Luke 13


‘Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:1-5

Repent Or Perish

The Galileans were people who lived in Galilee and it’s important to remember that they weren’t under the jurisdiction of Pilate, but of Herod. The Galileans, in the time of Christ, were very wicked.

While the Galileans were sacrificing at Jerusalem, Pilate came suddenly upon them and killed them, and ‘their’ blood was mingled with the blood of the animals that they were killing for sacrifice. This doesn’t mean that Pilate ‘offered’ their blood in sacrifice, but only that as they were sacrificing he killed them.

This event isn’t mentioned by Josephus, and nothing more is known of it than what is here recorded. We learn, however, from Josephus that the Galileans were very wicked, and that they were much liable to brawls and treasons. It appears, also, that Pilate and Herod quarrelled with each other, Luke 23:8-12.

It’s not improbable that Pilate might feel a particular enmity toward the subjects of Herod. It’s likely that the Galileans excited a tumult in the temple, and that Pilate took occasion to come suddenly upon them, and show his opposition to them and Herod by slaying them.


From out of remote Glen Lyon, the longest glen in Scotland has come an intriguing oral tradition that Pontius Pilate was born in the hamlet of Fortingall, which lies at the entrance to this dramatic and picturesque highland glen.

This ancient tradition also claims that Pontius Pilate was related to the Scots King, Metallanus, whose royal seat was located on a hill fort called Dun Geal, the White Fort, at Fortingall.

According to the ancient Scots Chronicles, Metallanus was on good terms with the government of Caesar in Rome. Local tradition records a Roman camp at Fortingall and perhaps a clue as to its presence there may be found in the Latinised name of the Scots King, Metallanus.

For is known that the mining of metal ores, such as iron, took place in this area in past times and no doubt the Romans would have been particularly interested in accessing these metals. In nearby Glen Lyon is to be found an old bridge which traditionally has been known as the Roman Bridge.

Could Pontius Pilate have eventually come to Rome as a result of this Scottish Roman connection? Later being appointed the Roman Procurator of Judea at the time of the crucifixion of Christ.

Curiously, one of the oldest military regiments in the British Army is the Royal Scots, who claim to be descended from Pontius Pilate’s bodyguard, thus providing another Scoto-Roman link with the Pilate Scottish enigma.

At Caesarea in Palestine is to be found an ancient stone slab which is called the Pilate Stone due to a Latin inscription inscribed upon it which appears to read ‘Hiberieum Pontius Pilatus’. At the time of Pilate the Gaelic northerly regions of the British Isles, including Ireland, were known to the Romans as Hibernia.

Does this Latin inscription reinforce the story that Pontius Pilate originally came from Scotland according to the old Glen Lyon oral tradition?

As an aside, could it be that Pontius Pilate was schooled in the Celtic Druid tradition so prevalent in Scotland at that time? The Druid motto was ‘Truth against the world’.

Does this explain Pilate asking Jesus ‘What is truth?’, possibly a Druidic password given by one initiate to another? John 18:38. With His possible association with the Druids during His legendary visits to Britain, perhaps Jesus responded with a secret sign, hence His apparent nonverbal reply as indicated in the Gospel of John.

Jesus’ reply to them shows us what they actually thought, they were prejudiced. They hadn’t suffered such a terrible fate as the Galileans, they were glorifying the misassumption that they didn’t deserve punishment.

In that deep human prejudice to the effect that great sufferers are receiving only what they deserve lies a germ of truth, namely, that all human sorrow and suffering derive, in the last analysis, from human sin, but it’s a gross lie that all disasters that happen upon people must be attributed to their immediate, specific sins. Many suffer through the sins of others, and some for no apparent reason at all.

The great truth spoken of here, and repeated in the same words two verses later, was for the purpose of removing the false security of His hearers, both Galileans and those who live in Jerusalem.

Israel had rejected God’s call to repentance as delivered, first by John the Baptist and again by Jesus Christ and the impact of this verse is that God rejects the human device of supposing that some are righteous in a relative sense, because they aren’t like such notorious sinners as the Galileans and that the Almighty demands repentance of all men.

