Rejection Of The Messiah
In chapter 13 of Luke, it begins as Luke moves the reader along a line of thought beginning with…
Luke 13:6-9 (NKJV) **
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’
** All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Jesus’ call to the nation of Israel to wake up and recognize that they would face the judgement of rejecting Him if they fail to bear fruit (Jesus uses the parable of the fig tree) If we see that the tree fails to bear fruit we see it as worthless.. after all it is a fruit tree. What good is it if it does not bear fruit. What then do we do with it? We cut it down. That was the way Jesus was speaking to the nation of Israel represented in the form of that tree that they were either to bear fruit in the form of faith in the Messiah or face judgement. So through this parable, Jesus warns the nation that the Father wont have infinite patience with them.
A Spirit of Infirmity
10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit (demon) of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise (straighten) herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
Next, Luke relates to a story where Jesus heals a woman in the synagogue. It was a simple but effective way to illustrate from Luke’s standpoint that Jesus was the only one sent to free them from their spiritual bondage. He alone is the One Who has the power free the nation of Israel from the grip of the enemy. From sin generally in the form of a harden heart, a sinful heart and ultimately it would be the way to enable them to bear the fruit God intended. This will be evident in a future event when Jesus returns and saves Israel.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
15 The Lord then answered and said, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
A leader of the synagogue follows in the footsteps of other leaders (the Pharisees) by rejecting Jesus’s healing of the woman on the Sabbath. Thus, continuing to put impediments between Jesus and the people. So we begin to see here that Luke is painting a picture for us.
Luke reveals in preceding chapters of his Gospel that Jesus is demonstrating His deity time and again to the nation of Israel. And yet, time and again what are the leaders (Pharisees) of the nation of Israel doing? They are rejecting it. They are recognizing it, but refuse to acknowledge it. What are they rejecting? They are rejecting Jesus as their Messiah. And now the stage has been set. As we get to the end of chapter 13, Luke basically takes a turn for the home stretch and he demonstrates to the reader that Jesus came and did everything necessary to prove to the people in his day that he met the prophetic requirements as the Messiah. And time and time again, He’s illustrated to them the need to make a decision, to make a choice about who He is. He’s illustrated the importance of it and the consequences of it. And He’s done it through miracles, through teaching, and through healing, He’s got their attention. And every time He’s done that, the leaders have rejected Him. And now the crowds as well have wavered. There has not been a complete acceptance of Him by the crowd. Now you are probably saying, I thought the crowd loved Him. And the crowd loved Him to be sure. But what did they love about Him? They loved the fact that He healed them. they loved the fact He could bring embarrassment to the leaders of the nation of Israel, whom they did not like either. they loved Him for political reasons in some cases. But a minority to be sure loved Him as the Messiah. So as time goes along and Jesus gets more evident with them about the fact they have to make a decision because they cannot assume they are going to be automatically save because they are a Jew. That building pressure adds to the discontent of the crowd so that even they begin to flee Him. Particularly after persecution breaks out as He reaches the city of Jerusalem. So as Luke ends chapter 13, he brings us to the conclusion of this repeated rejection cycle. Remember the whole point of chapters 11-13 in Luke’s Gospel are designed to illustrate in detail why the nation of Israel came to the point of killing their own Messiah.
We have to remember the audience for Luke. Luke is talking to a Greek audience in his Gospel. An audience out of their own history (Greek mythology) who are very comfortable with the notion of God coming down and walking on the Earth with men. They had many gods. They had gods that came down and married women and had children. In the Greek pantheon of gods, there was nothing new about saying God came down with man on Earth. What’s new about that? Why Would they (Greek audience) take the Jewish God to be any more than the ones they have back in Athens. To that audience Luke talks to them and says this God, the one you need to worship as the one true God, yeah He came down to Earth but He was killed. That doesn’t make for a very convincing argument if you are a Greek now does it?
How do I accept your God, the one you say is the Lord of the universe if you also tell me that He was killed by His own people. What kind of god is killed by his own people? Not a very powerful god. That’s the dilemma that Luke has to address as he addresses his audience with his Gospel. So he has been working patiently from chapters 11, 12, … and now 13 particularly to explain why the death happen, to illustrate the motivations of the people who put Him to death. And why Jesus allowed it. That doesn’t end in chapter 13 since there are many more chapters to go after this one to build on His death. But in these chapters where the confirmation of the rejection occurs, when Jesus confirms the rejection and withdraws His offer of the Kingdom, we understand better why that moment happened. That is what Luke is building on here. The apparent contradiction of a god put to death by his own creation had to be explained. And as Luke now concludes chapter 13, what he introduces next is the last piece of the puzzle. And that is the description of the kingdom..Jesus’ extended description of the Kingdom of God. After all, that’s what Jesus has come for and has been offering to Israel, the Kingdom of the Messiah!
Jesus knows that one of the reasons why the crowd has been unwilling to accept Him up to this point is that they share in the Pharisees’ mistaken view of the kingdom and who will enter in to it. We’ll address that issue, but as we begin, we need to note, whenever we see in scripture the description of the Kingdom of God, that phrase, “the Kingdom of God or the kingdom.” We need to realize that the “Kingdom of God” is a term that can vary in its specific meaning depending on the context. You could talk about the Kingdom of God in terms of a certain phase or period of time in God’s eternal plan. You can use it more generally to just talk about God’s sovereignty over His creation, for all time. You can use it more specifically to talk about those who are in the kingdom as a title for the citizens of the Kingdom of God. There are ways to use that term that can vary and we know what it means by its context. And we are going to look at the context on how Jesus means the term as He describes the Kingdom of God. The second thing you need to notice if you are a good student, if you are careful, if you are looking at the scripture carefully, we notice the counter-intuitive description He gives to the kingdom. How each and every time He describes the kingdom in the verses in Luke.The way the kingdom is depicted in these verses will look very counter-intuitive. Very different than what you might have expected, if you are a Jew. A Jew in Jesus’ day that is. The descriptions of the Kingdom of God are all opposite or reversed from what the Jewish nation expected and from what they had been taught.
So it seems only fair that Jesus would include in his teaching references to the very kingdom He was prepared to establish for the sake of Israel. So as the offer comes to a close, Jesus begins to offer commentary on the nature of the thing He was offering -‐ on the kingdom itself.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
The Parable of the Leaven
20 And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
Jesus begins with a rhetorical question. He asks what is the kingdom like? More specifically, he says what is the kingdom of God like?
NEXT: What is the kingdom of God like?
“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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