Text: Luke 13:22-35; 14:1-35
Event(s): Jesus talks about the narrow way, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, A man with dropsy is healed, Jesus teaches about humility, The parable of the great supper, Leaving all to follow Christ
Just as a quick refresher on our timeline and location, we are now in the Winter season before Jesus’ crucifixion. The setting for the events we will cover today is Perea. If you have one of those handy maps in the back of your Bible, you’ll notice Perea was located East of the Jordan River, Judea and Samaria, almost sitting on the shoulder of the Dead Sea. This was the area where John the Baptist was originally preaching and baptizing, and where John the Baptist was martyred at Herod’s fortress of Machaerus.
Luke 13:26 “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” If we were to put this in today’s language, it would sound like this, “But Jesus, we went to church on Sundays, we listened to Your teachings, we were even in a group!” But the narrow way that Jesus had just spoken about entering is not accessed by association, but by relationship and regeneration. “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5b
Luke 13:30 “there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.” What does this mean, exactly?
“The people who are “last” in this context probably refer to Gentiles, whom the Jews regarded as least likely to enter the kingdom. The ones who are “first” were the Jews. They considered themselves to be superior to Gentiles in many ways. They were also the first and the foremost objects of Jesus’ ministry.” Dr Thomas Constable, Theologian
Luke 13:32 “Go, tell that fox” The nature of a fox is devious, sly, destructive and cowardly. But yet notice Jesus likened Himself to a hen; protective, comforting, forgiving and nurturing.
Luke 13:34 “but you were not willing!” Not a time goes by where I do not read this verse and it draws me to tears. In Jesus’ words I hear His patient long-suffering with our often stubborn hearts. When I think of loved ones who have yet to make Him Lord of their lives, I know that even more than I want them to come to know Christ, the Holy Spirit longs with this kind of love to gather them to Himself.
Luke 14:2 “a certain man…who had dropsy” Dropsy refers to a condition of extreme swelling in the joints, often resulting from a failing heart or diseased kidneys.
Luke 14:7-14 “Take the lowly place.” This is a great lesson on humility, using how we respond in social settings as the backdrop for the lesson. The lesson wasn’t just for the Pharisees, it was for Jesus’ disciples as well. Titles and roles often lead to an entitled heart, but participants in the kingdom would be those who humbled themselves by following Jesus’ example.
Luke 14:15-24 “The parable of the Great Supper” In this parable, the host corresponds to God, and the servant represents Jesus. In each of the excuses the invitees provided for not coming, we are dealing with a personal preoccupation rather than with a reasonable priority. We round off this chapter with Jesus speaking about the cost of discipleship.
Today’s Takeaway: A very simple way to describe what it means to take up our cross to come after Jesus is to die to our self-centeredness. It means to put the interests of the kingdom first and foremost in our lives – and not just in the work we do, but more importantly, in the way we live our lives. It does not mean to endure some irritating burden or illness, or particularly painful relationship; but instead, it means to renounce self-centered ambitions. This of course is not a one-time event; it’s a daily practice (and if we can be honest, sometimes we have to practice this multiple times per day!) But the beautiful paradox of true discipleship is that to “lose life” as we knew it, is to find it; and to die to our old way of being, is to live. Oh, the narrow gate!
Additional (optional) reading: The events we read today are unique to the Gospel of Luke, but as a great compliment to today’s passage, I would recommend reading James 4.