LUKE 13:10-35

This chapter began with bad news. The disciples had been watching CNN when they heard of terrorist attacks and building collapses and this brought up the question of why do some people suffer? Jesus took the opportunity to teach the necessity of repentance.






Why do some people suffer tragedy?

Parable of a Fruitless Fig Tree

Healing a woman on the Sabbath

Kingdom Parables

Are just a few being saved?

You must repent or your end will be tragic

If it remains fruitless it is cut down

Should not God set free on the Sabbath?

- Mustard seed

- Leaven

If you are not one of those few your end will be tragic

As we come to verses 10 and following, this passage appears to have nothing to do with the verses that have gone before. But closer examination reveals that this is not the case. The subject has not changed. It is still repentance in the light of the coming Kingdom.

When we hear preaching about repentance, we are inclined to evoke pictures of a drunkard or a murderer or a fellow who smokes, chews and runs around with girls who do. It was this kind of mental picture that made Peter ask, "Lord, are you preaching at us or at them?"

The problem isn’t that sinners are too bad to be saved. The problem is that religious people think that they are good enough not to need saving. That was seen in this first account.



And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all.

And when Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness."

And He laid His hands upon her; and immediately she was made erect again, and began glorifying God. (Luke 13:10-13).

This central section of Luke is filled with the teachings of Jesus. Those teachings did not take place in a vacuum. They were given in response to real life situations. This tells me something of the teachings of Jesus. They are PRACTICAL. They apply to real life where you live and breathe.

We have already seen a number of different miracles wrought by Jesus. They were given as signs to point to His true identity. They were His credentials. But now that we have had such an extensive look at His bona vides, why does Luke tell us about still another miracle?

It is because of where and when this miracle took place. The setting for this miracle was in a synagogue. This is quite different from the Temple. There was only one Temple and it was located in Jerusalem; but there were many synagogues. Any town or village that had at least ten Jewish men could boast a synagogue. This was the place where the people would come together each Sabbath day to worship and to pray and to sing praises and to hear the Scriptures.

Jesus made it His practice to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath. Because He was known for His teaching and preaching ministry, He was asked to teach on this particular Sabbath. We do not know the subject of His sermon. We do not know what Jesus said/ What we do know is what Jesus did. There is a lesson here fore preachers and teachers. Your students are more likely to remember what you DO over what you SAY. This is a lesson for parents, too. Your children will recall a lot more of what you do than what you say to them.

In the midst of His teaching, Jesus noticed a woman who was suffering from an ailment. She was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. She had been suffering from it for a very long time -- 18 years. I do not know for certain that the number is especially significant, but I could not help but to notice that in the previous paragraph Jesus spoke of eighteen people upon whom a tower had fallen.

In both cases, bad things happened to people.

In both cases, this was the result of living in a fallen world.

In both cases, the affliction had not come as a result of any particular sin on the part of the people or the woman.

But in this particular case, Jesus determines to do something about it. He calls her over and he pronounces her to be free and then He lays His hands upon her and He brings to pass what He has pronounced. The result is that God is glorified.

Jesus moves to intercede. He calls her over and He gives her a promise of healing and then He takes away the affliction. Notice the progression.

He called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your sickness."


He laid His hands upon her


Immediately she was made erect again

Do you see it? He said to her, "You are free from your sickness" BEFORE she actually stood up. At this point, she was still bent over. She had not straightened up. She was acting as though she was still afflicted, even though Jesus had said, "You are free."

We are like that. We walk around bent over with our troubles and our loads and our legalism, never realizing that we have been made free.



And the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the multitude in response, "There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day." (Luke 13:14).

This is not the first time that Jesus has had a run-in with Jewish leaders over the Sabbath. The complaint came from the synagogue official - o` avrcisuna,gwgoj. He was the head of the synagogue. His was a position of honor and leadership. His complaint was not that Jesus had healed, but that He had healed on the Sabbath day.

There is a contrast here between the woman who was delivered from her burdensome ailment versus the synagogue official who wished to maintain the burden of his legalism upon others.

The Woman

The Synagogue Official

Bent over with her ailment and unable to straighten

Insisted upon making the Sabbath a burden instead of a blessing

She was healed by Jesus

He rejected the ministry of Jesus

She glorified God

He blasphemed by his rejection of God’s Messiah

The synagogue official’s comment that there are six days available for healing sounds very pious. But this woman had evidently been coming to the synagogue for 18 years and had found no relief there. She had found only the burdens of a hypocritical judgmentalism.

Notice that he does not address Jesus or the woman. He is speaking to the crowd. He is trying to turn public opinion away from Jesus and this healing.



But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead him away to water him? 16 And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?"

And as He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him. (Luke 13:15-17).

This synagogue official and those who were siding with him claimed to be defenders of the sanctity of the Sabbath. It wasn’t that Jesus had performed a miracle. It was that He had done so on the Sabbath. The Pharisees had determined that it was allowable for a physician to treat someone on the Sabbath only if it were a matter of life and death.

