REPENTANCE ENJOINED. PARABLE OF THE BARREN FIG-TREE.
- Now there were some present at that very season. At the time when he preached about the signs of the times, etc. This phrase, however, is
rather indefinite (Matthew 12:1; Matthew 14:1).
- Who told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. While Jesus spoke, certain ones came to him bearing
the news of a barbaric act of sacrilegious cruelty committed by Pilate.
It may have been told to Jesus by enemies who hoped to ensnare him by
drawing from him a criticism of Pilate. But it seems more likely that
it was told to him as a sample of the corruption and iniquity of the
times. History, of course, says nothing of Pilate's act here mentioned.
Pilate's rule was marked by cruelty toward Jews, and contempt for their
religious views and rites.
- Think ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they have suffered these things? The Jews ascribed extraordinary misfortunes to extraordinary criminality. Sacrifice was intended to cleanse guilt. How hopeless, therefore, must their guilt be who were punished at the very times when they should have been cleansed!
- I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish. But the Jews erred in this interpreting the event. Quantity of individual sin cannot safely be inferred from the measure of individual misfortune. It was true that the Galileans suffered because of sin, for all suffering is the result of sin. But it was not true that the suffering was punishment for unusual sinfulness. Our suffering is often due to the general sin of humanity--the sin of the whole associate body of which we are a part.
- Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them. Of this instance, also, there is no other historic mention. It, too was a small incident among the accidents of the day. The pool of Siloam lies near the southeast corner of Jerusalem, at the entrance of the Tyropean village which runs up between Mt. Zion and Moriah. The modern village of Siloam probably did not exist at that time. What tower this was is not known. As the city wall ran through the district of that fountain, it may possibly have been one of the turrets of that wall.
- Think ye that they were offenders above all the men that dwell in Jerusalem? This instance presents a striking contrast to the slaughter of which they had told him, for it was, (1) Inflicted upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and (2) It came upon them as an act of God.
- I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. And Jesus therefore concludes that all shall likewise perish, he pronounces upon the entire people--Jews and Galilean alike--a punishment made certain by the decree of God. It is significant that the Jewish people did, as a nation, perish and lie buried under the falling walls of their cities, and the debris of their temple, palaces, and houses. But the word "likewise" is not to be pressed to cover this fact.
- And he spake this parable. This parable is closely connected with Luke 13:3,5; Luke 12:58,59.
- A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit thereon, and found none. In this parable Jesus likened
his hearers to a fig-tree planted in a choice place--a vineyard, the
odd corners of which are still used as advantageous spots for fig-
- And he said unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down. There is no emphasis on the number three, and no allusion to the national history of the Jews, as some suppose. It simply means that a fig-tree's failure to bear fruit for three years would justify its being cut down.
- Why doth it also cumber the ground? It cumbered the ground by occupying ground which the vines should have had, and by interfering with their light by its shade, which is very dense.
- Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it. Those to whom Jesus spoke had been called to repentance by
the preaching both of John and of Jesus, and had had ample time and
opportunity to bring forth the fruits of repentance, and deserved to be
destroyed; but they would still be allowed further opportunity.
SABBATH HEALING. MUSTARD SEED AND LEAVEN.
- And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath day. Our Lord's habit of teaching in the synagogue, which had been for some
time interrupted by his retirement, had probably been revived during
the mission of the seventy. On the synagogue, see Luke 13:10-21.
- And behold, a woman that had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years;
- and she was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. The use of the word "spirit" in this verse indicates that the curvature of the spine which afflicted this woman was attributed to demoniacal agency.
- And the ruler of the synagogue, being moved with indignation because Jesus had healed on the sabbath. There is not evidence that the woman
came with any intention of being healed, nor was the ruler angry at
her, but at Jesus. On the synagogue, see .
- Answered and said to the multitude. Too cowardly to openly rebuke Jesus, the ruler fell to reprimanding the people, and thus indirectly
censuring the Lord.
