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Dr. Luke: Healing the Breaches - Book 5

This is a commentary on Luke 12-14, where Jesus gives warning to Jerusalem and how to avoid divine judgment.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 14

Jesus Laments over Jerusalem

In Luke 13:34, 35 Jesus laments over Jerusalem, saying,

34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

This passage is also recorded in Matt. 23:37-39. Luke includes much of Matthew’s information, but splits it into two parts. The first part is recorded in Luke 11:47-51, which we discussed in chapter 12 of Book 4. The second part is recorded here in Luke 13:34, 35.

I do not know why Luke split this indictment into two parts, where Matthew records it as a single conversation. It may be that Jesus spoke this indictment on more than one occasion. Each gospel writer had his own flow of information that was applicable to each story in their narratives.

Since Matthew actually includes more details than Luke’s account, we should link Luke 13:34, 35 to the full version in Matthew 23.

Jerusalem’s Hypocritical Claim on the Prophets

Beginning in Matt. 23:29, we read,

29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.”

It is characteristic of the hypocritical city that they would reject and kill the prophets and then honor them posthumously, claiming them as their own. In this way they made themselves appear righteous in the sight of men. Jesus, however, implied that they had no right to claim the prophets as their own, for they had rejected them and had killed them.

The fact was that the religious leaders had continually rejected the word of the prophets, even while they claimed to accept them. Their “acceptance” of the prophetic writings in the canon of Scripture was only possible by misunderstanding their writings, twisting them to suit themselves. Their man-made interpretations, now recorded in the Talmud, caused Isaiah to say (as Matt. 15:8, 9 records),

8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.

Inasmuch as the religious leaders of Jerusalem were about to commit murder again against the Son, it is clear that their opposition to the prophets was about to manifest itself again.

Matt. 23:31-33 continues,

31 Consequently, you bear witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell [gehenna]?

To be “the son of” someone or something was a common Hebrew metaphor indicating that the sons followed in the footsteps of their fathers. Children of light, children of wisdom, children of Abraham, children of the devil—none of these terms were to be taken literally as biological offspring. The people commonly referred to past generations as “our fathers,” so Jesus points out that they truly were the sons of their fathers in that they still rejected the prophets unto that day. The murderous spirit of their fathers was still in them, though they claimed to be righteous.

The Judgment of Gehenna

Jesus then concedes in Matt. 23:32 that they would fill up the cup of wrath that their fathers had begun. The result would be the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus asks, “how shall you escape the sentence of gehenna?” It is not gehenna giving the sentence, but rather the divine court sentencing Jerusalem to destruction in gehenna.

As I have already shown, this sentence came primarily through the prophet Jeremiah, when he broke the jar in the valley of the Ben-hinnom (gehenna in Greek). This is recorded in Jeremiah 19, where the prophet gives no word of hope for Jerusalem. In fact, in Jer. 19:10-12 we read,

10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.’ 12 This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the Lord, “so as to make this city like Topheth.”

The valley of Ben-hinnom, or gehenna, was originally the place just outside of Jerusalem where their fathers had done human sacrifice (Jer. 19:4, 5). Topheth means “fireplace, hearth, burning-place” and was the open-air shrine in gehenna where the fireplace for human sacrifice had stood.

By the first century, the practice of literal human sacrifice had long been abolished, but yet the religious leaders had continued to sacrifice the prophets on their spiritual altars, and soon they were to reach a climax with the sacrifice of the Son of God Himself. For this reason, both Jeremiah and Jesus bore witness against Jerusalem, telling us that it would not escape being cast into gehenna.

The city was indeed destroyed in 70 A.D., but it was repaired in later years. Hence, the prophecy of Jer. 19:11 has not yet reached its final fulfillment. In coming days, Jerusalem will again be destroyed and figuratively cast into gehenna, as “a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired.”

The Liability for All Martyrdom

So in Matt. 23:34-36 Jesus continues His indictment upon Jerusalem, saying,

34 Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation [gennea, “offspring,” that is, the sons of their fathers].

The “prophets and wise men and scribes” that Jesus was sending to Jerusalem would be the Pentecostal believers, who were persecuted, killed, or driven out of the country, as recorded in the book of Acts. When Stephen was killed (Acts 7:59), “on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered” (Acts 8:1).

Jesus said further “that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth.” How could such guilt be put upon Jerusalem? Were they not accountable only for the death of those killed in Jerusalem or in that vicinity? How could they be held accountable for the blood of Abel and for all blood shed on earth? Is this unjust?

The key is found in Rev. 18:24, where we read of the fall of Mystery Babylon in the latter days—that is, in our own time.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.

This indictment is also seen earlier in Rev. 16:5, 6 in connection with the third bowl of wine poured out in judgment upon Babylon.

5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it.”

So we see that the same evidence that condemned Jerusalem to gehenna also condemns Mystery Babylon. If these were two distinct cities, how could both be responsible for the blood of “all who have been slain on the earth”? Perhaps the key is found in Rev. 11:8, which says of the two witnesses,

8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically [pneumantikos, “spiritually”] is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

Here we see that Jerusalem is spiritually connected to both Sodom and Egypt. Jerusalem is Sodom insofar as its immorality is concerned, and it is Egypt because it is Hagar, the bondwoman (Gal. 4:25), and the house of bondage.

The Statue of Babylon Destroyed

In Jesus’ parable of the vineyard, which we discussed earlier, He said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a fruitful nation (Matt. 21:43). In the next verse Jesus warned the religious leaders not to be identified with the “feet” of the Babylonian statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream in Daniel 2. Jesus said in Matt. 21:44,

44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.

