Hi I’m Josh Hawkins, welcome to Episode 95 of Opening Up the Gospels. In the last episode we looked at the extended teaching Jesus gave from Luke 12 and 13 between the feast of Tabernacles in October and the Feast of Dedication in December of 28AD. We saw Jesus condemn the Jewish authorities for their hypocrisy and their love of wealth and possessions. He said that their hypocrisy will be revealed in time. Their desire to impress people outwardly would lead to a double life that would cause them to eventually ignore what God says altogether. We also looked at how Jesus was again so explicit about His mission - which as I’ve already talked about so much in this series, is the division of Israel. In today’s episode we’re going to continue looking at Luke 13. Likely these events happened in November or December of 28, just before the feast of Dedication. So let’s read from Luke 13 starting in verse 10:
"Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him."
(Luke 13:10–17 ESV)
Jesus is once again healing on the Sabbath day, something we’ve seen Him do several times already throughout the Gospels. He does it again right here to expose and confront the hypocrisy of the Jews. There was a woman who had been oppressed by a demon and was unable to stand up straight for the past 18 years. Jesus shows His compassion and power by healing her, and she responded by glorifying God. Now remember, Jesus had just finished rebuking both the crowds and the leaders for their hypocrisy back in chapter 12. Many in the crowds and especially the Jewish authorities were not interested in who Jesus was and the repentance that His message was demanding. The synagogue ruler, the one who was responsible for maintaining order at the synagogue and officiating the various aspects of the service, was indignant toward Jesus. His authority had been bypassed, and He was angry that Jesus had desecrated the Sabbath, at least according to His belief. There was absolutely nothing in the Law that restricted healing on the Sabbath, but the Jewish authorities had constructed traditions that became as authoritative as the Law itself. And those traditions are what Jesus was violating to show that they were hypocritical. If you want some more background on understanding these traditions go back and watch Episode 93. Let’s keep reading in Luke 13:
"He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”"
(Luke 13:22–30 ESV)
Let’s not forget what we’ve looked at back in episode 90 and 91. We read back in Luke 9:51 that Jesus was up in Galilee and had set His face to go to Jerusalem. This was for the Feast of Tabernacles in October. Luke told us in Luke 10:38 that He was in Bethany at the home of Mary and Martha, which is just two miles outside Jerusalem. Then John picks up the narrative of Jesus being in Jerusalem for the feast, and after leaving the feast He travels around Judea and Perea, teaching. And now Luke tells us that Jesus is again journeying towards Jerusalem. This is for the feast of Dedication, which is in December.
The words Jesus speaks here may be familiar to us already, and that’s because Matthew takes this teaching and groups it with others in Matthew 5 through 7. This scene here in Luke is the chronological occasion for Jesus’ words in Matthew’s grouping in the Sermon on the Mount. Remember who Jesus is talking to here in context. It’s the people of Israel. So someone comes up to Him and asks “Lord, are only a few of the people of Israel going to be saved?” Jesus answers by using an easily understood analogy. He says that a time will come when the master of the house will rise up and shut the door, and that there will be people who will be standing outside knocking at the door asking to be let in and the master will say “I don’t know you, I don’t know where you come from.” And then the people will say “Lord, we ate and drank with you, you taught in our streets” and the master will say “depart from me, you workers of evil.” Think about the severity of what Jesus is saying. A time is coming when the door of repentance will close for Israel, and the time to respond to Jesus will end. And the generation of Israelites that had the privilege of God dwelling in their midst, eating and drinking with them and teaching them will be cast away from Him weeping and bitterly angry when they see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets inheriting the promises God made through the covenants. And Gentiles, others who come from the east and west and north and south will also participate in the eschatological kingdom that was specifically for the Jews. Jesus here is pointing out the inclusion of Gentiles and the partial hardening of Israel because of their rejection of Him. According to the prophets in passages like Isaiah 25, God will be hosting a great eschatological banquet. But because of Israel’s refusal to bear the fruits of repentance, the majority of them will not participate in the great feast. Do you feel how intense this is? This is just after the parable Jesus gave a few verses earlier about the tree being cut down. Remember, it’s just a few months before His crucifixion. Only a small remnant of Israel will believe Jesus and His message and thus be saved from God’s wrath on the Day of the Lord. Those who think they will inherit the age to come and the resurrection of the dead will actually not inherit it at all, and some of those who Israel thinks deserves judgment will actually repent and be a part of the age to come. Does that make sense? Note that “being saved” isn’t about going to heaven when you die - in context, to be “saved” is to participate in the promises God has made in the Law and the Prophets. Well let’s read a bit more in Luke 13:
"At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’"
(Luke 13:31–33 ESV)
At a later point, some Pharisees came to Jesus and warn Him of Herod’s desire to kill him. Either these Pharisees are sympathetic to Jesus or they are just trying to find a way to get Jesus to leave their region. They say “get away from here”, implying that Jesus’ location is what is putting him in danger. Now as I mentioned earlier, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the feast of Dedication in December. So I think we can assume He is in closer proximity to Herod, perhaps near the border between Judea and Perea, perhaps near where John the Baptist had been captured, or perhaps a bit further south near one of Herod’s fortresses. Regardless of exactly where it is, we do see a clear progression towards Jerusalem. Now Jesus responds by saying that His final destination was Jerusalem because it was there where He was appointed to die, just like Israel’s prophets. Jesus had a mission that He was on, and the phrase “today, tomorrow, and the day following” simply means that He would continue on His mission without diversion from the schedule He had set for Himself. Jesus continues by saying:
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”"
(Luke 13:34–35 ESV)
Jesus deeply laments over Israel and the representative city of Jerusalem because of her lack of repentance. As their promised Messiah and God in the flesh, He longed to protect and restore the nation with gentleness, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. Even though He was being so tender and loving toward them, they were not willing to hear Him. The nation who had killed the prophets God sent to them would soon kill Him. Because the people of Israel had rejected Him, He now rejects them. He says “your house is forsaken”, which alludes to passages like Jeremiah 12:7 and Psalm 69:25, essentially meaning that God had abandoned the nation to judgment. Here, Jesus is alluding to the coming destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This manner of judgment is something God had decreed to Israel as part of the covenantal curses He had spoken back in Deuteronomy 28. In Matthew chapter 23 and 24, Matthew links these words with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70AD. The covenantal curses would continue to be upon them until the end of the age when their power would be completely shattered and they would cry out for their deliverance, when the whole repentant nation, not just a remnant, would welcome Jesus as their God and Messiah from Psalm 118 by saying “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”.
Well that’s it for today’s episode. Next time we’ll continue looking at more of the events between October and December of 28 from Luke chapter 14. If you’ve missed any of the past episodes, you can find them all on my website - www.joshuahawkins.com/gospels. God bless, come back next time.