As I was reading in Luke 11 today, a phrase in verse 52 jumped out at me. Jesus tells the Pharisees, “. . . you have taken away the key of knowledge.” I looked up the Greek for the word “key” and the word “knowledge.” I found that they mean “key” (literally or figuratively) and “knowledge, understanding, etc.,” nothing profoundly different than what the English says, so I mused some more, cross-referenced and read the context. These passages are where Jesus addresses the Pharisees/lawyers of His time.
The Pharisees/lawyers were notorious for asking Jesus tricky questions to try to trip Him up while justifying themselves. They didn’t really want to know what He had to say or what His perspective was–they just wanted to trick Him so they could justify getting rid of Him. When Jesus confronted them with a “good shame message” about their wrong believing or their behavior, they became “very hostile and questioned Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him, to catch Him in something He might say.” (Luke 11: 53-54) This is typical of self-justifying, stiff-necked, un-teachable, narcissistic people—to turn a problem they have back on the person who dares to call their hand. This is the context of Jesus’ words about the ‘key of knowledge.’
So, from the context, what might we surmise is the ‘key of knowledge?’ I’m thinking it could be the opposite of who these lawyers/Pharisees were and what they were doing. What are we to know so that we “may enter in and not hinder others?” (Verse 52) Could it be the Kingdom of God’s love, mercy, grace and acceptance–characterized by humility and teachability– available through Christ’s work on the Cross? The ‘key of knowledge’ seems to be about Jesus, who He is, how He sees things and how He sees us who have received Him. So let’s back up a bit in our chapter and look at more of His words to the lawyers.
In verses 37-54 Jesus speaks of His displeasure towards these legalistic, rejecting, self-righteous, self-justifying Pharisees/lawyers who are missing the entire message He brings. He has come to bring a completely different kind of life and His way is the ‘key of knowledge’ that they have taken away, at least in their own minds as well as those whom they try to influence. They are blind, their eye is bad (verse 34) and they are seeing life through “double eyes,” eyes that bring darkness because they see neither God’s sovereignty nor from His perspective. Like Adam and Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit, and the man in James 1:8, they are double-minded instead of single-eyed. Looking at life with a “single eye” (verse 34 KJV) and believing that God is sovereign and in control fills our lives with light. The Light of the World changes how we see things, frees us from the weight of burdens that men would put upon us, (verse 46) and lives through us that we might take His light and grace to others.
So for today’s musing, I am seeing that the ‘key of knowledge’ is Jesus Himself. We can rest in knowing Him and how He sees life, as He invites us to walk in freedom and light from the attempt of the Pharisees/lawyers to burden us with their trickery and condemnation. One of the ‘keys’ that will help us walk in the light is to keep our “single eye” on Jesus and not allow stiff-necked people, or the circumstances of life, to overshadow His love and grace. With the single eye of our union with Christ we don’t see “good and bad,” we see only God.
(See October 22, 2010 blog on the single eye)
Luke 11:34 KJV–“The lamp of your body is your eye; when your eye is single, your whole body is full of light. . .”