As Chapter 13 of Luke opens Jesus responds to a story from a group regarding some Galileans who have been caught up in a mess. Jesus warns the Jews he’s talking to about believing that suffering meant sin, and consequently, prosperity meant righteousness. The Jews tended to think that suffering in an earthly life came to those who had sinned more. Jesus was quick to point out that they were not, in fact, “worse sinners.” Both the Galileans and the men and women talking to him both had need to repent.
Jesus parable of the fig tree is a representation of God’s mercy. Three years was more than enough time for a fig tree in a vineyard to produce fruit, but yet it is still given one more chance. The manure that is placed around the tree is akin to the Holy Spirit that indwells those whom God saves. All humans are at their last chance. Humans will bear no fruit, just as the fig tree would bear no fruit without the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus does not present the results of the intervention with the fig tree. While there is no guarantee that the manure works, each person the Holy Spirit indwells is saved. God does not fail in what he attempts to do. In the situation in Luke, if the manure worked the fig tree would have produce fruit. The same is true of a Christian. If indwelt by the Holy Spirit the Christian produces fruit to the glory of God. That fruit can be defined in many ways generally, but comes from a desire to do God’s will.
When the ruler of the synagogue attempts to rebuke Jesus regarding his healing of a woman on the Sabbath Jesus points out an example of the unnecessary yoke of the Pharisees. The Pharisees had instituted strict rules about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath day. However, Jesus points out how this is in contradiction to God’s will. God did mean for a day of rest from work, but he did not mean for humans to stop doing good in the effort to prevent themselves from doing work. Jesus expresses this by using the example of an owner and his Ox. The owner won’t let the Ox die because it’s the Sabbath. He unties and brings it to water. In the same way, the healing of a woman who has been suffering for 18 years would be well within God’s will.
The illustration of the mustard seed that Jesus uses indicates that, like the seed, the kingdom of God would start small it would grow to be very large.
The narrow door of which Jesus speaks is salvation. He’s indicating that there will be many, in that Jewish community, who would come and expect entrance to the kingdom of heaven but will be turned away. Jesus has repeatedly presented the gospel message as measured by faith not works.
Jesus also indicates the salvation is available when God has offered it. It is not an open invitation to be accepted once judged. The weeping will be in seeing those in heaven and the gnashing of teeth will be in anger.
Warned by the Pharisees that Herod was looking to kill him Jesus is determined to complete his mission from the Father. He references the 3rd day (prophetic look toward the resurrection) as well as the certainty that it was necessary he died in Jerusalem.
Jesus lament over Jerusalem is real. As God’s chosen people their fallen nature has left them in their sin and is grievous to Jesus. He explains that they will not see him until the day when they say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” He being Jesus in this circumstance.