John T. Willis

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jesus curses an Unproductive Fig Tree and Heals a Crippled Woman--Luke 13:1-17

As Jesus continued to travel toward Jerusalem, some unidentified people told him that Pontius Pilate had killed several Galileeans. Then Jesus told a parable about an unproductive fig tree. Later, when he was teaching in one of the synagogues in Galilee, Jesus healed a crippled woman. Luke relates these events in Luke 13:1-17. This falls into three paragraphs. I. Repent or Perish. Luke 13:1-5. a. Certain unnamed people in the crowds came to Jesus and told him that Pontius Pilate mingled the blood of certain anonymous Galileeans with their sacrifices. These people from Galilee must have come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the temple. 13:1. b. Jesus responds to their statement. First, Jesus openly states that the Galileeans were sinners and thus deserved death. Many people today resist the clear teaching of the Bible that when we sin, God often punishes us in this life. Second, Jesus told his audience that these sinful Galileeans are not worse that the people in his audience. Therefore, Jesus emphasize that they must repent, or else they will perish just like the Galileeans perished. 13:2-3. c. Then Jesus adds a second example. Jesus tells the well-known story of the people in his audience that the tower of Siloam on the east southward tower above the fountain of Siloam fell on 18 people and kill them as God's punishment for their sins. But Jesus declares that these sinners are not worse that people in Jesus' crowd; thus, the people in his crowds must repent or they will perish just like these 18 people. 13:4-5. II. Jesus Curses the Unproductive Fig Tree. Luke 13:6-9. a. Jesus tells a parable about a man who planted a fig tree in his vineyard. This man looked for fruit on the fig tree for three years, but he found no fruit. 13:6. b. Jesus said that the man who planted the fig tree said to his gardener, Cut down the fig tree because I have looked for fruit for three years, and have found no fruit. The unproductive fig tree is wasting the soil. The gardener pleaded with the owner to give the fig tree one more year, then if it does not produce fruit, I will cut it down. Unfortunately, Luke does not tell the audience what this event means. 13:7-9. c. Mark 11:12-13 and Matthew 21:18-22 relate a similar story. Matthew emphasizes the fact that God the Father through Jesus Christ withered the fig tree, and thus if one has faith, God can do anything. Some scholars think that the fig tree is a symbol of the Jews, but there is nothing in any of these texts which suggest this is the meaning. d. Clearly, the main point in Luke 13:6-9 is that God expects all people to be productive. God gives us magnificent gifts and blessings and resources, and expects us to respond by using those resources to glorify God and help other people. III. Jesus Heals and Crippled Woman. Luke 13:10-17. a. As Jesus traveled, he came to an unstated town and went into one of the synagogues and taught. A woman with a spirit that had crippled her for 18 years appeared. She was bent over and could not stand up straight. 13:10-11. b. When Jesus saw this women, Jesus told her that her ailment was "set freed"=healed. Jesus laid his hands on this woman, and immpediately she stood up straight, and then she praised God before the people. Two very important ideas appear in this text in 13:12-13. 1. Laying hands on someone is very, very important. One may lay hands on a person to heal that person, to bless that person, to encourage that person, etc. Unfortunately, we often ignore and even oppose such a gesture. But if one follows the Bible, one will lay hands on other people. For only a few examples, see Matthew 9:18; 19:13, 15; Mark 5:23; 6:5; 7:32; 10:16; 16:18; Luke 4:40; Acts 6:6; 8:17-19; 13:3; 19:6; 28:8; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2. 2. When God delivers an individual from pain, from sin, from illness, from disability, from enemies, from anything or anyone else, the natural response is that that person should praise God before other people. This crippled woman was a preacher, a witness, a testimony to all people who experienced God's healing of her; now, in turn, she declares God's message to all people. Yes!!! Women, as well as men, are natural preachers of God to bring others to God. c. When God our Father through Jesus Christ healed the crippled woman on a sabbath day, the LEADER of the synagogue became indignant because Jesus healed on the Sabbath Day, and quoted Exodus 20:8-11-Deuteronomy 5:12-15 that God's people must keep the Sabbath. This is just another example of the wrongheaded attitude that LEADERS are Christians. True Christians are followers, disciples, servants, not leaders. The ONLY RELIABLE LEADER is God our Father through Jesus Christ. We must abandon the rage of exalting LEADERS in Christian communities. Such a concept elicits arrogance and all types of sins because of self-centeredness. The LEADER of the synagogue in Luke 13:14 was a "religious" person who quoted scripture. But he was not a servant of God or of the crippled woman or of others. God is looking for servants, not leaders. 13:14. d. Jesus proclaimed that this LEADER was a HYPOCRITE. This LEADER would lead his ox or donkey to water that animal on the sabbath day. Is an ox or a donkey more important than a human being created in the image of God? SATAN had bound the crippled woman for 18 years. Now God our Father through Jesus Christ broke the chains of Satan and delivered this woman. 13:15-16. e. When Jesus made this point, ALL HIS OPPONENTS were obviously put to shame, but THE ENTIRE CROWD rejoiced at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing. True followers of God see clearly God's work; would-be leaders are self-centered and cannot see God's nature and work. 13:17. Share YOUR problems and losses and aspirations and inclinations with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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