47 Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, `I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,' 50 that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." 53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard, and to provoke him to speak of many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch at something he might say.
Meditation: How can God's wisdom free us from being
double-minded and spiritually blind? God sent his prophets to open
the ears of his people to hear and understand God's word and
intention for their lives. God's wisdom is personified in the
voice of the prophets, a voice that often brought rejection and
death because they spoke for God rather than for human favor and
approval. Jesus chastised many of the religious leaders of his day
for being double-minded and for demanding from others standards
which they refused to satisfy. They professed admiration for the
prophets from the past by building their tombs while at the same
time they opposed the message that the prophets spoke in God's
name. They rejected the prophets' warnings and closed their ears
to the word of God.
Jesus in the key of knowledge that opens God's kingdom for us
What does Jesus mean when he says they have taken away the key of knowledge? The religious lawyers and scribes held the "office of the keys" since they were the official interpreters of the Scriptures. Unfortunately their interpretation of the Scriptures became so distorted and difficult to understand that others were "shut off" to the Scriptures. They not only shut themselves to heaven - they also hindered others from understanding God's word. Through pride and envy, they rejected not only the prophets of old, but God's final prophet and Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the "key of David" (see Isaiah 22:22; Revelations 3:7) who opens heaven for those who accept him as Lord and Savior. He is the "Wisdom of God" and source of everlasting life.
Humility helps us to be receptive to God's wisdom
Only the humble of heart - those who thirst for God and acknowledge his word as true - can truly understand the wisdom which comes from above. [See Psalm 119:99ff: "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation."] God is ever ready to speak his word to us and to give us true wisdom and understanding. Do you hunger for the wisdom which comes from above?
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The key of knowledge that opens the kingdom of God, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"We consider that the key of knowledge means the law [of Moses]
itself, and by faith in him, I mean justification in Christ.
Although the law was in shadow and type, yet those types show to
us the truth, and those shadows depict to us in many ways the
mystery of Christ. A lamb was sacrificed according to the law of
Moses. They ate its flesh. They anointed the lintels with its
blood and overcame the destroyer. The blood of a mere sheep could
not turn away death. Christ was typified under the form of a lamb.
He endures to be the victim for the life of the world and saves by
his blood those who are partakers of him. One might mention many
other instances as well, by means of which we can discern the
mystery of Christ sketched out in the shadows of the law. When
speaking to the Jews, he once said, 'There is one that accuses
you, even Moses, whom you trusted. For if you had believed Moses,
you should have also believed me, because he wrote of me' (John
5:45-46). 'You search the Scriptures, because you think that in
them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to
me' (John 5:39). Every word of divinely inspired Scripture looks
to him and refers to him. As it has been shown, if Moses speaks,
he typified Christ. If the holy prophets that you name speak, they
also proclaimed to us in many ways the mystery of Christ,
preaching beforehand the salvation that is by him." (excerpt
from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 86)