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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 13

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-9

Luk 13:1-9

Commentary On Luke 13:1-9

Galen Doughty

Luke 13:1-5 - Some came to Jesus and told him about an incident in the temple where Pilate had some people killed and their blood mixed with the blood of their sacrifices. This would have been terribly offensive to the Jews even more so than the people had been executed by the Romans. The people are asking Jesus to comment. They come to him with the prevalent notion that great suffering or a terrible death was an indication of great sin. Any catastrophe indicated that the people had committed some great wickedness because the good prospered and the wicked suffered. Jesus refuses to go along with this view. He says suffering is not necessarily a punishment for sin. Sometimes bad things happen to people but all have sinned and need to repent. The manner of death for the Galileans that Pilate murdered or the ones on whom the tower at the Pool of Siloam fell were not punishment for their worse than normal sins.

Jesus asks the people if they think the Galileans killed in the temple were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they died a tragic death. Jesus says, they were not. Unless you repent you too will perish. He makes the same case for the people upon whom the tower fell in Jerusalem. They were not guiltier than anyone else in Jerusalem. But everyone needs to repent because we have all sinned. The word he uses for perish means to be lost eternally. In other words the manner of our deaths here is nothing compared to being lost eternally in our sins and forever separated from God. Repent!

Luke 13:6-9 - Jesus tells the people around him a parable; the same ones who had come to him with the story about the Galileans in the temple. He is pushing them to see their need to repent and that the time for them is growing short. A man had a fig tree and wanted some fruit from it but found none. He said to his gardener cut it down, it’s had three years to bear fruit and there is none. It is useless and taking up space. The gardener replies leave it alone for one more year. Let me cultivate it and weed around it and fertilize it and see if it bears fruit next year. He asks for one more year to see if it will bear fruit.

Fig trees take a long time to mature and bear fruit and three years is on the early side of expecting a crop. The people knew this but Jesus is referring to his ministry and its climax in Jerusalem to which he is headed. He has been with them three years and will only allow them one more year, which would have been after his resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit. I think Jesus is saying God is giving the Jews every chance to repent and turn to Jesus as the Messiah and he will give them a little more time but their time is running out. The time for repentance is now! The Messiah is here. If they refuse to repent and bear the fruit of repentance then God will reject them and turn to other trees. That is exactly what happened. God rejected the Jews in 70 and turned to the Gentiles! Even as the Gentiles were being added to the church the Jews did not repent but turned away from Jesus as Messiah. Has God completely rejected his ancient people? Paul argues no in Romans 9-11 . Today more and more Jews are coming to know Jesus as Messiah yet the majority is still hostile to him.

Verses 10-21

Luk 13:10-21

Commentary On Luke 13:10-21

Galen Doughty

Luke 13:10-17 - Jesus is teaching in one of the synagogues. This story gives us clues into how Luke ordered the Travel Narrative. There is no indication of Jesus being on a journey to Jerusalem at this point. This sounds like an incident during his Galilean ministry. Parts of the Travel Narrative indicate Jesus is moving towards the climax of his mission in Jerusalem. Parts of it sound like he is in Galilee ministering to people as he has always done. I think Luke mixes and matches his stories in a purposeful way using the framework of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem to organize his material. It is possible that all of these incidents occur while Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem but some, like this incident, seem as if Jesus is in an area for some time and not moving one day to the next on the way to Jerusalem. Luke has his reasons for shaping his material for Theophilus.

Here he is teaching on the Sabbath in a synagogue. A woman comes who had been crippled by a spirit, presumably a demon, for eighteen years. She could not straighten at all. This is one of the few times in the gospels that we see a demon causing an actual physical malady. The gospels do not say that all crippling diseases or conditions are demonically caused, but this one was. Jesus calls her forward to himself. She would have been at the back of the synagogue and even behind the screen if it was large and rich enough. He calls her into the men’s area and says she is free from her infirmity. The Greek word can mean sickness or weakness of body, thus infirmity. Luke gives no indication that Jesus cast out a demon here. Perhaps we can assume that, but Jesus merely loosens her bonds, he sets her free, Greek apoluo, to loose or set free. He lays hands on her and she straightens up praising God for her healing.

The synagogue ruler is indignant that Jesus has healed her. Yet he blames her and not Jesus. Come on one of the other days and not the Sabbath to be healed, implying she, or Jesus, has violated the Sabbath by healing her and releasing her from her bondage on the Sabbath day. Jesus’ answer is a scathing critique of their twisted legalistic religion. He calls them hypocrites for giving their animals food and water on the Sabbath day yet denying freedom from long bondage and suffering for this daughter of Abraham, whom he says Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years. The prevailing notion among the Pharisees and legalists would have been the woman’s sin had kept her bound and that God was punishing her. Jesus denies that and says it has been Satan who had oppressed her and that God was not punishing her for her sin. Her demonic bondage deserves to be set free on the Sabbath day, the day God set aside for the Jews to honor and worship him!