But there was hypocrisy in their judgment, for their own code of conduct allowed them to take care of the needs of their animals. This isn’t merely a matter of kindness to animals. The issue is that they were more interested in caring for their personal possessions than they were in seeing a woman’s suffering come to an end.

Let’s face it; you fix your flat tire on the Sabbath. You call the donkey truck and have it towed out of a ditch on the Sabbath. Do you see the point? People are more important than donkeys.

Here is the principle. Legalism always wants to make rules for someone else to follow. How often do you hear someone say, "We need to pass this rule or this law so that I will stop doing something that I should not be doing"? Legalism always has its focus upon others. In this case, this man wanted his rules to limit the power and the grace of God.

Notice the result of the healing: The entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him (13:17). This is what the Sabbath is all about. It is to be a time of rejoicing over the works of God. The Pharisees wanted the Sabbath to be a time when no one had any fun. But it can be fun to worship the Lord.

The woman had glorified God at the healing. The multitude was now rejoicing over the glorious things that were happening. There was only one person who was not rejoicing – the synagogue official. Legalism is not known for its rejoicing. Legalism says, "Don’t have any fun; it’s time to be religious." But God delights in the laughter of the redeemed.



Jesus is going to say something about the kingdom. Luke sees fit to give us these statements upon the heels of the contrast we have just seen between the healed woman and the synagogue official. A principle is going to be derived from that narrative. It is going to be used to teach us something about the Kingdom.

Question: What about those who have died in tragic circumstances? (13:1)

Answer: Unless you repent you will also perish (13:2-5).

Parable of the fig tree: Fruitfulness is required (13:6-9).

Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath (16:10-13).

Jesus rebukes the Synagogue Official for his Sabbath legalism (13:14-17).

Two Parables of the Kingdom (one of which is a seed growing into a tree): The Kingdom will grow in its season (13:18-21).

Question: Are there just a few who are being saved? (13:23).

Answer: Strive to be one of those few.

Here are two riddles asked by Jesus. How is the Kingdom like a mustard seed? How is the Kingdom like leaven? The answer is the same in both cases. The Kingdom starts very small and then it grows very big and when it has fully grown it influences all with whom it comes into contact.

1. The Kingdom in like a Mustard Seed.

Therefore He was saying, "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 threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree; and the birds of the air nested in its branches." (Luke 13:18-19).

It is a simple fact of nature that large trees grow from small seeds. That is the way creation was designed. That is the way of organic life. And because the Kingdom is an organic organism, it also grows that way.

Notice the actions of the man in this parable. He throws the seed into his garden. The NIV reads that he "planted" the seed, but that is incorrect. He merely threw the seed and it landed in his garden. Similarly, the synagogue official had thrown away and cast off and rejected the ministry of Jesus, but it had landed nevertheless in his own garden and it was bearing fruit.

2. The Kingdom is like Leaven.

And again He said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened." (Luke 13:20-21).

Luke has already made reference to the leaven of the Pharisees (12:1). We saw in that passage that leaven always carries the idea of INFLUENCE. You take a little piece of leaven and you place it into the dough and it eventually influences the entire loaf. In the context of Luke 12:1, leaven was seen as a bad thing. But here, leaven is likened to the Kingdom of God.

The kingdom begins very small. It is so small in its beginning that it can be characterized as being hidden. But eventually it will grow to permeate and to influence the entire world.

There was one particular offering that was designated as containing leaven. It was the offering of first fruits.

"You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread for a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of a fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the LORD." (Leviticus 23:17).

When was this offering to be offered? It was to be fifty days following the Passover. It was to be at the Feast of Pentecost. It would be on that day when the leaven which had been placed into the bread would now be brought forth for all to see.

Do you see what the leaven represents? It is God’s kingdom. It is God’s people. It is us -- the church.

Small beginning leading to great growth and influence. That is the underlying message of these two parables.

Kingdom in like a Mustard Seed

Kingdom is like Leaven

A tiny seed is thrown into a garden to become a large tree

A small portion is placed into a large portion of meal to leaven the entire portion

What starts small grows to become very large

What starts small eventually infiltrates all

This growth takes time

This growth takes time

The church started with twelve disciples minus one. Twelve little men. They were not mighty warriors. But they were placed on this planet as the foundation of the church. And it grew and it grew and it grew. If the Gospel of Luke is the record of the planting of the leaven, then the book of Acts is the record of its growing influence.

The disciples are with Jesus and they have been watching as the opposition against Him grows. They might be thinking, "This isn’t much of a kingdom. After all, there are only 12 of us." The book of Acts had not been written yet. The words of Jesus are a promise that it would be.

The Kingdom has inevitable growth. However, there is a danger here. It is that we try to hurry the growth of the Kingdom of God by manual means. The growth of the Kingdom is not as a result of organizational ability. It is not brought about on the basis of a good Sunday School program or the right kind of seeker service. God can and does use these things to His own ends. But real kingdom growth is the result of the Spirit of life that God’s Spirit brings.

