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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Luke 13

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

Luke 13:1. There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

This was a matter of common town talk, so of course they brought the news to Jesus. Notice how wisely he used this shameful incident. You and I too often hear the news of what is happening, but we learn nothing from it; our Saviour’s gracious mind turned everything to good account; he was like the bee that gathers honey from every flower.

Luke 13:2. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?

“Do you imagine that there was some extraordinary guilt which brought this judgment upon them, and that those who were spared may be supposed to have been more innocent than they were?”

Luke 13:3. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.

There would come upon them also, because of their sin, a sudden and overwhelming calamity. When we read of the most dreadful things happening to you we may conclude that something similar will happen to us if we are impenitent; if not in this world, yet in that which is to come.

Luke 13:4-5. Or 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? I tell you, Nay; but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

This was a foreshadowing of the overthrow of Jerusalem, and the razing of its walls and towers to the ground, which happened not long after; and even that overthrow of Jerusalem was but a rehearsal of the tremendous doom that shall come upon all who remain impenitent.

Luke 13:6. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

He had a right to seek fruit upon the tree, for it was planted where fruit-bearing trees were growing, and where it shared in the general culture that was bestowed upon all the trees in the vineyard.

Luke 13:7. Then he said unto the dresser of the vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

This was sound reasoning. “It yields nothing, though it draws the goodness out of the ground, and so injures those trees that are producing fruit; ‘cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?’”

Luke 13:8-9. And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

He asks a respite, but only a limited one. “After that, thou shalt cut it down.” If, after the trial of another year, it shall still be fruitless, then even the pleader will not ask for any further respite.

Luke 13:10-11. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

If she was there when Christ was speaking about the fruitless fig tree I feel pretty certain that she said “That must mean me; I am the fruitless fig tree,” but the Master did not mean her, he had other words and more cheering tidings for her.

Luke 13:12. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

Oh, what glad news this must have been to her! How it must have thrilled her whole body! As she learned that she was to be restored to an upright position, what delight must have filled her heart!

Luke 13:13. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

What expressions of fervent gratitude, what notes of glad exultation came from that woman’s joyful lips! Surely, even cherubim and seraphim could not more heartily and earnestly praise God than she did when “she was made straight and glorified God.”


Verses 6-9

Luke 13:6. He spake also this parable, A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Let us, every one, read this parable as if our Lord Jesus Christ were now speaking it for the first time to each of us. There is a lesson here which we shall do well to heed.

Luke 13:7-9. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

“In that case, I will plead for it no longer, for it will have had its full time of testing, and every opportunity of bearing fruit: ‘After that thou shalt cut it down.”’ The parable is so simple that it needs no explanation, and therefore our Lord Jesus has not given any. May we all make a personal application of its solemn teaching! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from SOLOMON’S Song of Solomon 8:11-14; Isaiah 5:1-7; and Luke 13:6-9.


Verses 6-30

Luke 13:6. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

It was a fig tree, a fruit-bearing tree by profession, so it ought to have borne fruit. It was planted; it was not a wild tree, it was planted in a vineyard, in the proper place for fig trees to grow, in good soil; and therefore the owner of it had a right to come and look for fruit on it; but he found none. Have we not here, tonight, some who are planted in the Church of God who ought, by their profession, to be bearing fruit, but they are not? Christ has come, and he has looked for fruit; but he has found none.

Luke 13:7. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

The owner seems to say, “If I had not found fruit the first year, I should have thought that the season was unfavourable; if I had found no fruit the second year, I might have thought that peradventure the tree was a little out of condition, and would come round again; but when I come for three years, and three years consecutively I find no fruit, then it is clear that the fig tree is a barren one. Why should it stay here, and spoil the soil, occupy the place that a good fig tree might have occupied, and take away the nutriment from other trees?” So if, after many years, some of you have brought forth no fruit, God may well complain about you. You are eating the bread that might have nourished a saint. You are occupying a place in which your influence is injurious to others. Others do less because you do nothing. I pray the Holy Spirit to bring this home to the conscience of any barren professor whom it may concern, lest the command should go forth, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?”

Luke 13:8-9. And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Even the vinedresser’s pleading has a limit: “Give it one more year.” He admits that the time must come for the axe to cut down the tree that is fruitless. The cumber-ground tree cannot stand for ever; it is unreasonable that it should. And you cannot be permitted to live for ever in sin; you cannot be allowed to taint the air with blasphemy for another fifty years. There must come an end to such a life as yours, and that end may come very soon. The edge of the axe is sharp, and the hand that wields it is strong. Beware, O barren tree!

