Text: Luke 13:1-21
Event(s): Repent or perish, The parable of the barren fig tree, A spirit of infirmity, The parable of the mustard seed, The parable of leaven
Luke 13:1-5 “unless you repent, you will likewise perish” Apparently, the people were using this situation as a way of speculating of the guilt of those who died. Many of the Jews in Jesus’ day believed that tragedy or accident was the direct result of some personal sin. Maybe these people whom Pilate had killed were just not “spiritual enough” or maybe they weren’t “doing” all the right things – because if God was with them, how could something so horrific happen? Jesus used this opportunity to teach them something very important about tragedy. Tragedy is a consequence of sin – in general. Whether we experience tragedy ourselves or we observe it in the lives of others, the question is not, “Why did this happen?” Because the truth is, we should be more astonished that tragedy doesn’t happen more often. We live in a sin-filled and broken world and walking with God doesn’t exempt us from the results of that.
Luke 13:6-9 “The parable of the barren fig tree” Throughout the Bible, the fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel. So while the people were talking about the Galileans, Jesus uses this parable to remind them that Jews are no better than Galileans or than those living in Siloam (vs 4). Especially considering that Jesus’ ministry lasted 3 years (cf vs 7). This parable draws attention to God’s grace in allowing us time to repent.
Luke 13:10-13 “a spirit of infirmity” Infirmity is a term that encompasses more than just sickness and disease. This word also is related to suffering and sorrow and being bound to illness. I have met people like this, who always seemed to be ill. If it wasn’t a cold, it was a back pain. If it wasn’t a back pain, it was a stomach virus. If it wasn’t a stomach virus, it was arthritis. In the past, I didn’t understand this and used to think, “Wow, that person must be really unhealthy. They should take better care of themselves!” Now yes, of course, a great deal of our illnesses are sometimes due to our own neglect of our physical health. But in other cases, such as in this case with this woman, this infirmity of 18 years was due to the influence of an evil spirit.
Today’s Takeaway: I love that today’s passage ends with the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of leaven. What is the kingdom like? It starts by being planted in our own lives – like a seed, that a man takes and plants in his garden. It is like leaven, which a women takes and “plants” in her meal.
I’ve noticed that many times one of the enemy’s primary ways of distracting us is by getting us to focus on all the “bad things” we want to uproot in our lives. Women especially, are naturally wired to resource themselves, so what you’ll end up seeing is stacks of books on every topic they can think of. Books on how to overcome this or how to overcome that. And while those resources are good, reading these parables today reminds me that the best work we can do is to plant seeds of the kingdom in our lives – not focus all our energy on uprooting the weeds. If we give our best energy to planting those seeds of life, they will choke out all the unfruitful things all on their own. And pretty soon, we’ll look up and notice that our “garden” is full of life. I am reminded of what Hebrews 2:1 says, “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard.”
Additional (optional) reading: 1 Corinthians 4 (MSG)