The perishing focuses on the fact that Israel is the primary target of this commandment, although, of course, in the general sense it applies to every man on earth. These words mean that Israel would perish in the same way that the Galileans did, that is, by the Roman sword.

Wesley, in his commentary, says the following.

‘And so they did. There was a remarkable resemblance between the fate of these Galileans and the main body of the Jewish nation. They were slain by the Roman sword, perished in the temple itself, and literally buried under its ruins.’

The Tower Of Siloam

Jesus is speaking about some construction with the pool of that same name, and having to do with the aqueduct that brought water into it, and perhaps also with the Roman fortifications of the city. Josephus wrote that ‘Pilate expended the sacred treasure which is called corban upon the aqueducts, whereby he brought water from a distance of four hundred furlongs.’

Upon the presumption that the eighteen men were workers on the construction when the tower fell, it’s easy to see how the Jews would have accounted them especially sinful, for not only were they working for the hated Romans, but they were being paid with money that Pilate had robbed from the temple treasure. However, Jesus rejected the notion that such conduct was the reason they were killed.

Significantly, this terrible accident was introduced into the conversation, not by His hearers, but by Christ himself; but He used it in exactly the same manner as He used the other incident, demanding of all people, and specifically including Israel, that they should repent or perish.

Repentance stands between every man and the merit which is in Christ Jesus. Christ’s call to repentance was next extended to include a third warning, that of the parable of the barren fig tree.

The Parable Of The Unfruitful Tree

‘Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’  “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

The Fig Tree

The fig tree would produce fruit for 10 months of the year, April and May but this one had no fruit. It had leaves on it but produces fruit before leaves, there should have been fruit on that tree. But why one fig tree in a vineyard? Well, the fig tree got affection whilst the vineyard got attention.

The Fig Tree Parable

Before breaking this parable down, let’s look at who’s who and what each part stands for.

1. The owner of the vineyard is the heavenly Father.

2. The vinedresser is the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. The vineyard is the world.

3. The fig tree is the Jewish nation.

4. Three years stands for the first three years of Jesus’ ministry.

5. Fruitlessness is Israel’s rejection of Jesus.

6. This year also is Jesus’ final year of preaching.

7. Cut it down stands for God’s judgment against Israel.

There is nothing in this parable that requires us to consider that fig tree as being only three years old. The Greek text in this place uses the past perfect ‘having been planted,’ that is, having been planted long ago in the call of Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3.

The axe was laid at the root of national Israel, Matthew 3:10. The nation was soon to be cut down. The meaning of this parable is that Israel, the fig tree, was planted years before the coming of Jesus who came to receive its fruit.

However, Israel was unfruitful in that many in Israel strayed from God to follow their own traditional religion, Mark 7:1-9. Nevertheless, Jesus, the vinedresser, pleaded to God on behalf of Israel, Matthew 23:37.  But Israel wouldn’t repent, and thus, the tree was cut down in A.D. 70.

Here was a man who had a vineyard, in which he had planted a fig tree. Just one fig tree in a garden of vines. The owner came looking for fruit on the fig tree, and, when he was disappointed, he would have destroyed the unfruitful tree had not the Vinedresser pleaded with him to spare it for one more year.

The Vinedresser said that He would give the tree every opportunity of producing fruit and then, if it failed, it would be cut down.

Remember this significant detail. The parable concerns one fig tree in a vineyard. Now, this is in itself remarkable, because it was unusual for a fig tree to be planted in a vineyard.

Notice that the tree wasn’t there by accident. It had been planted there quite deliberately. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that the vineyard wasn’t cultivated as a hobby or pastime. Nor was it kept for its beauty, or as a garden for relaxation. It existed for the value of the fruit it produced.

The solitary fig tree, on the other hand, wasn’t planted in the vineyard because it was a viable business proposition. The Lord’s parable highlights a very important difference between that one fig tree and all the other trees, the vines, in that garden.

