Luke 11:1. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
It seemed to this disciple as if he did not know how to pray after he had heard Christ pray. The prayer of Jesus was so infinitely above anything that he had ever reached that he said, “Lord, teach us to pray;” and, as if he felt that he needed a precedent for asking such hallowed instruction, he said, Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” We must all feel that if we are to pray aright, we must be taught of God, by his Holy Spirit. We are full of infirmities, and if there is any time when our infirmities are felt most, it is when we engage in prayer, but “the Spirit also help our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as are ought.” Let us, then, breathe this prayer to our great Teacher, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Luke 11:2. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will he done, as in heaven, so in earth.
When we come to God in prayer, we are apt to think first of our own necessities, but if we came aright, in the spirit of sonship, truly saying, “Our Father who art in heaven,” we should begin our prayer like this, “’Hallowed be thy name.’ May all men honour, reverence, and adore thy holy name. ‘Thy kingdom come.’ We are not satisfied that thou should be anything less than king; our heart’s desire is, ‘Reign, gracious God over us and over all men.’ ‘Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.’ ‘Thy will be done,’ rather than ours.” Now comes a prayer for ourselves: —
Luke 11:3. Give us day by day our daily bread.
“Give us, O Lord, what we really need; not that which would be a luxury, but that which is a necessity. ‘Give us,’ according as we shall need it day by day, what we shall then actually need, ‘our daily bread.’” We are not warranted in asking much more than this in temporal matters. They are all comprehended in this petition as far as they are necessary, but God has not given us carte blanch to ask for wealth, or honour, or any such dangerous things. There is no harm in asking for bread, and he will give us that.
Luke 11:4. And forgive us our sins;
We also need to pray this prayer; I do not think that our Saviour ever anticipated a time when his disciples on earth would not need to pray, “Forgive us our sins.”
Luke 11:4. For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation;
“Lord, do not try us and test us more than is absolutely necessary, for we are so apt to fall: ‘Lead us not into temptation;’ but, if we must be tempted,” —
Luke 11:4. Deliver us from evil.
“If some good end is to be answered by our being thus tested, then let it be so, but, O Lord, ‘deliver us from evil,’ and especially from the evil one; suffer us not to fall into his hands in the hour of temptation.”
Luke 11:5-6. And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him;
This man was in a sad plight; his friend was faint and hungry, and he himself was willing enough to entertain him, but he had “nothing to set before him.” So he acts very wisely; he goes to a friend, and asks him to lend him three loaves.
Luke 11:7. And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
If the man outside keeps on knocking, if he will not go away without the bread he wants for his friend, what will happen?
Luke 11:8. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
See the power of importunate prayer; and you, beloved, can have all that you really need for yourselves or others if you will only ask for it in the right way. If, summoning every faculty of your being, you resolve to plead, and plead, and plead yet again and again, and never take “No” for an answer, your heart’s desire shall be granted.
Luke 11:9. And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you;
But if asking does not seem to prevail with God, —
Luke 11:9. Seek, and ye shall find;
And if, for a while, you do not find, come closer in; —
Luke 11:9. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
There are different methods of praying, and each one has its special adaptation to the state in which you may be; so use that method to which the Holy Spirit guides you, so use all methods until you prevail.
Luke 11:10-11. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone?
There were many stones in those days that were in appearance wonderfully like the bread which they used in the East; but would any father mock his son by giving him one of those stones to break his teeth on, instead of bread that he could eat? Never.
Luke 11:11-13. Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
If you have the Holy Spirit, you virtually have all good gifts, for the Spirit is the earnest of God’s love, the pledge of joys to come; and he brings with him all things that are necessary and good for you.
Luke 11:14. And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb.
So that this poor man could not obey the Saviour’s teaching. He could not pray, for he was under the influence of a dumb devil. How many of that sort there are still in the world! They cannot speak with God, they have never learned to pray, for they are possessed by a dumb devil.
Luke 11:14. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.
When the devil is driven out of men by Christ, they soon begin to pray. The little sentence, “Behold, he prayeth,” was the indication of a new birth in Saul of Tarsus. The Lord grant that some here, who have been possessed by a dumb spirit, may be graciously led to pray! Remember, dear friend, that God will hear your prayer the first time you call upon him; and there is a text which says, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
Luke 11:15. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.
They could not have uttered a fouler falsehood than this; and if people thus slandered the Lord Jesus Christ, we need not be surprised if they speak ill of us.
Luke 11:16. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
Yet they had a very striking one in the dumb devil being cast out of the man; what clearer sign than that could they have?