Luke 13:10. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.

When there happened a very remarkable miracle. The parable that preceded it was a parable of judgment; the miracle that followed was a miracle of mercy and grace.

Luke 13:11-12. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him,

You can see her slowly moving along, bent double. Hers was a painful walk, but she came at Christ’s call.

Luke 13:12-13. And said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

See what Christ can do. After I had preached this morning, I had to speak with just such a woman as this, one who has been, for many years, the victim of deep despondency. How I wished that I could lay my hands on her, and say, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity”! But we cannot work such a miracle as that. It is Christ who must do it all; and blessed be his name, he is always great at a pinch! Christ loves to come in at a dead lift. When we are all beaten, and we have reached man’s extremity, then it is Christ’s opportunity. Oh, you poor despairing woman, bent double by your sadness, the Lord’s hand can restore you: and we pray for you tonight, even the thousands of Israel pray for you at this moment! Lord, lay thine hand upon that poor child of infirmity!

Luke 13:14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation,

Wretched creature, to be indignant at Christ’s doing good! There is no reckoning with self-righteous people. They are mad themselves, and they think others so.

Luke 13:14-15. Because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men, ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, —

It served him right. This is just the word that would naturally come to the lips of the Saviour. Because be was loving and tender, he could not endure this hypocritical indignation: “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite,”

Luke 13:15-16. 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 front this bond on the sabbath day?

A very conclusive argument. You may do deeds like this on the Sabbath; and you may come and be healed on the Sabbath, even though it should involve you in a journey. It is so needful that you should get the bread of heaven, so needful that you should get the blessing of Christ, that on this day you may come and be healed.

Luke 13:17-19. And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it.? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

You get a little grace tonight; let that Divine Man take but a grain of the mustard seed of his grace, and drop it into your heart, which he will have prepared like a garden, and there is no telling what will come of it. That sigh, that tear, that wish, will grow into holiness of life and zeal of conduct. It may be but very little in its beginning, but it will grow. Both good and evil begin with very small eggs, but they grow into great things.

Luke 13:20. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?

Now take the bad side, and see how the kingdom of God may be perverted and injured by evil influences.

Luke 13:21. It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

That woman of Rome has hidden her leaven in the church, and it has leavened the whole; and now the woman of intellect has put her leaven into the church. Conceited self-invention of new doctrines, perversion of the simplicity of the gospel, that kind of leaven has been hidden in the meal of the church, and it is leavening the whole. God help us to keep out the leaven both of Romanism and of Rationalism!

Luke 13:22. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

His face was toward the cross, he was working his passage to his sacrifice, and preaching his way to that place where he should complete our redemption. This is a wonderful picture of Christ: “teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.”

Luke 13:23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?

What business is that of ours? Our business is far more practical, to be saved ourselves, and to endeavor to be the means of saving others. Jesus did not answer the question; but he did what was better.

Luke 13:23-24. And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

You can get into the broad road without striving; but you must “strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Strive for that which requires self-denial, that which humbles you, that which goes against the grain, that which is not according to human nature. Do not imagine that grace is to be had while you are half asleep, and that heaven is to be gained on a feather bed. Strive, strive, for many will seek in vain to enter. Seeking is not enough; it must come to a holy violence: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” When will that be? That will be when you are in another state.

Luke 13:25. 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, Lord, open unto us;

They will be very respectful; they will call him, “Lord.” They will be very earnest; they will pray, “Lord, Lord.” They will be very simple and very honest in their request: “Open unto us.” They will be very personal: “Open unto us.” Such will the prayers of the ungodly be when they wake up to the fact that they are shut out of heaven.

Luke 13:25-26. And he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

They came to the communion-table. They used to hear sermons indoors and out of doors. “Thou hast taught in our streets.”

Luke 13:27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

They shall be judged by their works. If they were workers of iniquity, it proved that they were unrenewed and unsaved. Christ will not endure their company, but will say to them, “Depart from me.”

Luke 13:28. 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.

You who thought that you had a share in the kingdom of God, and were, by birth, the natural heirs of it: “You yourselves thrust out.”