Jesus’ opponents are humiliated because he has shown everyone there how petty and twisted their religious and legal rules are. The people in the synagogue are delighted by Jesus and the wonderful things he did for the woman. The common people are open to him and his teaching. They are open to the Kingdom of God among them. The ruler of the synagogue and his allies have been shamed publicly. That did not sit well with them.

Luke 13:18-21 - Jesus tells two small parables about the Kingdom of God to the people at the synagogue. The first is the parable of the mustard seed. The mustard seed was the smallest seed the Jews knew and had become a proverbial saying, small as a mustard seed. It is around the size of a poppy seed. Jesus says a man took a mustard seed and planted it in his garden. There it grew until it became so large it was like a tree and the birds of the air came and nested in its branches. Jesus is telling us that the Kingdom starts small. In fact its beginnings in people are so small they seem insignificant and tiny. Yet the Kingdom grows and transforms until it can’t be denied. It becomes so large that it becomes shelter for others around it. The birds of the air could be a symbol for the Gentiles. The Kingdom of God will become so large the Gentiles will be able to come and be a part of it. This is what the prophets had said would happen. In fact the phrase about the birds of the air nesting in its branches is a quote from Ezekiel 17:23, a prophecy talking about God planting a small cedar tree that will grow so large the birds of the air will nest in it. The whole point about the tiny beginning and the inexorable growth of the Kingdom is that Jesus and his disciples seem like an insignificant beginning. Surely Jesus can’t be God’s Messiah! Where is his great army, these twelve ordinary men and the women who provide for them? They are like the mustard seed. Given time Jesus’ followers will grow into an amazing people where many will come and shelter among them, including the Gentiles. The Book of Acts is Luke’s version of the parable of the mustard seed. I don’t think after Theophilus read it the point was lost on him!

The parable of the yeast in the huge amount of dough has the same point. The large amount of dough is truly large, almost 22 liters or 9 gallons worth of dough. That would have been unusual to bake that much bread at one time. How could a little bit of yeast leaven that much dough? Yet it does. The whole loaf rises. You can’t see the yeast at work in the beginning but you begin to see its effects. The Kingdom of God is like the yeast in the dough. Don’t miss the fact as well that Jesus uses a woman as the one who plants the yeast in the dough. Over and over Jesus affirms women and their role in the Kingdom and its growth.

Jesus shifts his metaphor of the yeast to something positive here. In 12:1 he told the disciples to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, meaning their legalistic hypocrisy. Here he uses yeast in a positive sense describing the work of God’s Kingdom and how it grows mysteriously from a small insignificant beginning to something so large it can no longer be ignored. In fact it is miraculous! Once the Kingdom is set in motion nothing can stop it. It will triumph in the end.

Verses 22-30

Luk 13:22-30

Commentary On Luke 13:22-30

Galen Doughty

Luke 13:22-27 - Luke reminds us that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, teaching as he goes. On the way someone asks him if only a few will be saved. Jesus tells a parable in reply about the narrow door.

He says make every effort, strive, and fight to overcome obstacles, to enter through the narrow door. Jesus is not talking about earning our way by good works because in the next few sentences the owner of the house will reply to people trying to enter I never knew you. The owner’s reply is all about relationships not effort and worthiness. Jesus is saying strive, fight to overcome whatever obstacles are in your path to have a relationship with me. Jesus is the narrow door. This is a very exclusive parable. There are not many doors into the Kingdom of God; there is one narrow door, a relationship with Jesus Christ the Messiah.

Many will try and enter but will not be able to. Why? There will come a time when the owner of the house will close the door and no one else will be able to get in. There is a time limit on when we can enter the Kingdom. As Paul will later say, now is the day of salvation. Many outside will plead for the owner to open the door and let them in. The owner will answer I don’t know you or where you come from. The ones outside will claim we spent time with you, ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. The owner will reply with the same refrain, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me all you evildoers.

Jesus is saying just because you are a Jew doesn’t mean salvation is automatic. Just because Jesus came to the Jews and ate and drank with them and taught among them doesn’t mean they will be saved. He ate and drank often with the Pharisees but they did not receive him or want to follow him. In the end they will be on the outside looking in begging for the master to open the door and let them in. It will be too late. Our individual religious acts and good works will mean nothing because the door will only open to those who know Jesus and have a relationship with him as Lord and master. Jesus is telling them there is a time to enter the Kingdom and that time is now. The offer will close and if people are not following him as Messiah and Lord they will be excluded. The only way in through the door is if you have an invitation from the owner inside. Jesus is the owner of the Kingdom, of salvation. The key is does the owner know me and do I know the owner?

