Bible Notes Online - Luke 13 - ESV

v1-5: Jesus addressed the problem of suffering. Behind these words, and the rest of this chapter, is the theme of Israel's persistent unbelief, and their rejection of the Messiah.

Suffering may occur through the actions of a man, like Pilate here, or by accident, when the tower fell. Either way, suffering is presented as a normal part of human life. The key is our response. The Lord said that the first response is repentance towards God. The Lord presented His argument with authority and challenge, but not without concern for the people.

v6-9: Behold the goodness and severity of the Lord; a parable of Israel's unfaithfulness. The Lord was disappointed by the lack of fruit. He comes looking for and expecting fruit (Is 5.4; Matt 21.18-19, 34). "One more year"; the Lord is long-suffering, but this does not go on for ever. In time, the nation of Israel was rejected, and the church grafted into Christ.

v10: A common Sabbath day incident. Jesus taught in the synagogues.

v11: The woman was bound by Satan, in a demonically inspired condition. Her condition reflected the heart of the synagogue ruler, but also the nation of Israel as a whole.

Although her condition was serious, and long-lasting, her sickness did not prevent her from attending the Synagogue.

v12-13: Jesus immediately dealt with her condition, without invitation. She responded in praise to God. We may look forward to the day when Israel is once more restored to its relationship with God.

v14: The synagogue ruler criticised Jesus, even quoting Scripture at Him.

v15-16: The Lord's rebuke, "Hypocrites!" His words were directed not only at the synagogue ruler, but at all the others who agreed with him. As in 6.9, works of mercy and necessity should not be neglected on the Sabbath day. J C Ryle says that the Sabbath 'was appointed to promote man's best and highest interests, and not to debar him of anything that is really for his good.'

Further, if our understanding of Scripture prevents us from doing good, then it is likely to be a wrong understanding. Another example is in Mark 7.9-13.

v17: Jesus' ministry during this period was more confrontational. His enemies were silenced and humiliated. The common people doubtless enjoyed this, but many of them never really trusted in Him.

v18-21: Parables about the kingdom of God, but which illustrate spiritual conflict. God is at work in our lives, but the enemy is set on frustrating that work. Certainly within Israel, there was a mixed response to Christ. The kingdom of God is described as having a mixed condition in this age; the words here (found also in Matt 13.31-32) indicate the current state of the kingdom, not its future state. We should also avoid spiritualizing the Lord's words as descriptive of the church, and promising some uninterrupted growth in numbers and power.

The birds of the air are from Satan, the prince of the power of the air. They nest in the branches of the mustard tree, eating and damaging fruit, bringing a bad influence.

The yeast is sin's work, permeating the whole loaf. See Mark 8.15, where Jesus referred to the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. The kingdom of God becomes corrupted; compare 2 Cor 11.2-3. A little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Cor 5.6); bad influences do spread, like weeds in a garden.

Even so, the kingdom of God is something gradual and unseen, bringing fruitfulness, usefulness, and Christ-likeness.

v22: Christ's continuing journey. During this period there were fewer miracles, but more teaching. The teaching presents an ongoing challenge to follow Christ.

v23: This teaching made an impact upon the people's thinking, as they realised that not everyone would be saved, even from Israel. Often the crowds, having enjoyed the miracles, or even the battles with the religious leaders, dwindled away as the challenge to discipleship and commitment was brought. Luke refers to a question from an unknown person, perhaps a self-righteous Jew, implying that no Gentiles would be saved. The Lord's response is not directly to him, but to those with Him. The man's spoken question reflected the unspoken questions of others.

v24: Salvation brings both cost and urgency. The command is "make every effort to enter", seeking the things of Christ. Without such commitment, the people would neglect Christ, and pursue other things. Further, those who strive to enter will find themselves among a very few, even alone. The unpopularity of the way of Christ must not prevent us from pursuing it.

v25: The alternative is to "stand outside", missing out on great salvation. Again, Christ's words were not just general ideas, but directed at those around Him. The words in this verse are like a parable, where the owner of the house closes the door. (It may be that the illustration is of a wedding feast.)

The door, and the narrow door; Christ Himself, the only way to God. Our confidence is that Christ knows those who belong to Him, Matt 7.23; John 6.65.

v26-27: Some had met Jesus, and were blessed by Him; others were more involved (Matt 7.21-23), but as evil-doers, or workers of iniquity, they are outside of Christ.

v28: Some Jews are "thrown out", they will miss out on the kingdom of God. These were uncomfortable words for those who assumed that their ancestry would guarantee them salvation.

Here, the kingdom of God is presented as something future; in previous verses, it is something in their present experience.

v29: Luke refers to the feast of the kingdom of God. In the gospel, the Lord ate with His disciples; such meals were a foretaste of the glorious eternal feast.

v30: The first, the Jewish people, would be last. Others would come from throughout the world, i.e: Gentiles, and enjoy God's blessings, but those invited who rejected would miss out.

v31-33: Christ had no fear of man. He continued steadfastly to Jerusalem, knowing what awaited Him there.

v34-35: Deep concern for a disobedient people. Christ would die in Jerusalem, the city that would reject Him.