Luke Chapter Thirteen

 

v.1 “THERE WERE PRESENT AT THAT SEASON SOME THAT TOLD HIM OF THE GALILAEANS, WHOSE BLOOD PILATE HAD MINGLED WITH THEIR SACRIFICES.”

 

            As you may remember when we studied chapter nine we mentioned that these chapters of Luke’s record pertain to the ministry of Jesus in the region known as Perea.  Perea was the region east of the river Jordan and was called that by Josephus in his history of this period.  We don’t know what Galileans Pilate may have slaughtered or the occasion of which is mentioned here, for sure, because the scripture is silent.  But Jesus uses it for an illustration of the lesson he wishes to teach.

 

v.2-3 “AND JESUS ANSWERING SAID UNTO THEM, SUPPOSE YE THAT THESE GALILAEANS WERE SINNERS ABOVE ALL THE GALILAEANS, BECAUSE THEY SUFFERED SUCH THINGS?  I TELL YOU, NAY: BUT, EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.”

 

            Do you suppose that these Galileans were killed by Pilate because they were greater sinners than others in the region of Galilee?  It is the opinions of many, and was prominent during this period, that misfortune, sickness or other calamity befell men because of their sin.  He tells them no; everyone must repent or they will perish, spiritually.

 

v.4-5 “OR THOSE EIGHTEEN, UPON WHOM THE TOWER IN SILOAM FELL, AND SLEW THEM, THINK YE THAT THEY WERE SINNERS ABOVE ALL MEN THAT DWELT IN JERUSALEM.  I TELL YOU, NAY BUT, EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.”

 

            We’re told that the pool of Siloam is by the king’s garden; at the foot of the stairs that go down from the city of David (Nehemiah 3:15).  Apparently, at some point in the history of the city, probably sometime after the return from captivity a building or tower fell in this area and killed 18 people.  Jesus asks, do you think that these 18 were greater sinners than other men?  Do you think that this was some occurrence that reflects special judgment and punishment of these people by God?  Jesus, in effect says no, except we all repent we will all perish just as these did.  The only difference is that Jesus is talking about spiritual death, not physical.

 

v.6 “HE SPAKE ALSO THIS PARABLE; A CERTAIN man HAD A FIG TREE PLANTED IN HIS VINEYARD; AND HE CAME AND SOUGHT FRUIT THEREON, AND FOUND NONE.”

 

            Then Jesus uses this occasion to teach a lesson by parable; a parable very similar to that used by Isaiah:

 

Isaiah 5:1-2 “NOW WILL I SING TO MY WELLBELOVED A SONG OF MY  BELOVED TOUCHING HIS VINEYARD.  MY WELLBELOVED HAST A VINEYARD IN A VERY FRUITFUL HILL: AND HE FENCED IT, AND GATHERED OUT THE STONES THEREOF, AND PLANTED IT WITH THE CHOICEST VINE, AND BUILT A TOWER IN THE MIDST OF IT, AND ALSO MADE A WINEPRESS THEREIN: AND HE LOOKED THAT IT SHOULD BRING FORTH GRAPES, AND IT BROUGHT FORTH WILD GRAPES.”

 

The analogy is of the Jewish people.  God chose them, nurtured them, protected them, carried them through generations only to have them to continually rebel and reject his only begotten son; even later; call for his death.  God’s vineyard brought forth bad fruit, wild fruit. 

 

v.7 “THEN HE SAID UNTO THE DRESSER OF HIS VINEYARD, BEHOLD, THESE THREE YEARS I COME SEEKING FRUIT ON THIS FIG TREE, AND FIND NONE: CUT IT DOWN; WHY CUMBERETH IT THE GROUND?”

 

            The householder asks his vine dresser, his husbandman, why do we continue to nurture this barren tree?  Why do we continue to protect this faithless, rebellious people?  Cut it down, take them away.  The tree is but taking up space in the garden that could be used for other purposes.  These rebellious people are serving no purpose except to try God’s patience.

 

v.8-9 “AND HE ANSWERING SAID UNTO HIM, LORD, LET IT ALONE THIS YEAR ALSO, TILL I SHALL DIG ABOUT IT, AND DUNG it; AND IF IT BEAR FRUIT, well: AND IF NOT, then AFTER THAT THOU SHALT CUT IT DOWN.”

 

            But the husbandman, in much the same manner as Moses, when he pleaded with God for the Israelite nation in his prayer after their idol worship at Mount Sinai (Exodus Chapters 32, 33); master, but give it another year, let me dig around it, cultivate its roots, fertilize it and then it will bear fruit.  But if it doesn’t then we’ll cut it down and replace it.

