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Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

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Unless You Repent You Will Perish Luke Thirteen

Luke chapter 13 provides us with a somber message about repentance. Were those Jews whom Pilate killed and mingled their blood with their sacrifices worse sinners than other people? Not at all! You can be sure that if you do not repent you will also perish. The same was true of natural disasters. "Those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?" Not at all! You can be sure that if you do not repent you will also perish. The book of Job makes us understand that calamity befalls both the righteous as well as the unrighteous. An unfruitful fig tree teaches us that we must be fruitful and faithful in God's service. God is patient but sooner or later our opportunities to turn away from sin run out. Luke also gives an account of a woman being freed from a spirit of infirmity which she had been dealing with for eighteen years. She was unable to stand upright. Jesus said, "Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God."

Jesus used mustard seeds and leaven to teach us about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word. It is then able to grow to tremendous strength. Jesus taught that just because a person is a Jew does not automatically mean that they will go to heaven. He also showed that many Gentiles would enter His kingdom. Jesus opened the way into His kingdom for everyone through His death on the cross. But we must follow Jesus in the way of the cross by humble obedience to be in His kingdom. Jesus wanted it understood that the means to avoid spiritual disaster was to come to Him. He would have gathered them under His wings of protection but they refused.

Verses 1-9

An exhortation to repentance -- Luk_13:1-9 : Some people came to Jesus and told Him about Pilate killing people and mixing their blood with their sacrifices. It was a common held belief that disasters were punishment for sin. In the Book of Job Eliphaz insisted, "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?" ( Job_4:7 ) This is not the case for Jesus said these people were no worse as sinners than anyone else in Galilee just because of what happened to them. He said you can be sure that if you do not repent you will likewise perish. The same principle applied to the eighteen people who died when the tower of Siloam fell over and killed them. They were no worse than other people. Jesus challenged those Jews to repent of their evil ways or they too would be destroyed.

The principle of the need for repentance was illustrated with the parable of the fruitless fig tree. Fig trees normally produce fruit in about three years. This tree must then have been about 6 years old. This tree was at that time worse than useless. It was not bearing fruit and it was taking up space where a fruitful tree could grow. The vinedresser pleaded for the tree to have at least one more opportunity to produce fruit. John the Baptist had warned "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." ( Mat_3:10 ) We all must repent because God cannot tolerate fruitlessness.

Verses 10-17

A woman was freed from an infirmity -- Luk_13:10-17 : Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day. He saw a woman who "had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself." Satan had bound this woman as he has bound many today. Luke, as a physician, shows special interest in this woman and in her healing. The ruler of the synagogue rebuked Jesus for healing her on the Sabbath Day. Jesus made all His adversaries ashamed by saying, "Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" The Jewish leaders were more concerned about their ideas and customs than they were about the love of God or the concern for people.

Verses 18-21

Parables of mustard seed and leaven -- Luk_13:18-21 : Jesus described the Kingdom of heaven as when a person planted a mustard seed in a garden. The seed grows as big as a tree and birds nest in its branches. Even though the church had a small beginning it spread throughout the world. God's work grows to fulfillment no matter how small the beginning. Many might be prejudiced against the cause of Christ because they would assume some great beginning. The church started as a small seed but it greatly increased. It is strong enough to receive all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

Another illustration used by Jesus was that of a woman putting leaven in three measures of meal. Leaven is often used in a bad way in the New Testament. In Mat_16:6 we read, "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." ( Mat_16:6 ) The leaven of the Pharisees is hypocrisy. ( Luk_12:1 ) In 1Co_5:6 we read, "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?" ( 1Co_5:6 ) "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." ( 1Co_5:8 ) Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is "Like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Here leaven seems to be used in a good way to show a contrast between small beginnings and large results. The meal or dough with which leaven is mixed takes on the property of the leaven. Just so a soul changed by the grace of God takes on the likeness of God's Son.

Verses 22-35

The strait gate and a message for Herod -- Luk_13:22-35 : We do not know who it was but someone asked Jesus, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" Jesus told this person that they should "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." Many who thought they would enter in would not because they had not walked with Jesus nor did they have a relationship with Him. Jesus said, "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 you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God." Some Jews would not be in the kingdom while some Gentiles would be. This was the great reversal; Israel had always been first, now they were last.

Certain of the Pharisees warned Jesus that He had better get away from there because Herod was seeking to kill Him. Herod was sly and destructive so Jesus called him a fox. Jesus said, "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." When Jesus said "I shall be perfected" He was saying that He would have accomplished the purpose for which He came into the world. He would have left nothing undone which the counsel of God designed Him to complete Jesus was heartbroken over the condition of Jerusalem. He would have gathered them as a hen does her chick, but they were not willing. With the coming of Christianity the Jewish house would become desolate!

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on Luke 13". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/box/luke-13.html. 2014.
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