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Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-35



Harmony, pages 118-122 and Luke 13:1-14; Luke 13:22-25; John 10:22-42.

In this chapter we commence with section 87 of the Harmony (Luke 13:1-9), which is on the necessity of repentance. This thought is elaborately treated in my discussion on repentance (see The Four Gospels, Volume I of this INTERPRETATION). Therefore, I pause here only to say that the parable in Luke 13:6-9 illustrates the teaching on repentance in the preceding verses as it applied to the Jews. The "three years" of this parable refers to the three years of Christ’s ministry to the Jews prior to this time. "This year" refers to the time from the giving of this parable to the end of Christ’s ministry and was the last space for repentance granted the Jewish nation. This parable of the fig tree should be taken in connection with the cursing of the barren fig tree which marks the end of the space here allotted for their repentance. Then the mercy limit was passed and the tree was cut down, i.e., the sentence was pronounced though it was not executed until the year A. D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus.

In section 88 (Luke 13:10-21) we have an account of an act of mercy on the part of Jesus, performed on the sabbath day, which provoked the indignant expression of condemnation from the ruler of the synagogue because this was done on the sabbath day. To this Jesus replied with the parable of watering the ox on the sabbath, which shows the triumph of mercy over statutory law. This put his adversaries to shame, and all the multitude rejoiced because of the glorious things that were done by him. Then he gave two parables – that of the mustard seed and that of the leaven, illustrating, respectively, the extensive and intensive phases of the kingdom. The kingdom, with a very small beginning is destined to be the biggest thing in the world, and the method of the kingdom is the leavening process. The principles of the kingdom, through the gospel, must permeate every part of the world until the whole shall be leavened.

In section 89 (John 10:22-42) we have an account of an incident in Solomon’s porch in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Jews here demanded that Jesus should tell them plainly whether he was the Christ. To this he replied that he had already told them, but they would not believe. Then he cited them to his works and his relationship to his people and the Father, upon which they attempted to take him, but "He went forth out of their hand," and went away into Perea where many believed on him. In this section is to be noted one of the strongest teachings of our Lord on the final preservation of the saints: that his people know him intimately and are held by the firm hand clasp of himself and the Father, which shows that God’s people are beyond the power of the devil to destroy them. Not one of them shall perish without breaking the omnipotent grip of the hands of the Trinity. In section 90 of the Harmony (Luke 13:22-35) we have a very important question asked, and therefore I shall dwell upon it at length here because it involves a most important proposition respecting the final outcome of the gospel of the kingdom of our Lord. To a Bible class I once put these questions and passed them all around, insisting on direct answers from each one: "Have you ever been seriously concerned about the comparative number of the saved and the lost? Does the question obtrude itself often? So far as you are able to determine, is mere curiosity the predominant element prompting the question?"

It was developed by the answers that all had been concerned and often about this matter – the concern sometimes resulting from curious speculation – sometimes from graver causes. Where the spirit of inquiry is reverent, in view of the infinite God, and humble, in view of our own finite nature, and for good ends, very gentle is our Lord in replying to our questionings, and only where it is best for us do we find the barrier, "Hidden things belong to God, but revealed things to us and our children." If then we have this reverent spirit, this humility so becoming to our finite nature, if our inquiry looks to good ends only, and if we are willing to stop where our Lord’s wisdom and love raises a barrier to further investigation just now, and if at that barrier we consent in patience to wait, comforting ourselves with his assurance that we shall know hereafter what we know not now, even knowing as we are known, then I see no reason why we may not follow our great Teacher as he, in his own fashion, answers the question: "Are there few that be saved?" Let us then very reverently consider the whole paragraph: "And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets; and he shall say, I tell you, I know not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and yourselves cast forth without. And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last."

Now that the whole paragraph is before us we are first of all reminded of this saying in the Sermon on the Mount: "Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many be they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it."

Here then we learn our first lesson if our minds are docile, that our Lord’s words are often repeated, but always with a variant setting of conditions and circumstances. Wide apart are the places and yet wider apart the conditions and times of the two lessons. The scene of the Sermon on the Mount is Galilee, the time early in his ministry. The application of the paragraph cited (Matthew 7:13-14) more local. The scene of our lesson today is Perea, late in his ministry, the application more worldwide.