The vines received attention. The fig tree received affection! In other words, the fig tree wasn’t meant for the market, but for the owner’s personal pleasure.

The lesson of this parable is that God expects fruit. He expects fruit because fruit is the indication of an obedient heart. If there is no fruit, then there is no active faith. And without an active faith, no one can be saved, James 2:14-16.

Jesus Heals A Crippled Woman On The Sabbath

‘On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing. Luke 13:10-17

Luke tells us that Jesus was once again teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. It’s here we are told that a woman was crippled and had been for eighteen years. She was so crippled she was constantly bent over and couldn’t straighten her body.

Notice that Jesus sees her and immediately calls her and declares that she was set free from her infirmity. This poor woman who had obviously struggled for many years didn’t come to the synagogue looking for a healing, but Jesus, out of compassion for her, healed her, Acts 4:14-16. He simply put His hands on her and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

However, while she praised God, the synagogue leader was indignant because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath. We would think that he would be happy for this poor woman but he’s obviously more concerned with the Sabbath regulations, Exodus 20:8-11, hence, why he addresses the people and tells them that healing is a form of work and shouldn’t be practised on the Sabbath, Matthew 12:10 / Mark 7:1-9 /  Luke 4:16 / John 5:16.

Notice Jesus calls them ‘hypocrites’.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘You condemn ‘me’ for an action, and yet you perform one exactly similarly. You condemn ‘me’ for doing to a woman what you do to a beast. To her I have done good on the Sabbath, you provide for your cattle, and yet blame me for working a miracle to relieve a sufferer on that day.’

The synagogue ruler should have rejoiced and praised God along with the woman because she was a daughter of Abraham, that is, she was Jewish and she was bound by Satan for eighteen long years.

Ash, in his commentary, says the following.

‘His critics would allow more for an animal than for this woman. Was it more important to lose an animal or to lose a person, note the parallel between UNTIE and LOOSED? Jesus made his case more vivid by calling the woman a daughter of Abraham and by noting how long she had been afflicted.’

It’s not surprising that Jesus’ opponents, those rulers who should have known better, were put to shame when they realise the truth of their hypocrisy. It appears the everyday people understood what Jesus was doing, hence, why they were delighted.

The Parable Of The Mustard Seed

‘Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

I want to share 3 points on this parable.

1. Just because something is little, doesn’t mean it’s not important.

When you look at the small mustard seed and you see how microscopic it is, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s not worth much. But when you talk to someone who grows these plants you will find exactly how valuable it really is.

As a spice, mustard is sold in seed or powder form and even today you can buy it in paste form. In other words, the little mustard seed by itself doesn’t look so important, but man’s experience teaches him not to minimise it. I guess what I’m saying is that the little things in life should never be discounted.

When you look at the world today, it’s obsessed with bigness. So many of our modern-day skyscrapers dwarf the tower of Babel. And so to a world obsessed with magnitude, Jesus says, “pay attention to the little things.” A cup of cold water, Mark 9:41, a visit to the sick, a welcome to a stranger, a lost sheep, Jesus says, “These are the little things”.

In Matthew 25:35-36 when Jesus is talking about the great division which will happen on judgement day. Notice He doesn’t want you to feed the world, He doesn’t want you to solve world poverty.

It’s not big things He wants from us, it’s little things. Give a hungry person someone to eat, give a thirsty person something to drink. Give someone who needs clothes, some clothes, look after and visit the lonely and sick. These aren’t big tasks, they’re little mission fields that we all can do.

Because someone has a small task within God’s kingdom doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. Doing a good deed for someone spreads the Gospel faster than 100 sermons. And that’s because just like a grain of mustard seed, they increase in size beyond imaginable proportion.

2. However important little things may be, the parable focuses on the consequences of little beginnings.

The world’s biggest buildings have generally had small beginnings. Momentous deeds and earth circling revolutions can be traced back to a speck, like a germ of mustard seed. When you think about Christianity, the world’s greatest movement had its beginnings in a manger in Bethlehem, Luke 2:10-12.

