11:43-48

Luke 11:43 (KJB)
Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Then after Jesus had attacked their innate hypocrisy, He then goes on to expose their desire for honor. The Pharisees were more desirous to gain honor for themselves than to honor God through their lives. They had desired to have the best seats in any feast which they attended. They desired to have the most prestigious place on the couches which surrounded the banquet table. In the synagogues, the elders would occupy the elevated seats in front which faced the congregation. The back of the seats faced the Holy of Holies. This set up caused the elders to be in full view of the people. The majority of churches are set up this way placing the pastor and maybe an elder or two in full view of the congregation.

Then they loved to hear people greet them in the marketplace by their official title or their academic title. Public greetings and acknowledgement was something else that they craved because it brought another moment of notoriety. They also loved to be called “Rabbi” which interpreted means “my great one” or “my master.” It is an Aramaic title of respect given to teachers. It would basically be equal to the honorary Doctorate given to preachers today. One such degree would be Doctor of Divinity. They had desired for people to submit to their human authority or academic achievement instead of searching the Scriptures. This is a problem in today’s churches where many Christians will believe that whatever their pastor says is true and they never check a thing out in Scripture.

Luke 11:44 (KJB)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

Jesus had compared the Pharisees to unmarked graves. During festival times the Jews would whitewash the graves so visitors to Jerusalem would not walk on them and be ceremonially unclean. What Jesus is basically telling them that they are walking invisible graves. Their insides are filled with hypocrisy, hate, deceit and anything else which was against the word of God. What Jesus means here is that the Pharisees look good on the outside but they are inward ravenous wolves, filled with all kinds of evil. The people would not know this by looking at them and the religious front that they put on just like they would walk on a grave which is not cleaned and marked.

Luke 11:45 (KJB)
Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

There was no doubt a good number of people who were invited to the house of the Pharisee and the story which Jesus was telling was now interrupted by one of the lawyers. The lawyers were also the scribes which were allied very close with the Pharisees. He complained that as Jesus was chiding the Pharisees, He was also reproaching them. The word “reproachest” carries with it the meaning of “insulting.” The scribes originally had focused on understanding the legal side of the law which had value but eventually they started falling in with the likes of the Pharisees and started to adopt their evil ways. So they felt offended but Jesus was right in His description of the whole group of them.

Luke 11:46 (KJB)
And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Then Jesus directs His statement to the scribes whom He compared to those masters who overburden their beasts with loads that are too heavy to bear. The leaders did the same things except these were created religious rituals and ceremonies. Jesus had rejected the traditions of the elders because they were added to the law. It was forbidden in the law to add to the law. (Deu 4:2 KJV) Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Yet these leaders had created all kinds of legalistic ceremonies which they coupled on to the law and then attaching penalties if they were not kept. The Pharisees had failed miserably in understanding that the law was spiritual and instead made it a legalistic, demanding law. They kept adding more requirements for the people to obey and simultaneously they invented interpretations and traditions for themselves as reasons for them to avoid any real obligation so their lives would be literally free from all the burdens. Their created rules were only for the people and not for them. The scribes were just as bad as the Pharisees in lading down the people with burdens.

Luke 11:47 (KJB)
Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

It was not an unusual thing for a memorial to be built in Palestine and they were normally built on the tomb or grave of a prophet or righteous man. It was built to obtain forgiveness for murdering a prophet. Jesus had chided them because they were honoring the righteous and prophets in their graves but while they were alive, their message was rejected. The same attitude exists within the Pharisees and that is why Jesus is calling them hypocrites because here stands before them the Son of God and they are rejecting Him, the one who sent the prophets.

Luke 11:48 (KJB)
Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

Here Jesus tells them that they condone or sympathize with the deeds of their fathers. That is, the same mindset of unbelief and hostility toward the prophets and the true word of God which was done in years past is being done again in the time of Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees have consistently opposed Jesus and the truth just as the leaders of old did. They killed the prophets which were sent to them by God and the modern leaders built monuments to them making it look like they were so spiritual in nature which was really for the purpose of exalting their status. They could not care less about the prophets and their messages. If they did, they would have believed Isaiah and Micah and knew that Jesus was truly the Christ.