Repent or Perish (13:1-9)
1 In Luke 12:49-59, Jesus had been teaching the people about the signs of the end of the world. In this section, Jesus urges men and women to repent before it is too late.
Some time earlier some Jews from Galilee had been sacrif icing at the temple in Jerusalem, and Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, had ordered them to be killed. He had mixed their blood with their sacrifices. It is not known why Pilate did this. Pilate was known to be a very cruel man.
2-3 This incident was reported to Jesus. Most Jews in Jesus’ time supposed that if such a calamity befell a person it meant that he was very sinful and that the calamity was a punishment from God. But Jesus said that this was not so.28 These Galileans were no worse sinners that any other Jews. Indeed, the calamity that fell on those Galileans was a warning to all other Jews that if they did not repent, the same kind of destruction would fall on them. (We know now that the Jews did not repent, and that forty years later all those living in Jerusalem were killed by the Roman army.)
4-5 Then Jesus Himselfgave the example of another catastrophe that killed eighteen people: a tower fell on them. But those eighteen people were no more guilty in God’s sight than all the other unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem. Those other Jews, too, would be destroyed.
6-7 But God was giving the Jewish nation more time to repent. He was delaying the destruction that was about to fall on them. To show this, Jesus told a parable about a man who planted a fig tree. The man represents God, and the fig tree represents the Jewish nation.29 Like the barren fig tree in the parable, the Jewish nation had not borne any fruit of repentance and righteousness.
Therefore, the man said to the gardener, “Cut it down” (see Matthew 3:10; 7:19). The tree was not only doing no good; it was doing harm. It was preventing other things from growing, because it was using up the soil.
It is the same with men as it is with trees. Men who do not do good usually do harm by their bad example. Men either do good—or they do harm.
8-9 But the gardener said to the man, “Give the tree more time. Give it one more year.” Some Bible scholars think that the gardener represents Christ; in which case, Christ was asking the Father to delay the punishment of the Jewish nation in order to give them time to repent.
In the same way, God is today showing mercy to men. He is giving all men and women more time to repent. But He will not delay forever (see 2 Peter 3:3-4,9-10 and comment). Our warning to all men today is the same as it was in Jesus’ time: Repent—there is not much time left. When Christ comes again, it will then be too late.
We too, like the gardener, can pray to God that men might have more time to repent. We are not commanded to pray that Christ come quickly—only that He come (Revelation 22:20).
But notice what the gardener must do in the meantime. He must cultivate and fertilize the barren tree. That is, we must not only pray that men might have more time to repent, but we must at the same time share with them the Gospel of Christ and actively encourage them to repent.
A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath (13:10-17)
10-14 This story of Jesus healing the crippled woman on the Sabbath is similar to His healing of the man with the withered hand (see Mark 3:1-3 and comment). This woman was a daughter of Abraham (verse 16), that is, a Jew, and she had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. Satan had caused her deformity.30
15-17 When the Jews objected to His healing the woman on the Sabbath, Jesus called them hypocrites. If a sheep fell into a pit on the Sabbath, they would pull it out. Are sheep and other animals more valuable than humans? (see Matthew 12:11-12; Mark 3:4-6; Luke 14:1-6 and comments). If it is okay to untie or loose animals on the Sabbath so that they might drink, then surely it is also okay on the Sabbath to loose a sick person from Satan’s bonds.
The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast (13:18-21)
(Matthew 13:31-33; Mark 4:30-32)
18-19 See Mark 4:30-32 and comment.
20-21 See Matthew 13:33 and comment.
The Narrow Door (13:22-30)
22-23 Although many people believed that Jesus was a prophet and a miracle worker, not many believed that He was the Savior, the Messiah. Most people did not repent and believe in Him. Someone, having noticed that only a few people followed Him, asked, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”31
24 Jesus didn’t answer the question directly. Instead He said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many … will try to enter and will not be able to. Don’t ask how many are going to be saved. Ask only if you yourself are going to be saved. Before you worry about others, make sure that you yourself have entered through the narrow door to heaven” (see Matthew 7:13-14 and comment).
25 Jesus’ meaning is this: To get to heaven we must all go through the “narrow door.” It is not easy to go through. We must make every effort to go through. And we must not delay. Once the door is shut, it will be too late to enter. We must go through the door while it is still open. Because the time will come when Jesus will return and shut the door. Then we will have lost our chance (see Matthew 25:6-13 and comment).
Until Jesus comes again, there is still opportunity for all men to enter the narrow door. It is open to all who repent and believe. … knock and the door shall be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). Only do not delay. Make every effort to enter while there is still time.
When Jesus comes again in power and glory, many will at that time try to get through the door. They will realize that He is indeed the Savior, the Son of God. But it will be too late. He will answer: “I don’t know you.”
26-27 People at that time will say to Jesus, “We ate and drank with you. We went to church. We heard your word. We called out to you, ‘Lord, Lord’” (see Matthew 7:21-23 and comment). At that time the Jews of Jesus’ time will also say: “We are Jews just like you. We are Abraham’s descendants. We are God’s chosen people. Surely we have a place in the kingdom of heaven.” But Jesus will say to all of them, “You did not truly believe in me. I don’t know you.”
28-30 Then Jesus said to the Jews who were standing around listening, “You will weep on that day. Because you did not believe, people from the east and west and north and south—that is, the Gentiles—will be given your place in the kingdom of God (see Matthew 8:11-12 and comment). You thought you were first; but in the end you will be last. You thought you were saved; but in the end you will be lost” (see Mark 10:31 and comment).
Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem (13:31-35)
31 While Jesus was still in Galilee, some Pharisees warned Him to leave the district, because King Herod, the ruler of Galilee, wanted to kill Him.
32 But Jesus despised Herod. Herod had murdered John the Baptist. He had power and he was crafty, like a fox. But he had no power to stop Jesus. Jesus had His work to do before He died. “Today and tomorrow—that is, in the time remaining—I will work, and on the third day I will reach my goal.” Jesus’ goal was to die and to be resurrected. It was through His death that His goal of saving men from their sins would be completed (see Mark 10:45 and comment).
33 No threat stopped Jesus from doing God’s will. He knew He must be killed, but it would not be in Galilee by Herod. Prophets were killed in Jerusalem. It was only the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem that could condemn prophets to death. And Jerusalem was not under Herod’s jurisdiction.
34-35 See Matthew 23:37-39 and comment.