Luke chapter 13

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What does Luke chapter 13 mean?

Luke 13 continues what some scholars refer to as "Jesus' Travelogue to Jerusalem," describing His teaching while heading to Jerusalem, by closing out one section (Luke 12:1—13:9) and encompassing the next (Luke 13:10–35). In Luke 12, Jesus taught the disciples about proper priorities as leaders in His ministry. He also spoke to the crowd about priorities as the kingdom of God arrives. He emphasized that the crowd should reject the desire for worldly wealth (Luke 12:13–21), recognize the signs that the kingdom is coming (Luke 12:54–56), and reconcile with each other (Luke 12:57–59).

Luke 13:1–9 finishes out Jesus' teaching to the crowd. People bring news that Pilate has killed Galileans who had gone to Jerusalem to present sacrifices. Jesus brings up eighteen people who died when a tower collapsed. These events coordinate with the examples Jesus gave in the prior chapter. He points out that it is important to repent now since tragedy and violence may come upon anyone at any time (Luke 13:1–5).

Jesus ends the section with a quick parable. A fig tree, primarily representing Israel as a nation, has not produced in years. The owner—God the Father—wants to chop it down, but the vinedresser—Jesus—convinces him to wait one more year. The unspoken moral is that God may be merciful and delay judgment, but it's important that the people repent and reconcile with Him as soon as possible. As with the victims of Pilate and the tower, they don't know what tomorrow will bring (Luke 13:6–9).

Luke 13:10–35 contains the first of two sections that begin with a Sabbath miracle and go on to present truths about the kingdom of God and salvation. Jesus heals a woman plagued by a crippling demon. The ruler of the synagogue responds by scolding the people for seeking healing on the Sabbath. Jesus takes him to task, pointing out that if a man can care for animals on the Sabbath, God can certainly provide a suffering woman the rest that comes from healing. The people appreciate Jesus' care, but the chasm widens between Him and the religious leaders (Luke 13:10–17).

Jesus then gives two short parables about the kingdom of God. In the first, He compares it to a tiny mustard seed that grows into a tree fit for birds to roost. Once the kingdom begins it will inevitably grow to welcome the "birds"—believers of other nations. The second parable is about how a woman can incorporate a small amount of yeast into a large batch of flour. The kingdom will permeate the world and no part will be left unaffected (Luke 13:18–21).

While Jesus and the disciples continue their journey toward Jerusalem, a man asks if Jesus' teaching implies that few people will be saved. Jesus turns the conversation around. It doesn't matter how many will be saved. It matters what the questioner will do. Will he identify himself with Jesus and be saved or merely enjoy Jesus' teachings and miracles but keep his distance? As with the fig tree, there will come a point when it will be too late to choose; he may find himself outside the kingdom of the God he claims while Gentiles are inside in fellowship (Luke 13:22–30).

Finally, Jesus shows that no authority—religious or civil—can keep Him from following God's plan. The Pharisees warn Jesus to flee from the murderous Herod Antipas. But Antipas does not set Jesus' schedule. Jesus will complete the work the Father has given Him, and then He will face the cross. He laments that the Jewish nation, represented by Jerusalem, will not take advantage of His death and offer of salvation (Luke 13:31–35).

Luke 14—15 repeat the pattern of a Sabbath miracle and teachings on the kingdom and salvation. This is followed by a section of warnings about those who reject God's kingdom. After two more segments including a miracle and teachings, Jesus enters Jerusalem.
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