If you sin, stop it
- 13:1 Some people in the crowd approached Jesus and told him that Pilate had murdered some fellow Galileans who had gone to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple.
- 13:2 Jesus asked them, “Do you think this means those Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans?
- 13:3 No it doesn’t. But I’ll also tell you this. Unless you reject1 your sinful way of living, you’ll die, too.
- 13:4 And remember those 18 people who died when the tower in Siloam2 collapsed and fell on them? Were they worse than anyone else in Jerusalem?
- 13:5 No they weren’t. But I’ll tell you this. Unless you reject your sinful way of living, you’ll die, too.”
Story of a figless fig tree
- 13:6 Jesus told this parable.3 "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He went to see if any figs were growing, and there wasn’t a fig on a branch.4
- 13:7 He went to the worker who maintained his vineyard and complained, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to this tree looking for a fig and I have never found a single one. Get it out of my vineyard. Why should it take up any space in my dirt?’
- 13:8 The vineyard worker answered, “Please sir, let’s give it one more year. I’ll dig around the tree and add some manure as fertilizer.
- 13:9 Maybe then it will bear some fruit next year. But if it doesn’t, you can go ahead and take it down.’”
Practicing medicine on the Sabbath
- 13:10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath
- 13:11 when he saw a woman suffering because of a spirit inside her that left her weak and unable to enjoy her life—for the past 18 years. She was bent over and couldn’t straighten up.
- 13:12 Jesus called her out and said, “Dear lady, you are free—no longer a slave to this weakness.”
- 13:13 Jesus put his hands on her and she instantly stood up straight. She burst out thanking God and saying wonderful things about him.
- 13:14 The synagogue leader got ticked. He knew that Jews weren’t supposed to practice medicine on the Sabbath.5 So he scolded the crowd in the synagogue, “There are six days for working. Come on one of those days to get yourself healed. Don’t be coming here on the Sabbath for that.”
- 13:15 The Lord answered, “Tell me this, you hypocrites. Every Sabbath, don’t each one of you untie your ox or your donkey so they’re free to get a drink of water?
- 13:16 Shouldn’t this woman be freed, too? She’s a daughter of Abraham who has been tied up by Satan for 18 years. Why not free her on the Sabbath?”
- 13:17 With those words, Jesus put his critics to shame. Everyone else was happy about all the wonderful things he did.
How mustard grows
- 13:18 Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How on earth can I possibly help you picture it?
- 13:19 Let’s try this. In a way, it’s like a tiny mustard seed that a man threw into his garden. The seed grew into a plant as tall as a small tree. It grew big enough that even birds could build their nests in its branches.”
How yeast permeates
- 13:20 He tried another example. “What on earth can I use as an illustration to help you understand the Kingdom of God?
- 13:21 Let’s try this. It’s like yeast that a woman worked into bread dough. She used just a tiny bit of yeast, mixing it into 3 gallons6 of flour. But by the time she finished working the dough, the yeast was everywhere."
Door to the Kingdom of God
- 13:22 Constantly headed toward Jerusalem, Jesus taught the people in town after town and village after village.
- 13:23 Someone asked him, “Sir, will only a few get saved?” He answered,
- 13:24 “Do the absolute best you can to squeeze through the narrow door into the Kingdom of God. I’m telling you, many people will try to get through that door, but they won’t make it.
- 13:25 It’s like this, when the owner of a house locks the door, you’re going to be left standing outside. You’ll knock on the door and you’ll say, ‘Sir, please open the door for us.’ But he’ll holler back from inside, ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from.’
- 13:26 You’ll say, ‘But we ate together. And you taught in the streets of our town.’
- 13:27 But he’ll say it again, ‘I don’t know who you are or where you come from. So get away from me you troublemakers who love to hurt people.'7
- 13:28 When you see where you’re headed, you troublemakers will bawl, clench your jaw, and grind your teeth in horror. You’ll get to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You’ll see all the prophets, too. They’ll all be there in the Kingdom of God. But you won’t be. You’re going to get thrown out.
