A New Concern

Explore the Bible Series

November 28, 2004

 

Background Passage: Luke 13:1-35

Lesson Passage: Luke 13: 1-9 and 32-35

 

Introduction: Luke Thirteen re-enforces several of the same themes that the Beloved Physician emphasized in the Twelfth Chapter.This important section, for instance, reminds readers of the danger of Pharisaical ďleavenĒ, the frailty of human life, the value of the human soul, and the certainty of divine judgment.We will encounter similar themes in Chapter Thirteen.Luke thematically wove together a powerful and coherent message concerning the Lordís redemptive appointment in Jerusalem, an appointment that would crown his earthly ministry and procure salvation and comfort for his people forever.

 

I.                   The Certainty of Judgment and the Necessity of Repentance (Luke 13:1-9)

A.     The Tragedies in Jerusalem and at the Tower of Siloam (13:1-5)

1.      Pilateís murder of the Galileans (vv.1-3): No other record of this event occurs in antiquity, but the ancient Middle Eastern world apparently knew well of the Roman procuratorís reputation for cruelty.Galilee was hotbed of anti-Roman sentiment, and, perhaps, Pilate killed these Jewish worshipers to send a brutal message to the Galilean province. The Jews commonly held that great calamities came upon people as a direct result of their sin.The Book of Job (Jobís ďfriendsĒ), for instance, sounds this theme.Jesus pointed out that the Jews misunderstood this issue, and, unless the Masterís hears repented of their sins, they would perish like these people had. Understand, Jesus did not predict that his audience would die a violent death at the hand of a brutal tyrant: rather, he anticipated that they would meet with great spiritual ruin if they did not repent.

2.      The tragedy at the Tower of Siloam (vv.4-5): Again, the ancient historians give no additional insight into sad event.Apparently, a tower near the Pool of Siloam, located in the Southern portion of Jerusalem, had collapsed and killed eighteen people, and those gathered around Jesus knew of this dreadful occurrence. Again, Jesus emphasized the frailty of human life and the necessity and urgency of repentance.

Application:The Lordís teaching focused on the urgency of repentance.He employed a term that indicates a change of mind; a reversal of oneís judgment.Repentance and faith are twin graces.Both come to the sinner as a grace gift of the Lord, and no man will enter heaven who has not repented of his sins and placed his faith in Christ for salvation. Preachers who fail to impress upon their hearers the necessity and urgency of repentance, do so at the peril of the souls of those who hear them preach and in direct opposition to the teaching and example of the Savior.

B.     The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree (13:6-9): First century†††

agriculturalists often planted fig trees in their vineyards, and it typically took two or three years for the trees to mature.After three years, according to this parable, the owner of the vineyard decided that the fig tree must be cut down; however, the keeper of the vineyard asked the owner to wait a while longer before destroying the tree.This parable is reminiscent of Mosesí intercession for the people of Israel (See, for instance, Exodus 32:30-35), and, of course, ultimately reflects the intercessory work of Christ (See Hebrews 4:14-16).†† J.C. Ryle observed that this parable serves as a sober warning to those who attend public worship and associate with the people of God; yet, they bring forth no fruit.

There is a plainer warning still in the passage for all unconverted Christians.There are many in every congregation who hear the Gospel. Who are literally hanging over the brink of the pit.They have lived for years in the best part of the vineyard, and yet borne no fruit.They have heard the Gospel preached faithfully for hundreds of Sundays, and yet have never embraced it, and taken up the cross and followed Christ.They do not run into open sin. But they do nothing for Godís glory.There is nothing positive about their religion.Of each of these the Lord of the vineyard might say with truth, ďI come these many years seeking fruit on this tree and find none.Cut it down. It cumbereth the ground.ĒThere are myriads of professing Christians in this plight.They have not the least idea how near they are to destruction.Never let us forget that to be content with sitting in the congregation and hearing sermons, while we bear no fruit in our lives, is conduct that is most offensive to God. It provokes him to cut us off suddenly, and that without remedy.

 

II.                Jesus Healed a Woman on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17)

A.     The ed woman healed (13:10-13):As Jesus taught in a synagogue on the Sabbath Day, a woman came to his attention who suffered from a debilitating illness.The Lord referred to her as ďa daughter of Abraham,Ē and Ryle believed this designation indicated that she was a godly person.She suffered for an eighteen-year illness that left her bent and debilitated.Luke observed that the woman suffered because of a spirit of infirmity.Recall that Job, though a godly man, suffered greatly at the hand of Satan.This poor, ill woman remained faithful to the worship of God despite her great affliction, and she encountered the Great Physician in the course of her faithful observance of the Sabbath. Jesus touched her, and she was immediately healed.

B.     The opposition of the ruler of the synagogue (13:14-17): Jesus, of course, had not violated the Sabbath principle by healing the infirmed woman.The Scriptures permit and encourage acts of worship, necessity, and mercy on the Lordís Day. Christ pointed out that the ruler of the synagogue would not have hesitated for a moment to care for the physical requirements of his livestock; yet, he chafed at the Lordís concern and mercy toward a child of God. Above all, the worship of God was enhanced by this gracious act by Jesus (See vv. 13 and 17).

 

 

III. Two Kingdom Parables (Luke 13:18-21)

A.     The Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:18-19): The mustard seed, small and

unimpressive, grows into a great bush. The mustard plant grows so large (six to eight feet high) that the birds roost comfortably in its branches. The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like the mustard plant.It began as a small and seemingly insignificant seed; yet, in due time, it grew to an impressive ďtreeĒ and provided a safe haven for many who find comfort in its branches.

††††††††††††††††† B. The Parable of the Leaven (13:20-21):The Kingdom of God will not

†††††††††††††††††††††† merely grow like a mustard plant; it also permeates every aspect of a manís

††††††††††††† †††††††††being.The work of grace is like yeast that a baker places in a lump of

†††††††††††††††††††††† dough.The leaven permeates the entire loaf precisely as the grace of God

†††††††††††††††††††††† ďleavensĒ the entire personality of a child of God.

 

III.             The Narrow Way and Jesusí Lament Over Jerusalem (Luke 13:22-35)

A.     The narrow way (13:22-33): The optimistic assertions of the two parables are balanced by Jesusí response to a question asked of the Lord.Someone asked Jesus if only a few would be saved.As he did on other occasions, Jesus did not directly answer the manís query.Geldenhuys surmised that Jesus did not want his followers to focus on theoretical issues like the inquirer raised.Instead, Jesus insisted that sinners center on the urgency of the gospel.The Lord bid men to follow him without regret or hesitation.The gate of repentance and faith was open, and the Master called upon sinners to enter into the narrow way while the gate stood open. The day of the open invitation to enter the gate would soon pass.Many would plead for the Lord to open the way again, but the door of grace would remain shut.The Lordís hearers, most of them were religiously privileged Jewish people, needed to press into the narrow way quickly.†† If they did not, they would suffer a horrible retribution of eternal anguish and abandonment. Amazingly, some of his hearers sought, probably insincerely, to flee from the wrath of Herod.It appears that this may have been a thinly veiled effort to persuade the Lord to leave their region.

B.     Christís lament over Jerusalem (13:34-35):This chapter closes with Jesusí expression of grief over the unrepentant state of Jerusalem.The gracious Savior grieves over unrepentant sinners, and he delights in mercy.The Lord wills that all men would be saved and come to repentance.He is not willing that any should perish.Let us remain faithful to the Lordís word and take great care that we not ignore these truths in order that we might preserve our theological systems.

 

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