#24 "Jesus and Religion" – Luke 11:37-52

“Jesus and Religion” out of Luke 11:37-52 was preached on June 24th, 2012 by Pastor Brett Baggett at the worship gathering of Ekklesia Muskogee. Week #24 in Ekklesia’s The King and His Cross sermon series.


Audio Listen – Audio Download – Notes – iTunes

Community Group Discussion

Scripture – Luke 11:37-52

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40  You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42  “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47  Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48  So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to youlawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

Big Idea

Religion is any set of principles or rules that if followed correctly and earnestly make you acceptable to God. Religion is essentially advice. It is mankind’s attempt at controlling how God has to deal with him. The Gospel is good news that says our acceptance is not dependent on our performance. Our acceptance is dependent on Jesus’ performance in our place- to take away our sin and make us righteous- to bring us back to a right standing and a right relationship with our Creator-God.

In Luke 11 we see Jesus sit down to a meal with the Jewish Pharisee’s and Lawyer’s and Jesus proceeds to call them out on their Religion. Jesus pronounces six woes (curses) on them and shows us what religious people do and how their religion is so repulsive to Jesus and so destructive to Jesus’ people.

1. Religious people create their own rules (vv. 37-38)
2. Religious people focus on the exterior but neglect the heart (vv. 39-41)
3. Religious people pick and choose what’s important in the Bible (vv. 42)
4. Religious people don’t truly want Jesus to be praised- they want praise for themselves (vv. 43)
5. Religious people are dead (vv. 44)
6. Religious people cry, complain, and say you’re unloving when you point out they are in the wrong (vv. 45-46)
7. Religious people don’t help others- they hurt others (vv. 47)
8. Religious people defend their idols at all costs (vv. 47-51)
9. Religious people keep others from meeting Jesus (vv. 52)

We must not assume that only others are dominated or effected by religion, but we must constantly evaluate ourselves to see if we are being motivated by the gospel or by religion.


Q1: Which of the above 9 points about Religion from Luke 11 do you see in our culture? Talk about the ones that jump out at you. Discuss how that is combatted with the gospel of Jesus.

Q2: In which of the below areas do you most personally battle religion? Talk about each one and pray for each other in light of your responses. Pray that our Father would fill each one of us with joy by his love for us in Jesus.


  • Religion: “I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.”
  • Gospel: “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”


  • Religion: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.
  • Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.


  • Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
  • Gospel: I obey God to get God – to delight in an resemble him.


  • Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
  • Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.


  • Religion: When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a “good person.” Threats to self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
  • Gospel: When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a “good person.” My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ.


  • Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
  • Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.


  • Religion: My self-view swings things between to poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident – I feel like a failure.
  • Gospel: My self-view is not based on my moral achievement. In Christ I am simul lustus et peccator – simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad that he had to die for me, and I am so loved that he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.


  • Religion: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am – and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
  • Gospel: My identity and self worth are centered on the one who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace and I can’t look down on those who believe or practices something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.

Good Word

The world needs to know that what we proclaim is not Religion but The Gospel. Our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, cities, and our world needs to hear the true good news about what Jesus has already done- disarming satan, sin and death by his life, death and resurrection.  The world needs to hear the good news that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ and what he has already done on behalf of sinners. The world needs to hear about what Jesus is doing in our lives and how he will one day make all things new.

Religious people need to repent of their religion and come to Jesus. Rebellious people need to repent of their rebellion and come to Jesus. Jesus is way better than both. Life doesn’t come from religion or rebellion, it comes from and through Jesus. Glory to God! Amen.