The proud and busy Roman world didn’t take any notice of the day when Jesus was born. And it casually took notice of His life, and even when Jesus died, the Roman world didn’t care much, why? Because Jesus was born in a manger, He was a carpenter from Nazareth and when He died, He was now gone, so much for a great leader!

And certainly, in outward appearances, Jesus looked less than the least of all seeds, His followers were counted by the dozen, not by the thousands. And yet, from only a handful of disciples, and despite their leader’s death on a cross. There sprang into existence the universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ, which you and I are members of today.

Twenty-one centuries have come and gone, and today He still remains the central figure for much of the human race. A thing may be small, almost without hope but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to succeed. Jesus is saying that small beginnings can succeed because it’s God who is behind it.

Their faith began unnoticed, just like the tiny mustard seed but look at it now, it has gone all around the world. Jesus said with faith like that, “you can move mountains, you can tell a tree to go and plant itself in the sea.”

3. Don’t miss the point of this parable.

Some people like to believe that the branches, which Jesus talks about here, are symbolic of modern-day denominations, Matthew 13:31-32.

In other words just as the birds come and sit in the branches of the tree, so it’s said that people can come and enter the different branches or denominations of the church.

But there are a few problems with this interpretation, they fail to ask the questions we have been asking with every parable we’ve looked at. Who was Jesus speaking to and what did it mean to them?

And to find that out we need to go back to “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” Jesus was speaking to His disciples, Matthew 13:10.

Was denominationalism around in Jesus’ day? No! Some people try to understand the parable by looking at Christianity today. What they need to do is look at Christianity as we find it in the first century.

It’s all too easy to make something mean something, which Jesus never meant it to mean. It’s too easy to speak of branches of the church, but in the days of Christ and His apostles, these different so-called branches or divisions of Christianity were unknown.

The Bible nowhere teaches that there are many churches, the Bible always talks about the unity of the church as in singular. In Matthew 16:18 when Peter gives his wonderful confession to Jesus. Jesus didn’t say, “on this rock, I will build my churches.” He said, “I will build my church, singular.”

There are other people who like to say that this parable was a prophecy of Jesus. In other words this parable remained unfulfilled until the recent rise of denominationalism, rubbish! This takes their interpretation too far, there’s no need to make everything in the parable mean something.

The branches of the mustard tree aren’t the main focus of Jesus’ attention any more than the man who sowed the mustard seed or the nests that were made in the tree’s branches.

The point of the parable is simply that the microscopic mustard seed grows into a tree. large enough for the birds to come and nest in it.

The man who sowed the seed, the field or garden, the nests, the birds themselves, are all incidental to the one central truth of the parable. And that’s, the kingdom of God, even with a small beginning would prosper and prevail over all other kingdoms. That’s what Jesus is getting at, that’s what He is teaching His disciples.

In Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he says in Daniel 2:31-45, we get a little insight into this parable. Let me give you a quick rundown of what this dream means. Daniel 2:32 talks about “The head” as being made of pure gold, this is talking about The Babylonian Empire.

Daniel 2:32 also talks about “The chest and arms” as being made of silver, this is talking about The Medo Persian Empire. Daniel also mentions “The belly and thighs” as being made of bronze, this is talking about The Roman Empire.

And in Daniel 2:34 Daniel talks about “This rock”, which is not made by human hands. And now look at Daniel 2:35, the stone cut not by human hands, struck the image down and became “a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” In other words, Daniel prophesied that God’s kingdom was destined to conquer all other kingdoms.

Now did Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream come true and was it accurate? Yes, it did, all you have to do is read your history books and you will see how accurate it was. And you will read about how one kingdom fell after another, all the great historian writers tell us all about it.

Do you realise that you are a part of a kingdom that will never be destroyed and will last forever? But don’t take my word for it, take God’s word, Daniel 2:44.

