What did I learn about Jesus?
- Sometimes when Jesus heals, it’s really a “setting free” work that He does (verse 12).
- Jesus answers the concern I hear so often as, “I can’t believe in a God who only lets some people into heaven.” Read verses 23-30.
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- The message to “repent” – turn and go the other direction—does not grow stale (verses 3,5).
- There are hard warnings from Jesus to consider about our lives.
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
I sense in verse 13 a growing urgency. If you read a sermon title, “Repent or Perish,” you would assume that it was being preached by a fundamentalist fire-breather. But those are exactly the words Jesus uses. He addresses three issues that I think are pertinent to us, too:
- First, the issue of suffering and evil in the world. Martyrs were slaughtered by Pilate (while they were at worship… and notice, they were his fellow Galileans) as well as 18 people were killed when a tower in Jerusalem collapsed. It was assumed at the time that calamities befell more sinful people. Jesus says, No. For some reason, awful accidents happen in this world, but he turns the questions around. In the same way that these people unexpectedly died, are YOU ready for the time—you don’t know when it will come—that YOU breathe your last? Warning—don’t use suffering or injustice in the world as an excuse to get mad at God and ignore your own sinfulness which, in fact, DESERVES judgment.
- Second, the parable of the fig tree. It suggests that God’s patience will last only so long. And there are some who have been cared for, preached to, tended to for a LONG time, and they still never bear fruit. Even the great patience of God reaches an end. And, as he also taught in other places, that fruitless “tree” will be chopped down. Warning—examine your own life for fruitfulness. It is evidence of your genuine discipleship.
- Third, he addresses procrastination in verse 22. People wanted to know if only a few will be saved. He seems to imply “yes,” but he does not answer directly. Instead, he points out that there will come a time when the bell rings and the period is over. Suddenly, people who were obsessed with the things of this life and not the next will be pounding on the door of heaven. It will be too late. Even more painful, they, who had every opportunity to believe, will watch as others… Gentiles from north, south, east and west… WILL make their way into the kingdom. Warning—don’t wait too long to accept the hospitality of the Father!
(Pastor Megan interjecting here. A note in the Quest Study Bible says, “Why [would God] make the way to salvation narrow? (verse 24)” And their answer is, “The narrow door symbolizes the challenge presented by the way of the kingdom. It’s a road of suffering and self-denial, not the path taken by the majority.”)