Sunday, October 07, 2012

Luke 13:22-35 - The Narrow Door

Have you ever been under a strict deadline? A deadline at work? A paper due at school? A contract deadline? An exam? And if you were to miss that strict deadline, you would suffer dire consequences. You might lose your job. You might fail your class. You might lose the contract. We have all had those kinds of deadlines. When we do, we move everything to the side, place that deadline at highest priority, and do everything within us to make that deadline. Today’s message from Luke 13 is about the most important strict deadline of all eternity and anyone who misses this deadline will suffer dire consequences for eternity.

Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 13:22-35 to warn people that the opportunity to repent has a strict deadline and that rejecting repentance has dire consequences.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about repentance.
Pray and Read:  Luke 13:22-35

Contextual Notes:
Since the beginning of his Gospel, Luke has focused on the importance of walking in faith and not in unbelief. After the major shift in the Gospel at Luke 9:51, Jesus leaves his ministry in Galilee and turns with determination toward Jerusalem and His coming Suffering, Death, and Resurrection. Luke’s message of trusting Christ sharpens, and his warning against unbelief hones in on the very religious yet unbelieving Jewish leadership. 
We see Jesus’ rising determination in his call to realign our priorities to those of our resolute Lord: the priority of His Gospel to the nations (Luke 10:1-24); the priority of our love for our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37); the priority of His Presence (Luke 10:38-42) lived by the priority of prayer (Luke 11:1-13); the priority of Jesus’ authority (Luke 11:14-28) which calls us to the priority of repentance (Luke 11:29-36).
Luke 10:1-24              The Priority of His Gospel (for the nations)
Luke 10:25-37            The Priority of Your Love (for your neighbor)
Luke 10:38-42            The Priority of His Presence
Luke 11:1-13              The Priority of Your Prayer
Luke 11:14-28            The Priority of His Authority
Luke 11:29-36            The Priority of Your Repentance

Then Luke’s Gospel points toward First, Jesus condemns the wrong kind of religion – dead religion that is devoid of relationship with Him (Luke 11:37-54). Then he warns his disciples of hypocrisy and points away from the fear of man to the right kind of fear, the fear of God (Luke 12:1-12). Jesus next warns against materialism but instead to focus on being rich toward God (Luke 12:13-21), then warns against worry and encourages his disciples to trust the Lord for provision (Luke 12:22-34). The right kind of focus follows (Luke 12:35-59), then Luke’s outline calls us to the right kind of religion, one of repentance and grace (Luke 13:1-19).
Luke 11:37-54            The Wrong Kind of Religion (not ritual, but relationship)
Luke 12:1-12              The Right Kind of Fear (not of men, but of God)
Luke 12:13-21            The Wrong Kind of Focus (not greed, but God)
Luke 12:22-34            The Wrong Kind of Fear (not worry, but trust)
Luke 12:35-59            The Right Kind of Focus (on eternity, not this world)
Luke 13:1-9                The Right Kind of Religion (not pride, but repentance)
With a series of illustrations, Jesus reminds us that the world is rushing toward Christ’s Second Coming. To be ready, believers must serve God actively (Luke 12:35-53) and unbelievers must make peace with God before it is too late (Luke 12:54-59) with the right kind of religion, one of repentance (Luke 13:1-5) which bears the fruit of repentance (Luke 13:6-9). Jesus encourages us to embrace the Gracious Kingdom (Luke 13:10-17) which though beginning humbly will grow rapidly to embrace the nations (Luke 13:18-21), an end-time Kingdom entered through a narrow door (Luke 13:22-30). But unfortunately, many, even in Jerusalem, will reject that Door (Luke 13:31-35).

