Luke 13 – Repentance, False Religion and the True Way
A. The importance of repentance.
1. (1-5) Jesus uses two recent disasters to explain the urgency of repentance.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
a. The Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices: We don’t have a record in secular history about the specific incident mentioned here. According to Barclay, there is a similar incident before the ministry of Jesus. Pilate wanted to build an aqueduct from the Pools of Solomon to the city of Jerusalem. To pay for it, he demanded money from the temple treasury, money that had been dedicated to God – and this outraged the priests and the people. When the Jews sent a delegation to beg for their money back, Pilate sent into the crowd soldiers dressed as common people, and at a certain signal they took out daggers and attacked the people asking for the money.
i. This doesn’t seem to be the same incident mentioned here, but it shows how completely consistent it was with the character of Pilate to slaughter a group of Galilean Jews on their way to sacrifice to the Lord in Jerusalem.
b. Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans: Jesus mentioned two disasters that were well known in His day. One was an evil done by the hand of man, and the other was seemingly a natural disaster (eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them).
i. We normally think of some people as good and some people as bad and find it easy to believe that God should allow good things to happen to good people and bad things to bad people. Jesus corrected this thinking.
ii. But Jesus’ point was not that the Galileans in question were innocent; His point was that they were simply not more guilty than the others. All were and are guilty.
iii. “It is true, the wicked man sometimes falls dead in the street; but has not the minister fallen dead in the pulpit? It is true that a pleasure-boat, in which men were seeking their own pleasure on the Sunday, has suddenly gone down; but is it not equally true that a ship which contained none but godly men, who were bound upon an excursion to preach the gospel, has gone down too?” (Spurgeon)
c. Unless you repent you will all likewise perish: In analyzing the issue, Jesus turned His focus from the question “why did this happen?” and turned it to the question, “what does this mean to me?”
i. It means that we all may die at any time, so repentance must be a top priority. Those who died in both of these instances did not think they would die soon, but they did, and we can suppose that most of them were not ready.
d. Unless you repent… unless you repent: By noting the ancient Greek grammar, we see that Jesus here mentioned two kinds of repentance, and both are essential. Luke 13:5 (unless you repent) described a once and for all repentance. The verb tense in Luke 13:3 (unless you repent) described a continuing repentance.
i. Jesus’ warning that they must repent or perish had an immediate, chilling fulfillment. Within a generation, those citizens of Jerusalem who had not repented and turned to Jesus perished in the destruction of Jerusalem.
ii. “We cannot say that individual suffering and sin are inevitably connected but we can say that national sin and suffering are so connected. The nation which chooses the wrong ways will in the end suffer for it.” (Barclay)
2. (6-9) Jesus illustrates some principles regarding God’s judgment.
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
a. He came seeking fruit: After the warning unless you repent you will all likewise perish, Jesus used this parable to illustrate principles of God’s judgment. The first point was simple: God looks for fruit.
i. The fruit of our life shows what kind of person we really are. An apple tree will bring forth apples, not watermelons. If Jesus Christ has truly touched our life, it will show in the fruit we bear – even if it takes a while for the fruit to come forth.
ii. What fruit is God looking for? It certainly has to begin with the fruit of the Spirit, mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
b. Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit…let it alone this year: The certain man in the parable illustrated the patience of God in judgment. He waited three years and gave it a second chance.
i. The certain man, illustrating God, did not leave the tree alone. He gave it special care. When God shows special care for someone it may feel to them like they are surrounded by manure, but He is nourishing and preparing it for fruit-bearing to come.
c. If not, after that you can cut it down: The certain man, illustrating God, was also just in His judgment. There finally would come the day of reckoning. It was not just an endless string of threats.
i. “There is a time for felling fruitless trees, and there is an appointed season for hewing down and casting into the fire the useless sinner.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Barclay drew several wise points of application from this:
· Uselessness invites disaster.
· If something only takes, it can not survive.
