(13:22-30) A person comes to Jesus with an apparently important and genuine question: will only a few be saved? But while it is an important question, it could be used to hide from the yet more important question: are you yourself saved? Jesus will not let this question about “how many” are saved remain in the realm of the merely theoretical. His reply then is direct, personal, and practical: “strive to enter through the narrow door” (13:24). In other words, what we really need to concern ourselves with is not the precise number of people who are going to be saved but whether we ourselves are saved, and to do everything (“strive”) to ensure that we are.
It is a temptation to turn theology into a battle of wits or a theoretical exercise. Sometimes people will come to us with complicated questions about salvation, when really the far more important question is a personal one. Are you yourself saved? Let us not allow the matters of God and the Bible to remain purely theoretical. Let us ensure that we are concerned with “practical theology”: following Jesus, becoming more like Jesus, telling other people about Jesus.
Jesus then tells a parable to underline the urgency of ensuring that we are saved before we die. When once the master of the house has “shut the door,” you will not be able to enter. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, then, if you have not made peace with God before you die. Do it now! In fact, so important is this distinction between the theoretical and the practical that Jesus makes the point that the first will be last and the last first. People will come from very far away from the center of all things theological, and some of them will be saved while some who have much knowledge will not. Make sure that we make our knowledge of God practical, real, vital; call on God to renew your heart by his Spirit today!
(13:31-35) Then some Pharisees immediately come to him. They are there to warn him. Why are the Pharisees warning him? In all likelihood their warning, while with elements of truth to it, was not straightforward kindness. They do not want Jesus to come to Jerusalem and teach there, so they tell him about Herod’s desire to get rid of Jesus. Sometimes our adversaries will conjure up real or imagined fears to prevent us from doing what we know is our duty or the right thing to do. But Jesus “must” go on his way (13:33).
Then comes Jesus’ lament for Jerusalem (13:34). Jesus has very often wanted to gather Jerusalem to him (presumably through his other visits to Jerusalem recorded in John’s Gospel), but they “were not willing.” Note that God does not violate our wills. We must respond to him. God’s sovereign call will be effective, but he works by softening our hearts, bending our wills, and calling us until we willingly come to him. But if we willingly reject him, then we will not be saved. They will not see him again until they say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (13:35; cf. Luke 19:38).
It is not just important, it is essential, that we respond to Jesus and to God’s Word with faith. To bend our will to his, submit to him, and follow him. To praise God and say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
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