In Matthew 7:14 he says, "Few there be that find it." But we may not arbitrarily construe these words of our Lord to be an answer to the general question: "Are there few that be saved?" When he says "few" in Matthew 7:14, we are sure he is not referring to the whole number of the elect. He refers to Jews and to Jews of that day. Allow me to prove this double limitation. Turn to the next chapter in Matthew, where our Lord marvels at the faith of the Gentile centurion: "And the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having under myself soldiers: and I say to this one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. And when Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

This incident occurred immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and that "few" there has become the "many" here. So, then, we must not construe Matthew 7:14, "few there be that find it," with this passage. For a true parallel read together Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:29, this way: "And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). "And they shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God" (Luke 13:29).

The glorious prophecies and promises in both Testaments concerning the ingathering of the Jews after the fulness of the Gentiles, show that the "few" of Matthew 7:14 is limited even in its Jewish application. So that we may express the whole matter somewhat in this fashion: "Are there few that be saved?" Answer: Of the Jews of Christ’s day, few; of the Gentiles, not many; of Jews and Gentiles in apostolic days, perhaps we find an answer in the glowing imagery of Revelation 7:2-17. But two verses express the thought: "And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel. . . . After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, that no man could number, out of every nation, and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands. . . . These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they? . . . These are they who come out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." But we must not look on this as the final showing. This is the first fruits only. This is but the first martyr crop. We must read Revelation 21-22 to get a full view of the Holy City – the Lamb’s Bride.

So then if I were called on to answer, in the light of Bible teaching, this question: "At the judgment will the saved outnumber the lost?" I would reply by citing in contrast a Jewish opinion prevalent just before Christ was born, and a Christian opinion of the present day, and say frankly that I am inclined to the Christian opinion. The Jewish opinion is thus expressed twice in the apocryphal book of Esdras: "The kingdom on earth was made for many; the kingdom above for few," and "The number of the saved is like a drop to the wave." Such is the Jewish opinion. The Christian opinion, expressed by one of the truly great expositors of this generation is: "The number of the finally lost will compare with the whole number saved about as the criminals in jails and penitentiaries now compare with the free and law-abiding citizens of this country." For myself, without taking time just now to cite the scriptural basis of the judgment, I heartily cherish the Christian opinion.

Understand me, I do not dogmatize here, but express the deepest, maturest conviction of mind, that at the round up, the outcome, the consummation, our blessed Lord will have saved the overwhelming majority of the human race. There are many mansions in the Father’s house. They will be occupied. There is great room in paradise. It will be filled. Many indeed that were bidden shall not enter in, but other hosts will. I count much on the millennium. Even if it mean only a literal thousand years, who can estimate the teeming population this earth may bring forth and nourish in ten centuries of the highest religious civilization, with Satan shut up; peace reigning; no armies; no wars; no plague, famine, or pestilence? I am quite sure that all the population for the first six thousand years would not be a tithe of the population of the seventh thousand and under millennial conditions of health, knowledge, peace, and love. The devil banished and selfishness routed and religion reigning as Christ taught it, all the latent forces of nature developed by civilization, disease checked, and this earth could easily produce and support a hundred billion people for each generation of the thousand years. I mention this just this way because of the deep earnestness and ever-recurring interest attaching to the question: "Lord, are there few that be saved?"

Let us now take up this passage and mark our Saviour’s treatment of this dread question. The questioner here, as I think) was prompted by prurient curiosity, or to evade personal responsibility. This may be inferred from the fact that our Lord did not answer him directly. He heard him, but he answered aside to the others; and always where some good and honest motive is at the bottom of a question propounded to our Lord, he answers to the person. Seeing then that when this man asked this question, "Are there few that be saved?" he turned and gave his answer to the crowd that were about him, I believe that the question was prompted by an evil motive, though the questioner may not have been conscious of it.

It is that answer of our Lord Jesus Christ to that question, as set forth in this passage, that I wish to speak very earnestly about. Our Saviour’s answer suggests several reflections, each worthy of some notice, in its order.

1. There is an implied rebuke of the questioner. This may be fairly gathered from the answer: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Does not that seem to suggest to the questioner that there was a much more important matter to which he should be giving his attention? Does not that say to him plainly that his mind is exercised upon the solution of a problem comparatively unimportant, and especially when considered in contrast with this mightier one? The rebuke points with emphatic earnestness to the necessity of giving precedence to a personal matter. "Are you to be one of the saved? Are you to be one of the saved, whether the whole number be few or many? That number, great or small, will not amount to much to you if you are lost." Whatever the number, whatever the comparative status of the number, here is a question of great and personal interest, "Are you to be one of the saved?" This means that each one should settle the question of his personal salvation; that there is no other question comparable to it in urgency and importance. There is nothing superior in obligation. If we are not now saved we might combine all the other matters which excite public interest, from one end of this earth to the other, and the combination means less to us personally than this: "Are we to be of the saved?"

2. Following that thought comes this reflection: In the matter of personal salvation, whatever many scriptures seem to teach, there must be earnest exertion upon our part. No man believes more than I do the doctrine of predestination, the doctrine of the elect, the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation, the doctrine that salvation from its inception to its consummation is of God, the doctrine of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit at the very beginning and throughout the entire course of the Christian life. All of these I believe, without a shadow of reservation. And yet the Bible teaches that man must not sit still; that he occupies no waiting attitude; that he is not to remain in a morally passive state, and if I knew that I had to stand before the judgment bar tomorrow and answer for the orthodoxy, the soundness of the statement ’I now make, I would lift up my voice confidently and say that this lesson shows that in the matter of salvation there must be the most attentive, the most earnest, the most vigorous and the most persistent exertion upon our part. On what word do I found this? I found it on this word "strive." It is our Lord, not I, who turns the questioner from a question of curiosity first to his own case and then to the responsibility of exertion. The Greek word is agonizes. The Milton has a poem, "Samson Agonistes," that is, "Samson the Wrestler." This very good word is employed in the Greek to indicate, not only the kind of preparation and training one must make to be able to wrestle on the arena with a competitor, but the degree and persistence of intense exertion that he actually puts forth in that conflict. He prepares himself for the contest by a regimen of diet. He does not eat the things that enervate. He does not give himself up to dissipation, but by temperance, by self-denial, by practice, by continual exertion, he drills and trains his muscles – the muscles of his fingers, of his hands, of his legs, of his back, of his whole body, and when after the most diligent training the hour comes for the wrestling, then see the exertion that he puts forth! What can equal it? Every muscle is on tension and it is not relaxed for one moment. It is persistent. Some of the most expressive works of art in painting and sculpture exhibit the bulging outlines of the muscles of the athlete. And yet that is the word which our Saviour uses by which to express personal exertion in the matter of salvation. And it is the precise thought that the apostle Paul brings out in his letter to the Hebrews under the image of the race course. In view of the fact that they are surrounded by so great a crowd of witnesses, the competitors are commanded to lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and to run, and to run with patience the race which is set before them. Evidently our Lord did not employ such terms to express a passive state of mind on the question of personal salvation. Not only this term "strive," but others of like import are employed: "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven." He calls upon us to direct our attention, to call forth all our powers, to concentrate our minds, and to lay hold and to hold on, and to press to its settlement the question of our personal salvation in the sight of God.

3. The third thought is that not all who strive will be saved: "I say unto you, Strive to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able." Here it is of infinite moment to know certainly the ground of this disability. By paraphrase and punctuation we may easily learn. Note this reading. "Do you strive now to enter in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter therein later and shall not be able when once the Master of the house is risen up and the door is shut." The thought then is this: That there comes in a limitation as to time; that there is a time to seek and a time when not to seek; that there is a time when seeking has the promise and hope of accomplishment, and there is a time when if one were to put forth all the exertion in the world it would make no difference at all. That certainly is the thought of our Saviour here. It is the keynote of this very lesson. It is Isaiah’s emphasis: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near." It is Matthew’s emphasis: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out devils, and by thy name do many mighty works, and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." It is the regnant thought in the parable of the ten virgins. Those five foolish virgins tried to get in, tried hard to get in, and knocked and said, "Lord, Lord, open to us." Then let it be fixed in our minds in what the inability consists. These that did strive and failed, in what did the inability consist? So far as the teaching of this lesson is concerned the inability consisted in striving after it was too late to strive, when no good could be accomplished by it, when the door was shut, when the opportunity was gone. Then they wake up; they are aroused, and with eyes wide open take in at one appalling sight, the eternal importance of the question, feeling that outside is darkness and death and banishment, and that inside is light and life and glory. Realizing at last the great importance of personal salvation they do then seek him, they do try, they do strive, they do knock and pray, but in vain. "Too late; too late; you cannot enter now."

4. Keeping strictly to the lesson, which only presents certain views of this question, and not the fulness of it, I call attention to another feature of our Lord’s answer: Enter the strait gate. If one would enter he must try at the right place. Of what avail is it to be concerned about eternity, and what shall it profit if one exert himself from early youth to bended old age, and how much will it count in the solution of the question, that he shall sacrifice any amount of property, if he tries to get in where there is no opening? This part of the subject is brought out very prominently in all the scriptures. People who vainly busy themselves to establish a righteousness by which to enter heaven, they may show a zeal toward God, but it avails nothing if not according to knowledge. They seek to build a tower so high that from its summit they can put their fingers in the crevices of the skies and pull themselves up into the realms of glory. They seek to construct a ladder so long that when its base rests on the earth its summit will touch the skies, and up that ladder, step by step and rung by rung, they fain would climb to glory and to God. But they are never able. Though they rise early, commencing betimes, though they persist in struggling, their ladder is ever too short; their tower does not reach the skies. Their righteousness is spotted, and cannot bear the test, and at that day when they take their seat at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the finger of the bridegroom rests on the guilty shoulder: "Friend, what doest thou here without the wedding garment?"

I mean to say that no matter how much one does, how much he exerts himself, what sacrifices he makes, that if he ever tries to enter heaven except by the strait gate he will never enter. Never!

How important then to settle the question, "What is meant by the gate?" A gate or door is a means of entrance. What is the door? See the walls of heaven rise up in their impenetrable solidity, and I wish to enter in. What is the door? Where will I find an open place through which I may enter in? Following the language of the figure, this is the answer: Our Saviour says, "I am the door." Whoever seeks to enter heaven, and not through Christ, and not through the atonement of Christ, not through the vicarious expiation of Christ, that man is lost.

5. Let us next inquire what is meant by the door being shut. If Christ is the door what is meant by the inability of people to enter heaven even by Christ? That also we may easily understand. God gives to us here upon earth an opportunity; that opportunity he measures himself. We cannot measure it for ourselves. God measures it out himself. How much there is of it to any particular person only he knows. He may to one school girl give a measure of three weeks. He may to a wicked man give a measure of sixty years, I don’t know. It is wholly, absolutely, with him. Herein is divine sovereignty. This much we do know: There is a time in which Christ may be found, and there is a time in which he cannot be found. Because of that I say, "Exert yourselves, seek ye the Lord while he may be found. Call ye upon him while he is near." The passages which I have cited show that these people were trying to enter through Christ, but Christ had then withdrawn. Now then plainly, how is the way of life through Christ limited to men? One thing shuts the door, we know, and shuts it forever. If death finds us out of Christ there never will be another opportunity to us. We know that as the tree falls so it lies. One who dies unjust is raised unjust, and all the proceedings of the final judgment are predicated, not on what we do after death, but on what we do in this life. We know that the door is shut then. Our Saviour tells us of a case where it is shut before that time. He says that if one should blaspheme against the Holy Spirit he has committed an eternal sin which hath never forgiveness, neither in this life nor in the life to come, which means that while people are yet alive, before the dissolution of the soul and body they may have that door shut, and that shutting is eternal, and though they may live ever so long after that time, the door is shut and forever shut against them. Rising up early, sitting up late, knocking by day and by night, weeping as Esau wept, they then find no place for repentance. God says about Jezebel, "I gave her space to repent and she repented not." Jesus said to Jerusalem: "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

6. There are many that be saved. "Are there few that be saved?" He seems now to answer that question. So far, he has not answered it. He has desired to awaken attention to a more important question. But now, in the last of his words he does give an answer to this question. As if he said, "You ask me if there are few that be saved; I say, Look yonder toward the north, you see them coming; you see many coming. Look south, you see them coming; you see many coming. Look east, look west, look at every point of the compass, and behold them coming as the birds gathered in clouds to the ark. What mighty multitudes are these? And they are coming and entering into the kingdom of God, and they are sitting down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God, the multitude, the uncounted and uncountable multitude."

7. Heaven’s joy is its company and feast. What image of heaven is here presented? There are two elements of blessedness set forth, so far as this lesson goes. First, the company of heaven, as represented by the words, "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Second, the feast of heaven. There is one long Greek word which is translated by "sit down." It means this: "Recline at the table." They shall recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So that there is presented to us heaven, as to its company and its banquet. Elsewhere he tells us of a great supper in which many are invited, and over and over again is heaven presented in that way. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus that is the ruling thought. The rich man here on earth fared sumptuously every day. He had his feast here. Lazarus hungered here. Lazarus died and immediately he was carried up and made to recline at the table with Abraham, for the phrase "in Abraham’s bosom," means that in reclining at the table he would be next to Abraham, so that in the posture of eating, his head would touch the bosom of Abraham, as John at the Last Supper reclined on the Lord’s bosom. There is the feast of life. The hunger and starvation on the opposite side are presented in the case of the rich man. "Remember that in yonder world you had your feast, your good things. Now you are tormented. In yonder world Lazarus had his evil things, his starvation; now he is filled."