- 13:29 But there are others, good people, who will come from the East and the West and the North and the South. They will sit at the banquet table in the Kingdom of God.
- 13:30 But here’s a little heads-up for you. Some people who don’t seem very important here will be some of the most important people there. And some of the people who are most important here are not going to seem especially important there.”
Jesus gets sad about Jerusalem
- 13:31 Within the hour some Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “You’d better get out of here if you want to live. Herod8 wants to kill you.”
- 13:32 Jesus told them, “Go give that fox a message for me. ‘Look, I’m exorcising demons and curing sick people. I’m doing it today. I’ll be doing it tomorrow. I’ll be finished with my work on day three.’
- 13:33 It’s true, I have to continue my trip today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. I don’t have a choice because it wouldn’t do for a prophet to die outside of Jerusalem.
- 13:34 Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem. City that kills the prophets. City that stones to death messengers sent by God. So many times I have wanted to gather your children around me like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings of protection. But you didn’t want that.
- 13:35 Your Jerusalem home will become a home for no one. I’m telling you this, the next time you see me you’ll be saying, ‘He comes with God’s approval and on God’s behalf.'”9
The Greek word is often translated “repent.”
Siloam is an ancient area in East Jerusalem, just south of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was once the neighborhood home of the Pool of Siloam and the Tower of Siloam, both of which are mentioned in the Bible.
A parable is a story with a spiritual message embedded in it.
It usually takes a fig tree about two years to produce figs. But it can take up to six years. Figs in Israel are harvested in August and September.
The laws of Moses simply say Jews are not supposed to work on the Sabbath. But Pharisees and many other Jews at the time had a long list of activities they considered work – and treating sick people who weren’t in danger of dying that particular day was one of them. The idea was that doctors and miracle workers needed a day off, too.
“Evildoers” is a more traditional translation.
Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee. He is one of the sons of Herod the Great.
A more traditional translation would be: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (NASB). Jesus seems to be quoting Psalm 118:26.
Why do you think some people told Jesus “that Pilate had murdered some fellow Galileans” (13:1)? It seems like a statement from out of the blue.
Pilate’s murder of some Galileans along with the tragedy of the people killed “when the tower in Siloam collapsed” (13:4) seem like pretty odd springboards to an object lesson about sin and repentance. Why do you think Jesus saw this as an opportunity to teach that particular lesson?
What do you think was the point of the story of the figless fig tree (13:6-9)?
It seems pretty incredible that someone could see the miracle of Jesus healing the lady who was “bent over and couldn’t straighten up” (13:11) and then complain that Jesus did his miracle on the wrong day of the week. What does it take to produce a person that insensitive to the needs of others?
What do you think of the comeback Jesus gave to the synagogue leader? “Shouldn’t this woman be freed, too? She’s a daughter of Abraham who has been tied up by Satan for 18 years. Why not free her on the Sabbath?” (13:16).
What do you think is the point of the little story about how mustard seed grows (13:18-19)?
What would you guess is the point of the story about how yeast gets worked into bread dough (13:20-21)?
Jesus tells a distressing story about someone getting locked out of a house (13:25-27). This house sounds to some like a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. What message do you think Jesus is trying to teach with the story?
Jesus says that in the Kingdom of God, “Some people who don’t seem very important here will be some of the most important people there” (13:30). Does it sound to you like there will be some kind of the caste system in the Kingdom? Or is he trying to make another point?
When Pharisees tell Jesus that Herod is wanting to kill him, Jesus says he will be working for the next two days but “I’ll be finished with my work on day three” (13:32). Do you think Jesus means that he will be done with his work in Galilee, the area that Herod controls? Or is he thinking that Herod will think that, but that the disciples—years later –will realize he was talking about something else?
LIFE APPLICATION. The synagogue leader who “got ticked” (13:14) because Jesus healed someone on the wrong day of the week sounds like the poster boy for someone who cares more about the letter of the law then the spirit of the law. These days, where do we see that kind of thing going on?