 

v.10-11 “AND HE WAS TEACHING IN ONE OF THE SYNAGOGUES ON THE SABBATH.  AND, BEHOLD, THERE WAS A WOMAN WHICH HAD A SPIRIT OF INFIRMITY EIGHTEEN YEARS, AND WAS BOWED TOGETHER, AND COULD IN NO WISE LIFT UP herself.”

 

            During his teaching in one of their synagogues Jesus encounters a woman that had been afflicted for 18 years with a terrible condition.  She was so bent over and drawn up that she couldn’t even lift her head up, probably had to turn her head to look up at someone.

 

v.12-13 “AND WHEN JESUS SAW HER, HE CALLED her to him, AND SAID UNTO HER, WOMAN, THOU ART LOOSED FROM THINE INFIRMITY.  AND HE LAID his HANDS ON HER: AND IMMEDIATELY SHE WAS MADE STRAIGHT, AND GLORIFIED GOD.”

 

            She was worshiping in the synagogue; she was apparently a common sight among this group of people who came there to worship God.  When Jesus sees her, he has compassion on her, lays his hands on her and heals her.  Immediately she was made straight, her body’s affliction disappears.  This was something that she had apparently prayed for and now she glorifies God because she is healed.  But others have a different perspective.

 

v.14 “AND THE RULER OF THE SYNAGOGUE ANSWERED WITH INDIGNATION, BECAUSE THAT JESUS HAD HEALED ON THE SABBATH DAY, AND SAID UNTO THE PEOPLE, THERE ARE SIX DAYS IN WHICH MEN OUGHT TO WORK: IN THEM THEREFORE COME AND BE HEALED, AND NOT ON THE SABBATH DAY.”

 

            The ruler of the synagogue was incensed.  How dare this man heal this despicable person in his synagogue on the Sabbath day?  The Jewish fathers had spoken, the tradition of the Pharisees was plain, no one was to do any work on the Sabbath day.  The ruler doesn’t rebuke Jesus but rather speaks to the entire congregation venting his anger to all who were present.  God’s commandment to Israel is given:

 

Exodus 20:8-108Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

 

Did Jesus violate this commandment?  Was the healing of this woman work in the sense that God forbids?  No.

 

v.15 “THE LORD THEN ANSWERED HIM, AND SAID, Thou HYPOCRITE, DOTH NOT EACH ONE OF YOU ON THE SABBATH LOOSE HIS OX OR his ASS FROM THE STALL, AND LEAD him AWAY TO WATERING?”

 

            We can almost see Jesus turn to this man and say “You hypocrite”.  You claim that no work, no labor of any kind, no toil can be done on the Sabbath day.  Don’t you release your animals from their stalls and lead them to water?  When I was a boy on the farm our cows had to be milked every day.  Our animals had to be fed, watered and tended to every day, I’m sure theirs did also.

 

v.16-17 “AND OUGHT NOT THIS WOMAN, BEING A DAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM, WHOM SATAN HATH BOUND, LO, THESE EIGHTEEN YEARS, BE LOOSED FROM THIS BOND ON THE SABBATH DAY?”  AND WHEN HE HAD SAID THESE THINGS, ALL HIS ADVERSARIES WERE ASHAMED: AND ALL THE PEOPLE REJOICED FOR ALL THE GLORIOUS THINGS THAT WERE DONE BY HIM.”

 

            Shouldn’t this woman, much more valuable than an animal, be released from her affliction on the Sabbath day?  She’s been bound by Satan in this miserable condition for 18 years, was it work on the part of Jesus to release her from her affliction?  Should we not show compassion on others, their trials and troubles and their needs whenever we encounter them?

            Jesus adversaries were shamed.  They were embarrassed.  The people rejoiced because of Jesus compassion for this woman’s situation and the wonderful thing that he did, not only for her but for all of the others that he healed as well.

 

v.18-19 “THEN SAID HE, UNTO WHAT IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE?  AND WHEREUNTO SHALL I RESEMBLE IT?  IT IS LIKE A GRAIN OF MUSTARD SEED, WHICH A MAN TOOK, AND CAST INTO HIS GARDEN; AND IT GREW, AND WAXED A GREAT TREE; AND THE FOWLS OF THE AIR LODGED IN THE BRANCHES OF IT.”

