Study Guide

Gospel of Luke Chapter 13:18-30

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Chapter 13:18-30

Parables? Yes, Please

  • 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?

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