Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-17

  1. Intro:
    1. Outline: Is there Justice in this world? - Are you concerned with Human Needs?
    1. Read 1-5 then add contemporary examples:
      1. “Do you suppose that those Amish girls in that little schoolhouse were worse sinners than all other Pennsylvanians, because they suffered such things?”
      2. “Or those 2,749 on whom the twin towers in Manhattan fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in New York?”
        1. What did Jesus say?
        2. God’s judgment upon them? Some said yes!
    3. The reference is to a massacre in the temple, typical of Pilate’s brutality.
      1. This happened early in Pilate’s administration, & before Jesus began His ministry.
      2. These Galileans were followers of Judas of Galilee an insurgent leader (Acts 5:37) [he tried to free his country from the Romans]
      3. The historian Josephus tells us after Judas’ death his followers came to Jerusalem to the feast thinking the whole incident would be forgotten by the Roman officials. Pilate seems to have been informed of their presence in the city & so he had them captured & executed.
      4. “Their blood mingled w/their sacrifices” meant they were slain on the same day as the animals which they brought to he feast.
    4. The self-righteousness of reporters of the incident at the Temple assumed the Galileans got what they deserved!
      1. But Jesus shows, “Personal Disaster doesn’t equal Personal Sin!”
    5. I’m sure they were trying to entice Jesus to denounce Pilate, instead He turned their verbal gun around, pointing it back at them with a pregnant parable.
    6. A TUMBLING TOWER! (4,5)
    7. The collapse of the Tower of Siloam killed 18 residents of Jerusalem.
      1. Explain the Towers around the walls of Jerusalem.
        1. 3 Types: Stand alone(vineyard & along highways); a defense tower as part of city walls; large hallow structure to make up city gate.
    8. Many assumed the construction accident at the tower was a divine judgment on workers willing to be paid with divine money. (Shepherds Notes)
      1. Jesus pointed out that in both cases the victims of these tragedies were not especially evil!
    9. Q: How should we respond during a tragedy/crisis? [Listen, Love, Lead]
      1. [1] Listen Attentively! (1st be God’s ears before you’re His mouth)
      2. [2] Love Unconditionally! (any race, creed, religion)
      3. [3] Lead Sensitively! (to the One who cares for them the most)
    10. DIGGING & FERTILIZING! (6-9)
    11. This parable complements the above teaching.
    12. Vineyards were not devoted exclusively to vines. Fruit-trees of various kinds were planted within their limits. This was done when a winemaker desired a subtle addition of another flavor, such as apple, or in this case, fig, in the wine. It was common knowledge that wine carried within its bouquet and taste, a hint, or subtle bouquet, of its neighboring plants and those plants that made use of the soil prior to the vine. (Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible.)
    13. The owner had every right to expect fruit after 3 years.
      1. In this case I don’t believe he is speaking to believers bearing the Fruit of the Spirit but to unbelievers who should bear fruit worthy of repentance (e.g. Mt.3:8 repentant fruit? i.e. humility, brokenness)
      2. He ordered it cut down, not only because it was useless but also because it exhausted the soil.
      3. The vinedresser interceded to give the tree 1 last opportunity.
      4. A visible change must be seen in the life of one who claims to trust Messiah. If there is no visible change that person, like the figless fig tree, is judged. (Walvoord; The Bible Knowledge Commentary.)
    14. The parable’s point…although God is patient & forbearing, continued refusal to repent spells certain doom!
      1. No issue is more urgent than the need to repent; the alternative is inevitable judgment!
    15. The real question isn’t “Why do people die in tragic & seemingly meaningless ways?” but “Why does God keep me alive?”
      1. Instead of asking, “Why did others die?” we should ask, “Is it worth it to God for me to be alive?”
      2. Am I really worth it? Am I bearing fruit, or just taking up space?
      3. Q: Why should The Keeper of the vineyard plead for it 1 more year?
      4. Q: Why did He plead for you & I the year before we were saved?
      5. Maybe this morning he is pleading with the Father for you?
        1. “Father, let him/her have 1 more sickness; 1 more conviction on the conscience, 1 more failure, 1 more breakdown. Maybe then they will yield, their heart softened?”
      6. Oh & remember in the parable, the gardener only asks to have the tree spared, but Jesus pleads. And not only with His mouth but with his pierced hands & feet, & side!
        1. And those pleas have moved the heart of God, & you are still spared! [Spurgeon]
    16. Dig & fertilize – I learned a wonderful fable this week.
      1. A bird froze in flight & went thud to the ground. A cow came along & dumped (what cows dump) right on the bird. This warmed & then thawed the bird out. The bird started to whistle & a cat heard him dug him out of the dung…& promptly ate him.
