Luke Chapter 21: The Widow’s Mite, Destruction of the Temple and Time of Trouble Luke 21:1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. Luke 21:2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. Luke 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I […]
Notice, the one who had so boldly proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah—and who had been instructed by God that the one upon whom the dove alighted at the time of baptism was Messiah—now, in prison, questioned whether Jesus was truly the Messiah. What is the lesson? Even the most faithful of the Lord’s people can have moments of discouragement when they are tested to the core, but they receive a strengthening subsequently if they do not ive in to the testing and surrender their faith. Another lesson: When God puts something on our heart to do, we should do it—regardless of who the person is. John rebuked Herod and ended up in prison. We may have a similar experience.
Jesus’ fame had spread to Tyre, Sidon, and Judea. People coming from that distance to hear him and be healed were waiting at the bottom of the mountain. After naming the apostles, Jesus came down and saw a multitude who had diverse diseases. What a pitiful sight! Jesus healed them all—after not sleeping the night before. “Virtue” (vigor and vitality) went out of him each time. And he gave a long sermon afterwards (verses 20-49). The statement “the whole multitude sought to touch him” means it was a surging multitude.
Jesus continued to bolster the premise of the Unjust Steward Parable. Verses 16-18 refer to the Law and the prophets. When John the Baptist came, the last of the Law and the prophets, he pointed to Jesus as the new way. In other words, a new dispensation was opening up and every man would have to press into it—would have to exercise energy in order to secure the spiritual promise or prize. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, which follows, somewhat pictures this change of death to the Law and being made alive to the new condition. As a people, the Gentiles responded more favorably than the Jews.
The Parable of the Unjust Steward brought out the principle that no man can serve two masters. One cannot mix the Law dispensation of works with the gospel dispensation of faith.
It is dangerous for a Christian to feel he is being justified under the Law. We study the Law to know God’s thinking, but we do not expect to get life by obeying it to the letter. Therefore, a change in dispensations was pending at the First Advent, as shown in the parable by the steward’s losing his stewardship. Those Jews who were wise handled the change properly and got a far greater blessing.
The parables of Luke 15 and 16 all center around a lost stewardship, coin, sheep, etc. In each case, whatever was lost was found, restored. Luke chapter 17 is tied in too in another way.
The strain of sympathy for others is a trait we must carry to eternity. And, correspondingly, if a brother goes into sin and truly repents, we should rejoice. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that “a cloud of witnesses,” the holy angels, are watching the consecrated. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Verses 11-32 cover the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The father, who pictures God, had two sons, one of whom was the “prodigal son.”
In the primary application, the elder son represents the scribes and Pharisees; the younger son, publicans and sinners. There are two secondary applications: (1) The older son pictures the Jews, the nation of Israel, while the younger son portrays the Gentiles. (2) The elder son represents nominal spiritual Israel; the younger son, true spiritual Israel.
Now Jesus raised the conversation to a higher level. Out of all who heard him in the Pharisee’s house, only one appreciated Jesus’ words and said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.” Jesus immediately gave the Parable of the Great Supper, which is a reminder of the principle “many [shall] be called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:16).
When bidden to enter the race for the high calling, one after another made excuses along temporal lines, so the master of the house told his servant to go out into the city streets and call the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind. The “city” was the Jewish nation. When not enough Jews accepted, the master sent his servant into the highways and byways—that is, to Gentile lands—with the instruction “Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” “Compel” means to urge, to earnestly plead. None of those who were invited and refused will taste of Jesus’ “supper.” Only a few Jews responded, so the call went to Gentiles.
The two parables tie in with these subsequent verses. The nominal Church will seem to be very large, but in the final analysis, few will get life as a result of the Gospel Age. The disciples got the point and one asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” The answer was yes in regard to the high calling—and even in regard to the Great Company compared to the vast majority of tares in the nominal Church. The disciples realized the mustard seed and the leaven were unfavorable.
Jesus was en route to Jerusalem when this question was asked. He replied, “Strive [agonize] to enter in at the strait [narrow] gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Athletes who excel agonize in their sport because they push themselves to the very limit. The “many” who will not be able to enter in are the majority. This is especially true in principle in the beginning when the Adversary tries to discourage consecration and entering the race for the prize of the high calling.
Verses 24-30 are a reminder of the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable. Jesus did not answer the question (verse 23) directly but gave a parable, implying that few would be saved. If the question and parable are considered from the standpoint of the feet members and the end of the Church’s course, the entering in would pertain to the marriage. There is a hard test in the beginning of our consecrated walk as well as toward the end. For example, Abraham had to leave his home country in the beginning, and later he had a severe test with Isaac.
An agonizing attitude is necessary to get through the narrow gate or aperture and thus make our calling and election sure. Jesus was referring to getting the prize of the high calling, to the marriage—to glory, honor, and immortality. The agonizing attitude must be maintained and preserved.
Many have the wrong impression of Jesus. They do not realize that much of what he said was not gentle but strong. However, all of his words were constructive. If he punished with the tongue, the purpose was to awaken the individual to the wrong. Jesus gave logic, explaining what was wrong and what was right.
Accumulative guilt is passed down until the time comes for an explosion that cleans the slate.
When the judgment is due, it weighs heavily on those then living. However, when the responsible individuals come up in the resurrection, they will be held accountable for what they did willfully. Hence having the judgment at the end of the Gospel and Jewish ages does not mean those of other generations escape. They may escape judgment in the present life but not in the next. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men[‘s sins] … follow after [with judgment occurring in the Kingdom]” (1 Tim. 5:24).
Jesus went into the wilderness because he was overwhelmed by the knowledge of his prehuman existence and the instruction God had given before sending him on this mission. We know that Jesus was briefed before coming down here because he said he spoke as the Father had taught him (John 8:28; 12:49,50). Jesus’ experience to that point as a human being was one thing, and his prehuman existence and knowledge were another. He had to adjust the two and decide how to start his ministry. Apparently, he had things sorted out after the 40 days, and now he was returning with the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing how to proceed with his ministry. And it was at his weakest point after 40 days of fasting, Satan came to tempt.
Jesus taught in the synagogues. He had not gone to any rabbinical school, and his parents were known. As he read portions of Scripture, the people realized he was not a rabbi in the normal sense. Hearing him explain with great knowledge—above what any rabbi could ever hope to know—they could not understand where his great wisdom came from. They sat stunned as he opened up the Scriptures to them. Whatever the Scripture reading was would determine the nature of his discourse. The Scripture reading was “programmed” in advance (as in many churches today), but Jesus breathed new life into the Scriptures. The people would want to hear him again on the following sabbath. Jesus would read with understanding and the right intonation, sit down, and then explain what he had read.
Jesus’ strong words showed that the people were mostly interested in the healing. Instead of realizing that the miracles were an evidence of his Messiahship and desiring his message, they sought the loaves and the fishes and did not become his disciples. Much is attributed to social communication. Many are attracted by fellowship and sociality. Very few hunger for the real gospel, for the Word itself. This is as true today as it was back there.