Heaven I say, in this lesson, is represented in the two features: its company and a feast, and in that company the light shining on them, the music delighting them and the converse of the good and great and wise and pure and true and noble; we may eat and drink to our fill of things which the soul has been hungering for so long, the bread of life – the water of life. It cannot but be an attraction that a certain place, no matter how difficult of access, has in it the good people of the world, the women that as daughters were true, as wives were true, as mothers were true, as children of God were true, and who lived not for fashion, not for time, but for eternity. Oh, what a grand thing it will be to see that company of women, and the men that have been self-denying, that have not said, "I live for myself, I satisfy my hunger, I foster my pride, I pander to my tastes, I yield to the cravings of my passions"; not them, but the men who have endeavored to do good, to love God, to brighten the world, all of them gathered together in one grand company. O how sweet in the next world to have that association I No evil men or women among them. No man or woman of slimy thought; no man or woman of vile affections. No man or woman but whose soul has been sanctified by the Spirit of God and made spotless and holy. That is a goodly company to join. And then their feast! When the Queen of Sheba, coming from the uttermost parts of the earth, saw Solomon’s house that he had built, and the sitting of his servants, their apparel, and the feasts that he had spread for them, she fainted away. There was no more breath in her. She said that the half was never told. But O the servants of God, and the sheen of their apparel, and their banquet, and the richness of it, if we could see it we would fall breathless before the ravishing prospect of the things that God has in reservation for them that come to him.

8. Sorrow and despair. We now come to the last thought of the lesson. When we see people coming from the north and the south and the east and the west and reclining at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, there will also be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Here are two thoughts: First, that the blessedness of the saved will be within the vision of the lost. That is certainly taught in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was not only penetrated with a sense of his own awful loss and agony; but when he lifted up his eyes he saw Lazarus afar off in Abraham’s bosom: "That miserable beggar, in yonder world, I did not count him as the dust of my feet; he had no name on the exchange, he could not even pay for his supper. Oh, to look across the wide and deep and impassable gulf, and to see Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom I Does not that double my hell?" This brings home an awful thought. What is it? The most painful thing in this world to an evil soul, is the anguish of seeing other people happy I The evil people in this world are tormented by that sight now. Mark how a man with an envious, jealous disposition will cast his eye sideways at the prosperity of his neighbor! See how it did fill the devil with malice when Job prospered! The righteous have not that feeling, but I say that the unregenerate heart has it, and one of their enduring pangs of anguish will be to look upon the class of people that they now despise, that they call fools, and to see those fools in heaven and glorified, and they, the wise ones of earth, in the depths of dark and endless damnation. How unspeakable the scorn now extended to the simple-minded followers of Jesus Christ! How the eye is haughtily elevated above them! But when you – O proud man, O scorner, O intellectual giant, drawing about yourself the mantle of your exclusiveness – when you see the poor despised people enter heaven, enter light and glory, there will come to you these awful pangs: Weeping and gnashing of teeth. You are cast out! You, that had been a governor, you that had been a senator, you that had been a Congressman, you a banker, you a great man in time; you are cast out into outer darkness, and that one that you despised is in heaven! The weeping expresses grief, the gnashing of teeth expresses both the impotence of ungratified malice, and also of despair. A wolf that has sprung at the throat of a lamb and missed his aim, gazing at his victim, now beyond his reach, will gnash his teeth. That is the impotence of malice, malice unable to reach and glut its vengeance. Then when one has striven and has failed, and sees the sand slipping from under his feet, and the opportunities of recovery gone forever, he gnashes his teeth in despair. Unglutted malice, impotence, and despair – that shall be the pang of the lost.