        1. [1] Not everyone that dumps on you is your enemy!
        2. [2] Not everyone that digs you out of manure is your friend.
      2. Maybe this is your year? Do you feel Gods shovel digging up things in your life & bringing them to the surface? - Temperature heating up these days? - Does your life stink? [repeat 1 & 2; & share #3]
        1. [3] While in manure, keep your mouth shut!
    17. “If yesterday is a canceled check, & tomorrow is a promissory note, then today is the only cash you have, invest it wisely!”
      1. Repent while there is opportunity!
    1. ​​​​​​​A WOMAN GLORIFIES CHRIST! (10-13)
    2. (10) She was in the place of worship at the right time.
      1. If anyone had an excuse to be absent, it was her.
        1. Yet often the most infirmed are the most regular.
        2. Satan bound her for 18 years but she wasn’t going to miss worship! ☺ [show that to your kids/husband next time]
      2. Q: What would she have missed if she wasn’t there that day?
      3. Some have called this “morbus sabbaticus” or Sunday sickness.
        1. It attacks at certain hours on Sunday, but recovery is rapid. Symptoms vary, but patient can always sleep well night before & can always eat hearty Sunday dinner or brunch shortly after acute attack! I is generally called “indisposition”…indisposed toward church! [but not this woman!]
    3. A spirit of infirmity – literally a spirit which had caused infirmity(disease).
      1. Indicating supernatural power behind physical trouble.
        1. It isn’t always this way.
    4. For 18 years she had been unable to walk erectly.
      1. Erectness of human form is a unique characteristic! No animal completely so
      2. Greek word for man = “upward looking”.
      3. Interesting, some have bent bodies but right souls; & others have perfect bodies but bent souls!
    5. Jesus saw her, called her, said to her, & touched her.
      1. Jesus is in the middle of teaching. Women are on the other side of the room. Yet, he is drawn to this poor women’s need.
      2. What a sharp eye! [What do you have a sharp eye for?]
        1. Some have a sharp eye for building defects(walls off square, out of code); Some keen observer of nature, wildlife; Some like artists have a keen awareness for color, shadowing, perspective; A doctor has the knack for noticing eyes, skin coloration, a spot that wasn’t there before; A detective observes peoples behavior
      3. May we develop Christ’s keen eye to see suffering!
        1. Sympathetic resonance! {cords of sympathy, vibrate in our hearts}
    6. (13) Immediately – this word indicates immediateness & permanence.
      1. Our Savior now can affect immediate, permanent cure for spiritual ills of long standing! (Griffith Thomas; pg.225) ☺
    7. Christ still sees; still is ready, willing, & able; still hears; still calls; still gives - for sins guilt(Pardon), for sins bondage(Power), for sins defilement(Purity).
    9. This action frothed the ruler of the synagogue.
      1. Indignation rather than reflection!
      2. Again proving the old adage, “Little pots soon boil!”
      3. He said there are 6 days for work, come & be healed on those days!
      4. Q: If she came back Monday could the ruler have healed her?
      5. Make up your mind, you want to see a miracle or you don’t?
      6. Q: How many needy people come to church looking for love & help, & go away disappointed?
    10. (11) Bent over – Medical word for curvature of the spine(RWP).
    11. (12) Loosed – (LKGNT) the perfect indicates “you have been freed & are in the state of freedom.”
      1. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal.5:1)
        1. See Gal.5:1 &13(how not to use our freedom)
      2. Yet so often we still find ourselves still enslaved by our jobs, the clock, our debt.​​​​​​​
      3. “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (Jn.8:36)
      4. “You will know the truth, & the truth will set you free.” (Jn.8:32)
      5. “Whatever else Jesus came to do, 1 thing is clear - He came to set us free!” (Erwin McManus; Uprising, pg.11)
      6. God has been misrepresented as a divine legalist, eternal killjoy. One who spends His eternity making designer straightjackets & molding shackles just for you! (Erwin McManus; Uprising, pg.11)
        1. But God isn’t a warden but a deliverer!​​​​​​​
    12. (15) Jesus labeled his response hypocrisy: “Outward show”.
      1. This man was so caught up in the forms and traditions that he lost sight of people!
      2. The ruler of the synagogue was a hypocrite because he treated animals better than he treated people.
        1. He would think nothing of untying his ox on the Sabbath and leading it to drink. (Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher's commentary. Includes index. (683). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.)
      3. He would rather hundred people suffered than one rule be broken!
      4. He so shackled the people with rules & regulations that they were all bowed down with burdens, just like this woman!
      5. So he continues to perfect the art of being an echo rather than a voice!
    13. (16) Satan has bound – As in Job’s case he was limited.