Luke 11:17-18. But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
If Satan cast out Satan, his kingdom would soon come to an end. Note how calmly the Saviour met these mockers and cavillers. There is no trace of anger in his words; they said the worst thing they could say about him and his work, and yet, in the coolest manner possible, he closes their mouths in the silence of shame. God grant us grace to be calm and strong even when we are most furiously assailed! It is when we are in a hurry and fret that we grow weak.
Luke 11:19-23. And, if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons, cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
Christ had made no compact with the powers of darkness. He was not casting the demons out with the devil’s aid, it was absurd to think that he was. He was fighting them and casting them out by his own divine, omnipotent energy. Now comes a very striking parable: —
Luke 11:24. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, —
Satan does sometimes go out of men entirely of his own accord without being turned out. He goes out for a walk, meaning to go back again. Many a man has left off being a drunkard, or left off being lascivious, — for a time: “when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man,” —
Luke 11:24. He walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house —
You see that he still calls it his house. He has gone out for a walk, but he has taken the key of his house with him. Some people sign the pledge, and give up being drunkards for a time, but if the devil is still their master he has only gone away for a while, and he will come back again before long. If he goes out of his own accord, he will come back when he pleases: “I will return unto my house “ —
Luke 11:24; Luke 11:26. Whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
The man has become quite a decent sort of fellow. He has given up his bad ways, and is a respectable member of society. The house is swept and garnished, but it is the devil’s house all the same.
Luke 11:26. Then goeth he, and taketh to him even other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
There are, alas! many who have only a sham conversion, a conversion which lasts but a very little while. The devil was not cast out of them, but he went out of his own accord. But where Christ has come — the One who is far stronger than the devil, — to cast him out of his house, he will never be allowed to come back again, Christ will take care of that. Having won the victory, and taken the house, he will keep it by force of arms; but beware, I pray you, of a “conversion” without Christ. Beware of a “reformation” in which the devil himself is a co-worker with you, for it will come to something worse in the end. Let me read the verse again: “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in, and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” He becomes a worse man than ever because once he promised to be better, but only promised it in his own strength, which was utter weakness.
Luke 11:14-15. And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake and the people wondered. But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.
One would hardly have thought that they could have gone to such a length as that; but when men hate Christ, there is nothing they will not say against him. It is no subject of surprise when great heresies arise, for they are the natural outcome of human enmity against Christ and his truth. People in such a state of heart will say anything; they will give utterance to thoughts that you could not have imagined would have entered any human brain; it is the enmity of the heart to Christ that produces this blasphemy of the tongue.
Luke 11:16. And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
“You are working this work from beneath,” they said, “now do something that is really from above.” They must have known that the casting out of the devil was from heaven, for Satan would never cast out Satan.
Luke 11:17-18. But he, knowing their thought, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
That was a very good and sufficient answer to these cavillers. It is a comfort to us to know that error is very vulnerable; there is always a weak point about it. In this case, Christ permitted it to turn its sting upon itself: —
Luke 11:19. And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges.
For some of these men had sons, who either did really cast out devils, being disciples of Christ, or else professed to do so, being exorcists, pretending to a power they did not possess. In either case, the argument was good as against the objectors.
Luke 11:20-22. But if I with the finger of God cast out devil, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him. We asketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.
This is how Christ drives out the devil, by sheer force of arms, he overcomes him, and drives him out. He does not cajole him, invite him, or persuade him to go; but he fights with him, puts forth his omnipotent power against him, overthrows him, takes away his armour, and divides the spoil. Were you ever conscious of Hugh’s fight as that? If not, be afraid of your so-called reformation, for there is no true reformation, and no true conversion, in which there is no conflict between Christ and Satan.
Luke 11:23-24. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, —
This is the kind of “conversion” which is not genuine: “when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man,” — “gone out” of his own accord, — and he may do that; he may leave a man, for a while, with the evil purpose of getting him more completely into his power afterwards: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man,” —
Luke 11:24. He walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
It was his house all the while; he left it voluntarily, he was not driven out by forge; he simply left it for a time in order that he might return to it, and retain it the more completely. Now he goes back to it.
Luke 11:25. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
There has been a reformation of a sort; the man has given up drunkenness, left off swearing, and become, in certain respects, a better man. The house is swept and garnished, but there is no new tenant of Mansoul, there is no Christ come to take possession of Heart Castle.
Luke 11:26. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirit more wicked than himself, and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
It often happens that, when men make a profession of reformation, and then relapse into their former state, they become far worse than they were before. The so-called “reformation” is all of their own doing; or rather, the greater part of it is the devil’s doing. The demon within the man voluntarily went away, and now that he comes back, he brings with him “seven other spirits more wicked than himself;” and so the man is more than eight times worse than he was before the demon left him for a while.
Luke 11:27-28. And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.