- Ye hypocrites, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? The word "hypocrite" was among the strongest ever used by our Lord. He here applies it to the whole class to whom the ruler belonged and for whom he was the spokesman--the class who are mentioned as "adversaries" in disguising their hatred toward Christ under a pretended zeal for the Sabbath. (2) Their zeal for the Sabbath was at no time sincere, for they favored indulgence where their own interests were involved, but applied their Sabbath rules sharply where others were concerned. It was their tradition and not the Sabbath which Jesus had broken, and he here attempts no other justification of himself than to show that he is guiltless under a fair application of their own precedents.
- And ought not this woman . . . to have been loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath? Taking their own conduct on the Sabbath day as
the basis for his justification, Jesus presents three contrasts, each
of which made his action better than theirs: (1) He had blessed the
woman instead of an ox. (2) He had loosed from a disease instead of
from a comfortable stall. (3) He had relieved a waiting of eighteen
years' standing instead of one of some few hours' duration--the brief
time since the watering of the morning.
- Being a daughter of Abraham. He mentions the woman's descent from Abraham because, according to their ideas, it made her worthy of every
- Whom Satan had bound, lo, [these] eighteen years. In attributing the infirmity to Satan he acknowledges the action of the demon as
Satan's agent. Disease were not infrequently ascribed to Satan and the
demons (Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 12:7).
- And all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. The people rejoiced not only in the miracle, but in that wisdom which silenced the narrow-minded rulers. The triumph which they rejoiced in was but a slight foretaste of the victories to come, and to point out the nature of those victories the Lord spoke the two parables which follow.
- Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I liken it? See .
- It is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his own garden. See
- And it grew, and became a tree. See .
- And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? See .
- It is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened. See .
THE STRAIT GATE. WARNED AGAINST HEROD.
- And he went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem. This verse probably refers back to
brief rest on the Sabbath day when he healed the woman with the
curvature of the spine.
- And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? It is likely that this question was asked by a Jew, and that the two parables illustrating the smallness of the kingdom's beginning suggested it to him. The Jews extended their exclusive spirit even to their ideals of a world to come, so that they believed none but the chosen race would behold its glories. The circumstances attending to the conversion of Cornelius, recorded in Acts, show how this exclusiveness survived even among Jewish Christians. The questioner wished Jesus to commit himself to this narrow Jewish spirit, or else to take a position which would subject him to the charge of being unpatriotic.
- Strive. Literally, agonize.
- To enter in by the narrow gate. The passage should be compared with that in Matthew 7:13. There one enters by a narrow gate upon a narrow
road, indicating the strictness of the Christian life. Here one enters
by a narrow door upon a season of festivity, indicating the joyous
privileges of a Christian life.
- For many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Jesus answers that "many" shall be excluded from the kingdom,
and that the questioner, and all others who hear, need to exercise
themselves and give the matter their own personal attention lest they
be among that many.
- When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door. This verse gives the reason why one should strive to enter in. The "time" for entrance is limited, and he must get in before it expires.
- And ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying,
- Lord, open to us. For when the limited time has passed, he cannot enter, no matter how earnestly he may seek or strive.
- And he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are. Our Lord pictures a householder who refuses to receive any guest that has shown contempt for his feast by coming late. The strict spirit of the Lord in giving his invitation is indicated by the phrase "narrow door", but the phrase includes more than this for those who would strive must not only be prompt to act, but must be painstaking so as to act intelligently, and of obedient spirit so as to act acceptably.
- Then ye shall begin to say. In answer to the Lord's statement that he does not know them.
- We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets. Thus they idly urged their privileges to him who was condemning them for having neglected to make a proper use of those privileges. Had these privileges been valued and improved, the clamoring outcasts would have been inside and not outside the door.
- And he shall say, I tell you, I know not whence ye are. See .
- Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. Thus pleading avails not. The door would not be narrow if it opened to excuses.