If you’re a Christian today then you’re a part of God’s spiritual kingdom right now, Philippians 3:17-20. Notice he doesn’t say, ‘will be in heaven’ but “is in heaven”, that’s present tense.

The Parable Of The Yeast

‘Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” Luke 13:20-21

Jesus is still teaching about the kingdom of God and in this parable, He shares a lesson from something He saw His mother doing time and time again.

We know bread was made at home in Palestine during this time and everywhere you went you would see women making bread. Everybody knew about the little piece of dough, which had been kept over from the previous baking, which was called yeast, and the yeast was basically a piece of fermented dough.

Jesus told a parable here, which would have highly offended those who were listening. We might be thinking well, what’s the big deal, He’s talking about yeast. Well, to understand why they were offended we need to enter the mind of the Jews again.

In Jewish thinking, yeast or leaven is almost always connected with an evil influence. The Jews connected fermentation with deterioration and rottenness, and yeast stood for that which was evil, Matthew 16:6 / 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 / Galatians 5:9. Now we can understand why the Jews would struggle with this parable.

They would be thinking how could the kingdom of God be compared to yeast? How can God’s kingdom be compared with evil? Remember when God spoke to Moses and Aaron about what the Israelites were to do in preparation for the Passover?

One of the ceremonies of preparation for the Passover feast was that every scrap of yeast had to be taken out of the house and burned and destroyed, Exodus 12:8-10.

I believe that Jesus chose this illustration of the kingdom deliberately. Imagine if you were a Jew and you were there listening to Jesus, there would be a certain shock in hearing that the kingdom of God is compared to yeast. But that shock would arouse interest and get attention, as an illustration from an unusual and unexpected source always does.

Jesus spoke of yeast in the good sense, He saw how the women use it for a good purpose to make light and wholesome bread. And so when you look at yeast the way Jesus looks at yeast, you can understand that the kingdom of God is like yeast in many ways.

So now that we understand the background to this parable, I would like to share with you 3 thoughts about this yeast or leaven as some translations have it.

1. The yeast of Christ works from the inside out.

Those of you who are bakers and make your own bread will know exactly what I’m talking about. When you’re making bread, you know that yeast will do nothing to your mixture unless you mix it through, and that’s because yeast does its work from within. In other words, yeast can do nothing to the dough unless it’s put inside, it has to get right inside the dough to work properly.

Christianity works the same way, the influence that changes a person works within a person’s heart. You can change the external things about your life but your heart will still be the same.

A poverty-stricken nation may receive food and clothing and better housing, but that nation will not really be changed until it’s given something within.

The task of Christianity is to make new men, not new things. It’s not the outward things that are the problem, it’s the human heart that’s the problem, Mark 7:21-22.

In other words, once the new people are created, the new world will follow. A man isn’t converted unless he’s converted within, a person isn’t converted unless their heart is changed.

So Christianity is like yeast, it’s not the outside trying to get in, but the inside trying to get out, Proverbs 27:19.

2. There’s real quality in the transforming power of yeast.

Did you know that when yeast is put into the baking meal, it changes the ingredients? It does, what happens is that the dough is turned into a bubbling, seething mass.

When Christ and His kingdom are introduced to people, great changes take place. And that’s because Christianity is a disturbing thing, it disturbs people, it upsets people, Acts 16:20-21 / Acts 17:5-8.

But why do they get upset? They get upset because God’s Word exposes their sin, Hebrews 4:12. And sometimes you don’t even have to say a word about God but because they know you’re a Christian, you’re exposing their darkness, and people don’t like being exposed, John 3:20.

But these are the kind of people that Christ can help because when Christ comes into a person’s heart, that person becomes a new man or woman. Paul says when a person lets the yeast of Christ work in them and through them, they have new thoughts, Colossians 3:1-4.

A Christian starts to think differently about themselves and the world they live in. Paul says that a person who comes into contact with Christ starts to live differently, Colossians 3:5-7.

But something else happens to a person when they accept the yeast of Christ. When the disciples were talking about places of honour, Jesus says that when you become a Christian your idea of work changes, you get new ambitions of work and service, Matthew 20:25-28.

