Setting

In the last lesson we studied Jesus’ teachings on preparing for times of crises. In this chapter the Lord continued this theme by warning the people about the consequence of obstinacy. This chapter also reminds us of Jesus’ journey toward His final destiny (22), ending with the lament over Jerusalem. As God’s will continues to be fulfilled through Christ, the people must make every effort to enter God’s kingdom before the time of judgment comes upon them.

Key Verse

(13:24)

Did You Know...?

1. The Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled (13:1): Galileans were susceptible to revolt. Apparently, these Galileans had violated Roman law, resulting in their bloody punishment.
2. The tower in Siloam (13:4) was built inside the southeast section of Jerusalem’s wall. [ref]
3. Mustard seed (13:19): The mustard seed is not the smallest seed known today, but it was the smallest seed used by Palestinian farmers and gardeners, and under favorable conditions the plant could reach some ten feet in height. [ref]
4. Fox (13:32): Today foxes connote cleverness; in Jesus’ day they also connoted insignificance (cf. Neh 4:3; S of Sol 2:15). [ref]

Outline

  • Bearing Fruit of Repentance
    (13:1-9)
  • Repent or perish
    (13:1-5)
  • Parable of the unfruitful tree
    (13:6-9)
  • Healing A Woman with Infirmity on the Sabbath
    (13:10-17)
  • Parables of the Kingdom
    (13:18-21)
  • Entering through the Narrow Gate
    (13:22-30)
  • Lament over Jerusalem
    (13:31-35)

Segment Analysis

  • 13:1-9

    1a.

    According to verse 2, what is a common misconception about a person’s misfortune?

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    It was supposed that those who met with disasters were worse sinners than others. Such assumption implies that those who did not suffer such things were more righteous.

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  • 1b.

    How did the Lord Jesus correct this misconception?

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    Tragic deaths do not necessarily indicate that such people were worse sinners. On the other hand, those who are spared should not be complacent. Everyone who does not repent will suffer the final death (cf. Rev 20:11-15).

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  • 2.

    What does bearing fruit represent? Are you bearing fruit in your life?

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    Fruit represents a person’s speech, conduct, and way of life (cf. Lk 6:43- 45; Mt 7:15-23). In this context, bearing fruit means living a life that reflects true repentance (cf. Lk 3:8-9). In other words, we need to live according to God’s commands rather than according to our sinful desires (Gal 5:16-26).

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  • 3.

    What can we learn from the fact that the owner gave the fruitless tree another year?

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    1. God is patient with us in order to lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4; 2Pet 3:9). 2. We should not try God’s patience. Once the period of grace is over, we will have to face God’s judgment (Rom 2:5; 11:22).

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  • 13:10-17

    4.

    How had the synagogue ruler misunderstood God’s intended purpose for the Sabbath commandment?

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    God made the Sabbath day for us to rest. That is why He wants us to set aside all work on this day. But the synagogue ruler, thinking that healing was considered working, condemned such a good deed. He thought of the Sabbath as a day bondage when God intended it to be a day of release from our burdens.

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  • 5.

    What hypocrisy was Jesus referring to (15)?

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    For practical reasons, they laid down rules that allowed animals to be released and to drink on the Sabbath. But they forbade the sick and needy, who were of more value than animals, from being loosened from their bondage on the Sabbath. They allowed work when it was for their own convenience but condemned it when it was done for the need of others (cf. Lk 11:46).

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  • 6.

    Did the Lord Jesus abolish the Sabbath by healing on this day?

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    Whenever Jesus confronted his adversaries concerning the Sabbath, the point of contention was always on what was lawful to do on the Sabbath, not whether Sabbath was necessary. Nowhere in the Scripture did Christ ever abolish the Sabbath.

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  • 13:18-21

    7.

    What is the common characteristic in both parables?

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    The magnification of power that is hidden in something small.

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  • 8.

    What do these parables teach us about the kingdom of God?

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    Because birds and leaven frequently represent the evil one, sin, and hypocrisy in other parts of the Bible (Lk 8:5,12; Rev 18:2; Mt 16:6-12; 1 Cor 5:6-8; Gal 5:9; Ex 12:15), these parables refer to the workings of heresy and sin hidden in the expansion of God’s kingdom.

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  • 13:22-30

    9.

    Why did the Lord not respond directly to the question, “are there few who are saved?”?

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    Whether there are few or many who are saved should not be an issue of concern. Instead, the Lord focused on the question of who will be saved and warned us that “many will seek to enter and will not be able.” Regardless of the number of the saved ones, we all need to strife to enter the narrow gate lest we be thrust out of God’s kingdom.

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  • 10a.

    What does the narrow gate represent?

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    Entering into God’s kingdom is like going through a narrow gate because many people find the cost of discipleship to be too high a price (Lk 14:33; Mk 10:21-25; Acts 14:22). The narrow gate may also imply that we must enter God’s kingdom while there is still time because one day this door will be shut (Lk 13:25).

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  • 10b.

    Why must we strife to enter it?

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    Entering God’s kingdom requires denying ourselves and changing our ways to conform to God’s will. Not only so, we cannot afford to procrastinate but must take immediate action to follow Christ because the door will be shut one day.

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  • 11a.

    Why will the Lord say to those that ate and drank with Him, “I do not know you”? What does it take for the Lord Jesus to know us?

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    While these people appeared to know the Lord, they never obeyed His will (cf. Mt 7:21-23; Lk 6:46).

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  • 11b.

    What may eating or drinking in Jesus’ presence mean today? Why is this not enough?

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    We may often seem to be associated with church-related activities, but if we fail to carry out the Lord’s will in our lives by living a life pleasing to God, the Lord will not acknowledge us when He comes.

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  • 12.

    What lesson can we learn from verses 28-30?

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    We should not be complacent just because we have been called into God’s kingdom ahead of others. If we do not remain steadfast in our faith, we will see others in God’s kingdom on that day while we ourselves are cast out (cf. Mt 21:28-32).

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  • 13:31-35

    13.

    Explain Jesus’ response in 32-33.

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    These are parallel verses that indicate what lay ahead of Jesus. “Today and tomorrow” represent the short duration of the present. Jesus will continue his powerful ministry for a short while, casting out demons and performing cures. But on “the third day,” he will be “perfected.” This statement alludes to His suffering, death, and resurrection (9:22; cf. Heb 2:10).

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  • 14.

    What does this response tell us about Jesus?

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    Jesus’ words here convey a strong sense of purpose. He said, “Nevertheless I must journey….” Although He was fully aware of the sufferings that awaited Him, Jesus was fully determined to accomplish God’s will in the final destination—Jerusalem.

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  • 15.

    What is the tone of Jesus’ words in 34-35? What does this teach us about God and His children?

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    These words show the Lord’s grief over the unrepentant people. God is eager to protect us with His love, but we often stubbornly reject Him. Not wanting to force us to submit to Him, God can only lament over our waywardness the way a father laments over his prodigal son.

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  • 16.

    Do you feel that God’s commands are too restrictive, or are you willing to be gathered under the Lord’s wings? Have you ever experienced how submitting to God’s ways brought you warmth and protection?

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