Jesus Promised Only One Way into the Kingdom
To be saved is to turn your backs on the wide gates promising the world entry into the kingdom and place your trust in what is in reality a very small insignificant gate. The Promised One. A man who died 2,000 years ago on a cross as a common criminal. A very unlikely place and person to put your trust in. In comparison to what the world would tell you what you should do.
Now returning to the m moment when Jesus spoke these words:
Luke 13:23-24 (NKJV)**
23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
**All scripture is from the New King James Version unless other wise noted
Can’t you see the counter-intuitive message for the Jew? Not all Jews are being saved. In fact, look at the punctuation point Jesus adds at the end.
28 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, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.30 And indeed some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
He even goes further by noting that the patriarchs will be there – just as every Jew would expect. But then Jesus drops the bomb. Yourselves will be thrown out. And to add insult to injury, Jesus teaches that the table set in the kingdom will include people from east, west, north and south. This is a clear reference to the other nations of the world – the Gentiles – will be accepted at the kingdom table. This is virtually heresy to a Jew in Jesus’ day, and even to orthodox Jews today. He tells them that some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last. Referring to the Gentiles and Jews alluded to in the previous verse. Though the Jews assumed that all Jews would be first in God’s eyes and all Gentiles would be last, or excluded in other words. Jesus reverses that, by saying some who are last in the Jews’ eyes will be first in God’s plan. And many who assume they are first because of their Jewish birthright are doomed to be last in God’s eyes.
Jesus illustrates why He has been rejected by the leaders and ultimately the crowds. He is not who or even like what they expected the Messiah to be and He has not brought the kind of kingdom they expected the Messiah to bring. So then Luke records the Pharisees telling Jesus to stay away from Jerusalem using the scare tactic that Herod wants to kill Him:
31 On that very day (in that very hour) some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”
32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!
The Pharisees try to get Jesus to retreat from Jerusalem with a ploy that Herod was after Him. We know from Luke 9 that Herod wanted to meet Jesus and when he
finally does in Chapter 23 he asks Jesus to perform miracles in his presence, as if he sees Jesus as little more than a magician. Finally he mocked Jesus when Jesus refused to play his games. But it seems unlikely that Herod had any desire to kill Jesus. It’s unlikely he ever saw Jesus as a threat. But even if he (Herod) had wanted to kill Jesus, Jesus wasn’t about to be swayed by this comment by the Pharisees. Jesus says, go tell that fox … In other words, he was treating the Pharisees as if they were Herod’s messengers. Since they had taken it upon themselves to deliver a message (a warning) to Jesus, They take on the role of a messenger. He turns to them and gives them a message to deliver back to Herod. Obviously Jesus didn’t expect them to actually take that message back to Herod. He was insulting them by treating them as if they were in Herod’s employment, like a tax collector who was working for the Romans. It was a terrible insult to the pious and proper Pharisees.
He says tell Herod I cast out demons, I perform cures, and on the third day I will reach my goal. Who is He talking to? We already know Jesus does not expect this message to ever get back to Herod. That is not His point then is it? His point in saying what He said to the Pharisees is not to communicate something to Herod. So who is He communicating to? To the Pharisees and to the crowd more generally. What did He just reminded them of? In that declaration, Jesus reminds the Pharisees and the crowd that He has proven Himself to them. They have witnessed the proof and they know Jesus has met any test they could conceive to prove He was the promised one.
And regardless of who might oppose Him… Whether it be the crowd, or the Pharisees or Herod himself, Jesus will not be denied His goal – his goal of reaching Jerusalem where He was appointed to die. By the way, Jesus’ reference to “today, tomorrow and the third day” is not a literal description of the length of time. It is not suggesting that Jesus is 3 days away from reaching Jerusalem at this point. There is a considerable amount of time to take place before He eventually reaches Jerusalem. It is meant more euphemistically, it is symbolic, it’s referencing the point there is time yet to take place, but on the appointed day He is going to get there. Nothing is going to stop Him from reaching that goal. And then Jesus comments that a prophet cannot perish outside Jerusalem. Not that prophets have never been killed outside Jerusalem. Because they have been. But more likely Jesus is referring to the inevitable destiny of all true prophets sent to a disbelieving and rebellious Israel. They are going to be rejected and the are going to be killed because they spoke a convicting truth. Which means Jerusalem is emblematic of the Nation. A prophet has no hope to do anything but die at the hands of his own people, at the hands of the Nation of Israel. Emblematic, embodied and represented by their capital city, Jerusalem. And they are going to reject Jesus and kill Him just like they did the prior prophets because He spoke a convicting truth. That’s the truth of the moment. Jesus was no different, and what’s more, as the Messiah he was appointed to die in Jerusalem, so he couldn’t avoid that outcome.