The yeast of Christ is so powerful it can take a person like the apostle Paul who said that he was the worst of all sinners. And how does He do that? Christ does that because He loves us and He has told us that whoever becomes a Christian is a new creation because the old has gone, 2 Corinthians 5:14-17.

When you allow Christ to influence your life with His words, you will be amazed at the results. Jesus Christ can change someone who is willing to allow God to change them, Galatians 5:22-24.

The yeast of Christ is powerful loved ones and there’s not a person you have ever met or will ever meet who cannot be changed by the Word of God.

3. The yeast of Christ cannot be contained.

Yeast works contagiously, Matthew 13:33. When yeast gets put into the mixture it doesn’t stop until it has spread through the whole mixture. And Jesus says that’s exactly what the kingdom of God is like, it spreads like an infection.

When you think about some of Jesus’ first disciples, other people brought them to Him. In other words, Andrew found Peter and Philip found Nathanael, and from then onwards the number of disciples just grew and grew and grew, the early church multiplied by leaps and bounds, John 1:40-45.

When you think about the Lord’s church, it’s very much in the soul-winning business. Where we’re reps for Jesus Christ and the only way the church can do its business is for every single member to be a soul winner for Christ too.

The Narrow Door

‘Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30

As Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, someone asked Him, ‘are only a few people going to be saved?’ it’s interesting to note that Jesus never answered the question or the person who asked the question, instead He speaks to ‘them’, that is, all those who were present.

Jesus addresses them and tells them to make every effort, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 / Philippians 3:12 / 1 Timothy 6:12 / 2 Timothy 4:7, to enter through the narrow door, Matthew 7:13-14. Jesus says that many will try to enter the door but won’t be able to, 1 Peter 5:6 / 2 Corinthians 6:2.

Because the way requires a humility that is combined with suffering and persecution, few will enter the door into heaven, Luke 13:24 / Acts 14:22. This door is wide and many will enter the gate to condemnation into hell, which is the way of indifference, self-righteousness, laziness and hypocrisy.

The fact that Jesus states in Matthew 7:13-14, that it is wide assumes that most people will be lost. Most people who live upon the face of the earth will choose not to obey God. People must enter through the narrow gate, which implies the road will be difficult, not many will find it but the reward will be worth it.

I wonder how many people are going to come up before the Lord’s counter, expecting to get into heaven even though they are not truly prepared. Many feel they are right with God, but they make sincere yet big mistakes in their life choices, expecting God to make an exception for them.

Jesus spoke the truth plainly, didn’t He? It’s not enough just to cry out, ‘Lord, Lord!’ Matthew 7:21-23. We must do the will of the heavenly Father if we hope to be saved!

These verses clearly disprove the notion of salvation by faith only, though many denominations teach such. We must obey the will of the heavenly Father to the best of our ability, Luke 6:46.

There are ‘many’, Matthew 7:13, who will try to rationalise their way into heaven by listing certain accomplishments or acts of service, but it won’t work. The problem ultimately is that the Lord doesn’t know them!

In spite of the fact that they have done some good deeds, they are guilty of practising sinful behaviour, ‘lawlessness’! They are not right before God in taking the broad path that leads to destruction. They feel that they deserve salvation for certain acts of service, even though they haven’t genuinely been obedient.

When we stand before God’s throne in judgment, the stakes are of an eternal nature. Those who are sincere but wrong won’t make it into the heavenly abode, despite eating and drinking with Him simply because He didn’t know them, Matthew 7:21-23.

We must do everything within our power to ensure that we are not of that number! We must believe and obey God’s word today!

Some of the Jews rejected Jesus, John 1:11, and as a result, God would reject them, Matthew 22:13 / Matthew 25:30 / 2 Peter 2:17 / Jude 13 / Matthew 11:11 / Matthew 21:43.

The weeping and gnashing of teeth are used figuratively to speak of the terrors of hell, Matthew 13:42 / Matthew 13:50 / Matthew  22:13 / Luke 13:28.

