Luke 13:1-9 Christ Conquers Behind The Scenes

January 27, 2020

We recently finished looking at the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Typically Jesus would speak to them in the following way:

  1. He would reveal something about Himself

  2. He would commend them for something good

  3. He would confront some sin to repent of

  4. He would give a promise to those who would overcome


Three Observations:

#1 Observation: Many of us may be prone to pay more attention to one of these points and to neglect some of the other points that Jesus made.

  • For example, when Jesus reveals something about Himself to us we may get so caught up in the beauty of that that we neglect to hear the other encouragements, corrections and responses that we are to have.

  • Some may be so focused upon the rebuke of Jesus that they fail to hear and remember the other things. Therefore they wallow in shame and condemnation.

  • We need to receive the whole counsel of Scripture.


#2 Observation: Jesus speaks to each of these churches in a personal way. To the churches that need more comfort, like the church in Smyrna, He speaks to them in an encouraging way. To those churches that needed a more severe rebuke, like the church in Laodicea, Jesus spoke to them directly and clearly about their sin and their need for repentance.


The apostle Paul knew how to do this same thing when he would address the churches that he ministered too. There were times that Paul would be to the Thessalonian church like a mother. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 - “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”


There were other times when the apostle Paul was more like a father to them. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 – “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”


#3 Observation: The Holy Spirit will seek to apply the scriptures to our hearts in just the right way. Consider 2 Timothy 3:16, “Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Today, the Holy Spirit will apply the Scriptures to or hearts in a variety of ways. Therefore, let us always be praying for the work of the Spirit in this process.


This week, we will consider Christ’s words of correction and rebuke.

  • This is one of those topics that we would not naturally want to consider.

  • And yet, there is grace to be found even in these things. John Bunyan in his book entitled, The Fear Of God, says, “I should come now to speak of fear as it is a grace of the Spirit of God in the hearts of His people.”

    • Do you believe that godly fear is a grace of God? Most do not.


As Christ looked upon the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 He saw some things that made Him respond with warnings. Let us briefly review them together.

  • To the church in Ephesus Jesus said, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.”

  • To the church in Pergamum Jesus says, “Therefore, repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”

  • To the church in Thyatira Jesus says, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed...and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead.”

  • To the church in Sardis Jesus says, “If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

  • To the church in Laodicea Jesus says, “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”


How does your heart react to Jesus’ words to these churches?

Does it surprise you that Jesus speaks like this?

Do His words intimidate and trouble you?

Does it shock you that Jesus speaks with such warnings and threatenings?


We should not be surprised if we find ourselves being corrected by the Lord. The Lord disciplines those whom He loves. Hebrews 12:5-6 – My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives..


Jesus spoke most harshly to the church of Laodicea but He also spoke to them in the most encouraging manner. He said to them, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:19-20)


In our text today we will see Jesus says some troubling things. And yet, it is my hope that by the end of this sermon we will be convinced that even such texts as these are being of grace.


Our text today is Luke 13:1-9,

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”


The opening words of our passage remind us to consider the context. It begins with these words, “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” (13:1)


There are probably four reasons that I can see why these men brought up the Galileans to Jesus at this time.

  1. Luke 12:56 Jesus says, “You Hypocrites, you know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

  • Many were failing to see the significance of the signs of the times. They were failing to see that the coming of the Messiah was happening in their own day. Perhaps these people mentioned the Galileans to see if Jesus would tell them what the significance of such things were in light of what Jesus had just said.


  1. It was a popular assumption in that day that such tragedies were the result of the sinfulness of the people who had died. This type of thinking is nothing new. The entire book of Job is about Job’s friends who believed that he had sinned against God. Job 8:4, “If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.” Or consider John 9:1-2, “As He passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was blind from birth.’”

      1. Jesus’ response in our text helps to clarify the confusion regarding suffering and our sinfulness. Jesus tells them that all men have sinned and those who died in this way were no worse than anyone else.


  1. I can’t help but imagine that these Jews wanted to see how Jesus would respond. The crowds were believing more and more that Jesus was going to be their king. Even at this time Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. Perhaps they thought that He would deliver them from their subjection to the rule of Rome. Perhaps they thought that this news would push Jesus closer to taking upon Himself that role.


  1. Politics, economics, social issues and tragedies can capture our attention and dominate our discussions because they are part of our every day life and experiences. These events can cause us to become anxious, nervous and scared. It seems natural that some people would want to talk about this with Jesus.

    1. I would like you to observe something in the coming weeks. When you are in your bible studies with others, notice just how quickly people can become engaged when politics, economics, social issues or national and local issues come up. In that moment there is an increase in energy and excitement over such things. Not so much when we are trying to discuss a text of Scripture.


Since Luke 12:1 Jesus has been teaching the people.

  • His teaching was not light and fluffy.

  • It was not about a temporal kingdom here on earth, but about a heavenly kingdom and how His disciples are to live in light of it.


While Jesus gives this long teaching concerning eternal things we see that there were three separate interruptions.


