Luke 13:18-35Parables and Jesus grieving

18 Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19 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.”

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

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 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.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “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. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 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.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

34 “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. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Points of Interest:

  • (v.19) “It is like a mustard seed”—The kingdom of God: it is both already and not yet. On the one hand, Jesus said in His sermon in Nazareth, ‘Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’ (Luke 4:21), more or less proclaiming that with his coming the kingdom of God had also finally arrived—the kingdom of God is already here. On the other hand, Jesus instructed us in His teaching on prayer (Monday’s passage) to pray that the kingdom would come, as if it has not yet arrived. This little parable offers the key to understanding that paradox. We already have the kingdom of God, but only in seed form. Even the seed is pretty good; the seeds of the kingdom Jesus has been spreading bring tremendous amounts of healing, freedom, forgiveness, and abundance to the lives where they are planted. But what we’ve seen so far is insignificant in comparison to what the kingdom of God will be like when it grows to full-size.
  • (v.32) “Go tell that fox”—as far as we know, calling someone a fox in Jesus’ culture didn’t carry the connotation of cleverness (nor of being good-looking, for that matter). It more or less meant “untrustworthy,” as in “there’s a fox in the henhouse” (Bible Background Commentary 228).
  • (v.34) “you were not willing”—Jesus has a maternal instinct toward the people of Jerusalem. He desperately wants to care for them, even despite the fact that Jerusalem has rejected so many of God’s messengers. It’s not animosity on Jesus’ part but rejection on Jerusalem’s part that keeps Him from being able to show them the love he wants to.
  • (v.35) “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”—Jesus is quoting Psalm 118, which is a song of thanksgiving for God’s rescue of his people. Jesus seems to be saying that, despite the fact that they are currently unwilling to receive His care and that they will in fact kill Him, there will indeed come a time when they will welcome Him and accept His help.


Taking it home:

  • For you: Has God placed any opportunities in front of you recently? That opportunity won’t be there forever; at some point the door will close. What do you need from God to walk through that door?
  • For your Six: Pray for whatever seeds of God’s kingdom there are in the lives of your Six. Pray that those seeds would keep growing until they’ve brought an unimaginable amount of joy, peace, and abundance into their lives.
  • For our church/ILTJ: Pray that people would come to Jesus in great numbers from unexpected directions. Pray that the reality of the kingdom of God would come alive in every program, ministry, service, and outreach happening in our church.