Who is Living in You? Luke 13:22-30

Who is Living in You?
Luke 13:24-30

Some at-risk people would rather stay put than be led to safety. That’s what helicopter pilot Iain McConnell and the rest of his air station crew discovered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

McConnell and his crew were told to keep five H-60 helicopters airborne on missions around the clock to airlift stranded people from their rooftops and deliver them to the Superdome in New Orleans. But they were only able to help relatively few survivors. “On our first three missions, we saved the lives of eighty-nine people, three dogs, and a cat,” McConnell said. “On the fourth mission, to our great frustration, we saved no one—but not for lack of trying. The dozens we attempted to rescue refused pickup!

“Some people told us simply to bring them food and water. ‘You are living in unhealthy conditions, and the water will stay high for a long time,’ we warned them. Still they refused.”

In truth, they did not know how desperate their situation was.

The main focus of chapter 13 is the concept of “repentance.” God has given humanity His word, His promises, His commands, and His instructions. But too many people are either ignorant about His commands are they simply don’t want to take His commands seriously.

But one thing I do want to emphasize here is that ignorance of God’s commands is not going to be an excuse. In Leviticus 5:2-5, God requires Israel to offer sacrifices for sins they have committed in ignorance and have become aware of them. In Leviticus 5:17, God states: “Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment.”

Jesus tells us the same thing in Luke 12:47-48. So mankind must come to know God’s will, embrace God’s will, and obey God’s will if men or women want to be saved.

“Who can be saved?” The one who follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Around this time in the ministry of Jesus, Luke reports that a group of Jews came to Him (ver. 1), telling Him that the governor Pilate had committed an atrocious act. He had mixed the blood of some Jews with their sacrifices. Since we do not know anything further about this incident, we cannot know exactly what happened. Scholars think perhaps Pilate killed some rebellious Jews and mixed their blood with the blood of sacrificial animals, which of course would have been sacrilegious. Jesus responds (ver. 2) first by asking if these individuals think that those specific Galileans were more sinful than anyone else because they suffered this atrocity? Jesus is more concerned about the crowd immediately in front of Him who can still make a choice to accept Him as the Son of Man (ver. 3): unless they repent (turn from their sins, specifically unbelief in Christ and His gospel), they will also die (if not a horrible physical death, they will die in their sins).

Jesus adds another illustration to His point (ver. 4). Eighteen individuals died when a tower in Siloam fell on them. Jesus asks the rhetorical question if these men were worse “debtors” or owed God more for their sins than any other person inhabiting Jerusalem. Verse 5 is almost identical to verse 3. Man must repent if he is going to be saved.

People today, who often delay or excuse their own obedience, will point to someone from a distant past or perhaps someone in a different country who has not “obeyed the gospel.” From one perspective, we should not be so concerned about what other people are or are not doing. Salvation is an individual matter and we have to make sure we are right with God. If we need to repent, we must repent regardless of what someone else does. Repentance is still a command of Jesus Christ: Acts 2:38.

Jesus wants to emphasize the importance of producing the fruit of repentance (see comments on Luke 3:8) so He gives another parable (ver. 6). A farmer had a specific fig tree planted in his vineyard and he went to obtain some fruit, some figs, from the plant but there wasn’t any. The farmer speaks to the one responsible for the vineyard (ver. 7). For three years the owner has looked for fruit on this specific fig tree and has not found anything. Therefore, he does not want the plant to be using up precious resources without producing fruit. He wants the fig tree cut down and burned.

The servant suggests the owner wait yet one more year (ver. 8). In that time, the servant will give it special attention, digging around it and providing fertilizer. If the fig tree does not produce fruit after yet another year, then (ver. 9) the servant suggests the plant be cut down.

Luke records yet another miracle of healing by Jesus. Again, this one occurred in a synagogue, on a Sabbath day (ver. 10). There was a woman who had, apparently a demon, or a “spirit of weakness” (ver. 11) which caused her to be permanently bent over at the waist and she did not have the strength or ability to stand upright at all. Jesus called her to Himself (ver. 12) and told her that she was set free from this weakness.
As Jesus was stating that she was free from her spirit of weakness (ver. 13), He also placed His hands on her, touching her as He often did in healing miracles. She was immediately healed and was able immediately to stand erect. Consequently, the woman did what she ought to have done when she was blessed by God: she glorified Him.
In contrast to the woman glorifying God for the miracle, the ruler of this synagogue was indignant (ver. 14). Ostensibly, he was angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath. He insisted there were six other days in which someone could be healed (the verb “be healed” is an imperative) so that the Jews would not violate the Sabbath day’s restriction against working on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were hypocrites (ver. 15) because they treated their animals with better respect. When their animals need water, even if it is the Sabbath, they will “loose” them and lead them to water.
To draw a close parallel between the animals in verse 15 with this woman, in verse 16, Jesus uses words like “to loose” and “bond.” If the Pharisees would loose an animal that needed to be served, where was the sin in “loosing” a woman, in fact a “daughter of Abraham,” who was “bound” by Satan for a dozen years? To refer to the woman as a “daughter of Abraham” showed that she was a Jew and entitled to all the spiritual blessings that were available to the descendants of “Father Abraham,” including the blessings available from the Messiah!
The result of Jesus’ teachings caused His opponents to be humiliated (ver. 17) as they reflected on how their hearts appeared to the crowd. Unfortunately, most of them still refused to repent of their hard-heartedness. In contrast, the crowd continued to rejoice at all the things Jesus was accomplishing among them. The crowd saw these events as “glorious.”