 

            The influence of the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God will not be a traumatic event in the history of the world; but rather it will be like a very small seed planted in the plant kingdom.  Then it will grow to a tremendous size.  This was definitely true in the days of the apostles.  They literally carried the Word of God to every nation under heaven.  This has been approached only recently in our history by the work of one congregation of the Lord’s church, the Duluth, Georgia church through Truth for the World.  They have received responses to the radio and television broadcasts of God’s word from 181 countries.  Some of us teach through their Bible Correspondence program.

 

v.20-21 “AND AGAIN HE SAID, WHEREUNTO SHALL I LIKEN THE KINGDOM OF GOD?  IT IS LIKE LEAVEN, WHICH A WOMAN TOOK AND HID IN THREE MEASURES OF MEAL, TILL THE WHOLE WAS LEAVENED.”

 

            Jesus carries forward another analogy; that of leaven, or yeast, when hidden or placed in three measures of meal, or flour, will cause the bread made from that meal to rise.  Its power will be released and through the nature of its influence will permeate the entire loaf or loaves made from it.

 

v.22 “AND HE WENT THROUGH THE CITIES AND VILLAGES, TEACHING, AND JOURNEYING TOWARD JERUSALEM.”

 

            Jesus continues on his circuit of the area east of Jordan known as Perea and some think that he ranged far enough north and visited parts of Galilee again.  At this point in his ministry he has set his course toward Jerusalem for the final Passover.

 

v.23-24. “THEN ONE SAID UNTO HIM, LORD, ARE THERE FEW THAT BE SAVED?  AND HE SAID UNTO HIM STRIVE TO ENTER IN AT THE STRAIT GATE: FOR MANY, I SAY UNTO YOU, WILL SEEK TO ENTER IN, AND SHALL NOT BE ABLE.”

 

            Jesus is asked a question; Lord how many are going to be saved?  His answer is not to tell the questioner the answer to the question but rather to teach us a lesson about who will be saved.  Seek to enter into the strait gate, the narrow gate in Matthew 7:13 (ASV).  Many Jews thought that they would be spared from God’s wrath simply because they were descendants of Israel and God’s chosen people, but Israel failed as Paul tells us:

 

Romans 9:31  BUT ISRAEL, WHICH FOLLOWED AFTER THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, HATH NOT ATTAINED TO THE LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

 

v.25-27 “WHEN ONCE THE MASTER OF THE HOUSE IS RISEN UP, AND HATH SHUT TO THE DOOR, AND YE BEGIN TO STAND WITHOUT, AND TO KNOCK AT THE DOOR, SAYING, LORD, LORD, OPEN UNTO US; AND HE SHALL ANSWER AND SAY UNTO YOU, I KNOW YOU NOT WHENCE YE ARE: THEN SHALL YE BEGIN TO SAY, WE HAVE EATEN AND DRUNK IN THY PRESENCE, AND THOU HAST TAUGHT IN OUR STREETS. BUT HE SHALL SAY, I TELL YOU, I KNOW YOU NOT WHENCE YE ARE; DEPART FROM ME, TELL ye WORKERS OF INIQUITY.”

 

            The Master of the house is the one who controls the house and controls who is allowed to enter.  The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Luke, here is recording the teaching of Jesus in a different setting, at a different time the same principles taught by the lesson of the strait and broad way and the parable of the ten virgins where the door to the wedding feast was closed and no one else allowed to enter.  Just as we do today, Jesus taught the same principles over and over at different times to different audiences.  Isaiah gives a warning to Judah that we would do well to heed today:

 

Isaiah 55:6 “SEEK YE THE LORD WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND, CALL YE UPON HIM WHILE HE IS NEAR:”

 

There will come a time when your opportunity will be removed, either by death or the hardness of your heart that will no longer hear when the invitation to turn to God is provided.

 

v.28 “THERE SHALL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH, WHEN YE SHALL SEE ABRAHAM, AND ISAAC, AND JACOB, AND ALL THE PROPHETS, IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND YOU yourselves THRUST OUT.”

 

            Luke here records the warning that we find three times in the book of Matthew.  First in Matthew 8:11-12 where Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion; second in Matthew 13:42 where Jesus presents the parable of the tares; and third in Matthew 24:51 in the parable concerning the evil servant.

            They shall be able to see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets and know that they are eternally separated from them.  This lesson parallels the situation described by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 where the rich man could see the beggar named Lazarus who died at his gate and knew who he was.  The rich man also  understood that he did not want his brothers to come where was staying waiting the day of judgment.