Luke 13:29-30. 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. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

The least likely to be saved shall be saved; the blackest sinners, the vilest outcasts, the grossest unbelievers, shall be brought to repentance and faith, and shall be saved; while those who were first in privileges, children of godly parents, professors of religion, those who appeared in every way likely to be saved first, will be left to the last, and be shut out of the kingdom of God, never to enter. God grant, in his infinite mercy, that nobody in the Tabernacle tonight may be of that unhappy number! Amen.


Verses 10-17

Luke 13:10-17. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, 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? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

His adversaries might well be ashamed, and the people might well rejoice at such a display of his power and mercy; but the point I want you to notice is that the poor woman was set at liberty by the Lord Jesus on the Sabbath-day. There is another Sabbath miracle recorded in the next chapter. (See Luke 14:1-6)

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 4:33-36; Luke 6:6-11; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14:1-6; John 5:1-9; ND 9:1-14.


Verses 10-23

Luke 13:10-12. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath, And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her,

With that quick eye of his which was always in sympathy with his audience.

Luke 13:12-14. He called her to him, and said unto her, Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people,

In what a cold-blooded, heartless manner he must have said it, you may well imagine. For a man not to rejoice when he saw his poor fellow-creature thus healed, shows that he must have been destitute of much milk of human kindness, and that bigotry had dried up his soul.

Luke 13:14. There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

He did not dare to speak to Christ. I suppose the majesty of Christ’s manner overawed him, so he struck at the people directly, and at Christ through them. Now our Lord did not go sideways to work when he replied to him.

Luke 13:15-17. The Lord then answered him, and said, 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? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

The Jews had reduced the Sabbath to a day of idleness and luxury. The only thing they forbade themselves was the doing of anything. Now the Sabbath was never intended to be spent in idleness and luxury. It should be spent in the worship of God; and works of mercy and works of piety make the Sabbath Day holy, instead of being contrary to its demands. And our Saviour, by giving rest to that poor burdened woman, was in truth, making Sabbath in her body and in her soul.

Luke 13:18-19. Then said he Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree: and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

A little grace grows and becomes great grace. If thou hast at present but little faith, be thankful for that little. Bring it to Christ; let it feed upon him; and thy mustard seed will grow till it becomes a tree. The same is true of the gospel throughout the world. We need never be afraid because we happen to be few in number. If we have got the truth, the truth will live; and if the truth be small as the mustard seed, there is life in it — vitality in it, and it is sure to grow ere long. We must not be afraid to be in the minority. Majorities are not always right. Are they ever? Perhaps sometimes.

Luke 13:20-21. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Some read this as a parable to set forth the power of evil, and I do not doubt that it does set it forth. At the same time it sets forth the power of good, too, for it is put side by side with the other as the likeness of the kingdom of God. And truth in the soul does work, and ferment, and permeate the entire nature, if it be placed there.

Luke 13:22-23. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?

That is a question that I have heard a great many times. What is the fascination that makes men so fond of asking it? I do think that some ask it as if they almost hoped that there would be few. If they do not go to our Ebenezer or Rehoboth, what can become of them? Surely you cannot expect that there should be any good come to those that do not frequent Salem and Enod. What must they hope? In that spirit the question is often asked; but, brethren, may God lift us up above that spirit, and make us desire that there should be multitudes saved. I suppose that one of the surprises of heaven will be to see vastly many more there than we ever dreamt would reach that place. Jesus Christ gave a very practical answer. It was no answer, and yet was the best of answers.

Luke 13:23. And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, wilt seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Make a push for it; agonize for it; for many will seek — not strive, but merely seek. Or, to put another meaning into it, strive now to enter in at the strait gate, for many will be unable, when it is too late; and that, doubtless, is the sense of the passage.


Verses 11-35

Luke 13:11-12. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.

Observe the word “Behold” here. Sometimes, in old books, they used to put a hand in the margin to call attention to something special in the text, so, this word seems as though nobody in the synagogue was worthy of such special notice as the most forlorn and desolate individual there: “a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and who bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.” It was to be a happy sabbath for her, though she did not know it. She used to go to the synagogue, though it must have been painful for her to be present; possibly, she could not even see the minister, she was so “bowed together.” It must have been a great surprise to her when the Saviour called her to him, and said to her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.”

Luke 13:13. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately he was made straight, and glorified God.