This is a double prophecy. The first half of the verse refers to “the stone which the builders rejected” (Matt. 21:42). In other words, the people had rejected Christ, according to the prophecy in Psalm 118:22, because Christ crucified became a stumbling block to them (1 Cor. 1:23). The last half of Matt. 21:44 refers to the stone that will strike the statue on its feet and grind all Babylonian empires to dust, according to Daniel 2:34, 35,

34 You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and crushed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time, and became like chaff [dust] from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.

Hence, Jesus warned the religious leaders of Jerusalem not to sit on the feet of this Babylonian statue—that is, not to become the last kingdom in the succession of beast empires. Was that warning real? Yes, of course. The final beast of Babylon is not Rome, but the little horn that is established after the fall of Rome in 476 A.D.

Further, Revelation 13 tells us that the little horn is really two beasts, the first from the sea and the second from the earth. The first is the religious beast, which received a fatal wound after 42 months (or 1,260 years of prophetic history). The beast from the earth is the financial beast created by various Jewish families in Europe, most notably the Rothschild family. It arose at the time that the religious beast received its fatal wound when Napoleon took the Pope captive in 1798. That was the year that Nathan Rothschild was sent to London, whereupon he soon took power over the Bank of England.

A century later the Rothschild family was instrumental in establishing the Federal Reserve Bank, thus taking control of the money supply of the entire world. They also brought about the establishment of the Israeli state. There is much history involved in this, which we cannot record here, but it is clear that these Rothschild bankers not only invented modern banking but also took control of the world through the final beast in Revelation 13.

Therefore, Jesus’ warning to the Jewish leaders that they would be in danger when the great “stone” crushed the statue on its feet. They did not take heed to Jesus’ warning, of course, because they did not believe any of the prophets when they warned of the coming destruction of Jerusalem.

The point is that the Babylonian statue was to be judged fully and completely at the end of the age. But since most of the beast empires had already run their course, the brunt of judgment would be felt by the leaders of the final beast—that is, the banking system. When that system is brought into judgment, the governments of all past beast kingdoms would also be destroyed—the religious system of Rome, the democracy of Greece, the constitutional monarchy of Persia, and the absolute monarchy of Babylon.

In fact, this divine judgment against Babylon will go back even to “the blood of Abel,” who was the first martyr, for his blood too was attributed to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, then, is to be held accountable for all the righteous blood shed upon the earth back to the beginning of human history. This alone proves that the final beast system is centered in Jerusalem, directing the banking systems of Rome, London, and New York. Hence, Jerusalem will be held accountable for the actions of all the beast empires before it.

That is the legal basis for divine judgment upon Jerusalem. The city will be destroyed as a potter’s vessel that can never be repaired. That house will become desolate, and the individual people will not see Christ until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Luke 13:35).

In other words, those who repent of their rejection of Christ and join His Kingdom will be blessed in the New Jerusalem. Those who do not repent during their life time will be raised from the dead at the Great White Throne judgment, where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

Blessed is He Who Comes

The word “blessed” in Luke 13:35 is the Greek word eulogio, which means to pronounce a blessing upon someone. It is not the same word that is used in the Beatitudes, which is makarios, “to be already in a blessed condition.” Hence, the force of Jesus’ statement shows that they would not see Christ until they actively blessed Him. Such blessing implied acceptance of His word, ministry, and calling.

Lightfoot tells us that the rabbis used Psalm 118:25 and 26 as a responsive recitation, with the leader saying one phrase and the people responding with the next phrase. Verse 25 was thus spoken:

Men of Jerusalem: O Lord, do save, we beseech Thee!

Men of Judea outside Jerusalem: O Lord, we beseech Thee, do send prosperity!

It is interesting that the men of Jerusalem were appealing to God to save them—and Jerusalem itself. Their prayer was indeed answered when Jesus was sent to Jerusalem, for His Hebrew name, Yeshua, means “salvation.” It is ironic, then, that in spite of the countless times they had prayed this prayer, they ended up rejecting the very “salvation” that they desired for Jerusalem. As for verse 26…

Rabbis standing in the synagogue: Blessed is the one who comes.
People standing in the synagogue: In the name of the Lord.

Lightfoot expresses bewilderment over the separation of these phrases, which tends to change the original meaning of the verse. He says,

“I will not confidently assert that these men had any ill design when they thus mangled this famous clause; but surely there is at least some ground of suspicion that they hardly refer the words to the right object.” (Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Vol. III, p. 148)

He explains the phrase “blessed is one who comes,” saying that to come is often equated with teaching. In other words, men come to teach. Lightfoot continues,

“Those doctors did not come and teach in the name of the Lord, but either in their own name, or in the name of some father of the traditions. Hence nothing more familiar with them, than “R.N. in the name of R.N. saith:” as every leaf, I may say almost every line of their writings witnesses. If, therefore, by cutting short this clause, they would be appropriating to themselves the blessing of the people, whom they had taught to say, Blessed be he that cometh, letting that slip, or omitting what follows, In the name of the Lord; they do indeed like themselves cunningly lying at catch, and hunting after fame and vainglory.” (Commentary, pp. 148, 149)

Lightfoot is telling us that many rabbis and doctors of the law would come to teach in their own name or to transmit the teaching of some “father of the traditions” that they had studied. They came to teach, apparently pronouncing a blessing upon themselves, saying, “Blessed is he who comes (to teach).” Then they expected the people to respond with “in the name of the Lord,” perhaps using this as a pledge or vow to receive what the rabbi was saying.

So when Jesus said, “You shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” He may mean that the people must recognize that Jesus came in the name of the Lord, rather than in His own name or in the name of some traditional rabbi.

This, of course, is an expression of faith recognizing that Jesus is the Christ. Not only does it affirm a belief in the words that He spoke, but also in His mission. The mission was not to be a great general that would elevate Jews as world rulers, but as the Lamb of God, who died for the sin of the world.