· God gives second chances.
· There is a final chance.
B. The healing of a woman in a synagogue.
1. (10-13) The healing of a woman in a synagogue.
Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
a. He was teaching in one of the synagogues: Though the opposition against Jesus continued to rise, apparently He was still welcomed into some synagogues – even at this late time in His ministry.
b. A spirit of infirmity: Apparently, this woman’s physical condition (bent over and could in no way raise herself up) was due to some spiritual cause. We are foolish to think that spiritual issues cause all physical problems, but we are also foolish to think spiritual issues can never cause physical problems.
i. Bent over and could in no way raise herself up: “A situation equally painful and humiliating; the violence of which she could not support, and the shame of which she could not conceal.” (Clarke)
ii. “The physical cause of her inability to straighten up has been examined by J. Wilkinson, who identified the paralysis as the result of spondylitis ankylopoetica, which produces the fusion of the spinal bones.” (Pate)
iii. She was in this condition for eighteen years. “For eighteen years she had not gazed upon the sun; for eighteen years no star of night had gladdened her eye; her face was drawn downward towards the dust, and all the light of her life was dim: she walked about as if she were searching for a grave, and I do not doubt she often felt that it would have been gladness to have found one.” (Spurgeon)
iv. This woman is sometimes used as an example of a believer who can be demon possessed. Yet as godly as she may have been, she was not born again by the Spirit of God, because the work of Jesus had not yet been accomplished on the cross. We believe that Christians cannot be demon possessed; not because they are good, church-going people, but because they are new creatures in Jesus Christ, and off limits to demonic possession and control.
v. “He must have bound her very cunningly to make the knot hold all that time, for he does not appear to have possessed her. You notice in reading the evangelists that our Lord never laid his hand on a person possessed with a devil. Satan had not possessed her, but he had fallen upon her once upon a time eighteen years before, and bound her up as men tie a beast in its stable, and she had not been able to get free all that while.” (Spurgeon)
c. Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity: Jesus spoke a word of both compassion and authority to the woman. He also laid His hands on her, giving a compassionate touch.
i. The woman went to synagogue for 18 years and remained in bondage, until she finally met Jesus at the synagogue.
d. He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God: Jesus showed His complete mastery of illness and disease and deformity, no matter if the cause were spiritual or physical. The woman was happy she decided to go to the synagogue on that Sabbath day.
i. “He might have called to her from a distance, and said, ‘Be healed,’ but he did not, for he wished to show his special sympathy with such a sad case of suffering.” (Spurgeon)
2. (14) The indignation of the synagogue ruler.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
a. The ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation: It may surprise that the ruler of the synagogue was so upset at such a wonderful miracle, but it is important to remember how strongly many of the Jewish people held to their Sabbath laws and customs. He was angry because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath.
i. “It would seem as if the demon who had left the woman’s body had got into his heart.” (Clarke)
b. There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day: The ruler of the synagogue did not have the ability or the authority to heal on any day of the week; yet he objected that Jesus did this on the Sabbath day.
i. He said to the crowd: “He had not even the courage to speak directly to Jesus. He addressed his protest to the waiting people, although it was meant for Jesus.” (Barclay)
3. (15-17) Jesus responds to the angry ruler of the synagogue.
The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound; think of it; for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
a. Hypocrite! Jesus did not respond with gentleness. With authority he confronted the ruler of the synagogue who valued extreme extensions of Biblical commands more than the compassionate and life-changing power of Jesus to heal a long-afflicted woman.
i. “Thou hypocrite to pretend zeal for God’s glory, when it is only the workings of thy malicious, unfeeling, and uncharitable heart.” (Clarke)
b. Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? Jesus’ reply was simple. If you can help an animal on the Sabbath, why can’t you also help a suffering person on the Sabbath?
i. “The word ‘loose,’ as referring to the untying of the livestock, anticipates a play on words in v. 16; the woman ‘was loosed’ (lythenai) from her sickness.” (Pate)
c. So ought not this woman: Jesus gave several compelling reasons why it was appropriate to show her mercy, and more appropriate than helping a distressed animal.
