The Hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees (Continuation)
(Jesus said to the Pharisees,)  "Woe to you! for you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed.  So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.  Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, `I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,'  that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation,  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.  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."
 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,  lying in wait for Him, to catch at something He might say.
51. Zechariah was a prophet who died by being stoned in the temple of Jerusalem around the year 800 B.C. because he accused the people of Israel of being unfaithful to God's law (cf. 2 Chronicles 24:20-22). The murder of Abel (Genesis 4:8) and that of Zechariah were, respectively, the first and last murders reported in these books which the Jews regarded as Sacred Scripture. Jesus refers to a Jewish tradition which, in His own time and even later, pointed out the stain of the blood of Zechariah.
The altar referred to here was the altar of holocausts, located outside, in the courtyard of the priests, in front of the temple proper.
52. Jesus severely reproaches these doctors of the Law who, given their study and meditation on Scripture, were the very ones who should have recognized Jesus as the Messiah, since His coming had been foretold in the sacred books. However, as we learn from the Gospel, the exact opposite happened. Not only did they not accept Jesus: they obstinately opposed Him. As teachers of the Law they should have taught the people to follow Jesus; instead, they blocked the way.
53-54. St. Luke frequently records this attitude of our Lord's enemies (cf. 6:11; 19:47-48; 20:19-20; 22:2). The people followed Jesus and were enthusiastic about His preaching and miracles, whereas the Pharisees and scribes would not accept Him and would not allow the people to follow Him; they tried in every way to discredit Him in the eyes of the people (cf. John 11:48).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.
Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.