25 Open Encounters with the Jewish Leadership

Dr. Doug Bookman

Note: Luke describes a number of miracles wrought by Jesus and times of teaching, as well as the consistently hostile response of the Jewish leadership. Recall that it is very late in His ministry (within several months of Jesus’ death), and that Jesus is traveling in the region very close to Jerusalem, where the Pharisaic leadership so entirely committed to rejecting Him are headquartered.

A. The Blasphemous Accusation Is Repeated: Miracles by the Power of Beelzebub

Scripture: Luke 11:14-36

Notes: The event is very similar to that related to the “unpardonable sin” in Galilee. The Pharisees had no other explanation, and so they returned to it whenever necessary. Jesus’s response was magisterially effective and is repeated in this instance.

  1. Notice that Jesus appends a parable about a man who is cleansed of an unclean spirit, leaves himself empty, and is then possessed by seven wicked spirits. What do you think Jesus is referring to here? That is, who is the man, and in what sense had a cleansing taken place earlier?
  2. Jesus repeats the “sign of Jonah,” the emphasis of which is that this generation has proven itself so hard that signs are no longer wise, and thus they will get only the sign of Jesus’s resurrection.

B. Dining with a Pharisee, Jesus Denounces Empty Legalism

Scripture: Luke 11:37-54


  1. The Pharisees constituted a very tight and exclusive religious fraternity; there were relatively few admitted. On the other hand, the scribes (lawyers) were ideologically and socially identified with the Pharisees. Thus, when Jesus excoriates the Pharisees (in words anticipatory of the Woes of Matthew 23), a lawyer (or scribe) is insulted as well (Luke 11:45). Jesus proceeds to excoriate the scribes as well.
  2. Notice that Luke is explicit as to the purpose of the Pharisees in attending Jesus in these days.

C. Jesus Addresses Hypocrisy, Covetousness, Worldly Anxieties, Watchfulness, and His Approaching Death

Scripture: Luke 12

Notes: Notice Luke’s description of the great hordes of people pressing in on Jesus at this time. As His death draws near, Jesus remains the wildly popular folk-hero of the masses. This is important as it ties the hand of His enemies, and it makes Jesus’s words concerning His coming death entirely incoherent to His disciples. (Jesus is able to see through the great crowds and knows that their interest is superficial and self-serving, but only Jesus discerns this.)

D. The Command to Repent: The Parable of the Fig Tree

Scripture: Luke 13:1-9

E. Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath

Scripture: Luke 13:10-21


  1. Throughout His ministry, the one perceived crime for which Jesus’s enemies felt they could indict Him was a violation of the Sabbath. Jesus never violated the Law of Moses, but He did transgress some of the traditions of the elders. Here the tactic often employed in Galilee is employed by His enemies in Judea.
  2. Notice Luke’s remarkable description of the result of these confrontations (Luke 13:17).

Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).