· She was a woman – made in the image of God, and because a woman and not a man, worthy of more care and concern.
· She was a daughter of Abraham, a Jewish woman, with a covenant connection to Abraham. This may also indicate that she was a woman of faith, as well as her attendance at synagogue.
· She was one whom Satan had bound, and every day is a good day to oppose the work of Satan and to set free his captives.
· She was afflicted for eighteen years, long enough to suffer greatly and to draw forth the compassion of Jesus and others.
d. So ought not this woman… be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? Jesus used a strong word in the ancient Greek language; the idea was more that she must be loosed than she ought to be loosed.
i. “Nobody had told him that she had been eighteen years bound, but he knew all about it, – how she came to be bound, what she had suffered during the time, how she had prayed for healing, and how the infirmity still pressed upon her. In one minute he had read her history and understood her case.” (Spurgeon)
e. All His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced: The woman was so obviously healed, and the ruler of the synagogue was so obviously wrong that all rejoiced in Jesus’ victory.
C. Two parables warn of corruption in God’s kingdom.
1. (18-19) The parable of the mustard seed tree.
Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
a. What is the kingdom of God like? The traditional and often more familiar explanation of this parable is that it describes the growth and spreading influence of the church. Yet in light of both the parable itself and the context of the parables both before and after, this should be regarded as another description of corruption in the kingdom community.
b. It grew and became a large tree: Many or even most regard this as a beautiful picture of the church growing so large that it provides refuge for all of the world. But this mustard seed plant grew unnaturally large, and it harbored birds – which, in some previous parables, were emissaries of Satan (Matthew 13:4, 13:19).
i. Became a large tree: The mustard plant customarily never grows beyond what one would call a bush, and at its normal size be an unlikely place for bird’s nests. The large tree-like growth from this mustard seed describes something unnatural.
ii. Additionally, trees are sometimes used in the Bible to describe human governments, and evil governments at that. In fact, this tree reminds us of the one Nebuchadnezzar saw in his vision (Daniel 4:10-16).
iii. “Close study of birds as symbols in the Old Testament and especially in the literature of later Judaism shows that birds regularly symbolize evil and even demons or Satan (cf. b. Sanhedrin, 107a; cf. Revelation 18:2).” (Carson)
iv. This parable accurately describes what the kingdom community became in the decades and centuries after the Christianization of the Roman Empire. In those centuries the church grew abnormally large in influence and dominion, and was a nest for much corruption. “Birds lodging in the branches most probably refers to elements of corruption which take refuge in the very shadow of Christianity.” (Morgan)
2. (20-21) The parable of the leaven in the measures of meal.
And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
a. It is like leaven: Jesus used a surprising picture here. Many, if not most, regard this as a beautiful picture of the kingdom of God working its way through the whole world. Yet leaven is consistently used as a picture of sin and corruption (especially in the Passover narrative of Exodus 12:8, 12:15-20). Both the content and the context point towards this being a description of corruption in the kingdom community.
i. “There would be a certain shock in hearing the Kingdom of God compared to leaven.” (Barclay)
b. Leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened: This was an unusually large amount of meal. It was much more than any normal woman would prepare, and again suggests the idea of massive or unnatural size.
i. “Three measures of meal would be about 40 litres, which would make enough bread for a meal for 100 people, a remarkable baking for an ordinary woman.” (France)
c. Hid in it: The idea of hiding leaven in three measures of meal would have offended any observant Jew. This certainly isn’t a picture of the church gradually influencing the whole world for good. Even as the recent experience in the synagogue showed religious corruption of some sort, Jesus announced that His kingdom community would also be threatened by corruption and impurity.
i. G. Campbell Morgan wrote that the leaven represents “paganizing influences” brought into the church. “The parable of the tree, teaches the growth of the Kingdom into a great power; and the second, the parable of the leaven, its corruption.” (Morgan)
D. The first and the last.
1. (22-24a) Jesus responds to a question about salvation.