Does this mean we should not evangelize? To the contrary, this should be an impetus for evangelism, for it guarantees the results of your evangelistic efforts.



And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.(Luke 13:22).

Back in Luke 9:51 we saw that Jesus had resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem. But since that time, we have not heard much about Jerusalem. Jesus has been traveling from village to village, but there has been no mention of the exact itinerary. We might even be tempted to wonder whether Jesus had forgotten all about Jerusalem. This verse reminds us that it was still on His agenda. There is a cross on the horizon and everything that Jesus says and does is said and done in that shadow of that cross.

And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

"Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’

"There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being cast out. 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." (Luke 13:23-30).

This is one of those types of questions that you hear from unbelievers: "What about the man in Africa?" Jesus doesn’t immediately answer it. He says, "Instead of worrying about the man in Africa, you should be worrying about the man who is standing in your sandals."

Do you see it? The man asks, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And Jesus answered, "Make certain that you are one of those few."

There are several points made throughout this passage.

Remember the context. Verse 22 says that they were going to Jerusalem. This is told for a specific reason. It has direct bearing upon our understanding of the rest of the passage. Jesus is headed to Jerusalem in order to die. There is a cross with His name on it waiting for Him there.

From a strictly human point of view, going to Jerusalem does not seem the smart thing to do. Jesus has seen a successful ministry everywhere else except in Jerusalem. It would seem as though He is throwing it all away by going there.

Jesus is going to His death. Instead of new converts, there will be a cross. And it is in this context that the question is asked, "Are there many that are being saved?" The question expects a negative answer, especially if Jesus continues upon this road. It does not look as though there are many that are being saved and it appears as though there shall be even fewer saved if He continues upon this path. But the reality is that there are many more to be saved than anyone can imagine.

It will not be merely the Jews who are saved as a result of Jesus going to Jerusalem. By His death, salvation shall come to men of all the nations.

I want you to notice that Jesus does not answer the question. Instead of answering the question, Jesus turns this man’s attention to the really important question.

Not, "Are a lot of people being saved?"

But, "Am I being saved?"

Pagans always want to ask about the man in Africa. But the real question is what about the pagan that lives at your home address. The real question is what about you.

And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last." (Luke 13:30).

Who is the first and who is the last? The answer is found in the previous two verses. Those who are cast out of the Kingdom shall now be last. But they were originally the first. They were the first to hear the Law of God. They were the first to see Jesus. They were the first to have the gospel preached to them. They are the people of the nation of Israel. When Israel rejected her Messiah, the gospel would go out to the nations.

From this point on, the last shall be first. Those who formerly sat in darkness shall see a great light (Isaiah 9:2). The people who were not God’s people shall now be known as the people of God (Hosea 1:10).



Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, "Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You."

And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-33).

Jesus has warned the Pharisees of their legalism. Now they warn Him of Herod. But they do not do this out of concern for His safety. They do it because they want to intimidate Him.

Intimidation. After all, Herod Antipas has already put John the Baptist to death. Things might become dangerous for Jesus. But Jesus refuses to be intimidated. He has a cross-shaped goal and beyond that there will be an empty tomb.

You do, too. What is the worst thing that anyone can do to you. Kill you? That is not so bad, because you have the promise of God of a new life to come. When you know this, you can never again be intimidated.

" cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:31).

Jesus is headed for Jerusalem. He knows what will happen there. It saddens Him, not so much for His own sake, but for the sake of the city and its people.

This entire chapter has served as a backdrop of Israel’s rejection of her Messiah. In Luke 13:5-9 Jesus told a parable of an unfruitful fig tree and how it would be cut down if it remained unfruitful. The very next thing we saw was a woman who was healed by Jesus (13:10-13). He was thereby demonstrating what it meant to be a fruitful fig tree. But He is contrasted over against the attitude of the synagogue official who was more interested in his Sabbath-observance than in the power of God (13:14-15). By his attitudes, he was showing himself to be an unfruitful fig tree who was only interested in his own leaves rather than in the bearing of kingdom fruit. Finally, there is a parable given of a mustard seed that is planted and which grows to become large enough to hold the birds of the air.

Do you see the point? Israel was initially called to be a fruitful tree that would grow from the seed of Abraham to be a light to the Gentiles so that the Gentiles would come and find refuge in her branches. But instead of being a fruitful tree, Israel turned in unto herself and would not reach out to the world with the gospel. That kind of attitude led to a spiritual blindness so that when Messiah finally came He was unrecognized.



"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and 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!’" (Luke 13:34-35).

There is great pathos here in the words of Jesus. It reflects a similar pathos in the heart of God concerning the lost. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He is the same God who declares His compassion upon the people of Nineveh and even their animals (Jonah 4:11). He is the same God who calls you to faith and repentance.

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