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A Key Verse
1 Pilate, the Roman representative of the Emperor stationed in Jerusalem will become an important part of Jesus’ own story. Pilate was vicious and occasionally tactless. Philo and Josephus are two ancient historians who tell us more about him beyond what we see in the Bible. He was constantly putting down rebellion, which wa likely what is being talked about in verse 1, and likely what Pilate thought he was doing by executing Jesus. Josephus thought Pilate caused his own troubles (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18) by not understanding the culture. It appears that the Emperor was also unimpressed, ordering Pilate back to Rome a few years after Jesus’ death.
6 Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ 8 The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. 9 Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”
10 The sabbath was a God-commanded day of rest from work, modern-day Saturday, and honoring it was one of the 10 Commandments given to Moses in Exodus 20.
Growth of God’s kingdom
18 If you know only one thing about a mustard seed, you should know that is really really small, about 1 millimeter in diameter. Jesus loved to teach with extreme images, and it was not enough to talk about any old seed. He took time to specify a really tiny one. How does that shape what he says in this verse?
20 Again he said, “To what can I compare God’s kingdom? 21 It’s like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through the whole.”
Who will be saved?
22 Jesus traveled through cities and villages, teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone said to him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
Jesus said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. Many, I tell you, will try to enter and won’t be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 He will respond, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in God’s kingdom, but you yourselves will be thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. 30 Look! Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.”
Sorrow for Jerusalem
31 At that time, some Pharisees approached Jesus and said, “Go! Get away from here, because Herod wants to kill you.”
32 Jesus said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Look, I’m throwing out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work.33However, it’s necessary for me to travel today, tomorrow, and the next day because it’s impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’
Jesus describes a hen gathering her chicks under her wings. This is what that looks like.
35 Do you recognize those bold words? Jesus is foreshadowing Palm Sunday, and in many Christian churches we say those words each week as part of preparing for Communion.
Things to Think About