Lesson: Begins Teaching Return to Jerusalem with Special Words About Herod
(Psalm 6:8) Luke 13:22-35
God’s kingdom is at work in this world, but many people fail to take advantage of their opportunities. Instead of entering the kingdom, some people only ask questions about it. Salvation is not a theory to discuss; it is a miracle to experience. No wonder Jesus wept when He saw sinners passing-up their opportunities to be saved! Do not wait for opportunities to come; they are already here.
22 And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
Jesus is continuing to move toward Jerusalem. Luke has already told us that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to keep a divine appointment: “And it came to pass, when the time was come, that He should be received up, He steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He was on His way there, on His way to die in Jerusalem. This was to be our Savior’s last journey. There He will attend the Feast of Dedication, which was in the winter, when traveling was uncomfortable. Along the way, He will be about His Father’s business; and therefore, whatever cities or villages he went through, he gave them a sermon or two, not only in the cities, but in the country villages.
(Luke 13:23-30) Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? 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. 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. 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. 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.
Why this question was asked is hard to determine, but it drew a lengthy answer from the Lord. Perhaps the one who asked was sincere. The charisma of Christ drew the multitudes, but they soon discovered that it cost to follow Him. There were those coming and going all the time. As He approached Jerusalem for the last time it was noticeable. There came a day when it was written, “And they all forsook Him, and fled” (Mark 14:50). He made it abundantly clear that it would cost to follow Him. The question, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” was very important to the religious leaders, since they taught that all the people of Israel would have a place in heaven. After all, they are God’s chosen people. Think about how many there are who are very confident that they will be saved, but will instead be rejected on the Judgment Day.
When Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate,” it was meant for more than the person who asked the question; it was meant for you and me. All those who will be saved must enter in at the strait gate, they must undergo a change, and they must be born again. Now Jesus answers the question, “Are there few that shall be saved?” His answer is, “Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” They seek, but they do not strive. The reason why many people are not saved is because they are guilty of lazy seeking. They believe in Jesus, but He is not vital to their lives. They hope to be saved by being good, belonging to the right church, being baptized, doing good deeds or perhaps pleading with God on their death bed. But their convictions are weak, because they don’t know enough and they don’t believe enough, and, consequently, their desires are cold, and their efforts are feeble, and therefore they come short, and lose the prize, because they do not press forward.
The phrase “the kingdom of God” in this instance refers to the millennial kingdom when the Old Testament patriarchs will be resurrected to join Christ, and the redeemed of all the ages, during His one-thousand-year earthly reign. Coming from the four winds could refer to the regathering of Israel which will take place as the kingdom age begins, or it could refer to the cosmopolitan makeup of the kingdom. Both will be true.
The last being first and the first turning out to be last must have been a thought of considerable magnitude for any Jewish hearers who considered it. Just think, those who judged Christ and condemned Him to death will one day stand before Him who is the Almighty God of the universe. Things will be different then.
(Luke 13:31-33) 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 to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
A group of Pharisees came to Jesus pretending concern for his welfare. They warn Jesus of Herod’s intention to put Him to death. In His reply to the Pharisees, the Lord Jesus labeled Herod Antipas, the Galilean tetrarch, who had already beheaded John the Baptist, and wanted also to kill Jesus, a fox. By that, He insinuated that Herod was deceitful and crafty as well as insignificant. Even the sly Herod could not slow down God’s divine plan. Jesus was not concerned about what Herod might do to Him, for He knew that no one could touch Him until He had finished all the work the Father had sent Him to do. He could lay down His life, but no one could take it from Him. He said He would continue to cast out devils, heal and preach until He is perfected, and that will be at His resurrection. His destiny was to die in Jerusalem and man could not alter God’s plans.
(Luke13:34-35) 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! 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.
Jesus grieved over Jerusalem, because they would not listen to the prophets, nor would they welcome those whom God had sent to them, instead they killed them. These words reveal Jesus’ heart. The image of a hen and chicks depicted the love, protection, shelter, and care of a mother toward her children. This is a picture of Jesus’ care for His people Israel. He revealed that He is willing to receive and care for poor souls that come to him, and put themselves under his protection:
Jesus knew that Jerusalem, not Herod, was the real threat to His life. The expression of grief for Jerusalem recognizes its bloody past, but also recognizes its blessed future, which will not occur until the end of the Great Tribulation.