Jesus does not directly answer the question will only a few be saved. He doesn’t say yes or no, he says the door into salvation is narrow and many will try and enter but not be able to. He does not say many others will try and enter and will be able to because they know the master of the house.

Luke 13:28-30 - Jesus is pointing this parable at the Jews who reject him and showing them as he hinted in the mustard seed, that many, even the Gentiles will come and be part of the Kingdom and eat at the Messianic Feast but they will be excluded. They rejected their own Messiah. All that remains is to be outside looking in. Outside here is a metaphor for hell, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, or grinding of teeth. It will be a place of jealousy when they see others coming from east and west, north and south, all points of the compass to eat at the Messiah’s table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus is not talking about the Diaspora he is talking about the Gentiles! Some of the Jews who thought they deserved to be at the Messiah’s table, namely the Pharisees and the religious, will be excluded. Some they would have never believed would be invited, namely the Gentiles will take their places because they knew the Messiah while the religious leaders rejected him. Human religious achievements mean nothing to Jesus. A relationship with him is everything! Thus some who are first, meaning the Pharisees who thought they deserved to be in the Kingdom, will be outside looking in. They will be excluded and last. And some who are the last, the Gentiles whom the Pharisees thought could not enter God’s Kingdom precisely because they were pagans and Gentiles, will be first. They will share Messiah’s banquet. How comforting Jesus’ words here must have been to Theophilus and his fellow Gentile believers! What must some of the Pharisees who had been with Jesus and openly opposed him have thought if they lived to see Jerusalem destroyed in 70 by the Romans? Did they even think of his words here? Did they fully understand and repent? The evidence of history is they hardened their hearts toward Jesus and his followers even more!

Verses 31-35

Luk 13:31-35

Commentary On Luke 13:31-35

Galen Doughty

Luke 13:31-33 - Dr. Ken Bailey has this section as the center of the Travel Narrative. Some Pharisees come to Jesus and warn him that Herod Antipas is trying to find him and kill him just as he did John the Baptist. This is a curious passage and gives credence to the idea that though Jesus opposed the Pharisees and often criticized them vehemently and they him, there were those among them who cared about Jesus and perhaps followed him or were attracted to him. We know at least two of the Sanhedrin Pharisees, Joseph and Nicodemus, followed him. It is not difficult to imagine that there were those in Galilee who did too. Even despite their corporate opposition Jesus continued to eat with them and fellowship with them. Here they warn him about Herod. It is easy to believe their warning. Herod was probably increasingly threatened and confused by Jesus and his mission. He kept talking about the Kingdom of God and attracting huge crowds wherever he went. Clearly he was more popular than Herod. The Pharisees’ warning also shows Jesus was still in Galilee at this moment.

These Pharisees come to Jesus and warn him to get out of Herod’s territory. Capernaum was Jesus’ ministry headquarters near the northeastern border of Herod Antipas’ territory. It would have been easy to slip over the border into Herod Philipp’s jurisdiction. Jesus tells them he is going to Jerusalem. He calls Herod that fox. Jesus cryptically refers to his resurrection here for those who knew the story. Today and tomorrow he continues his mission of demonstrating the Kingdom by healing and casting out demons. On the third day he will reach his goal and finish his mission. He could be talking about the cross but the resurrection makes more sense because he has already taught his disciples about being raised on the third day. Had these Pharisees heard that teaching? I don’t think so. I think he says the third day for the benefit of the disciples.

He then cryptically refers to his death in Jerusalem in the next sentence. Today and tomorrow he must head toward Jerusalem and the next day. He says next day here and not third day, even though mathematically it is the third day. Then he adds surely no prophet can die outside of Jerusalem. He is speaking of his cross and his death for human sin. He describes himself as a prophet, which he was, the prophet like Moses, but he was even greater than Moses and all the prophets. He was and is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!

Luke 13:34-35 - Jesus now speaks not as a prophet but as Messiah. He speaks as God lamenting over his peoples’ stubborn refusal to accept him and follow him. Jerusalem is symbolic for the whole Jewish people. Luke places this saying here. Matthew places it at the end of the seven woes to the Pharisees in the temple during Holy Week. Both are uttered in the presence of the Pharisees. It is quite possible that Jesus repeats himself; once in Galilee and once in Jerusalem.

Here is God’s Son lamenting over his city. Yearning for his people to come to him and allow him to gather them to himself but they would not. They refuse. Jesus echoes Hosea’s words about how much he loves his people. He is like a mother hen who gathers her chicks under her wings. His yearning is tender here and motherly. The reality is as Jesus knows, they would not let him. He knows that he is going to his death and that Jerusalem will turn against him.