In that hour come certain Pharisees to him, warning him that Herod would kill him. But he told them to tell that fox that he must finish his course before any one could kill him; that Herod was not to be feared because Jerusalem was the place where the prophets perished. Then he pronounced the doom and desolation of Jerusalem and that they should not see him again until they should be prepared to serve him, when all the Jews as a nation should be converted. Then they will say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

The incident of dining with a Pharisee (Luke 14:1-24) and the lessons growing out of it were very instructive and valuable. The healing of the man with the dropsy and his defense is the first item of interest. The Pharisees were watching him and seeking an occasion to accuse him, but Jesus here anticipated their accusation by raising the question of the lawfulness of healing on the sabbath day, and seeing that he had thus anticipated their objection they held their peace. Then Jesus took the man, healed him, and defended the act by an appeal to their own custom of helping lower animals on the sabbath day. From the occasion comes also the parable of the seats of honor, which shows that the host should designate the relative places of the invited guests and not the guests themselves; or, in a word, this parable teaches that there is no place of conceit in the kingdom of God; that the subjects of the kingdom should be humble and await the call of the Master to promotion. Then follows a second parable growing out of the same occasion, to the end that acts of benevolence should be toward those who are needy, and that those who do them should look to the Lord for the reward which will be bestowed at the resurrection of the just. The third parable growing out of this occasion is the parable of the great supper. This parable shows the vain excuses for not accepting Christ and is one of our Lord’s master strokes at the Jews. They are the ones who were bidden first, but their vain excuses provoked the Lord to denounce them and to send out after the poor and needy, and then again to go into the highways and hedges, everywhere and for everybody, that the Lord’s house should be filled. But the Jews who had the first chance at the gospel were rejected because they rejected him.

In section 92 of the Harmony (Luke 14:25-35) we have an impressive lesson on the cost of discipleship. The renouncing of everything which is most dear to the individual and cross-bearing are the essentials to being a disciple of our Lord. He does not mean here that one must literally hate his earthly relations, but that no earthly, or human relation can come between the disciple and his Lord. It is a figure of speech by which one extreme is counteracted by another. Then in view of such cost of discipleship our Lord gives two parables showing that one should consider well the step when he would enter upon discipleship to him. This section closes with another stroke at the Jews. They had been the salt of the earth, but now, since they had lost their savor, they were fit only for the refuse heaps of the world.


1. What is the relation between the parable of the barren fig tree and the preceding teaching on the necessity of repentance?

2. Explain the meaning of this parable and show its connection with the incident of cursing the barren fig tree and the destruction of Jerusalem.

3. Give an account of the healing in the synagogue (Luke 13:10-17) and the controversy growing out of it.

4. What is the meaning of the two parables, the mustard seed and the leaven?

5. Give an account of Jesus’ controversy with the Jews in Solomon’s porch.

6. What great and consoling doctrine here is taught by Christ and how is it here set forth?

7. What important question raised in Luke 13:22-35 and why is it important?

8. What can you say of the general interest in this question and the causes for it?

9. In what spirit should we approach the solution of such problems, and with what assurance may we come to them in such a spirit?

10. In what particular does this passage remind us of the Sermon on the Mount?

11. What is the first lesson from this comparison with the Sermon on the Mount, and what is the variant setting of conditions and circumstances?

12. To whom does the "few" of Matthew 7:14 refer and what is the proof?

13. Where do we find and what a true parallel to Luke 13:29?

14. What was the testimony of the prophets on this question, how may we express the whole matter, and what was the testimony of Revelation 7:2-17; 21-22?

15. Contrast a Jewish opinion just before Christ was born and a Christian opinion of the present time on this point.

16. When, perhaps, will most of the elect be saved, and what are the conditions then conducive to their salvation?

17. What prompted the questioner here to ask this question and what is the evidence?

18. What is the implied rebuke of the Saviour here? Discuss.

19. What is here taught as to personal exertion in one’s salvation? Discuss,

20. Will all who strive to enter be able to do so? Why? Discuss and illustrate.

21. What other limitation here and what is the door?

22. What is meant by the door being shut? Discuss.

23. Then what is our Lord’s answer to the question?

24. What image of heaven is here presented? Illustrate.

25. What can you say of the attractions of heaven here pictured?

28. What is the contrast with this condition of the saved as represented in the lost, and what will then constitute the horrors of the lost? Illustrate.

27. What warning came to Jesus just here from certain of the Pharisees, what his reply and why?

28. What sentence did he here pronounce and what great prophecy did he give in this connection?

29. What issue arose when Jesus dined with the Pharisee (Luke 14:1-24), how did Jesus anticipate their objection and how did he defend the act afterward?

30. What is the parable of the seats of honor, and what does it illustrate?

31. What is the second parable growing out of this occasion and what its lesson?

32. What is the parable of the great supper and what in detail does it illustrate?

33. What is our Lord’s teaching on discipleship and what is the meaning of his language in this instance?

34. How does our Lord illustrate the caution one should have when he enters upon discipleship to him?

35. What is the meaning and application of Christ’s illustration of the salt here?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 13". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/luke-13.html.
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