 

v.29-30 “AND THEY SHALL COME FROM THE EAST, AND from THE WEST, AND FROM THE NORTH, AND from THE SOUTH, AND SHALL SIT DOWN IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD.  AND, BEHOLD, THERE ARE LAST WHICH SHALL BE FIRST, AND THERE ARE FIRST WHICH SHALL BE LAST.”

 

            People will come from all points of the compass; from all parts of the world and sit down in the kingdom of God.  This is a direct prophecy of salvation being provided to the Gentile peoples as Isaiah has previously prophesied as well:

 

Isaiah 49:6 “AND HE SAID, IT IS A LIGHT THING THAT THOU SHOULDEST BE MY SERVANT TO RAISE UP THE TRIBES OF JACOB, AND TO RESTORE THE PRESERVED OF ISRAEL: I WILL ALSO GIVE THEE FOR A LIGHT TO THE GENTILES, THAT THOU MAYEST BE MY SALVATION UNTO THE END OF THE EARTH.”

 

This was a prophecy that began to be fulfilled when Cornelius sent for Peter “WHO SHALL TELL THEE (Cornelius) WORDS WHEREBY THOU AND ALL THY HOUSE SHALL BE SAVED. (Acts 11:14)

 

            There shall be a reversal of the common order of things.  The commentators here think, and I tend to agree, that Jesus is calling attention to the fact that the children of God, descendants of Abraham, will be rejected by God, as a people, because of their unbelief and the despised Gentiles who would be brought into God’s kingdom will due to their faithfulness, due to their obedience; be elevated above those who were originally God’s chosen people.

 

v.31 “THE SAME DAY THERE CAME CERTAIN OF THE PHARISEES, SAYING UNTO HIM, GET THEE OUT, AND DEPART HENCE: FOR HEROD WILL KILL THEE.”

 

            Some of the Pharisees, making an appearance of being concerned about the welfare of Jesus, come to warn him that Herod will kill him.  This is Herod Antipas the son of the Herod the Great who sought to kill Jesus when he was born.  This Herod ruled Galilee and Perea, where Jesus was teaching and was the same Herod who beheaded John the Baptizer.

 

v.32-33 “AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, GO YE, AND TELL THAT FOX, BEHOLD, I CAST OUT DEVILS, AND I DO CURES TODAY AND TOMORROW, AND THE THIRD day I SHALL BE PERFECTED.  NEVERTHELESS I MUST WALK TO DAY, AND TO MORROW, AND THE day FOLLOWING: FOR IT CANNOT BE THAT A PROPHET PERISH OUT OF JERUSALEM.”

 

            Jesus tells them to give Herod a message.  His slyness is known, he’s like a fox, he’s a typical politician.  In fact some commentators think that Herod or perhaps the Pharisee’s themselves were trying to get Jesus to leave Perea and go to Jerusalem where he would be more vulnerable to their plots and plans. Jesus doesn’t fear Herod or any other man; he knows that the plan of God for his sacrifice will not be carried out until God is ready.  So he tells them that his time hasn’t come yet, he still has work to do and that Jerusalem is the only place that a prophet could be reasonably assured that someone would try to kill him.

 

v.34-35 “O JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM,WHICH KILLEST THE PROPHETS, AND STONEST THEM THAT ARE SENT UNTO THEE; HOW OFTEN WOULD I HAVE GATHERED THY CHILDREN TOGETHER, AS A HEN doth gather HER BROOD UNDER her WINGS, AND YE WOULD NOT!  BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE: AND VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, YE SHALL NOT SEE ME, UNTIL the time COME WHEN YE SHALL SAY, BLESSED is HE THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD.”

 

            Throughout the history of Jerusalem the persecution and even killing of the prophets was common.  God would have gathered his people under his protection and nothing could have harmed them if only they would be faithful to him.  But because they had not, now their house will be left desolate again; this time permanently.  The first time was prophesied by Isaiah and Micah:

 

Isaiah 1:7 “YOUR COUNTRY is DESOLATE, YOUR CITIES are BURNED WITH FIRE: YOUR LAND, STRANGERS DEVOUR IT IN YOUR PRESENCE, AND it is DESOLATE, AS OVERTHROWN BY STRANGERS.”

 

Micah 3:12 “THEREFORE SHALL ZION FOR YOUR SAKE BE PLOWED as A FIELD, AND JERUSALEM SHALL BECOME HEAPS, AND THE MOUNTAIN OF THE HOUSE AS THE HIGH PLACES OF THE FOREST.”

 

            But they would see him enter Jerusalem, in triumph, greeted and praised by the people; Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:10 and John 12:13.  It would be the last time that he would enter that city and there he would fulfill God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.