Then he utters a most chilling prophecy. Your house is abandoned. By rejecting the Messiah the door will close on those who reject him. They will be cast out. All of this is fulfilled in 70 when the Romans destroy Jerusalem. What must Theophilus and others who had read the gospels thought when the Jewish revolt broke out and Rome destroyed Judea and Jerusalem? Did they understand those events as fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies about Jerusalem?

Jesus declares in an already-not yet way that the Jews will not recognize him until they declare the words of Psalms 118, the great Passover Hillel Psalm. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. The crowd would declare that on Palm Sunday when Jesus triumphantly enters Jerusalem. Then they would turn on him by Friday and shout to crucify him, rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and king. One day, some day, they will say it again and will weep over the one they killed and pierced. Jesus’ prophecy is chilling for the Jews but it opens the door for the time of the Gentiles and their entrance into the Kingdom of God!

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Luke Chapter Thirteen

1. What report was given to Jesus?

2. Tell what authority Pilate had over Galileans.

3. What did they have to do with sacrifice ?

4. What had the reporters supposed in this case?

5. Who were likewise in danger ?

6. How only could it be avoided ?

7. What incident did Jesus suggest?

8. State his conclusion on this.

9. What plant is used in his parable?

10. How had the owner found it to be?

11. What did he propose doing?

12. For what reason would he do this ?

13. Who pleaded for the tree?

14. Tell what he proposed doing first.

15. After that what?

16. Who is represented by the fig tree?

17. What was Christ doing on the Sabbath?

18. Tell who was there.

19. For how long had she been afflicted ?

20. What did Jesus do?

21. Tell who objected. .

22. To whom did he address his objection ?

23. State what Jesus called this man.

24. What made him such ?

25. Of what nation was this woman?

26. How long had she been bound ?

27. Had the ox been bound that long when led away

28. Who had bound the woman?

29. Who had bound the ox?

30. Yet which would the ruler loose on the Sabbath?

31. How did Christ’s lesson affect the adversaries?

32. Tell how the people were affected.

33. To what is the kingdom likened ?

34. Tell the behaviour of this seed.

35. Who are to lodge in the kingdom?

36. What is next used as a comparison ?

37. How does it affect its surroundings ?

38. How is this like the kingdom ?

39. Toward what was he journeying?

40. State the question asked him.

41. Did he give direct answer?

42. What gate is proposed?

43. Tell what is necessary to enter through it.

44. What disappointment is awaiting many?

45. When will that be?

46. Who is this master ?

47. When will he close the door ?

48. Then what can be done to enter?

49. State the answer to be given them.

50. What kind of knowledge will they think is meant ?

51. What kind do yon think he means?

52. How will he describe these workers?

53. What will they behold ?

54. They will then do whnt?

55. From where will the kingdom be recruited?

56. What reversal will take place?

57. Of whom, did the Pharisees warn Jesus?

58. With what title did Jesus name him?

59. Was Jesus caused to alter his plans?

60. How much work was yet to be done?

61. Why must he keep on the move ?

62. What wrongs had Jerusalem done?

63. Tell what Jesus would have done.

64. Why did he not do so?

65. State the desertion predicted.

66. What recognition did he predict ?

Luke Chapter Thirteen

By Ralph L. Starling

Jesus reminds them of some of their history

“Who were the sinners with whom they were dealing?”

He said, “All were subjects of true repentance.

Except you repent you’ll receive the same sentence.”

He told a parable to illustrate His point.

A man whose fig tree wouldn’t bear fruit,

The tree dresser advised him to cut it down.

He replied, “Let me treat it. It may come around.”

There was a woman with an infirmity of 18 years.

Her body was bowed, it was so seared.

Jesus saw her and called here to Him.

When He touched her she was immediately cured.

The Synagogue ruler was filled with indignation.

“This is the Sabbath and there is no question.

There are six days for man to do his work.”

Jesus said, “You even pull oxen out of the dirt.”

When He said these things they were ashamed.

The people rejoiced for these glorious things.

He said, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.

When it sprouted, it grew into a tree.”

Or, like the woman with three measures of meal,

Who added to the meal leaven that was meet.

So it is with God’s Kingdom that we preach.

It is that leaven we continue to seek.

Jesus is now warned that Herod is ill.

He is so mad he wants you to be killed.

Jesus said, “You go tell that old fox.

That in three days I’ll be out of the box.”

Jesus laments about the condition of Jerusalem

How often he preached but they wouldn’t listen.

The time will come when they will say the word,

“Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 13". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/luke-13.html.
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