Notice that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets are in the kingdom of God, but they will be thrown out. People will come from all directions, from all over the earth to take their places at the feast, Isaiah 45:6 / Isaiah 49:12 / Colossians 1:13 / Hebrews 11:8-10. They will enjoy the eternal joys of heaven.

Jesus says those who are last, will be first, and first, will be last, Matthew 20:16 / Luke 13:30.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following, concerning the first and last.

‘The Jews, who have been the first and most distinguished people of God, will, in general, reject the Gospel of my grace, and be consequently rejected by me. The Gentiles, who have had no name among the living, shall be brought to the knowledge of the truth, and become the first, the chief, and most exalted people of God. That this prediction of our Lord has been literally fulfilled, the present state of the Christian and Jewish Churches sufficiently proves. To illustrate this fully, and to demonstrate that the Jews and Gentiles were now put on an equal footing by the Gospel, our Lord speaks the following parable, which has been unhappily divided from its connection by making it the beginning of a new chapter.’

Jesus’ Sorrow For Jerusalem

‘At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’ Luke 13:31


The name Herod was given to the family ruling Palestine immediately before and to some degree during the first half of the first Christian century. Their family history was complex, and what information has come down has been frequently small, conflicting, and difficult to harmonise.

A Jewish political party called the Herodians sympathized with the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs, that they introduced from Rome, Mark 3:6 / Mark 12:13 / Matthew 22:16 / Luke 20:20.

They were at one with the Sadducees in holding the duty of submission to Rome, and of supporting the Herods on the throne, Mark 8:15 / Matthew 16:6.

Herod was the family name of several Roman rulers who served as provincial governors of Palestine and surrounding regions during New Testament times.

The first Herod, known as Herod the Great, was the Roman ruler of Palestine during the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Matthew 2:1 / Luke 3:1.

All the other Herods mentioned in the New Testament were the sons or grandsons of this Herod. Herod’s son Antipas is the Herod we’re dealing with here, was the Roman governor of Galilee and Perea, Matthew 14:1.

And if you remember, Antipas was responsible for the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist, Luke 3:19-20 / Matthew 14:1-12.

Jesus is possibly in or around the region of Galilee at this point which was Herod’s jurisdiction, and, on the surface, it appears some ‘well-intentioned’ Pharisees came along to warn Jesus that Herod was out to kill Him.

I guess the question we should ask is simply this, were they truly sincere? Did they really care so much for Jesus that they went out of their way to warn Him? Or did they have something else in mind?

Throughout the Gospels we see the Pharisee’s attitude towards Jesus and I just can’t believe for one moment they cared for Jesus in any shape or form, time and time again we’ve seen them clash with Him and look for any excuse to get rid of Him.

Remember John the Baptist had a great number of people following him, this is one reason why Herod had him arrested. The Pharisees may have told Jesus that Herod wants to kill Jesus for the same reason, He has a great following.

The problem with this theory is that if Herod really did want to kill Jesus, why didn’t he do so later when he had the chance? Luke 23:11.

So, What Was Their Real Motive?

It is possible that they tried to intimidate Him in an effort to get Him to stop teaching against their ‘religion’, but I believe the real motive which is in the character of the Pharisees is that they wanted to scare Jesus into returning to Jerusalem, where of course, they planned to kill him themselves.

‘He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ Luke 13:32

Notice Jesus calls Herod ‘that fox’ in the Greek text it simply says, ‘she fox’, a fox isn’t a large, bold or courageous animal, it’s the complete opposite, it’s small, weak, sly, and cunning character.

Jesus may be referring to Herodias, Herod’s wife, who if you remember was very influential in the murder of John the Baptist, Matthew 14:8-11/ Mark 6:24-28.

Whatever Jesus was referring to, He basically says that Herod himself was a small, weak and sly governor who wasn’t worthy of any respect or honour.