And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate”
a. He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem: As Luke described it, Jesus came closer and closer to His appointed work in Jerusalem. In Luke’s description Jesus doesn’t arrive to Jerusalem until chapter 19, but He continues on the way.
b. Lord, are there few who are saved? Like these who asked Jesus, many people wonder about the salvation of others. But in His reply (Strive to enter through the narrow gate), Jesus pointed back to the only person’s salvation we can really know, asking, “Are you yourself saved?”
i. “The question seems to reflect a debate that existed among Jews at the time of Christ.” (Pate) Pate then cites two rabbis, one who said that all Jews would be saved, and another that said only a few. Yet Jesus would not be drawn into that debate. His only question was, “Are you saved?”
ii. “A question either of impertinence or curiosity, the answer to which can profit no man. The grand question is, Can I be saved?” (Clarke)
c. Strive to enter through the narrow gate: Because the way is narrow, it takes effort and purpose to enter into it. A narrow gate also implies that we can’t bring with us unnecessary things. Therefore, we must strive (the word is literally “agonize”) in order to lay these things aside and come in. The Greek word for strive has “the idea of a struggle or prize-fight.” (Bruce)
i. Many come to the gate, but then decide they don’t like it for some reason. It’s too wide, it’s too narrow, it’s too fancy, it’s too plain. You can criticize the gate all you want, but it’s a terrible thing to refuse to enter into it.
ii. “Strive even to an agony; or as they did for the garland in the Olympic games, to which the word agonizomai, here used, seemeth to allude.” (Trapp)
iii. Strive to enter through the narrow gate isn’t a call to save yourself by good works. Good works aren’t the right gate. One may strive to enter all life long, but if it isn’t at the right gate, it makes no difference. Jesus Himself is the gate; He is the door.
iv. It is necessary to strive to enter because there are many obstacles in the way. The world is an obstacle. The devil is an obstacle. Probably the worst obstacle is our own flesh.
2. (24b-27) The reason why it is important to strive in entering.
“For many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’”
a. Will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door: The punctuation supplied by translators in Luke 13:24-25 is poor. It could better read will not be able when once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door. The point is that there will come a time when it is too late to enter; that is why one must have an urgency to enter now.
i. “You will see a considerable difference between seeking and striving. You are not merely advised to seek; you are urgently bidden to strive.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Jesus previously spoke of the narrow door; here He warned of the shut…door. “Our Lord showed that there are limits to the divine mercy, that there will be those who will not be able to enter in.” (Morgan)
b. You begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us”: Many will seek to enter (in the sense of wishing to enter), but they will not be able to. When the door is open, it is open; when it is shut, it is shut.
i. There is a real difference between a mere seeking and striving to enter. A casual wish to be saved isn’t enough, because there are too many obstacles on the way.
c. Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets”: In speaking of those who are excluded from God’s presence, Jesus said they would protest that they knew something of Jesus and had heard something of His teaching.
d. I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity: Jesus warned that it wasn’t enough to know something of Jesus and have some association with Him; He had to know and recognize them.
i. Of course, Jesus knew them in a sense; He knew who they were and knew of their life. Yet He did not know them in the sense of relationship, of the vital connection of faith. His words stress the importance of relationship (I do not know you) that affects the manner of living (you workers of iniquity).
3. (28-30) The destiny of those who don’t strive to enter.