    14. He might bend her toward the grave, but he could not bend her into it. (Spurgeon At His Best; #1835)
    15. (17) It will be no different in the end: Some will be put to shame, & others will rejoice for all the glorious things He has done!

Verses 18-35

  1. Intro:
    1. City Event – On behalf of Dean & myself “Thank you to all the helpers”.
    2. I felt it was Our Harvest in the Park. Healthy, safe environment. Great feed back from those working & walking around.
      1. Gal at Starbucks, “Hey I hear your church is helping out the city, see you when I get off work.” [Many compliments]
    3. Life’s little Miracles #101 – Nick & Monique, & Jacob(3).
      1. Fell out of 2 story window (explain plastic trash cans cushioned fall)
    4. A Parable about Parables! - Imagine Jesus out in our parking lot this morning speaking to a huge crowd saying, “Inside is a stage with things on it” - Then a small group pulled him aside & ask to see it - He takes them inside & sits in the sound booth where are lighting board is.
      1. Slowly He turns one of the 12 sliders on at a time - thus revealing the stage & all that was on it!
      2. Each Light sheds new color, & new illumination, revealing a different part of the stage, & its contents. - So, each new Parable sheds new light on a different part of the Kingdom.
      3. The stage was always set (kept secret), but now the lights are turned on!
    5. Kingdom” - refers to the kingly rule of God in the hearts & lives of people of faith. As it begins w/the individual, it will reach a future climax when He returns.
  2. GOD’S KINGDOM IS LARGE! (18,19)
    1. ​​​​​​​Both of these parables teach about the expansion(growth) of the kingdom.
    2. A couple of different ideas on these 1st 2 parables.
      1. Possible birds & yeast represent evil in the church/kingdom.
      2. Possible it is simply pointing to the growth of His kingdom because of the concern of its humble beginnings.
    3. MUSTARD SEED! (18,19)
    4. Is there going to be any success in your work?
    5. God’s kingdom will grow large from humble beginnings.
      1. From insignificant beginnings, a great movement develops!
      2. The kingdom’s influence extends to encompass many.
    6. Birds? – Do they have to represent evil?
      1. Ezek.17:23 “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they(Gentiles is context) will dwell.”
    1. ​​​​​​​LEAVEN! (20,21)
    2. Leaven is found 98 x’s in scripture & every time it is a symbol/linked w/evil!
    3. But is he here speaking to the kingdoms corruption?
      1. Or, His Kingdom spreading to all nations, permeating all cultures, & infiltrating Satan’s very kingdom…like yeast to dough!
    1. ​​​​​​​NARROW WAY! (22-28)
    2. (22-24) Lord, are there few who are saved?
      1. What’s Jesus’ answer to the question? [U can’t grab a percentage on this!]
        1. Will not be able - only because they missed their opportunity.
        2. The “many” are those who try once the door is closed!
        3. Only means that many will look when it’s too late! (24,25)
      2. The real question is not “are there few who are saved”, but “will you be among the saved?
      3. Instead of entering the kingdom, some people only ask questions about it. But…“Salvation is not a theory to discuss; it is a miracle to experience.” (Warren Wiersbe; With the Word; pg.678)
      4. In our soft age we are more concerned with statistics than about spiritual power.
    3. (24) Strive = to agonize as an athlete; or to fight or struggle in war.
      1. No, not that were saved by our hard work; rather it warns us to avoid an “easy, complacent, & theoretical attitude” toward the eternal destiny of the soul.
      2. We are to fight, or be at war with, Who? - Not who, but what?
        1. Be at war with sin(esp. our own sin!)
    4. Strive to enter the narrow gate – because God’s way is narrow.
      1. Not every claim can fit through the door.
        1. (example) Haiti goats with 3 sticks to make up yoke/hindrance.
        2. (example) I don’t picture a wall w/1 door in it. I picture an open line where you can cross over anywhere & 1 door on that line. thought…“why should I go through that narrow door when I can cross the line right here?”
      2. And so people read diff claims on the floor & say, “I will enter here!” Nope, it’s narrow! “Nothing to the cross I bring, Only to the cross I cling!”
    5. (25) I do not know you, or where you are from –
      1. Everyone’s eternal destiny hangs in the balance of Jesus saying, “I know you” or “I don’t know you!”
      2. It’s a personal relationship issue. [some say the bible doesn’t say you have tohave a personal relationship w/Jesus!]
      3. Him knowing us is having familiarity with Him.
        1. Paul once spoke of knowing God then changed it to being known by God. (See Gal.4:9)
        2. “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God
        3. Thus, man’s salvation is based on personal relationship not familiarity.
    6. (25,27) Q: What determines whether a person is saved or not?
