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1. There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
6. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8. And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9. And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
10. And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.
11. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.
13. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
15. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
16. And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
17. And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.
18. Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
19. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
20. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
21. It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
22. And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem.
23. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,
24. Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
25. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
26. Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.
27. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
29. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
30. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.
31. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.
32. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.
33. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.
34. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
35. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
I want to talk to you about this subject “The House of Desolation.” The story of Judaism, of Jewish religion in the time of Christ and the fact that He kept bouncing up against it in real clash and controversy over and over again. Just as the prophets of old had done and many of them had been killed and some of them banished as they came up against institutionalized religion that simply no longer was able to reach out in warmth and love and bring any kind of blessing and help to human beings. It became just a religious system that had to be supported by the people, but nevertheless, never gave anything back. The prophets likened it to several different kinds of things. Jesus, in particular, referred to it in this chapter as a barren fig tree. It was seen in so many ways as a system that no longer had life. It no longer brought blessing. It was no longer able to reach out and bless people. Therefore, in the parable that Jesus used about the cursing of the fruit tree that was unfruitful, He said nobody will ever eat fruit from you. He was really talking about the system of Jewish worship that disowned Him and rejected Him and so He says to them in the words of our text, He mentions His very heartbreak over their rejection and rebellion. He said, ‘…how often would I have gathered you together as a hen doth her brood, her chicks, and I would have spread my love and care and protection and power over you, but you would not. So therefore your house is left unto you desolate. It is going to be empty and barren…’ He was speaking of the Jewish religious system and also the temple that would be destroyed. Later on in Luke when He makes His last entry into Jerusalem, He will express the same kind of sorrow and regret over what has happened to Jerusalem. Here He calls it the one that has killed the prophets. They have silenced the voices that call to them to turn to God. Even though the Lord is merciful and gracious and keeps reaching out to call His people to return, yet when they refuse and rebel and go their own way as Israel did, the time comes when there is a cutting off place. Long after the longsuffering of God has held sway for a long time in His mercy and love, yet the time does come when the door is closed.
So tonight I want us to look at the reasons why the Jewish system of religion is called a House of Desolation. The same thing can be applied to any church or any organization that leaves God out and pushes Him aside and decides they want to do their own thing in their own way and make a business of religious activity and leaving God out. The time finally comes when there is nothing left but emptiness and barrenness and desolation. Let’s look at reasons why. This whole chapter is filled with the reasons why Jesus was able to say, ‘Your house will be a house of desolation.’
First of all, in the very beginning of the chapter, He realized that their house would be a house of desolation because of their attitudes toward others in their own self-righteousness. Their attitude was one of condemning others. They thought that anybody who was stricken in any kind of misfortune or trouble must be great sinners. That was the popular theology of Jewish religion that goes back centuries. It was popular in the days of Job because Job’s so-called comforters looked upon him and they tried to get him to ‘fess up. They said that nobody could be suffering like you are suffering and going through what you are going through without being very sinful and unrighteous. The book of Job was written to disprove that theory. It says that the righteous do indeed suffer at times. People of God do indeed go through valleys and dark places and suffer and suffer afflictions. The Bible teaches that many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all. So, here they are. They are saying Jesus used illustrations of Galilaeans who were killed and slaughtered by Pilate and their blood was mingled in their sacrifices. He said don’t suppose that they were some great sinners because they suffered some great misfortune, or eighteen people who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell upon them, don’t judge them as being great sinners. They were not any greater sinners than you are, He said. In verse 3, He says ‘Nay: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’
The Jewish religion, so proud of itself and the people who practiced it, was constantly looking down upon others. You remember the story of the man who bragged on himself as he prayed and said ‘I’m glad I’m not like this publican.’ If there is any one great truth that comes from this story and many other places in Scripture, it is that we are not to judge others. That is God’s responsibility. That is the Lord’s responsibility. He knows the heart of people. And certainly, we are not to reach out to try to adjust the mote in someone else’s eye when we have a big beam sticking out of our own eye. That is the teaching of Jesus.
He says also, you are to repent or perish. Then He uses an illustration here, one of a barren fig tree. In several cases in the Bible, there is this illustration used by the different gospel writers showing this barren fig tree and its typifying the temple and all of its great trappings and all of its ceremonies and ritual that never could bring life to the people. He says ‘This person had in his vineyard, this fig tree and he went to it again and again for fruit, but there was none. So he gets ready to cut it down and the keeper of the vineyard says well let me try just one more time. Let me see if I can fertilize this plant and dig around it do some things and maybe it will bear. Then if it doesn’t, let it be condemned and cut down. But if it bears fruit, well and good, wonderful. The master of that vineyard said alright he would give it one more year, but I’m not having it taking up valuable ground and drawing nurture from the soil and draining the soil if it is not going to bear fruit.’ That illustration was given to show what the Jewish religion is like, or any religion that does not bear fruit that gives glory and honor and praise to the Lord God Almighty; that does not bear fruit that brings blessing and help and encouragement to human beings in this world. If there is any one thing that God wants done, He wants His grace, He wants His mercy, He wants His power to flow into the lives of people who need help from Him. He has called His people His church. He has called the people of God out so that they will be the vessels through which the grace of God comes flowing to bring healing love to the hearts and lives of people. When that stops, when there is no flowing out of God’s blessings, when there is no flowing out of God’s grace, when there is no blessing that goes to the people, then God stops the flowing forth of His grace and love into those people.
It is up to us. We can be like an open free flowing stream of God love flowing through us. Or when we get ready, that we close in upon ourselves and we are not willing for God’s love and grace to flow out to others, then we automatically start cutting things off. God can’t bless us because the greatest way He can bless us is to bless through us. Your greatest blessing comes when God uses you as vessels of honor and He flows His love through you and you bless others. That is the greatest satisfaction of all time. People who only want to come and worship and just receive, receive, receive and never let it flow through them, after a while they actually become empty because they cut themselves off.
Let me see if I can give a present day illustration. One of our young men was called to go to pastor a charismatic church in Atlanta. That church called Pastor Paul Laverne Walker and said could you send us somebody as pastor. The young man went over there to pastor and the first thing they told the young man about strategy was this: There are a lot of other charismatics around here that we could get if we can just bless them and if we can have the right kind of services. The young man asked if that was their idea of a strategy for church growth, is just to get other charismatics. He asked what about the lost? Don’t you ever attempt to win the lost? They were a little bit indignant at first and he said you’ve got the wrong person unless we can be evangelistic and we can reach out to save the lost, I’m not your man. So they agreed to try it with him for a while. The first thing you know, they quit worrying about trying to proselyte other charismatics and bring them in. They started seeking the lost. When people began to bring in the lost and they started to get saved, the people realized they had more to rejoice about than they ever had before. They found the total joy and the total grace of God flowing in their lives when they started blessing others who really needed help from God.
There is a curse against barrenness. There is a curse against barrenness and Jesus said this husbandman was ready to cut down this unfruitful fig tree.
Another reason He said your house is going to be left desolate is because they rejected and condemned the ministry of Jesus Himself. In verses 10-17 there is story of a woman who had a spirit of infirmity that kept her all bent over. She couldn’t straighten up. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand about all kinds of sickness and we know that literally sickness came into this world because of the fall in the first place. So in that sense, sickness is caused by Satan. But there are some sicknesses that cannot be explained any other way than it is an oppression or an attack of Satan upon someone’s life and they literally need to be delivered from the power of Satan. There are all kinds of physical sicknesses that we know about in the world we live in and we don’t think that all kinds of sicknesses are the direct work of Satan. But in this case, it was. Here is a woman who was bound. She couldn’t straighten up. She walked around all bent over and in pain and troubled with this infirmity that she had for a long time. Then Jesus saw her in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and He said to her in verse 12 ‘Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.’ And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.’
Now you would think that anybody in his right mind would be overjoyed at seeing a woman who they had seen for 18 long years come into the synagogue or they had seen her in the village or here or there and she had walked all bent over and in pain. You would think everyone would be rejoicing and happy because she could straighten up now and not having to always look at the ground. But no, not this religious system because the ruler of the synagogue was filled with indignation. That means he was angry and close to mad over the fact that this had happened on the Sabbath Day. Jesus used a wonderful illustration here. First of all He said ‘You hypocrite!’ Everyone of you, on the Sabbath, don’t you go out and untie your ox or your donkey and you lead them to water and drink? You loose them from where they are tied and you take them to water on the Sabbath. Now shouldn’t this woman who is a daughter of Abraham and who has been bound for these 18 years, shouldn’t she be loosed on the Sabbath Day? Oh hallelujah!
If there is one thing that Jesus taught, it was that the Sabbath Day was a day for ministry. It was a day for worship. It was a day for deliverance. It was a day when the glory of God should come down and visit His people. Amen! It was not a day to just inhibit every kind of activity. Yes, I know it was set aside as a day of rest from regular work, but Jesus again and again healed on the Sabbath showing that it is a day to worship and to see the glory of God and the power of God at work and to see their attitude. The Bible says in verse 17 that He calls them adversaries. They were ashamed. I think so, don’t you? I think they ought to be ashamed. Anybody who would get upset and indifferent because God was blessing somebody, anybody who would get jealous ought to be ashamed.
The system of Judaism never healed anybody. They had seen her for 18 years but was not able to minister to her needs. So more out of jealousy and anger, they took this terrible attitude against the work of Jesus Christ. This attitude that is against Him and what He does, gets stronger and stronger in this chapter. No wonder Jesus would say with a broken heart ‘Your house will be left desolate.’ It will be totally void of life, totally void of any hope.
The adversaries were ashamed but the people rejoiced. I like it when God moves and the people rejoice, don’t you. I like it when people are delivered and loosed when they have been bound and now can rejoice. That is what the grace of God does when He comes into our midst and when the Lord speaks freedom and liberty through His Word and His Spirit and His power and people are set free form bondage, set free from fears. Oh how we can rejoice when God reaches down with His miraculous power so the people rejoiced. I hope that we can keep on having services where people rejoice even if it does make the devil mad. I don’t care if he does get mad.
Praise God forever and forever and forevermore. I know what it is like to be healed, don’t you. I know when I was healed of gall bladder attacks and trouble and I tell you I haven’t been the same since and that was back in 1963. They said I had to have an operation, that I had gall stones, but God healed me. Some good saints just came one Wednesday night. I sat down on the altar rail and they laid hands on me and anointed me. I don’t know who prayed the prayer of faith, but somebody did. I’m sure it wasn’t me. Praise God I haven’t had an attack since. Praise God we can rejoice when the Spirit and the power of God works in the midst of God’s people. Amen!
That’s really what this world is needing to see and is crying out for. We’ve had some great miracles right here in these Wednesday night services. It hasn’t been too long ago when we had the testimony of Doug Miles. He stood right here and they only gave him a short time to live, but he was healed of cancer and he is still going strong. Some of you heard his testimony the night he sang and led singing here.
Another reason their house would be left as a house of desolation was not only did they reject the ministry of Christ, but they rejected the true Kingdom of God. After a while when you keep rejecting God’s Word and you keep rejecting the Christ, the Son of God and you keep rejecting the Kingdom of God, after a while you reach the end of your rejection. You can go no further. Verses 18-30 describe how this took place. Jesus said You’ve got it all figured out wrong about the Kingdom of God. You don’t have any handle on it. In fact, you’ve already lost it. What will I liken the Kingdom of God to? Well, it is like a grain of mustard seed; a tiny seed you plant and after a while it comes up as a big plant, almost like a little tree with big leaves. The birds can come and rest in it. Jesus said that’s the way the Kingdom of God is. It doesn’t come through this mighty system of Judaism, but it comes as the Word of God is planted in the hearts of people and begins to grow and it spreads from one person to another. He said also there is a way that you get into this Kingdom. While it spreads like a growing mustard seed, and He also used another illustration; it is like leaven (or yeast) that goes into the bread. That’s the way the Kingdom of God grows.
But then He dropped something on them that He called the straight gate. He is referring to Himself. He is the door. He said that in John, chapter 10. I am the door to the sheepfold. He also said I am the Good Shepherd. They despised Him because He was saying He was the way you get in. You don’t get into the Kingdom unless you come through Christ and through His blood and have faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way. He is the door. He is the straight gate. You have to go through Him. That is especially right to me when He says in John I am the door. Do you remember in chapter 9 that whole chapter is about the young man who was born blind and was healed and finally after he had been put through the third degree by the religious leaders, and they tried to disown him and they kicked him out of the synagogue. Jesus found him when He was alone and revealed Himself to him. He hadn’t even seen who it was that had told him to go wash in the pool. He hadn’t seen Jesus. So, he worshipped Him. Immediately He starts to talk about I am the door. When this same institutionalized religion that is void of any life and any hope had kicked this young man out and had disowned the very works of God in his life, Jesus said don’t worry about it if they throw you out. I am the door. He said to him here that you must enter in to the straight gate. He says the time will come when the master of the house is risen up and he shuts the door and you stand without and knock at the door saying ‘Lord, Lord, open unto us: and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:’ They start making excuses and saying that they’ve been with you, and did eat and drink with you and were with you when you were preaching and prophesying in our streets. He said ‘…depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.’
It would appear that there was almost a running battle of conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of Judaism in His day. Then He says to them – and this comes across pretty hard, it is strong words, Jesus knew how to do that because if there was anything in this world that got His righteous indignation stirred up it was hypocrisy, people claiming to be so religious and looking down upon others and judging them while they themselves had worse sins that they were covering up and needed to repent of – He said the time is coming when you will see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob all these ancestors that you depend on so much and you claim to be children of Abraham, but you will see them come and sit down in the Kingdom of God while you are thrust outside. What a picture of being on the outside!
What are you saying? Just because you are descendants of Abraham, just because you can say that by your bloodline you are a Jew, that does not make you part of the Kingdom of God. No sir. You have to come through Jesus Christ. There is no other name given among men whereby people can be saved but the name of Jesus Christ.
We’re living in a world today of religions and a lot of people would like for us to say that Christianity is just one among many others. But that is not the way it works according to Scripture. That is what we stand on – the Scripture and there is no other way.
Finally, Jesus was rejected Himself. Not only His ministry and His works and His teaching, and His Kingdom, but He Himself was rejected. They said ‘You need to leave here. We want you to get out of here.’ They tried to scare Him. They told Him that Herod would kill him. Jesus, with a great amount of authority, said ‘You go tell that fox that I cast out devils and I do cures today and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected. Go tell him that I am staying and carrying out my mission and carrying out my ministry and any threats from the religious leaders or even from the so-called king is not going to stop me and my work.’ I like the way He answered this situation, don’t you? I think there are times that you have to come straight on with the voices of evil that come from Satan to do Satan’s business. I think sometimes you have to stand and put your foot down. I’m glad that Jesus Christ is still our Sovereign Lord. When He says I will build my Church upon this rock and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, He is telling us the living truth. Nothing can stop His Church of His Kingdom. Praise God! Of the increase of His government and peace, there shall be no end, the prophet said. It doesn’t stop. It grows. It goes.
Then it was at that point when they threatened Him with Herod and they said we don’t want you to leave this place that His heart was broken and He showed His burden and grave concern over their condition and He said ‘Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem. You killed the prophets and you stoned them that were sent to you. Every voice that raises up to bring a message to you, you have silenced that voice. You have turned away from God and you won’t hear it. I have come to you and I have wanted to gather you together under my wings, under my protection, under my presence, under my provision, and yet you would not. You would not. You would not. So He says there is a place that you reach in your rejection of Jesus Christ that your house is left desolate and empty. You will not see me until the time come when you shall say Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. There is no hope for you now. The barren fig tree would be cut down. The temple system would come crumbling down when the Romans would come in and destroy Jerusalem and Jesus with a broken heart, reaching out to them offering them a way out, but they were blind and they rejected Him. Judgment was coming. That is the doom. That is the judgment that comes upon all religious systems that reject Jesus Christ and His love and His grace and fail to be instruments of His love in this world. We can pray that the church will never become indifferent and cold and just some organization, but that it will be the instrument of God to bring love and healing mercies to the lives of people all around us.
Please stand and pray that kind of prayer as we close.
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