Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. Just then, some people came to tell Yeshua about the men from the Galil whom Pilate had slaughtered even while they were slaughtering animals for sacrifice.
Men from the Galil whom Pilate had slaughtered just as they were slaughtering animals for sacrifice, literally. "Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices." These verses exemplify Pilate's brutality (see Mt 27:2&N, I6-24&N).
2. His answer to them was, “Do you think that just because they died so horribly, these folks from the Galil were worse sinners than all the others from the Galil?
3. No, I tell you. Rather, unless you turn to God from your sins, you will all die as they did!
4. “Or what about those eighteen people who died when the tower at Shiloach fell on them? Do you think they were worse offenders than all the other people living in Yerushalayim?
5. No, I tell you. Rather, unless you turn from your sins, you will all die similarly.”
Unless you turn to God from your sins (repent, do t'shuvah, Mt 3:2N), you will all die as they did. The "Bad News" (Ro 1:18-2:8&NN) is explicit, the Good News implicit (Ro 3:19-3:26&NN). Then as now people did not want to think about their own evil ways, so they put their attention on current events to distract them. News is the opiate of the people. Most of us cannot affect world events very much, but all of us can worry about them and criticize the sins of others — instead of focussing on our own lives and our own sins.
6. Then Yeshua gave this illustration: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit but didn’t find any.
7. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘Here, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for three years now without finding any. Cut it down — why let it go on using up the soil?’
8. But he answered, ‘Sir, leave it alone one more year. I’ll dig around it and put manure on it.
9. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; if not, you will have it cut down then.’”
In these verses Yeshua shows how patient God is with wayward humanity in general. However the fig tree metaphor is frequently used in the Tanakh, and also at Mt 21:18-22, to represent the Jewish people, who were expected to bear fruit (v. 9) by leading righteous lives and by communicating God's truth to the other nations of the world (Isaiah 49:6). So, has the "one more year" ended? — are the Jewish people cut down or set aside by God? Certainly not! (Jeremiah 31:34-36 (35-37)) Heaven forbid! (Ro 11:1-2, 11-12) Some Jews, having trusted in Yeshua the Messiah and remained united with him, bear fruit (Yn 15:1-8, also a "plant" metaphor, in that case a vine); while God patiently preserves the Jewish people as a whole until "all Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26).
10. Yeshua was teaching in one of the synagogues on Shabbat.
11. A woman came up who had a spirit which had crippled her for eighteen years; she was bent double and unable to stand erect at all.
12. On seeing her, Yeshua called her and said to her, “Lady, you have been set free from your weakness!”
13. He put his hands on her, and at once she stood upright and began to glorify God.
14. But the president of the synagogue, indignant that Yeshua had healed on Shabbat, spoke up and said to the congregation, “There are six days in the week for working; so come during those days to be healed, not on Shabbat!”
15. However, the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Each one of you on Shabbat — don’t you unloose your ox or your donkey from the stall and lead him off to drink?
16. This woman is a daughter of Avraham, and the Adversary kept her tied up for eighteen years! Shouldn’t she be freed from this bondage on Shabbat?”
17. By these words, Yeshua put to shame the people who opposed him; but the rest of the crowd were happy about all the wonderful things that were taking place through him.
Concerning healing on Shabbat see 6:9N.
18. So he went on to say, “What is the Kingdom of God like? With what will we compare it?
19. It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in his own garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds flying about nested in its branches.”
A mustard seed... grew and became a tree, and the birds... nested in its branches. The mustard plant is always small (Mt 13:31—32&N); it never becomes a tree. But by God's special intervention the first shall be last and the last first (v. 30). God can make the mustard plant grow great; likewise he can exalt the unwanted and humiliated Messiah (Isaiah 53:1-12, Psalm 118:22-23, Pp 2:6-11). Yeshua uses the imagery of Ezekiel 17:23-24, 31:6 and Daniel 4:9-11, 18 (4:12-14, 21), passages which identify the birds with the nations of the world. Thus the Kingdom of Heaven honors Yeshua, the rejected Messiah; and the nations of the world find protection in him.
20. Again he said, “With what will I compare the Kingdom of God?
21. It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with a bushel of flour, then waited until the whole batch of dough rose.”
22. Yeshua continued traveling through town after town and village after village, teaching and making his way toward Yerushalayim.
23. Someone asked him, “Are only a few people being saved?”
24. He answered, “Struggle to get in through the narrow door, because — I’m telling you! — many will be demanding to get in and won’t be able to,
25. once the owner of the house has gotten up and shut the door. You will stand outside, knocking at the door and saying, ‘Lord! Open up for us!’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from!’
26. Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you! you taught in our streets!’
27. and he will tell you, ‘I don’t know where you’re from. Get away from me, all you workers of wickedness!’
28. You will cry and grind your teeth when you see Avraham, Yitz’chak, Ya‘akov and all the prophets inside the Kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside.
But yourselves thrown outside. Yeshua is trying to wake up people who think their own good works or their Jewishness will guarantee them entry into the 'olam haba ("the world to come"). Not only in Messianic Judaism but also in non-Messianic Judaism there is little ground for such a hope. True, the Mishna says, "All Israel has a share in the 'olam haba" (Sanhedrin 10:1, quoted more fully at Ro 1 l:26aN). But the subsequent material, which names many categories of Israelites excluded from the world to come, makes clear that the sense of this declaration is that although all Israelites have a special opportunity to share in the future life (as Sha'ul puts it, Jews have an "advantage," Ro 3:1-2,9:4-5), they can lose it by not living up to their calling. While neither kind of Judaism offers hope to those who expect God to overlook their sins without their trusting him, only Messianic Judaism offers the content of trust lhat solves the sin problem.
29. Moreover, people will come from the east, the west, the north and the south to sit at table in the Kingdom of God.
30. And notice that some who are last will be first, and some who are first will be last.”
31. Just at that moment, some P’rushim came up and said to Yeshua, “Get out and go away from here, because Herod wants to kill you!”
32. He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Pay attention: today and tomorrow I am driving out demons and healing people, and on the third day I reach my goal.’
33. Nevertheless, I must keep travelling today, tomorrow and the next day; because it is unthinkable that a prophet should die anywhere but in Yerushalayim.
34. “Yerushalayim! Yerushalayim! You kill the prophets! You stone those who are sent to you! How often I wanted to gather your children, just as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, but you refused!
35. Look! God is abandoning your house to you! I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai!'"
See Mt 23:37-39&N.
Some interpreters believe these P'rushim were trying to frighten Yeshua into Judea, so that the Sanhedrin would be able to exercise control over him. Compare the attempt of Amaziah, priest of the golden calf at Beit-El, to frighten the prophet Amos out of Israel into Judea; he too failed (Amos 7:10-17). But such devious motivation need not have been present, for not all Pharisees wanted to do him in; these may have thought enough of him to warn him. In fact, some were "not far from the Kingdom of God"' (Mk 12:34); and some came to faith in Yeshua and remained Pharisees (Ac 15:5), among them Sha'ul (Ac 23:6&N).
The threat of Herod Antipas (Mt 14: IN) was real. Although he wanted to see Yeshua perform a miracle (23:8). he regarded him as a dangerous leader like Yochanan the lmmerser(Mk 6:14-16), whom he had killed.
Yeshua's answer, like Sha'ul's to Agav (Ac 21:13), is that negativism will not dissuade him from following God's plan.
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