Chapter 13 begins with the words “there were some present at that very time.” What that time refers to must have to do with chapter 12, obviously, since Luke did not write this gospel with chapter divisions. Luke does not write about events in strict chronological order. But in this case, it seems reasonable that the “very time” he refers to goes back to verse 1 of chapter 12. There, Jesus began to speak when “in the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another.”
Some of the group of these people He was speaking to now told Him about some “Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” This incident is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture, and some commentators note that Josephus had not written about it either. We could hardly expect any historian from those times to have written about every time Roman soldiers killed any of the Jews.
Josephus does record an incident (Wars of the Jews, Book 2, Chapter 1) whereupon Herod Archelaus (brother of Herod Antipas) sent soldiers into the temple, and people were killed while they sacrificed. An estimated 3000 were killed. It is not much of a stretch to imagine that Pilate was capable of doing something similar at some point. Josephus also wrote that the Galileans were the most seditious of the Jews.
The second incident in verse 4 was brought up by Jesus himself. 18 people were killed when the “tower in Siloam” fell on them. This incident is, of course, not documented anywhere either. But some archaeologists believe they have found ruins where a second tower may have been built.
The point of both these citations, as Jesus explains, is that none of these people in either incident were killed because they were more sinful than anyone else. It was not an act of God, as people then especially tended to believe. But He tells them that they also will perish unless they repent. They knew the different type of perishing to which He was referring.
Jesus then tells them the parable of the barren fig tree in verses 6-9. The man in the parable who owned the vineyard is analogous to God. The fig tree represents the Jewish people. The vinedresser is Jesus. The three years of looking for fruit from the tree relate to the first three years of Jesus’ ministry. The lack of fruit parallels their rejection of Jesus. The vinedresser asks the owner to let him cultivate it for a year, and if it still bears no fruit, he can cut it down. As with all of His parables, those who did not wish to learn and understand would not do so. But some certainly did.
Doubtless, many would recall the parable when 70 A.D came around.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.