The enthusiastic woman was so carried away with admiration for Christ that she thought his mother was a highly-favoured woman, and she called her “blessed.” “Yes,” said Christ, “she is blessed; but still more blessed are they who have the Word of God in their hearts, who regard it as their own, and keep it as a great prize.”
Luke 11:29. And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, There is an evil generation: they seek a sign;
Look back to the 16th verse: “Others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.” Christ had answered those who imputed his miraculous works to Satanic agency, now he answers these others.
Luke 11:29-30. And there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.
Jonah rose, as it were, from the dead, for he was buried in the deep, in the belly of the whale; and Christ was buried in Joseph’s tomb, yet he came back from the grave on the third day.
Luke 11:31-32. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost part of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineva shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
The resurrection would make Christ the most conspicuous sign of God’s presence among the people, it would be the testimony of God to his Son that he was indeed the Messiah.
Luke 11:33-35. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they that come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light, but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
If thy religion be irreligion, if thy hope be a false one, if thy highest aspirations are untrue, what is thy position in the sight of God? Where art thou?
Luke 11:36-37. May thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light. And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
It was often a master of marvel to the onlookers that Christ went among publicans and sinners; but is it not a greater wonder that he went among Pharisees? If they asked him to their houses, it was usually because they hoped to entangle him in his talk; yet the condescension of our Master is so great that, again and again, “he went in, and sat down to meat.”
Luke 11:38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not just washed before dinner.
Not because Christ’s hands needed washing, but because it was the custom of the Pharisees to wash before eating, and our Lord broke through the customs as he was wont to do, for he cared nothing for their inventions.
Luke 11:39-40. And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fool, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
“One needs washing as much as the other. You are so careful of your hands; will you not be more careful of your hearts?”
Luke 11:41. But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
“When you are full of love to your fellow-men, and make a practice of helping them, you have cleansed your heart from selfishness, and have really washed yourself then.”
Luke 11:42. But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
How many, in these days, are very particular stout very little things, but very careless about great things! They would not violate the law of their sect or party for the world, but the law of God is of small account to them.
Luke 11:43. Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
They loved to be called Rabbi, learned Doctors of the law. Any title that made them appear great was very sweet to them.
Luke 11:44. 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.
Nobody but Christ knew how base they were. They were fair to look upon, but he knew that they were villainously hypocritical, and he therefore denounced them. Ah, dear friends, the great matter is to have grace in the heart, — to have the divine light within, in the soul; and if we have not this, vain is a fair profession, vain is everything that comes from man. If we are to be saved, we must have the grace that comes from God alone.
Luke 11:45. Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproach us also.
There was no great difference between the scribes and Pharisees and the lawyers, as this man evidently perceived, and as our Lord also soon confirmed by pronouncing upon them the same kind of “Woe” that he had pronounced upon the other false teachers.
Luke 11:46. 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.
Their regulations as to moral and ceremonial observances were like huge faggots or crushing burdens bound together, and made into a weight intolerable for any man to carry. Many of these rules by themselves were grievous enough; but altogether they formed a yoke that neither the people nor their fathers could bear. The scribes, and Pharisees, and lawyers piled the great load upon them; but neither helped them to sustain it, nor offered to relieve them of any portion of it. “Ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.”
Luke 11:47-48. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophet, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.
They pretended to have such regard for the holy men of the past that, being unable to honour them in person, they would set up monuments to their memory, and adorn their resting places with tokens of respect. Out of their own mouth our Lord condemned these hypocrites: “Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers.” In effect, Jesus said to them, “You confess that you are the sons of the murderers of the prophets. That admission carries with it far more than you imagine. You are their sons, not only by birth, but also by resemblance; you are veritable children of those who killed the prophets. If you had lived in their day, you would have committed the crimes you pretend to condemn.”
Luke 11:49-54. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shalt slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.
The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God. Truly, the blood of the martyrs was amply avenged when the whole city became a veritable Aceldama, or field of blood. It was before that generation had passed away that Jerusalem was besieged and destroyed. There was a sufficient interval for the full proclamation of the gospel by the apostles and evangelists of the early Christian Church, and for the gathering out of those who recognized the crucified Christ as their true Messiah. Then came the awful ending, which the Saviour foresaw and foretold.
Luke 11:51. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
This “Woe” is similar to that pronounced upon the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, and it was a terrible charge to be brought against them by him who could read their hearts, and who could truthfully say to them, “Ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” They ought to have helped men into the kingdom; instead of doing so, they hindered those who were entering. Are there not false teachers, nowadays, who put stumbling stones instead of stepping-stones in the way of those who are entering the kingdom of heaven?
Luke 11:53-54. And as he said these tidings unto them, the scribe, and Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
Thus they proved the truth of the accusations that he had brought against them; but all their plots and traps were in vain until the hour appointed for his great sacrifice to be offered on Calvary.