Study Guide

Gospel of Luke Chapter 13:1-9

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Chapter 13:1-9

Crime and Punishment

  • Jesus receives news that the prefect Pontius Pilate killed a group of Galileans who had taken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Um, that's exactly where Jesus, also from Galilee, is heading.
  • Gulp.
  • Jesus wants to know if the Galileans were sinners worthy of such punishment.
  • For Jesus, the answer is yes: crime deserves punishment. But clearly he doesn't stop thereā€”he universalizes it for everyone involved.
  • After all, anyone who doesn't turn his life around will perish just like that.
  • Jesus adds another example, this time focusing on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. There he goes again, broadening his net. Are you from Galilee or Jerusalem? It don't matter.
  • The eighteen people who died when the tower of Siloam collapsed were criminals, but no less than other inhabitants of Jerusalem.
  • And they'll all die just like them unless they change direction.
  • Yikes.
  • Jesus is turning all self-help book. Everyone is invited to see themselves as one of those people who have perished for their sins, and then to change while there's still time.
  • Everyone is granted a second chance, and they better take it. How about a story to prove the point? Why, of course.
  • A landowner plants a fig tree on his farm. He arrives to gather its produce, but there's not a single fig; so he complains to the farm's manager that he's waited three years for this tree to produce fruit, and nothing. What else is there to do but to chop it down so that it doesn't waste valuable soil?
  • But the manager advises that he give it another year. He'll work the soil and shovel in some manure for fertilizer. Then he'll see what it can do. But if he does all that, and results are not forthcoming, then the owner should definitely chop the tree down. 
  • Second chances, people.

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