In the context of repentance (13:1-9) and the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (13:10-17), Jesus gives two parables to encourage His disciples to think about their own reaction to His preaching. First, the parable of the mustard seed (ver. 18-19) illustrates that the kingdom can, and will, begin small. But it will grow large so that birds of the sky can nest in its branches. Even though Jesus’ followers were small at that point, the church or kingdom of Christ would one day grow to include both Jews and Gentiles and it would spread around the world. One should not become discouraged simply because things appear small and insignificant.
The second parable (ver. 20-21) relates to the power of someone’s influence. Just as a little leaven can leaven a large amount of flour dough, so also the influence of one follower of Jesus Christ can impact many, many people if they keep their influence holy and respectful toward Jesus and His teachings.

THE NARROW GATE - 13:22-30:
In verse 22, Luke makes reference again to Jesus’ plan to go to Jerusalem, which he introduced at 9:51. It is in Jerusalem that Jesus will complete God’s mission for Him, dying for the sins of mankind. During this journey, Jesus is asked by someone in the crowd if few people will be saved or many (ver. 23). Jesus challenged His audience to “struggle” or to “agonize” in order to enter heaven because the path to heaven is narrow (ver. 24). Many will seek to enter the door but will not have the strength to enter. Why? Because obedience to God requires mankind to put himself or his family last and too few people are willing to serve God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. “Repentance” (ver. 1-5) is a hard behavior to practice for too many people.
Then Jesus gives a parable (ver. 25). The master or owner of a house is preparing for bed so he arises, closes the door and locks it. There are those standing outside who desire entrance, but the master states that he does not know them; he does not know where they are from. In other words, he does not have a relationship with them. Those standing outside (ver. 26) will respond that they engaged in behaviors in his presence - eating and drinking - and he (the master of the house) even taught in their streets. It is clear Jesus is making an allusion to the Jews’ lack of concern for Jesus and His teaching.
The master will respond again, repeating himself, that he does not know them (ver. 27). That is, he does not have a relationship with them, so he tells them to leave. Jesus makes the spiritual application more clear at the end of verse 27 when He gives the reason for the rejection as the fact that they were “workers of unrighteousness.” These individuals did not serve God according to His teachings. In Matthew’s account (7:21-23), Jesus says they practice their religion without authority from God (the definition of “lawlessness”).
In verse 28, Jesus warns the Jews that many of them will be locked out of the Messianic Kingdom when it is established and, contrary to the Jewish leaders’ expectations, Gentiles will be in the kingdom. This verse anticipates the “Messianic banquet” which will occur when the kingdom is established and Jesus has relationships with those who trust and obey Him. He also describes hell as a location of intense pain and suffering (“weeping and gnashing of teeth”). The patriarchs will enjoy the banquet with the Messiah and so will the prophets whom the Jews (and their forefathers) killed: 11:47-51. The Jews (those who refused to accept and obey Jesus as the Messiah) are already being excluded: the participle “are being cast outside” is in the present tense.
The reference to those coming from the four “corners” of the earth (ver. 29) is a reference to Gentiles entering the kingdom of God. They will “recline at the table” with the patriarchs and the prophets in the Messianic Kingdom. In verse 30, Jesus reiterates a point He makes frequently that humility is demanded of human beings by God, in particular those who want to be saved and live in heaven in eternity.

Just because someone practices a form of “Christianity” does not mean God is pleased with it. Only God can define what true Christianity is, which is found in the pages of the New Testament. If a practice is not found in the New Testament, it is a counterfeit Christianity. In this paragraph and in its parallel in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus defines the practice of rituals without His authority as “lawlessness” and “unrighteousness.” It is extremely important for us to compare our beliefs and practices with what is found in the New Testament and repent of practices which are not found there. While there can be no obedience without sincerity, there can also be no sincerity without obedience. God never changed His commands or His expectations because humanity sincerity disobeyed.

Take home message: Enter the narrow gate! Jesus’ rewards will be worth it.


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