Daily Devotional

September 8, 2019

Daybreak: Luke 13:1-35

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24)

When I was a small boy, my mother often read aloud to me. One of my favorite books was Pilgrim’s Progress, a spiritual allegory written by John Bunyan in the seventeenth century. The account of Christian and his journey to Celestial City gives a vivid picture of the believer’s life, and Bunyan’s creative story-telling style makes it possible for even children to understand the spiritual significance of the depictions in the story. I looked forward with excitement to hearing the next segment of Christian’s adventures, and frequently begged my mother to read just one more chapter. The book truly impacted my young life.

In those childhood reading sessions, I learned that the poor, burdened sinner, Christian, had to start his spiritual journey at the Wicket Gate of salvation, and going through that gate took some striving. To leave the City of Destruction behind took effort and purpose. Once Christian arrived at the gate to the cross, he had to choose to go through it. Then choices had to be made along the way in order to keep on the path toward the Celestial City.

Some great spiritual truths were made apparent in Christian’s story. When a person feels the beckoning call of the Holy Spirit to salvation, he soon realizes there is a price that must be paid in order to obtain forgiveness. As our focus verse states, there is a “strait [or narrow] gate” which must be entered, and doing so will take striving. It takes a willingness to surrender. It takes a turning away from sin. It takes repentance. However, going through the gate and kneeling at the Cross results in the heavy burden of sin being lifted. Then the path that leads to Heaven opens up. Every person will have an opportunity to enter the gate of salvation at some point. Those who fail to do so will continue on the broad road that leads to judgment and destruction.

In Pilgrim’s Progress, the path that Christian chose led to the Celestial City, but it was not always an easy path. There were many distractions along the way. As long as Christian stayed on the path that he had entered through the Wicket Gate, he neared his heavenly goal. If he turned aside, he was in trouble. Evangelist warned Christian not to listen to the voices that would beckon away from the path — the traveler must not let fear, weariness, or enticements distract him.

The same is true for us. After we are saved and start on our spiritual journey, there are many detours that could lead us away from the path to Heaven. Every day we are presented with choices. Will we choose to do right or will we give in to temptation? Our text tells us that we must “strive” to enter into Heaven. The word strive means “to agonize, struggle, contend, to exert oneself to the fullest, to labor fervently.” In other words, we must be wholehearted in our dedication and effort to reach our eternal goal. Only by the grace and power of God can we withstand the diversionary tactics of the enemy of our souls.

Although our spiritual journey is filled with challenges, think about the glory that awaits those who have gone through the “strait gate” of salvation and have continued faithfully to the end! Verse 29 of our text tells us, “They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” What a glorious meeting when we all gather together up there. And what stories of victory we will hear!

Background

This chapter describes several of Jesus’ teachings, and records His healing of the woman who had been bowed over for eighteen years. It concludes with Jesus grieving over the city of Jerusalem.

In verses 1-9 of today’s text, Jesus continued to instruct His hearers about repentance. Some who were present inquired about an event that apparently had taken place recently: Pilate’s soldiers had killed some Galileans as they were sacrificing in the Temple. The ancient historian Flavius Josephus states that the Galileans were the most seditious people in the land, so it is possible Pilate thought he was doing Rome a favor by having them killed.

In Jesus’ response, He alluded to eighteen seemingly innocent people in Siloam who were killed when a tower fell on them, possibly while working on an aqueduct. This tower is believed to have been built over one of the porches near the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. This event appeared to be an accident, and not a murderous act like the preceding one. Jesus used both of these events to teach the people that evil or unfortunate events do not necessarily occur as punishment because of sin, but that everyone should look to his or her own day of judgment.

Jesus illustrated His point by giving the parable of the fig tree (verses 6-9). In the Old Testament, fruitful plants often symbolized a godly life. The tree Jesus pictured was in a vineyard suitable for growing figs, and was cared for by a “dresser” (gardener). While it had every advantage, it bore no fruit. Jesus was pointing out that those who reject the opportunity to bear fruit for God’s Kingdom will face ultimate destruction.

In the next portion of text (verses 10-17), Jesus healed an infirm woman. The ruler of the synagogue found fault with Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Under the Law, healing was considered the work of doctors, and practicing one’s profession on the Sabbath was forbidden. Jesus called the synagogue leader a hypocrite because of his lack of compassion, and emphasized that compassion was at the heart of the Law.

Verse 22 indicates the setting of the next portion of text: Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem where He would soon be put to death. On the way, He gave several parables to illustrate the Kingdom of God and help the people to better understand His message. He likened the Kingdom of God to a grain of mustard seed (verse 19) and to leaven or yeast (verse 21), both of which have the capacity to grow. The Jewish people expected the Messiah to come as a great leader who would vanquish Rome and raise Israel to its former glory. However, Jesus wanted the people to understand that His Kingdom would begin in a small and seemingly insignificant manner, but later would expand outward until the whole world was changed.

In verses 22-30, Jesus continued teaching about the Kingdom of God, using a variety of visual illustrations which brought out that serving God takes effort, and that the decision to follow Jesus must be made while the door is open, because one day it will be shut.

The final verses of this chapter (verses 31-35) tell of Jesus grieving over Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem symbolized the nation of Israel, as it was the political capitol as well as the spiritual center of the land. Jerusalem had a long history of persecuting and killing God’s prophets, just as they were about to kill their Messiah. Jesus would have loved to nurture His people and shelter them, but they continued to reject Him, so He grieved, knowing the ultimate fate of the nation.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

VI.    The instruction of the Son of Man
    C.    Instructions concerning repentance (13:1-9)
        1.    The need for repentance (13:1-5)
        2.    The nearness of judgment (13:6-9)
    D.    Instructions concerning the Kingdom of God
        1.    Instructions concerning the nature of the Kingdom (13:10-35)
            a.    The confrontation in the synagogue (13:10-17)
                (1)    The condition (13:10-11)
                (2)    The cure (13:12-13)
                (3)    The complaint (13:14)
                (4)    The conclusion (13:15-17)
            b.    The parable of the mustard seed (13:18-19)
            c.    The parable of the leaven (13:20-21)
            d.    The individuality of entrance into the Kingdom (13:22-30)
            e.    The failure to seek His kingdom (13:31-35)

A Closer Look

  1. How long had the woman Jesus healed in today’s text been suffering from her infirmity?

  2. In verses 6-9 of our text, Jesus gave the parable of the fig tree. What do you think the nonexistent “fruit” on the tree represented?

  3. In verse 24 Jesus taught that His followers must “strive” to enter into Heaven. What are some specific ways we can strive in our daily lives?

Conclusion

What rejoicing there will be by those who go through the “strait gate” and continue on the narrow way until they arrive at their heavenly goal!

Reference Materials