Sermon Points:
1.   The opportunity for repentance has a strict deadline (Luke 13:22-30)
2.   The rejection of repentance has dire consequences (Luke 11:31-35)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   Since our last passage we believe that Jesus left Perea for the Feast of Dedication (today called Hanukah) in December A.D. 32 (John 10:40-42) and has now returned to Perea until his final journey to Jerusalem in the spring of A.D. 33. With just over three months to go in His earthly ministry, Jesus presses toward His excruciating Passion, and therefore His rhetoric becomes more prioritized and His call more shrill. After Luke reminds us that Jesus is headed to Jerusalem where He will achieve salvation for all God’s people (Luke 13:22; 9:51), Luke records a question from one of Jesus followers. Jesus responds with an illustration of salvation as a narrow door to the home of a wealthy owner who is having a banquet. Jesus
b.   Luke 13:23-24 – Narrow Door: Someone in the crowd shouts out a question about how many would be saved. Jesus ignores that question and turns the question to a more important one: Who will be saved? The answer is those who choose personally and individually to enter through the “narrow door.”[1] It was a common belief among the Jews that all Israelites would be saved.[2] Jesus explains to the people that salvation does not come to the nation as a whole, but to individuals who make personal, sometimes difficult decisions to follow Him.
c.   Luke 13:25 – Banquet: When the time for the banquet arrives, the owner shuts the door and late arrivals are refused entrance. The shutting of the door symbolizes the owner’s authority and the lost opportunity for those shut out.[3] I don’t know you: In the OT, knowing God means that in His sovereignty, God has chosen to have a saving relationship with a person. In Amos 3:2 God says, “You only have I chosen (literally “known”) of all the families of the earth” (cf. Isaiah 63:16; Jer. 1:5). Here the owner refuses to acknowledge a relationship (cf. Isaiah 63:16). Where you come from: One’s identity was closely associated with place of origin. Refusing to acknowledge origin was to refuse to acknowledge identity.
d.   Luke 13:27 – Away from me: Jesus alludes to Psalm 6:8, where a righteous sufferer cries out to his persecutors to depart from him.
e.   Luke 13:28 – Weeping and gnashing of teeth: This is a symbol here of mourning and torment. It appears repeatedly in Matthew. In the OT gnashing or grinding teeth is a sign of anger (Psalm 35:16; 37:12) and perhaps, as here, rejection and judgment (Psalm 112:10). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: These men were the recipients of God’s covenant, and they symbolize Israel’s national identity. In the Exodus, God delivered the Israelites because of this covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Most Jews of Jesus’ day counted on their privileged position as descendants of Abraham to gain them entrance to God’s Kingdom. Jesus teaches that salvation is a matter of personal faith, not of being born into a nation, a family, or even a church. Jesus is being very transparent about His Messianic ministry. He is issuing an urgent call to Israel to respond in repentance and enter the kingdom. Those who refuse will be shut out of the Messianic Banquet.
f.    Luke 13:29 – East, West, North, and South: A common OT image of the establishment of the Kingdom is that the nations will stream to Jerusalem to worship God (Isaiah 2:2; 55:5). In Isaiah 25:6-9, that image is combined with the Messianic banquet. Jesus makes a shocking point that even if many Israelites are excluded, the Gentile nations will be full participants in the blessings of the Kingdom. Our God is a missionary God!  Jesus’ image of the Messianic banquet is a symbol of God’s end-time blessings for His people. The imagery has its roots in the promise of Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain (Mount Zion) the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.” Notice the emphasis on God’s eternal and bountiful provision for his people (Psalm 22:26; 23:5).
g.   APPLICATION: How stunned those who miss the narrow gate will be, to see even Gentiles celebrating with Abraham and themselves locked out.
a.   Luke 13:31 – Pharisees warn Jesus: Jesus receives a warning from some Pharisees that Herod Antipas is seeking to kill him. Antipas was one of Herod the Great’s sons and ruled over Galilee and Perea. Because Herod Antipas had already executed John the Baptizer, it would be possible. Jesus takes the opportunity to reaffirm his resolve to complete his God-ordained mission in Jerusalem and to pronounce judgment against the nation.
b.   APPLICATION: When folks who hate you seem to be watching out for your interests, beware!
c.   Luke 13:32 – Go tell that fox: Jesus is not giving Herod Antipas a compliment. We view the fox as cunning and deceptive, and the Greeks and later rabbis did as well. The fox was thought of as a destroyer. While Antipas preys on the little chicks, Jesus is like the hen who desires to protect them. Third day: Jesus here makes a prophetic reference to his coming resurrection by which He will complete His Messianic task.
d.   Luke 13:33 – I must: The Greek word (dei) conveys a strong sense of necessity. Jesus is required by His commitment to God and His love for us to go to Jerusalem and the Cross. Throughout his Gospel beginning with Jesus’ birth announcement and first sermon in Galilee preaching from Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke has stressed Jesus’ role as a Prophet. Jesus will suffer the fate of the prophets – rejection and martyrdom in Jerusalem. No prophet can die outside Jerusalem: Luke’s theme comes from Luke 11:47-51. Jesus’ statement would have shocked His listeners, but they could not argue with it. It was true.
e.   Luke 13:34-35 – Stoning was the prescribed capital punishment in OT law (Lev 20:2; Num 15:35), but here Israel stones God’s messengers! The last prophet mentioned in the Hebrew OT in which Chronicles is the last book, was stoned in the Temple. Zechariah son of Jehoiada was murdered in the Temple courtyard (2 Chron 24:21; cf. Luke 11:51).
f.    Luke 13:34-35 – As a hen gathers her chicks: As a prophet, Jesus speaks for God and expresses the Father’s heart of compassion for the nation. The OT frequently speaks of the protection found in the shelter of God’s wings (Deut 32:11; Psalm 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 63:7; 91:4; Isaiah 34:15; ). The Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant spread their wings as a covering over the Ark (Exod 19:4; 25:20; 37:9; 1 Kings 8:6-7; 2 Chron 5:7-8). Ruth asked her Kinsman-Redeemer Boaz to spread his wings over her in protection because of the covenant (Ruth 2:12). Though Jerusalem (representing Israel) rejects God’s messengers, God still loves her. Looking over the milling crowds of the city of Jerusalem, a city so sure of its own righteousness, Jesus expresses deep anguish for the doomed city, whose people utterly refuse to turn to the Lord. With great grief because of their rejection, Jesus prophesies that Israel’s Temple will soon be destroyed (and it would be in less than 40 years in A.D. 70) and that Israel’s people will remain in unbelief until the Millennium.
g.   Luke 13:35 – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord: Jesus is quoting Psalm 118:26, one of the Hallel or praise songs (Psalm 113-118) used in worship by pilgrims at the feasts in Jerusalem, especially Tabernacles and Passover, plainly Messianic.

[1] In Matt. 7:13, Jesus uses a narrow gate and a narrow road as images of the way of life of Jer. 21:8; Deut 30:15.
[2] The Mishnah says in reference to Isaiah 60:21, “All Israelites have a share in the world to come.” Certain exceptions are those who deny the resurrection, who deniy the diving origin of the Law, who read heretical books, who utter charms, who pronounce the divine name YHWH, and Epicureans, i.e., Jews and Gentiles who opposed the rabbis’ teaching (m. Sanh. 10.1).
[3] In contrast to Noah, Gen 7:16: “Then the Lord shut him in.”