      1. Intimately knowing Him, or not.
    7. (26) Q: What inadequate grounds of confidence are here exposed?
      1. Communion & attending Jesus’ Bible studies.
        1. (i.e.) Ate & drank in is presence & heard Him teach.
      2. It is origin, not association, that counts!
      3. Spend all the time in church you want. Association w/believers won’t make you a Christian. You must have the life that comes from God! (Warren Wiersbe; NT Outlines.)
      4. It’s more than just being in His presence, you must know Him.
        1. But don’t only know Him; seek to be in His presence once you do!
    9. (29) All nations are invited, & some from each accept the invitation.
    10. (30) Anyone who places their trust in their physical birth will not be allowed into heaven. Anyone who depends on their spiritual birth will be allowed into heaven.
    11. The picture: The owner shuts the door once all his family is in. Its night time & strangers come & knock. Yelling threw the door He responds, “I’m not sure who you are, or where you’re from.” [We’re Jews from Jerusalem, open up!]
      1. Walking away they peek into the front window. A light is on, & lounging around the Owner’s table is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all the prophets, & wait…a bunch of Gentiles, eating & drinking.
      2. And they find themselves outside, in the darkness, forever, & they weep & gnash their teeth.
    12. Those who think they’re 1st (like the Pharisees, because of their phys birth & religiosity) will be last; & those who think they are last(like the tax collector who said, “God be merciful to me a sinner”) will be 1st.
    1. ​​​​​​​HEADING TO JERUSALEM! (31-33)
    2. The game seems to be, “find the weakness!”
      1. Let’s see if He’s afraid to die!
      2. As if they cared if he lived or died!
    3. (32,33) Today, tomorrow & the day following – an idiomatic expression for a short period.
    4. Herod wants to kill you – “Oh, I will perish/die, but not by Herod, & not outside Jerusalem.” - I will not die a victim but a victor. (Acts 4:27,28)
      1. “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.” Jn.10:18
      2. Even hell could not interfere with this divinely ordained pathway or program of high heaven.
    5. Q: How does Jesus deal with the opposition & unbelief of man?
      1. Never flees, but stays His course.
      2. Q: How should we, when faced with opposition & unbelief? (same)
    6. “I must Journey” I love that phrase!
      1. Note He saw himself “on journey” in vs.22 also.
      2. Q: Are you on journey?
        Q: Do you see your life as an adventure with God?
      3. Journey = an expedition from one place to another.
        1. ​​​​​​​{Journey, trip, expedition, excursion, trek, march, mission}
      4. Oh that we would say, “I must journey”!
      5. Jesus’ journey led him to Jerusalem, yours also is to your cross! It’s a road to travel down to…come & die!
    8. Here we tread with holy trepidation...tentative to even read, let alone try to interpret …the heart-break of God. {It’s like me trying to explain the feelings you experienced in the death of a loved one}
    9. No wonder why Jesus wept when he saw sinners passing by their opportunities to be saved!
      1. The Mother hens wing is still extended for you today. This is the great Mother heart of God!
    10. (35) At the beginning of His public ministry he said, “My Father’s House”, now he says “your house”.
      1. If the Temple of God is left to us without the God of the Temple, it is desolate indeed!
    11. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord – They wouldn’t see Him again until he comes as Messiah.
      1. The crowd quotes this at the Triumphal Entry, but religious leaders disapproved.
      2. Ultimately He is talking about when He comes again as the mill. ruler.
    12. (34) But you were not willing - The saddest refusal of all!
      1. Often our total focus of what we call “sin” is committing something shameful; instead of refusing something high & heavenly.
      2. It is like: The priest & Levite that passed by the Good Samaritan. They didn’t commit some great evil against him. They didn’t hurt or kick him when they passed by.
        1. They selfishly refused to go higher; to help one hurt who was “the least of these”. Thus refusing Christ Himself!
      3. ​​​​​​​They’re like rosebuds that fall away without blooming, & leave only a sharp thorn!
      4. It’s refusal of Christ; refusal of forgiveness; refusal of the narrow way;…which wounds God’s heart!
        1. We must be responsible to His call, His invitation!
    13. End: The Way I See It #128 (Read cup)
      1. Flying by myself in a tiny aircraft over lonely woods: I have no one to blame if I make a bad judgment, & the law of physics won’t listen to my excuses. What would my life be like if I always had to take full responsibility? Mark Olson Plant biologist & National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

Chinese proverb: You don't drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.

Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Luke 13". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.