From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Ready for some deep thoughts? Because Jesus is about to launch into the first of several parables illustrating various aspects of God's kingdom.
Take the mustard seed, for example. (Sure, why not?) You plant the thing in your garden, where it eventually becomes a huge tree where birds build their nest. If you've been reading your Psalms (104:12), this will sound familiar.
There's also yeast. (But of course!) A woman works a little into a lump of dough, and the whole lump becomes yeasty. That's what God's kingdom is like. Yeasty.
Jesus is teaching in each village and city as he journeys toward Jerusalem.
At one point, someone asks him whether only a handful of people are saved.
Hmmm, how to respond? How about… a story?
It's true that people should compete to enter through the narrow "gate" (13:24 KJV) or "door" (NRSV), he said. The competition is necessary because a lot of people will want in, but won't have the chops.
While he's at it, this image of the door reminds Jesus of another relevant illustration.
Once the master of the house rises and shuts the door, it'll be shut for good. He's not going to open it again.
You'll be standing outside, knocking, and pleading, "Open to us" (13:24). But the master will turn you away and as though you're strangers reply, "I do not know where you come from" (13:25).
This seems uncool, so you'll plead again, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets" (13:26). The master will repeat that you're a bunch of strangers and for good measure will add in the words of Psalm 6:8, "Go away from me, all you evildoers" (NRSV).
Sounds like a bad dream to us.
Outside the door, people will be mourning and grinding their teeth.
Why? Because inside, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (read all about them in Genesis) will be together with all of the prophets.
They'll be in God's kingdom, while you'll be—not.
Oh, and there will also be a bunch of non-Jews in there.
They'll all be enjoying a big dinner party in God's kingdom.
This gives new meaning to the paradox, "some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last" (13:30).
So what is Jesus's answer to the question posed in 13:23?