This week’s Bible study is part 2 of Luke chapter 13

The Mustard Seed, the Narrow Door,

and the Sorrow of the Lord

[Luke chapter 13, verses 18-35]

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Last week when we left off at verse 17 of Luke chapter 13, Jesus had just healed a woman on the Sabbath, which had drawn the ire of the Pharisees, the main critics of Christ. Today as we take up where we left off, we continue the conversation between Jesus, the Pharisees and the rest of the crowd that followed our Lord and Redeemer everywhere he went. Christ the Lord is still speaking as we begin at verse 18:

β€œThen Jesus asked, ‘What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.’ Again he asked, ‘What shall I compare the Kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.’ Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.” (Luke 13, verses 18-22)

Just as humanity started out with one man, Adam, so it becomes reborn with another, Jesus Christ. In this parable, Jesus is talking about himself and his Bride, the Church. Jesus is the mustard seed that grows into a gigantic tree, the Church. In the next very short parable, the yeast is the Word of God and the flour is humanity. Once God’s Word works its way through us, it causes all of us to rise just as He was going to be raised from the dead. So there is also a nugget of prophecy mixed into the dough, which as before represents the Greater Church. And so Jesus went and traveled extensively throughout the region, teaching the people all these things as he made his way towards Jerusalem. And now let’s pick up at verse 23.

β€œSomeone asked him, ‘Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter but will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from the east, west, north and south, and will take their place at the feast of the Kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.’” (Luke 13, verses 23-30)

As you can clearly see, Jesus’ response to the question from the unidentified bystander is a ‘yes’. A lot of people who think they’re saved will not be, and a lot of those who don’t think much about that – those who dedicate their lives to doing good for others before themselves – will be saved anyway even though they were not particularly religious individuals in their lives on earth. In other words, the β€œKingdom of God”, as Jesus called it, is going to be quite different than many believers suppose it to be. β€œ‘Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter but will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’”

What did Jesus mean by β€œthe narrow door”? He was referring to another time in his ministry, likely something that was fairly recent, that is recorded in Matthew’s gospel chapter 7, verses 13-14, and I quote: β€œEnter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” So verse 24, β€œMake every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter but will not be able to”, is a prophecy about End Times Christianity. Not all those who profess Christianity will make it to heaven even though they believe. I realize this could be hard for some people to hear, and I certainly do not wish to dishearten anybody. But as a (Web) pastor it is part of my responsibility to point these things out, because it can help save souls. And, if I can help the Spirit save even a few souls as a result of these biweekly postings of (the real) Progressive Christianity, then all my efforts for all these years that I have been on the Internet will have been made worthwhile!

So what will happen to those who don’t make it in? β€œOnce the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” It is open to speculation as to whether these believers in name only will be left outside in darkness or sent to hell, as if that is of any great consequence here. Either way, these individuals who worshiped in vain are going to be shut out of heaven. Hell is for Satan and his demons, for those who refuse to forgive, for unrepentant murderers, and for those who commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (see Mark 3: 29). But to make it all the way to heaven only to not be able to enter in would be just as bad, and in some cases even worse depending on which ‘believer’ it is!

β€œPeople will come from the east, west, north and south, and will take their place at the feast of the Kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” As I wrote above, God’s way of governing, of rewarding good behavior, and of loving us unconditionally far supersedes any such systems of rules and rulers here on earth. Those who are the least and the last will be the greatest and the first in New Jerusalem where we will live forever without end. Millionaires will be paupers in heaven, and those who were formerly sick or disabled or homeless will be kings and queens in heaven! People nobody ever heard of will be treated not just as honored guests, but as newly installed royalty or other persons of senior leadership such as presidents. How totally different will the Kingdom of God be from anything within the scope of our collective experience! And now let’s move on to the last relatively brief part of today’s study, beginning at verse 31.

β€œAt that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.’ He replied, ‘Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today, and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord’.” (Luke 13, verses 31-35)

Here we see a clear indication that not all of the Pharisees were corrupt or steeped in hypocrisy, even to the point of warning Jesus publicly that there was a plot afoot against his life. Jesus’ response was in itself a bit of a parable, probably to the point that not all the Pharisees who came to warn him understood it. But that doesn’t bother Jesus at all – on the contrary, his response challenged those Pharisees to use the brains that God gave them when He made each of them. Jesus also told them – but not in so many words – that even if King Herod were to kill him, it could not be until his mission on earth was fulfilled (β€œI will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today, and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”).

Then Jesus prophesies against Jerusalem when he said, β€œOh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” What prophets was Jesus talking about? He was referring to the likes of Samson, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist and others, not including the apostles whose time for martyrdom had not yet come. All of the above were killed by their Hebrew brethren in or around Jerusalem (excluding Paul, who was beheaded in Rome). That’s what Jesus meant by that statement. β€œLook, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord’.” Judgment had already fallen on Jerusalem in Jesus’ time, and that judgment was carried out in 70 AD, or just under 40 years after Jesus uttered those words. So the words of Jesus were prophetic indeed, just like everything else he said, did and taught. But Jesus was referring to the time of his ultimate and final return, as prophesied about in Zechariah, Daniel, Matthew 24 and ultimately Revelation. This is still more proof, as if we needed any, that Jesus Christ was and still is the Son of God, and he shall be so forever! And, next week we’ll start on chapter 14 of the Gospel of Luke.

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