Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’
6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?”
8 ‘“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it.9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’
Jesus heals a crippled woman on the Sabbath
10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.
14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, ‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.’
15 The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’
17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.
The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast
18 Then Jesus asked, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.’
20 Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about thirty kilograms of flour until it worked all through the dough.’
The narrow door
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’
He said to them, 24 ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.”
‘But he will answer, “I don’t know you or where you come from.”
26 ‘Then you will say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.”
27 ‘But he will reply, “I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!”
28 ‘There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.’
Jesus’ sorrow for Jerusalem
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’
32 He replied, ‘Go and tell that fox, “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.”33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
34 ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’
Luke 13 is characterised by parables, the growing opposition of the Jewish leaders to Jesus’ ministry and His call for people to repent.
The call to repent is typified by the challenge of going through the Narrow Door. ‘Narrow’ paints a picture of a space that needs to be squeezed through with very little extra room. When one thinks of going through this kind of space to get in somewhere, it strongly suggests that there is no other way to gain access. Why would one squirm ones way through an entrance if there was a wider, easier way in?
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the only One who can forgive us our sins when we repent and that faith/belief in His death and resurrection is the only means by which we can enter heaven. There is simply no other way of getting in. This is not a trite signing of a membership card asserting belief in God or having a set of laws to adhere to. It is a radical change of heart and mind that comes from God by faith. We only have to look at the synagogue leader in verse 14 to see how much needs changing. Instead of rejoicing and praising God that a woman, crippled for 18 years, had been healed, he was outraged that this healing was done on the Sabbath. Where was the person who just witnessed an end to terrible suffering? Where was the person who looked on a miraculous healing? How could he not see?? Jesus is not gentle with such people who care more for their animals than their fellow human beings but believe they are serving God.
Large crowds came to hear Jesus but how many were loyal followers?
In John 10:7 Jesus says ‘I am the door’. He is pointing to His unique divine identity and purpose. ‘The door’ is the metaphor He uses which alludes to His exclusive way of salvation. There is no other way. Anyone who believes the gospel and repents of sin is assured of entering in by ‘the door’.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You have opened up the way by which we are saved. Thank You that the way has been made clear and it does not require great intellect or achievement. You and You alone have made it possible. Lord, please continue to work in our hearts by the power of Your Holy Spirit so that we will continue to be changed more into Your likeness. Soften our hearts so that we will continue to listen to You and serve You. Help us to be Your loyal followers day by day, week by week and year by year. In Jesus’ name. Amen.