It’s clear that Jesus wasn’t that bothered about what the Pharisees, He saw through the deception, and so, He will continue to drive out demons and heal people, and what was His goal?

To get to Jerusalem, where He would eventually die for all of mankind. If we learn anything from Jesus, surely, it’s the lesson of intimidation, we must be willing to continue to move forward in preaching the Gospel, no matter how much the world tries to intimidate us, Acts 4:19-20.

‘In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!’ Luke 13:33

Jesus says He’s not planning to be in Herod’s territory very long anyway, but He won’t be intimidated into leaving his territory by anyone.

Jesus had one thing on His mind and that was getting to Jerusalem, He was well aware of what His mission was, the Jews, the disciples or even Herod were going to change His mind, He was determined to do the will of the Father and go to the cross, Genesis 3:15 / Revelation 13:8.

It’s clear that Jesus knew that He wouldn’t be safe in Jerusalem but He also knew and prophesied time and time again that He would die in Jerusalem, and although these Pharisees tried to trick Jesus into going to Jerusalem, they weren’t aware that His mind was already made up to go, He knew their plans, He knew their schemes and He certainly knew that they were planning to murder Him in Jerusalem.

‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.’ Luke 13:34

Notice that Jesus speaks of Jerusalem as if it was a person. You can almost feel the heartache in His words, the heartache wasn’t about Himself, it wasn’t about them rejecting Him, the heartache was all about the people.

He sees Jerusalem’s future and it wasn’t bright, it wasn’t glorious, it was bleak and one of the darkest times in Jerusalem’s history, He saw its destruction, A.D.70. Jesus mourns deeply over the city which once stood as the centre for worshipping God for many, many years.

Just like God forgave Nineveh long ago, He would have forgiven Jerusalem and if they would only repent He would gladly gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks, which is a picture of gentleness and love.

It was the great, Jerusalem, of which the people refused to repent when asked to by the prophets, Luke 5:12 / Hebrews 11:32-40. Ah, Jerusalem, they murdered the Old Testament prophets and now they’re getting ready to do the same with Jesus, the true King.

Notice that Jesus says, ‘your house’, this is a reference to the temple but by the time Jesus came along didn’t have any significance in reference to God, it wasn’t God’s house anymore, it was their house.

The temple which once stood for everything which was right, the place of righteousness had become the place of unrighteous practices and worship.

God had abandoned His house because the so-called religious leaders had abandoned God, Luke 15:1-9 / Mark 7:1-9. I guess we could say they stole the vineyard and were about to kill the Son of the owner, Matthew 21:33-45.

God was finished with the temple and all its practices because the temple had become desolate of spiritual leadership, 1 Kings 9:1ff / Jeremiah 12:7 / Jeremiah 22:5.

Ah the temple, the place where the holy place was and holy of holies, the place where God’s glory once shone out among the nations, the temple in which not long from now was going to be destroyed by the Romans in A.D.70.

‘I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Luke 13:35

In the last verse, Jesus tells them they won’t see Him again until they say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ which is a quote from Psalm 118:26.

Jerusalem and her self-righteous leaders wouldn’t repent and so in that sense, they wouldn’t see personally see Jesus again. We do know that after He rose from the grave He would appear personally to His disciples, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, but not to them.

The Pharisees came to Jesus with a lie in an effort to get Him to go to Jerusalem, but little did they know He intended to go there anyway.

Jesus loved His people, even those who tried to trick Him, abuse Him and who would eventually murder Him. He longed for them to repent so that He could gently wrap them in His loving arms, but they refused.

We all have people in our lives whom we care for and love deeply, sadly, many of them don’t want anything to do with Jesus because they too refuse to change their ways. Many people throughout the world refuse to reconsider their position before God because they don’t want anything to do with Him.

Jesus longed for Jerusalem to repent, He waited a long time, and He was very patient with them, but God’s patience ran out. There’s a time coming when His patience is going to run out with all those who refuse to acknowledge His existence and turn to Him for salvation, 1 Timothy 3:4 / 2 Peter 3:9-10.

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