I should think she did. We have no record of what she said; she may have merely cried out, “Hallelujah”; but the very look of her, her streaming eyes filled with gratitude, her face beaming with delight, all tended to glorify God. Even if she had said nothing, her being made straight would of itself have glorified God; and, just as that once crooked woman could glorify God, so can a guilty sinner, crushed and helpless, glorify God. It was when Christ’s hands were laid upon her that she was made straight. Oh, that he would lay his hands on some of you! May this be to you the saving Sabbath of the year, that God may be glorified in you.

Luke 13:14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation,

Poor soul! Surely he was more crooked than the infirm woman was: but, alas! he did not get healed.

Luke 13:14. Because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

The Lord then answered him; and what an answer it was!

Luke 13:15-17. The Lord thou answered him, and said, 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! And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed; and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

His reply was unanswerable.

Luke 13:18. Then said he,

They were in a right frame for hearing, having been rendered attentive by their admiration for his miraculous work and his wondrous word.

Luke 13:18-22. Unto what is the kingdom of God like, and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it, and again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Practically, that is what he was always doing, “journeying toward Jerusalem,” toward that great climax of his life, his substitutionary death upon the cross of Calvary.

Luke 13:23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?

That is a question that many have asked, and some have vainly tried to answer. What did Jesus reply?

Luke 13:23-24. And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate:

Instead of gratifying idle curiosity, he excites to diligence in seeking entrance into the narrow way.

Luke 13:24. For many, say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

They will only seek, not strive, to enter in. There will also come, in the future, a time when they may seek as they will, and strive as they will, to enter in but it will be too late then. Once having passed into another world, there will be no hope for any seeker or striver.

Luke 13:25. 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, —

They do not like to go away, they are reluctant to meet their final doom. Oh, that they had been wise enough to cry for mercy when it was to be had! Now they stand, and begin to knock; and more than that, they begin to plead.

Luke 13:25. Saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us;

All this earnestness, all this deference, all this reverence have come too late.

Luke 13:25-26. And he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

“We were regular hearers of the Word; we observed all the usual forms of religion, we even went to the communion table.”

Luke 13:27-28. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you 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 you yourselves thrust out.

Driven away, yet they could see the saintly ones there, and see their own kith and kin there, for they were Jews, and they could see. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets” there, but they themselves were cast out; and what was worse for them:

Luke 13:29. 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.

Rank outsiders, far off heathen, outrageous sinners, harlots; “they shall come,” and repent, and “sit down in the kingdom of God,” and this shall cut to the quick those who were hearers of the Word, but who perished because they were workers of iniquity.

Luke 13:30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

Many who, today, seem to be unlikely to be converted, those who are “last” in character, will yet be “first” in repentance; and there who are “first” in privileges, and even in hopefulness, who will be “last” in the great day of account. May we take home to our hearts this solemn warning!

Luke 13:31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

Think of the Pharisees being concerned about Christ’s life! What an affectation of regard! Yet it was only affectation. We must always be on our guard against the foes of God even when they speak most fairly; indeed, it is their agreeable, affectionate words that we have most cause to dread.

Luke 13:32. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox,

Jesus called Herod a fox because he wanted to get Christ out of his territory without having the opprobrium of driving him away. So he sent this roundabout message to try to make a coward of the Lord, and to get him to go off on his own account.

Luke 13:32. Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

That is, “I shall stay my full time here, while I have work to do, I shall do it, and I am not going away until it is finished. I am not afraid of Herod threatening to kill me, for I am immortal till my work is done.” He is not even flurried, or put about by such a message as that. Besides when men mean to bite, they do not usually bark; and if Herod had meant to kill Christ just then, he would not have told him what he was going to do.

Luke 13:33. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

What a sad thing for Christ to have to say! So many holy men had been murdered in Jerusalem that he roughly put it as being true, in the main, that all the prophets were martyred there, the exceptions only proving the rule.

Luke 13:34. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killed the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

There was their weakness, they were like a brood of chickens; there was his power to protect them, like a hen gathers her brood under her wings; yet there was their infatuation, that they would rather perish than come and be sheltered beneath his almighty wings: “and ye would not.”

Luke 13:35. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

There will be no true glory for Jerusalem until the Jews are converted; there will be no return of Christ to that royal city until they shall welcome him with louder hosannas than they gave when he rode in triumph through the streets, and entered into the temple. The Lord grant that we may never reject Christ! Let us run, even now, like little chicks, and hide beneath the wings of the Eternal.


Verses 18-34

Luke 13:18. Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?