Finally, Luke concludes Chapter 13 with the climatic verses of these three chapters… 11, 12 and 13. Jesus ends his commentary on Jerusalem by lamenting her history as well as her future. He says this is the city that kills its prophets, stones those are sent to her by God to bring her to an awareness of how distant her people were from the one they professed to follow. Jesus says how often He wanted gather the children up in the city, which I believe means representatively, the children of Israel, the Jews in general. I wanted to gather them up like a mother hen would gather up her chicks. Why would the mother gather up her chicks? To protect them, to guide them to help them grow and nurture them. And as often as He wanted to do that, they would have nothing of it. What’s interesting about that verse, it speaks in a language that talks about a longer period of time than His present moment on Earth. He didn’t say how much He would like to do it now, but said how often He wanted to do that. It speaks about a longer period of time. It refers to the fact that Jesus is the one who was, is, and will be. And all the times’ past in the Nation of Israel when a prophet was sent. What did the prophet do? The prophet spoke the word of God and who is the Word? Christ Himself. You see every time a prophet went to Israel and brought God’s word, it was Jesus coming to Israel. Every time God delivered his word through a famine or a pestilence or drought on a stubborn Israel. Every time He brought destruction through Israel’s enemies, it was Jesus speaking though the creation to Israel. Christ came in that form as opposed to His incarnate form now. And they refused Him then as they refuse Him now. Just as they stoned the prophets then they will stone the prophet incarnate now. And as much as He wanted to gather them up through those prophets and through the effect of His Word, He wants to gather them up now. And they would not have it. In verse 34 … “but you were not willing,” did you notice that was past tense. In that line He is turning a corner. It would not happen and look where He goes next. The moment He declares His rejection of this generation of Israel because of their rejection of Him. This is the verse in scripture where all eschatology rests. Jesus uses Jerusalem figuratively to mean the whole nation of Israel. And they would have nothing of God’s word, neither when it came by the prophets nor when it came in the flesh.
35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
Jesus declares in that verse, in that moment that Israel’s house is being left to her desolate. This is a reference to physical destruction of the temple and the city, which we know occurs when the Roman army breaches the walls of the city in AD 70 and puts down a Jewish rebellion. That is a prophetic reference to that destruction of that city and to the temple. In that assault the temple is destroyed and the city burned and literally 1-2 million Jews are murdered. This is the harsh reality of the judgment that comes upon the city for the nation’s rejection of their Messiah. This is the ugly truth. When you reject God, when you face judgment, it’s not going to be pretty. How could it be? And this is what it looked like in their day. Not spiritual judgment, that followed. Even in the earthly sense, in a temporal sense there was a judgment, there was a calamity brought upon them for the rejection of the Messiah. Daniel prophesied this when he wrote Dan. 9:26
26 “And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
It’s a prophetic look at how the Nation of Israel will be treated by God for having cut off the Messiah. Then Jesus adds the last comment he directs to the nation as a whole. And this is very important. He says they will not see Him again until they say Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. This is a very important phrase. In fact, as mentioned earlier, all our understanding of eschatology (the doctrine of end times events) rests on this phrase. It’s not embodied in it. There certainly is a lot more teaching in the scripture about it. But it all rest on this phrase. Jesus has just declared in the verse that the nation of Israel, the nation that God promised a Messiah. They will not set eyes on the Messiah again until a day arrives when that entire nation simultaneously and in union has an immediate and complete change of heart concerning who He (Jesus) is. And as a result
on that distant future day, they will entirely reverse their decision about this moment and as a nation they will declare that He is their Messiah. They will say, “Blessed is He,” meaning Jesus, who comes in the name of the Lord. Since they rejected Him while He walked on the earth offering the kingdom, He is never going to return to them to establish that promised kingdom until the day arrives when they reverse the decision that resulted in them being cut off.
Corporately, the nation of Israel must admit their sins, specifically their sin of having put their Messiah to death. And then recognize that Jesus was that Messiah and call out for Him. And when they do that He will return. This is the basis of Christ’s second coming. Our Lord will return to the Earth and I’m not speaking about the Rapture. That is not His second coming as you hopefully may know. That is His moment for returning for the Church only for us to return with Him into the clouds and into Heaven. But the moment He comes back to reign on Earth and establish His 1,000 year kingdom is initiated by the Nation of Israel corporately calling out for Him in the words He uses here at the end of chapter 13 of Luke. But the question that must be in some of your minds. What could possibly propel the entire Nation of Israel to come to that conclusion and act in that way? Scripture tells us how and when in a general way –
9 It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Mourning for the Pierced One
10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
Zechariah goes on in Chapter 14 to add that on that day –
5 ….Thus the Lord my God will come, And all the saints with Him
6 It shall come to pass in that day
That there will be no light;
The lights will diminish.
7 It shall be one day
Which is known to the Lord—
Neither day nor night.
But at evening time it shall happen
That it will be light.
8 And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea (The Dead Sea)
And half of them toward the western sea; (The Mediterranean Sea)
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
“The Lord is one,”
And His name one.
Now from chapter 12 through chapter 14 of Zechariah we get an extended discussion of these events. The key verses from those chapters have been highlighted here to fit with the content of this post. It is the spirit of supplication we are told, the Holy Spirit poured out by God on the Nation of Israel in that day of their distress. At the end of tribulation. As their nation is being attack by the Antichrist and his forces. Jesus will appear to defend them and save them from that moment and usher in His kingdom. But He does it because the nation under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit comes to a sudden corporate realization that the one who they pierce; they now look upon Him as their Messiah and they mourn Him like one mourns a first-born. And in that they call out and cry out for Him. And He returns as He said He will. But only in the day that they do that. We can’t say on a calendar when that’s going to happen because the Lord Himself said that day is not known to us. But we know the events that precipitate it. We know what it is He is waiting for. Because He has a covenant with the Nation of Israel and He will do it under those terms. Having properly judged them in the meantime for their earlier rejection of His Son. And that is the point of Chapter 13. As Luke builds to that point, he has shown us definitely how Jesus did all He needed to do to prove His deity. How He was rejected by men with evil and hard hearts who have selfish purposes in their rejection. And in the end He promised them what it will take to bring Him back.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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