Interruption #1 - While Jesus is teaching someone in the crowd decided to ask something of Jesus. He is not looking for help in understanding the things that Jesus has been discussing. Instead, this man says, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”


This man has heard enough about spiritual and eternal things. He believes he has a more pressing concern that he would like Jesus to deal with. He wants Jesus to get him a fair share of the inheritance. Jesus says to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?..Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (14-15) Jesus, however, builds off of this man’s comment to talk about the Kingdom of God more.


Interruption #2 - Jesus continues to address the crowd with sober words saying in Luke 12:35 saying, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes home and knocks.”


Notice how Peter responds to these words in Luke 12:41, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” Translation, “Lord, who needs to be paying attention right now to what you are saying? Who is supposed to be ready and dressed for action – us or them?”


Interruption #3 - The text that we are looking at today, Luke 13:1-9, contains the third time that someone interrupts what Jesus is saying.


The crisis that these men want to discuss with Jesus is that some Galilean’s were killed by Pilate and their blood was mixed with their sacrifices. I think that all of us can appreciate the need to talk about things when they happen. We are anxious and worried; scared and frightened; confused and angry. We wonder how heaven will respond to what we see going on down here.


Jesus acknowledges that there are tragedies and injustices in the world. He does this by addressing the Galileans who were killed and by mentioning a tragedy that occurred in Jerusalem when a tower fell killing eighteen people.


But, as Jesus has done with all the other interruptions, He is careful to address the most important issue: the need to repent and bear fruit. Jesus says, “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5) The greatest crisis being discussed is not the dramatic things that the disciples are discussing; rather, the greatest crisis is the need for all people to see their sinfulness, to repent and to begin to bear the appropriate fruit.


Jesus continues by teaching them a parable in Luke 13:6-9.


6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”


In this parable, Jesus is speaking of His three year ministry among the people of Israel. Isaiah speaks of Israel as being His vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-2,


Let me sing for my beloved
    my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
    on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,
    and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
    and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
    but it yielded wild grapes.


In the parable the vineyard owner comes looking for fruit on this tree and for three years He find none. He tells the vinedresser to cut it down because it should not be allowed to use up the ground. But notice the vinedressers response. “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” (8-9)


I love this part. This vinedresser could have been so exasperated with this fig tree that he had his saw in his hand and was ready to cut it down. Because his labors had thus far been wasted upon this fruitless tree he could have been joyful when the vineyard owner said, “Cut it down!”


Yet, we see the opposite happen. The vinedresser responds in ways.

  • He is patient and intercedes on behalf of the fruitless tree. “Sir, let it alone this year also...”

  • He will labor and work on behalf of the tree. “...until I dig around it and put on manure”

  • He expects that fruit will yet come. “Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good”

  • He stands ready to follow through on the owners wishes. “...but if not you can cut it down.”


Over the last few years, my wife has learned that if I do not do something it is probably because there is one thing that stands in my way. And because of that one thing I ignore it and I don’t get the task done. Because of this, she will often ask me, “What is that one thing that needs to be done for you to do this?”


In our text today, we see that Jesus is reminding us of all that He has done so that we can bear fruit. He has shown us that all of the obstacles that have stood in our way and that were against us have been removed. He patiently intercedes, He clears the ground of rocks and weeds, he builds a wall of protection, He fertilizes it and waters it. We are, therefore, to respond in faith and repentance.


If you will recall, in Revelation 2:21 we read these words, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” Here was a person who spurned so much grace in her refusal to repent. She spurned the Lords patience, intercession, His work and labor and care. And in the end Jesus’ patience came to an end. Her procrastination led to her damnation.


Over the past three weeks we have been celebrating Revelation 3:21 where Jesus said, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne.” We have a tendency to think that conquering equals something daring and dramatic. But our text today reminds us that conquering also means that Jesus does things that we tend to forget about. Christ pleads with us, patiently waits for us, He intercedes for us, He labors and works around us. All of this so that fruit can come forth.


This week I had a discussion with two people about tomatoes. Both of them were from different states and they were saying that the tomatoes here are not all that good. I asked them why that would be? They thought it might be because of the conditions of the climate and the soil and nutrients.


Do you need to respond to Jesus’ words today and be planted in His garden, “I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Have you ever received the grace that is in these words? A grace that allows you to repent and to receive the promise of eternal life.


There is a song by Norman Greebaum, Spirit in the Sky. It was recently used in the Guardian of the Galaxy Movies. Here are some of the words, “Never been a sinner. I’ve never sinned. I’ve got a friend in Jesus. So you know that when I die He is gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky. That’s where I am going to go when I die. When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m going to the place that is the best.” These words are absolutely false. If you believe the words of this song then you have rejected the words of Jesus Himself in our text. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”


Christian, are you bearing godly fruit that pleases the Father? Have you considered that the Lord has done so much so that your life can be fruitful and pleasing to the Lord. He is patient with you. He intercedes for you. He works and labors in you to remove some things. He also gives you abundant grace that will allow your life to be fruitful.


Therefore, entrust your life and your soul to the Lord this week. And when you have an opportunity to bear fruit of holiness remember that this will be done because of the grace of Christ and His work in your life in the ways that we have seen.





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