For men learn much by resemblances, and the things which are seen are frequently helpful to us in seeking to set forth the things which are not seen. Knowing that God is one in all that he has done, we are often able to learn from one part of his works to understand another. What, then, is God’s kingdom like? Is it like a mighty army marching with banners and trumpets? No. Is it like the raging sea, rolling onwards and sweeping everything before it? Not so; at all events, it is not so visibly.

Luke 13:19. It is like a grain of mustard seed,—

You can hardly see it; you can, however, taste it. Try it, and you shall find it pungent enough; but it is so small that you may easily pass it by: “It is like a grain of mustard seed,”

Luke 13:19. Which a man took, and cast into his garden;

It must be sown in prepared soil; and there is “a man” who knows how to cast it so that it shall fall where it will live, and where it will grow.

Luke 13:19. And it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

“The fowls of the air,” that might once have eaten it, “lodged in the branches of it.” See, in this emblem, an illustration of the growth of the kingdom of God, the vitality of the truth of God, the energy with which, from a small beginning, God’s kingdom advances to a great ending. Have you this mustard seed in your heart? It may seem a very little thing even to yourself; others may scarcely perceive it yet; but let it alone, and it will grow. Yet it will not grow without watering. Seeds may lie long in the ground, but they will not sprout until the rain has fallen to moisten the earth. Pray God to send showers of blessing upon your soul tonight, so that, even if you have no more than a grain of mustard seed in your heart, it may begin to grow. Is the grain of mustard seed sending up its shoot above the ground? Then pray God that it may grow yet more till it shall not only be just visible, but shall be so prominent that it must be seen, that those who once hated it will be compelled to see it, and to wonder at it as they behold the birds of the air coming and lodging in its branches. I pray that, in many hearts here, the grace of God may not long continue to be a small thing, but that it may advance to tree-like stature, till you shall yield comfort to fifties and hundreds, and many of you shall be like some of the trees in this great city and its suburbs. Did you ever notice them, at nightfall, when all the sparrows of the street come and lodge in the branches, and merrily twitter ere they go to their rest? There are some Christians like those trees; they have hearts so big, and they do for Christ’s service so much, that they harbour hundreds of poor little birds of the air that else would hardly know where to go for shelter. God make us such Christians that we shall be a blessing to multitudes all around us!

Luke 13:20-21. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God ? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Some expositors think that this is a picture of the kingdom of the devil, but it does not say so. If our Lord had meant to represent the power of evil, he would have given us some intimation of that kind, but he has given us none. He means to describe exactly what he had described before, for he says, “Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?” The leaven is buried, as it were: “hid in three measures of meal;” it is lost, covered up. Let it alone; by the force that is within itself it begins to work its way in the meal, and it leavens all around it until, at last, the whole three measures of meal are permeated by it, and made to feel and own its power. So is it with the grace of God where it is placed within a human heart, and so is it with the kingdom of God wherever its influence is exerted among the sons of men.

Luke 13:22-23. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?

Oh, that question! Have you never asked it yourself? Have you never heard it asked? And there are some people who are very pleased when the answer is, “Yes, very few indeed will be saved; and they all go to Salem, or Zoar, or Rehoboth, or little Bethel.” There are some who are not quite certain whether all who go even there will be saved; they seem to delight to cut and pare down to the very lowest the number of those who will be saved. With such a spirit as that, I trust we do not sympathize for a moment. Certainly, our Lord does not; listen to his reply to the question, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”

23; 24. And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

For your own part, take it for granted that there will be so few that ever will enter at all that you will have to push for it to get through the gate: “Strive to enter in at the narrow gate.” If you are not narrow in your own mind,— and it is a pity that you should be,— yet still recollect that the gate into heaven is narrow, and make up your mind that there is no getting through it except with many a push and many a squeeze.

Luke 13:25-26. 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, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

See; there are some men who will not think of going to heaven till it is too late; and then, when they get to heaven’s gate, and find it shut, they will begin to plead for admittance though they pleaded not for it before When they might have had the blessing, they would not have it; and when they cannot have it. then they grow earnest in crying for it.

Luke 13:27-28. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you 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 you yourselves thrust out.

Ejected, violently driven away, as those who are abhorrent in God’s sight because you despised his mercy.

Luke 13:29-34. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down is the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk today, and tomorrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

What a terrible contrast! “I would,.... and ye would not.” May the Lord Jesus never have to say that to any of us!

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 13:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/luke-13.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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