“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
a. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth: In speaking of those excluded from the Kingdom of God, Jesus said that they would be in hell (the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth), and that they would see that others enter instead of them.
i. One woman protested to an evangelist that weeping and gnashing of teeth could not apply to those who had lost their teeth. The preacher solemnly replied, “Teeth will be provided!”
ii. More seriously, “The definite articles with ‘weeping’ and ‘gnashing’ (cf. Greek) emphasize the horror of the scene: the weeping and the gnashing… Weeping suggests suffering and gnashing of teeth despair.” (Carson)
iii. We see that Jesus was not afraid to speak of hell, and in fact did so more than any other in the Bible. “There are some ministers who never mention anything about hell. I heard of a minister who once said to his congregation – ’If you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ you will be sent to that place which it is not polite to mention.’ He ought not to have been allowed to preach again, I am sure, if he could not use plain words.” (Spurgeon)
b. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God: Jesus told His astonished audience that there would be many from all over the world – from many nations – together with God in His kingdom. This was a shock to the many Jewish people of His day that had been taught that salvation was only for the Jews, and not for the Gentiles.
i. This was a radical idea to many of the Jewish people in Jesus’ day; they assumed that this great Messianic Banquet would have no Gentiles, and that all Jews would be there. Jesus corrected both mistaken ideas.
ii. These few words of Jesus tell us a little something of what heaven is like.
· It is a place of rest; we sit down in heaven.
· It is a place of good company to sit with; we enjoy the friendship of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in heaven.
· It is a place with people from all over the earth; from east and the west, from the north and the south they will come to heaven.
· It is a certain place; Jesus said they will come, and when Jesus says it will happen, it will happen.
iii. “But ye shall hear those loved voices again; ye shall hear those sweet voices once more, ye shall yet know that those whom ye loved have been loved by God. Would not that be a dreary heaven for us to inhabit, where we should be alike unknowing and unknown? I would not care to go to such a heaven as that. I believe that heaven is a fellowship of the saints, and that we shall know one another there.” (Spurgeon)
c. And you yourselves thrust out: Jesus reminded his Jewish listeners that just as the Gentile’s racial identity was no automatic barrier to the kingdom, so also their racial identity was no guarantee of the kingdom.
i. “There could hardly be a more radical statement of the change in God’s plan of salvation inaugurated by the mission of Jesus.” (France)
d. Indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last: Jesus reminded them that those who are in the kingdom, or out of the kingdom may be different than what they or others expected. This was not intended as a universal law; Jesus did not say, “All who are last will be first” or “All who are first will be last.” Yet some will, and it will surprise many.
i. “There will be surprises in the kingdom of God. Those who are very prominent in this world may have to be very humble in the next; those whom no one notices here may be the princes of the world to come.” (Barclay)
ii. Spurgeon said that there are last that shall be first was a wonder [miracle] of grace, and that there first that shall be last was a wonder of sin.
4. (31-33) Jesus continues His work despite a threat from Herod.
On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.”
a. Some Pharisees came… “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You”: This shows that not all the Pharisees opposed Jesus. These wanted to protect Him from the plotting of Herod.
i. According to William Barclay, the Talmud described seven different types of Pharisees:
· The Shoulder Pharisee, who wore all his good deeds and righteousness on his should for everyone to see.
· The Wait-a-Little Pharisee, who always intended to do good deeds, but could always find a reason for doing them later, not now.
· The Bruised or Bleeding Pharisee, who was so holy that he would turn his head away from any woman seen in public – and was therefore constantly bumping into things and tripping, thus injuring himself.
· The Hump-Backed Pharisee, who was so humble that he walked bent over and barely lifting his feet – so everyone could see just how humble he was.
· The Always-Counting Pharisee, who was always counting up his good deeds and believed that he put God in debt to him for all the good he had done.
· The Fearful Pharisee, who did good because he was terrified that God would strike him with judgment if he did not.
