EXERTION TO GET THROUGH NARROW DOOR
JESUS MUST DIE IN JERUSALEM
Jesus has been teaching and curing people in Judea and Jerusalem. Then he crosses the Jordan River to teach from city to city in the district of Perea. Soon, though, he will be back in Jerusalem.
While Jesus is in Perea, a man asks: “Lord, are those being saved few?” The man may know of debates among the religious leaders over whether many will be saved or only a few. Jesus shifts the issue from how many will be saved to what must be done in order to be saved. “Exert yourselves vigorously to get in through the narrow door,” he says. Yes, effort, a struggle, is required. Why so? Jesus explains: “Many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able.”—Luke 13:23, 24.
To illustrate the need for vigorous effort, Jesus says: “When the householder gets up and locks the door, you will stand outside knocking at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ . . . But he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!’”—Luke 13:25-27.
This illustrates the plight of a person who comes late—apparently when it is convenient for him—and finds that the door is shut and locked. He should have come earlier, even if that was inconvenient. It is like that with many who could have benefited from Jesus’ being there teaching them. They failed to seize the opportunity to make true worship their chief purpose in life. Those to whom Jesus has been sent have not, for the most part, accepted God’s provision for salvation. Jesus says that they will ‘weep and gnash their teeth’ when they are thrown outside. Yet people “from east and west and from north and south,” yes, from all nations, “will recline at the table in the Kingdom of God.”—Luke 13:28, 29.
Jesus explains: “There are those last [such as non-Jews and downtrodden Jews] who will be first, and there are those first [religiously favored Jews who take pride in being descendants of Abraham] who will be last.” (Luke 13:30) Their being “last” means that such ungrateful ones will not be in the Kingdom of God at all.
Some Pharisees now come to Jesus and advise him: “Get out and go away from here, because Herod [Antipas] wants to kill you.” Perhaps King Herod himself started this rumor to cause Jesus to flee the territory. Herod may be afraid that somehow he will become involved in the death of another prophet, even as he was in the killing of John the Baptist. But Jesus tells the Pharisees: “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look! I am casting out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will be finished.’” (Luke 13:31, 32) In calling Herod a “fox,” Jesus may be alluding to how crafty foxes can be. However, Jesus will not be manipulated or rushed by Herod or anyone else. He is going to carry out the assignment his Father gave him, doing so according to God’s schedule, not man’s.
Jesus moves on in his journey toward Jerusalem because, as he says, “it cannot be that a prophet should be put to death outside of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33) No Bible prophecy said that the Messiah must die in that city, so why does Jesus speak of being killed there? Because Jerusalem is the capital, where the 71-member Sanhedrin high court is located and where those accused of being false prophets would be tried. Furthermore, that is where animal sacrifices are offered. Thus, Jesus realizes that it would be inadmissible for him to be killed elsewhere.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent to her,” Jesus laments, “how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings! But you did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Luke 13:34, 35) The nation is rejecting the Son of God and must face the consequences!
Before Jesus gets to Jerusalem, a leader of the Pharisees invites him to his house for a meal on the Sabbath. Those invited watch closely to see what Jesus might do about a man present who is suffering from dropsy (a severe accumulation of fluid, often in the legs and feet). Jesus asks the Pharisees and the experts in the Law: “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?”—Luke 14:3.
Nobody answers. Jesus heals the man and then asks them: “Who of you, if his son or bull falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5) Again, they have no response to his sound reasoning.