Chapter 11 begins with a different version of one of the most well-known passages of scripture. We start by finding Jesus in a very familiar setting, praying. This time his disciples happen to be with him, and as he finishes, they ask him to teach them how to pray. Jesus complies with their request and tells them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. ‘Give us each day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Vv 2 – 4, NASB)
Here we find what appears to be an abbreviated form of the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6. In this case, he goes on to expand on the reason for praying to God. Jesus points out that if you persistently ask a friend for something, you will eventually get it even if your friend first said no. If this happens with fallen people, how much more with our Good Heavenly Father give us what we need. From here, he makes the image even more clear by pointing out that earthly, evil, fathers give their son’s good gifts, how much more our Good Heavenly Father. This is why he says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (v 9)
Next, we find Jesus casting out a demon. While some were amazed at this, others accused Jesus of being in cahoots with the demons, claiming that it is by the power of Beelzebub that he is doing these things. Jesus quickly points out the flaw in their logic when he says, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a house divided against itself falls.” (v 17) [A lot of people would mistakenly attribute this to Abraham Lincoln, but the fact is that Lincoln knew his scriptures and was quoting Jesus.] In case they missed the point, Jesus explains it to them. He says, “If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (v 18) Jesus then points out to them that if they are wrong, then they are missing that the kingdom of God is upon them.
Jesus then talks about evil spirits leaving a person, and if they are allowed to return, they come back with more, and things are even worse. As he was telling this, a woman yelled out, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” (v 27) Jesus corrects her, again seeming to emphasize that it is not blood relationships that define blessing, but those who obey the Word of God when he says, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (v 28)
Jesus then addresses the need that people of his day seemed to have for a sign. His point is that those who insist on receiving signs are going to be disappointed. He tells them that “no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.” (Vv 29 – 30) We have to ask what is the sign of Jonah. Looking back in retrospect, it seems that the sign the Jesus is referring to is most likely the three days in the belly of the fish. This is the one thing that truly stands out about Jonah’s life. We would most likely correlate this to the life of Christ as Christ is 3 days in the grave (the belly of the earth) before the resurrection. This sign is there for all those who would see.
Finally, we once again find Jesus invited to dinner. This time it is a Pharisee that invites him. The Pharisee finds himself surprised by Jesus’ failure to wash before eating. Jesus points out that the Pharisees worry about the appearance, but fail to concern themselves what is on the inside. He then proceeds to give a series of warnings to the Pharisees, and then to the lawyers who were present.
The woes are: 1) concerning themselves with tithing and other rules rather than love and justice, 2) a love of power and respect, 3) being dead inside like concealed tombs, 4) placing undue burdens on others, yet avoiding the burdens themselves, 5) implicitly and explicitly approving of the sins of others, 6) hindering others from entering, while not entering themselves. In the end, the scribes and Pharisees began to plot how to trap him in what he says.
My takeaways from this chapter are: 1) to bring our request before the Lord, 2) do not look for signs, rather trust in the Lord with faith, and 3) worry about living a Godly life from within and do not worry about outward appearances and what others are doing.