Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Jesus Again Heads for Jerusalem
SOON Jesus is on the road again, teaching from city to city and from village to village. Evidently he is in the district of Perea, across the Jordan River from Judea. But his destination is Jerusalem.
The Jewish philosophy that only a limited number will merit salvation is what perhaps prompts a man to ask: “Lord, are those who are being saved few?” With his answer, Jesus forces the people to think of what is needed for salvation: “Exert yourselves vigorously [that is, struggle, or agonize] to get in through the narrow door.”
Such a vigorous effort is urgent “because many,” Jesus continues, “will seek to get in but will not be able.” Why will they not be able? He explains that ‘once the householder has got up and locked the door and people stand outside and knock, saying, “Sir, open to us,” he will say: “I do not know where you are from. Get away from me, all you workers of unrighteousness!”’
The ones locked out apparently come at a time convenient only to themselves. But by then the door of opportunity is shut and bolted. To get in they should have come earlier, even though at the time it may have been inconvenient to do so. Indeed, a sad outcome awaits those who put off making the worship of Jehovah their chief purpose in life!
The Jews to whom Jesus is sent to minister have, for the most part, failed to seize their marvelous opportunity of accepting God’s provision for salvation. So Jesus says they will weep and gnash their teeth when they are thrown outside. On the other hand, people from “eastern parts and western, and from north and south,” yes, from all nations, “will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.”
Thus, as Jesus continues: “There are those last [despised non-Jews, as well as downtrodden Jews] who will be first, and there are those first [the materially and religiously favored Jews] who will be last.” Being last means that such slothful, ungrateful ones will not be in the Kingdom of God at all.
Pharisees now come to Jesus and say: “Get out and be on your way from here, because Herod [Antipas] wants to kill you.” It may be that Herod himself started this rumor to cause Jesus to flee from the territory. Herod may have been afraid of becoming involved in the death of another prophet of God as he was in the killing of John the Baptizer. But Jesus tells the Pharisees: “Go and tell that fox, ‘Look! I am casting out demons and accomplishing healing today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be finished.’”
After finishing his work there, Jesus continues his journey toward Jerusalem because, as he explains, “it is not admissible for a prophet to be destroyed outside of Jerusalem.” Why is it to be expected that Jesus would be killed in Jerusalem? Because Jerusalem is the capital city, where the 71-member Sanhedrin high court is located and where the animal sacrifices are offered. Therefore, it would be inadmissible for “the Lamb of God” to be killed anywhere but in Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,” Jesus laments, “how often I wanted to gather your children together in the manner that a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings, but you people did not want it! Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” For rejecting the Son of God, the nation is doomed!
As Jesus continues toward Jerusalem, he is invited to the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. It is a Sabbath, and the people are closely watching him, since there is a man present who is suffering from dropsy, an accumulation of water probably in his arms and legs. Jesus addresses the Pharisees and the experts in the Law who are present, asking: “Is it lawful on the sabbath to cure or not?”
Nobody says a word. So Jesus heals the man and sends him away. Then he asks: “Who of you, if his son or bull falls into a well, will not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” Again, nobody says a word in reply. Luke 13:22–14:6; John 1:29.
◆ What does Jesus show is needed for salvation, and why are many locked outside?
◆ Who are the “last” that become first, and the “first” that become last?
◆ Why possibly was it said that Herod wanted to kill Jesus?
◆ Why is it not admissible for a prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem?