As Jesus rounds out much of His Teaching, He continues the process of Salvation, stewardship, and discipleship to prepare His Followers for ministry. Jesus was intended on having the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to overspread the world, and He prepared the right people at the right time to carry out the Great Commission – but we’ll get to more of that at a later time.
Jesus is journeying in and from parts of Perea before He is to head off in His next journey to Bethany. We are reading in Luke 13:22-17:10 in today’s journey.
Teaching in Perea
Jesus is moving through several towns around the Jordan Valley, to which, He stresses to people that they should believe in Him immediately, because they would not have the opportunity to hear from Him again. Many were concerned with the discussions and other questions about Salvation; however, Jesus explained that people should be sure of their own Salvation individually, because on Judgment Day, many who thought they were in God’s Kingdom will find themselves outside.
Some Jews boasted of their ability to enter the Kingdom of God since they were descendants of Abraham, while others had eaten with Jesus and heard Him preaching in different places. All of them would find themselves condemned, however, if they did not repent of their sins. Their places in the Kingdom would be taken by Gentiles (whom they despised).
Soon, certain Pharisees tried to scare Jesus with a threat by Herod, to which Jesus was traveling through his territory. However, Jesus knew already that Herod did not want Him around; therefore, He replied He would continue His Work until it was finished in Jerusalem.
The city that Jesus loved is now rejecting Him, which would guarantee punishment for the city. The nation had become spiritually desolate now, and once the Romans were finished with it (later; 70 AD destruction prophecy probably), it would be physically desolate as well. There is no blessing for any Jew who fails to repent and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah!
Jesus heals again on the Sabbath while dining with Chief Pharisee
Jesus visited a prominent Pharisee’s house on the Sabbath, to which, His critics were awaiting to see if He would heal the sick man that was there. When Jesus asked them if healing on the Sabbath was okay in the Law, they did not answer. Jesus told them they were hypocrites for those that took care of animals on the Sabbath but not people.
As soon as it was time to eat, Jesus noticed some guests choosing their place of honor at the table. He warned those that sought status or prestige were in danger of humiliation, because God exalts those who willingly take the lower place. Jesus warned the host similarly, because his reason for doing good things should not be to win favor from people who cannot help him, but rather, he should do good things out of a sincere love that does not expect anything back.
One of the party’s guests heard Jesus’ illustrations about feasting, and therefore tried to impress Him with a comment about the coming great feast in the Kingdom of God. Jesus told a Parable in reply that was appropriated to make the man and the other guests recognize that many who thought themselves assured of a place in the Kingdom would miss out, because the Kingdom is like a feast to which many are invited, but for many reasons they all refused.
Of course, such refusal is just as the Jews are treating for Jesus, is that He is inviting them, but they ignore His invitation or despise it. The Jews were haughtily self-righteous, and decided that they have no need of repentance, to which, they were left out of the Kingdom. However, outcasts such as beggars, tax collectors, prostitutes, etc. were included in the Kingdom. Gentiles in far off places even accepted the invitation that the Jews had refused.
Counting the Cost of Discipleship
Crowds that followed Jesus though He was on His Way to a Throne; however, He was actually headed to a cross, and if they wanted to follow Him, they needed to understand what His Kingdom was like and what they can expect, because they had to love Him and be prepared for self-sacrifice or even death. Just as a farmer that builds a tower or a king that goes to war, the person wanting to be a Disciple of Jesus Christ must first count the cost and what it involves. If people were not prepared to give everything for Jesus, their lives are useless to Him, just as useless salt is that has no taste.
The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Lost Son
Jesus told the Pharisees and Scribes three stories to answer their complaining questions, because He was mingling with tax collectors and other low class people. More respectable Jews sneered low class people as being unworthy of God’s Blessings. They were angered with Jesus, because He showed interest in them and many responded.
The story of the lost sheep and the lost coin had shown that God not only welcomes sinners, but also goes looking for them. When they repent, He rejoices. The Pharisees, however, did not consider themselves sinners, and therefore, they had “no need to repent.” This did not pleasure God.
In the story of the lost son, there is a difference shown between those who considered they were right in everything they did that they needed no repentance (older brother). Those that were obvious sinners knew what they were (younger brother). There is a difference shown between the pardoning love of God (symbolized by the father welcoming the rebel home) and the cold but merciless attitude of the Pharisees (the older brother that was angry because of the welcome of the rebel was received).
The Pharisees knew God’s Law, but they had no advantage over the tax collectors, because they were self-righteous and never saw themselves lost or dead. They would not come to God in repentance, because they feel they are already good enough. They, then, would be left out of the Kingdom; however, sinners entered in.
Parables on Stewardship
A story was told to the Disciples of Jesus that concerned a clever businessman whom the owner of the business chose as a manager. In this business, deals were made by an exchange of goods rather than a payment with money, to which, allowed the manager to cheat the owner. When the owner found out, the manager was dismissed.
Soon, the manager thought of a plan to ensure he didn’t become poor by seeking help from his friends of the business to reduce the amounts owed so they could pay debts quicker. They would feel obliged then to return a favor to the manager after he had lost his job. The owner was a scoundrel as well and appreciated the manager’s cunning.
Jesus said this is how the world works. If His People had the diligence and foresight in spiritual matters that others have in their worldly operations, they would be a better people and enjoy a more lasting reward. Therefore, if they used their material possessions to help others, they would gain true friends now and a lasting prosperity in the life to come.
His People answer to Him how they use their goods and money, because, in God’s Sight, they are not the true owners of such things—He is. If they are generous in using what God has trusted them with, God will reward them permanently. If they are selfish, however, they will have no reward, but have become slaves to money. This brings disloyalty to God.
The Pharisees considered wealth as a reward for keeping the Law, and sneered at Jesus’ Teachings here. However, He replies that God is not impressed with their “righteousness,” for He saw their prideful hearts. They did not realize that the old era of the Law has passed now, and the Kingdom announced by John’s preparation has arrived now. The only ones that truly understood the Law are those who are in the Kingdom. The godly are the ones zealous on entry into His Kingdom.
Whether it is money or any other matter that could cause temptation, Jesus’ followers must not cause younger ones to sin. They must actually try to correct those who have done wrong to them, and at the same time forgive them—no matter how many times one is offended. Concerning faith, they should remember that God is not as concerned with how much they have, but more so with whether they have placed it in Him sincerely.
Lastly, there is the reminder that those who serve Jesus should not feel proud of themselves, as if their master has any obligation to give them some reward or something. Their good works are their duty, and no matter how much hard work they may do for anyone, they do still owe God more!
What can we learn from Jesus’ teachings as noted above?
- Those that determine in their heart not to follow Jesus, they only condemn themselves. This is why much of the world around us will be condemned, is because they have not either heard of Jesus, or they have heard of Him but have failed to repent. Many will decide to turn and repent; however, others will not.
- This is true: We must be willing to give up everything for His Sake, because He is the most important and we need to be of use to Him all our days. This is not a part time job… it is full time to be a Disciple. We will battle things daily, and have to deal with trouble wherever we go, but this is only preparing us for the Kingdom of God that we are about to partake in.
- We should never consider ourselves too good for God’s Grace, or too righteous. This is because we must be able to humble ourselves to accept His Grace. We should take care to know He is willing to help us, and He wants to have a relationship with us. This shall be based upon our trust in Him. When we have repented, we have acknowledged that we have sinned and that we need a Savior, therefore, He is willing to help us!
- We must be good stewards of what He gives unto us, be generous as needed and as He leads, and do not become prideful over what we have, or who we are in Christ, because people need much help in this world! We must not deal falsely with people, but be true and generous sincerely.