- There shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. See .
- When ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God. See .
- And they shall come from the east and west. See .
- There are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last. A familiar proverb of Christ's (Matthew 19:30; Matthew 20:10), to be
interpreted by such passages as Matthew 21:31; Romans 9:30,31. The Jew who
thought the Gentile had no hope at all, and that he himself was sure of
salvation, would be surprised to find that his opinion was the very
reverse of the real fact as time developed it.
- In that very hour there came certain Pharisees, saying to him, Get thee out, and go hence: for Herod would fain kill thee. This shows that
Jesus was in the territory of Herod Antipas, and hence probably in
Perea. The Pharisees, no doubt, wished to scare Jesus that they might
exult over his fright. We might suppose, too, that their words were
untrue, were it not that Jesus sends a reply to Herod. Herod long
desired to see Jesus (Luke 9:9; Luke 23:8), but it was not likely that he
desired to put him to death. He was, doubtless, glad enough to get
Jesus out of his territory, lest he might foment an uprising, and to
this end he employed this strategy of sending messengers to warn Jesus
under the guise of friendship.
- Go and say to that fox. That is, say to Herod, that crafty, sly fellow. The fox is a type of craftiness and treachery. We have no other
instance where Jesus used such a contemptuous expression; but Herod
richly merited it. An Idumean by his father, a Samaritan by his mother,
a Jew by profession, and a heathen by practice, he happened to be foxy
by nature. And he was even now playing the fox by sending these
- Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures to-day and to-morrow,
- and the third [day]. Wiesler, Meyer, Alford, and other able commentators think that the days mentioned in this difficult passage
are literal days. If the language is to be thus construed, the saying
amounts to a promise to leave Herod's territory in three days. Such
construction, however, is not consistent with the elevation of the
sentiment and the solemnity of its repetition. Three days are thus
sometimes used proverbially to designate a short time (Hosea 6:2), and
they are unquestionably so used here. The meaning then is this: "For a
little while I liberate and heal and abide in your territory to disturb
your peace. But in a few days I shall be perfected in my office as a
liberator and healer, after which I shall be seen no more in your
territory. And though I understand these plots against me, I must fill
up my time and go on my course till I suffer martyrdom at Jerusalem,
which has the gruesome honor of being the prophet-slaying city".
- I am perfected. This word finds its complement in the "It is finished" of John 19:30. Both the verbs are derived from the Greek
word "telos", which means "end" or "completion". Compare also 2 Corinthians 12:9
Philippians 3:12; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:8,9; Hebrews 11:40.
- Nevertheless I must go on my way to-day and to-morrow and the [day] following. Although I know what lies before me.
- For it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. John the Baptist having perished at Machaerus in Perea is regarded as an
exception to this rule and the prophets die at Jerusalem. The exception
does not disprove the rule, if it be a true exception; which may be
questioned, since John died at the hands of Herod and Herodias, neither
of whom were, properly speaking Jews. John, therefore, died as a
prophet to foreigners rather than as a prophet to the Jewish people.
- O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! etc. Jesus repeated these words again as
recorded in Matthew 23:37-39.
- How often would I have gathered thy children together. Inhabitants of Jerusalem. See Luke 19:44.
- Even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! With such beautiful imagery does Jesus set forth his tender love
for the people of that city which he knew would soon compass his death.
- Behold, your house. The temple.
- Is left unto you [desolate]. He was about to withdraw from the temple, which for centuries to come was to be visited by no heavenly
- And I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. It is hardly possible that
these words can refer to the triumphal entry for their fulfillment
(Matthew 21:9). The use of them on that occasion may have had no reference
to his prediction. They undoubtedly refer to the Parousia, or second
coming of the Lord in his glory, before which time the Jews must turn
and believe (Romans 11:25-27). Not until they were thus prepared would
they again see him without whom they were now rejecting.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 13". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent