The first shall be last

As Jesus moved through the towns of the Jordan Valley, he stressed that people should believe in him without delay, because they would not have the opportunity to hear from him again. Many were concerned with theoretical questions about who would or would not be saved. Jesus explained that people individually should first be sure of their own salvation, because on the judgment day many who thought they were in God’s kingdom would find themselves left outside (Luke 13:22-24).

Some Jews boasted that they would enter the kingdom of God because they were descendants of Abraham; others, because they had eaten with Jesus or heard him preach in their towns. All alike would find themselves condemned to hell if they did not turn from their sins. Their places in the kingdom would be taken by the Gentiles, whom they despised (Luke 13:25-30).

Certain Pharisees tried to frighten Jesus with a threat from Herod, through whose territory Jesus was travelling. Jesus knew that Herod wanted him out of the way, but he replied that he would continue his work until he finished it in Jerusalem (Luke 13:31-33). The city that Jesus loved, in finally rejecting him, would guarantee its own punishment. The nation was spiritually desolate, and once the Romans had finished with it (in AD 70), it would be physically desolate. There would be no blessing for the Jews until they repented and acknowledged Jesus as their Messiah (Luke 13:34-35).

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