“Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. Luke 11:47-51
The ancestors of the Pharisees had killed the prophets who brought God’s words. These religious people of Jesus’ day acted like they would have listened—like they would have been different. They honor the martyred prophets by building tombs and memorials for them.
But they aren’t listening to the Word God has now sent. They aren’t listening to Jesus. They are pretending to be spiritually open and receptive, but they are no different than their predecessors.
“…this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah…”
Abel was the first person murdered in the Bible. Zechariah was the last one murdered or martyred. (In the Hebrew Bible of the time 2 Chronicles was the last book and it holds the record of Zechariah’s death. 2 Chronicles 24;20-22)
Using his typical expressive and imaginative way of speaking, Jesus is essentially saying, you pretend to embrace all the Scriptures and all that God has to say, but just as your forefathers rejected and killed the prophets you have rejected and killed the Scriptures they brought—from Abel (the first) to Zechariah (the last). Jesus is saying from the beginning to the end you’ve rejected and killed Scripture; you don’t receive it or embrace it as your guide for life.
Instead they tried to pick and choose what they applied to life. They tried to control how it affected them by adding rules and regulations. And they were always working to interpret it in ways most advantageous to themselves. Sound familiar? Uncomfortably so…at least to me.
In what ways do I “kill” the Scriptures today? In what ways do I reject, or try to manipulate the ways God’s words affect me?
The Pharisees had this bad habit of looking down on their ancestors who had killed the prophets that brought God’s words, all the while rejecting and eventually killing God’s Word that was brought to them. I tend to do the same—looking down on the Pharisees and their rejection of God’s Word. But do I equally reject or “kill” God’s word in my life? Do I make excuses for the parts of it I don’t follow well or at all? Do I ignore the painful or tough parts of it because I don’t want to do what it calls me to?
Am I truly and without condition open to receiving God’s Word, the Scriptures, regardless of what it says or how hard it hits my soul?