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Lu 13:1-9. THE LESSON, "REPENT OR PERISH," SUGGESTED BY TWO RECENT INCIDENTS, AND ILLUSTRATED BY THE PARABLE OF THE BARREN FIG TREE.
1-3. Galileans--possibly the followers of Judas of Galilee, who, some twenty years before this, taught that Jews should not pay tribute to the Romans, and of whom we learn, from Ac 5:37, that he drew after him a multitude of followers, who on his being slain were all dispersed. About this time that party would be at its height, and if Pilate caused this detachment of them to be waylaid and put to death as they were offering their sacrifices at one of the festivals, that would be "mingling their blood with their sacrifices" [GROTIUS, WEBSTER and WILKINSON, but doubted by DE WETTE, MEYER, ALFORD, &c.]. News of this being brought to our Lord, to draw out His views of such, and whether it was not a judgment of Heaven, He simply points them to the practical view of the matter: "These men are not signal examples of divine vengeance, as ye suppose; but every impenitent sinner--ye yourselves, except ye repent--shall be like monuments of the judgment of Heaven, and in a more awful sense." The reference here to the impending destruction of Jerusalem is far from exhausting our Lord's weighty words; they manifestly point to a "perdition" of a more awful kind--future, personal, remediless.
6-9. fig tree--Israel, as the visible witness of God in the world,
but generally all within the pale of the visible Church of God; a
familiar figure (compare
7. three years--a long enough trial for a fig tree, and so denoting
probably just a sufficient period of culture for spiritual fruit.
The supposed allusion to the duration of our Lord's ministry is
8. he answering, &c.--Christ, as Intercessor, loath to see it cut
down so long as there was any hope (see
9. if . . . fruit, well--Genuine repentance,
however late, avails to save
(Lu 23:42, 43).
Lu 13:10-17. WOMAN OF EIGHTEEN YEAR'S INFIRMITY HEALED ON THE SABBATH.
11. spirit of infirmity--Compare Lu 13:17, "whom Satan hath bound." From this it is probable, though not certain, that her protracted infirmity was the effect of some milder form of possession; yet she was "a daughter of Abraham," in the same gracious sense, no doubt, as Zaccheus, after his conversion, was "a son of Abraham" (Lu 19:9).
12, 13. said . . . Woman . . . and laid--both at once.
14. with indignation--not so much at the sabbath violation as at the
glorification of Christ. (Compare
16. ought not, &c.--How gloriously the Lord vindicates the superior claims of this woman, in consideration of the sadness and long duration of her suffering, and of her dignity notwithstanding, as an heir of the promise!
Lu 13:18-30. MISCELLANEOUS TEACHINGS.
18-21. mustard seed . . . leaven--(See on Mr 4:30-32). The parable of "the Leaven" sets forth, perhaps, rather the inward growth of the kingdom, while "the Mustard Seed" seems to point chiefly to the outward. It being a woman's work to knead, it seems a refinement to say that "the woman" here represents the Church, as the instrument of depositing the leaven. Nor does it yield much satisfaction to understand the "three measures of meal" of that threefold division of our nature into "spirit, soul, and body," (alluded to in 1Th 5:23) or of the threefold partition of the world among the three sons of Noah (Ge 10:32), as some do. It yields more real satisfaction to see in this brief parable just the all-penetrating and assimilating quality of the Gospel, by virtue of which it will yet mould all institutions and tribes of men, and exhibit over the whole earth one "Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ." (See on Re 11:15).
23. Lord, &c.--one of those curious questions by talking of which
some flatter themselves they are religious.
24. Strive--The word signifies to "contend" as for the mastery, to
"struggle," expressive of the difficulty of being saved, as if one
would have to force his way in.
25. master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door--awfully
sublime and vivid picture! At present he is represented as in a
sitting posture, as if calmly looking on to see who will "strive,"
while entrance is practicable, and who will merely "seek" to enter in.
But this is to have an end, by the great Master of the house Himself
rising and shutting the door, after which there will be no admittance.
26, 27. See on the similar passage
(Mt 7:22, 23).
27. But he shall say, &c.--(See on Mt 7:23). No nearness of external communion with Christ will avail at the great day, in place of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. Observe the style which Christ intimates that He will then assume, that of absolute Disposer of men's eternal destinies, and contrast it with His "despised and rejected" condition at that time.
Lu 13:31-35. MESSAGE TO HEROD.
31. and depart hence--and "go forward," push on. He was on His way out of Perea, east of Jordan, and in Herod's dominions, "journeying towards Jerusalem" (Lu 13:22). Haunted by guilty fears, probably, Herod wanted to get rid of Him (see on Mr 6:14), and seems, from our Lord's answer, to have sent these Pharisees, under pretense of a friendly hint, to persuade Him that the sooner He got beyond Herod's jurisdiction the better it would be for His own safety. Our Lord saw through both of them, and sends the cunning ruler a message couched in dignified and befitting irony.
32. that fox--that crafty, cruel enemy of God's innocent servants.
33. it cannot be that a prophet, &c.--"It would never do that," &c.--awful severity of satire this upon "the bloody city!" "He seeks to kill me, does he? Ah! I must be out of Herod's jurisdiction for that. Go tell him I neither fly from him nor fear him, but Jerusalem is the prophets' slaughter-house."