· The God-Fearing Pharisee, who really loved God and did good deeds to please the God he loved.
ii. “But Jesus, in fact, would leave Galilee, not because He was afraid of Herod but because He was moving according to a divine schedule.” (Pate)
b. Go, tell that fox: According to some (such as Geldenhuys) the idea behind calling someone a fox was to describe them as a “cunning but weak ruler.” It was used as a contrast with a majestic animal like a lion.
i. “To the Jew the fox was a symbol of three things. First it was regarded as the slyest of animals. Second, it was regarded as the most destructive of animals. Third, it was the symbol of a worthless and insignificant man.” (Barclay)
ii. Herod was also an example of one of those first who would be last, mentioned in Luke 13:30. At the time he sat in power and authority, but it would not last long.
c. Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected: Jesus wanted Herod to know that He would continue His work, even to its conclusion. Jesus wasn’t afraid of Herod, and He wanted him to know it.
i. Be perfected actually has the idea of “to reach the goal.” Jesus knew that before long, He would reach the goal on the third day – resurrection would be His.
ii. “I shall then have accomplished the purpose for which I came into the world, leaving nothing undone which the counsel of God designed me to complete.” (Clarke)
iii. “Looking back, as we are able to do, we know that the ‘third day’ was the way of the Cross and all that issued from it.” (Morgan)
d. It cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem: Jesus probably spoke with a touch of irony. Of course there were times when a prophet died outside of Jerusalem, but there was special irony in the fact that the Messiah of Israel would be rejected and executed in Jerusalem.
i. “Probably this was a proverb amongst the Jews, which our Savior used and endorsed. For many years Jerusalem had been stained with the blood of prophets.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Morgan said of these words, “They reveal His own undisturbed outlook upon His work, and the quiet intrepidity of His devotion.”
5. (34-35) Jesus laments over the city that will reject Him.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’”
a. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem: Jesus spoke with special feeling, repeating the name for emphasis and depth. When God repeats a name twice, it is to display deep emotion, but not necessarily anger (as in the Martha, Martha of Luke 10:41 and the Saul, Saul of Acts 9:4).
i. This deep love Jesus had for Jerusalem was with full knowledge of the city’s sins: the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. Despite that, He still pleaded with the city to turn from the destruction that would come upon it.
b. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings: Jesus wanted to protect, nourish, and cherish His people the Jews, even as a mother bird protects the young chicks.
i. “The image of a hen (Greek is simply ‘bird’) protecting its young is used in the Old Testament for God’s protection of his people (Psalm 17:8; 91:4; Isaiah 31:5; etc.).” (France)
ii. “When the hen sees a beast of prey coming, she makes a noise to assemble her chickens, that she may cover them with her wings from the danger. The Roman eagle is about to fall upon the Jewish state – nothing can prevent this but their conversion to God through Christ – Jesus cries throughout the land, publishing the gospel of reconciliation – they would not assemble, and the Roman eagle came and destroyed them.” (Clarke)
iii. This picture of a hen and her brood tells us something about what Jesus wanted to do for these who rejected Him.
· He wanted to make them safe.
· He wanted to make them happy.
· He wanted to make them part of a blessed community.
· He wanted to promote their growth.
· He wanted to them to know His love.
· This could only happen if they came to Him when He called.
iv. G. Campbell Morgan called this a display of “the Mother heart of God.”
v. The words how often I wanted are a subtle indication that Luke knew Jesus had visited Jerusalem many times before (as clearly recounted in the Gospel of John), even though he only mentions this last visit.
c. But you were not willing! The problem was not the willingness of Jesus to rescue and protect them; the problem was that they were not willing. Therefore the predicted destruction would come upon them.
i. Your house is left to you desolate: These words “Seem to predict the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in A.D. 70.” (Pate)
d. You shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!” Jesus here revealed something of the conditions surrounding His Second Coming. When Jesus comes again, the Jewish people will welcome Him as the Messiah saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”
i. “Till after the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, when the word of life shall again be sent unto you; then will ye rejoice, and bless, and praise him that cometh in the name of the Lord, with full and final salvation for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Clarke)
ii. It will take a great deal to bring Israel to that point, but God will do it. It is promised that Israel will welcome Jesus back even as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 11:26: And so all Israel will be saved.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission