Turn to Luke 13:22-30 as we continue our way through the gospel of Luke. As you’re turning there, allow your eyes to look back to the beginning of chapter 13. One of the things that we said when we got to Luke 13 was that the subject of repentance would return repeatedly to view. In addition to speaking of repentance, Jesus will, in this passage, focus us on faith, on the judgment of God, and on the great reversal. There is a theme that runs throughout the gospel of Luke in which the kingdom of God turns things upside-down so that the last are first and the first are last. This is one of those passages where Jesus says just that.

I. Who Will be Saved?

Jesus is going through the villages and towns teaching, and someone asks Him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Jesus’s response, just like in the beginning of the chapter when the question of the Galileans who had been slaughtered was raised, is to zero-in on our responsibility to repent. Therein, by the way, Jesus teaches us once again that theology is not ultimately speculative. It's practical. The truth of God in God's Word is not given to us so that we can speculate about abstract things. It's given to us to change our lives and to guide us in the way that we should go so that we might be saved according to the truth of what God has done.

Look at Jesus’s words in verse 24: “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Elsewhere in the gospels this narrow door or narrow gate is directly connected to repentance. The questioner is asking about the fate of many, and Jesus immediately says, “The question about what will happen to the many is not nearly as important a question as, ‘Have you repented?’” Why? Because our fundamental problem is sin.

You may have been the victim of injustice. We would stand with you at that experience of injustice and seek justice for you, but sin is still your biggest problem. You may be working your hardest to look like you’re living a moral life when in fact there's something going on in your heart that even those closest to you don't know. Your biggest problem is sin and you need to repent.

Jesus is saying to this questioner, “There are so many people who claim to know God, but, if you have not repented, you have not responded in the way that everyone must respond to Jesus’s message to be saved.” This is such an important thing. Understand that Jesus is speaking primarily to Jews, the heirs of the books of Moses, the ministry of the prophets, and the reading of God's Word every Sabbath. Though they have been given all these privileges, they are not responding in repentance and. Jesus, with all tenderness and urgency, is pressing on them the issue of repentance.

Isn't that important for us today? We’re only Christians if we have repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are just as apt to waste and take for granted our religious heritage as these Jewish people. Jesus’s word is very timely for us.

II. Faith in Christ

Jesus goes on in verse 25 to press home to us the importance of faith in Him: “Once the master of the house is risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then He will answer, ‘I do not know where you have come from.’” Think how striking that is. God had chosen the children of Israel to be His people, and yet they had not repented and believed. When in faithlessness and unrepentance they knock on the door and say, “Lord, let us in,” what's the response? “I don't even know where you came from.” It's repeated again for emphasis in verse 26: “But we ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” How true that was for the Jewish people! God Himself had invited them into His presence to eat and drink the Passover meal, and Jesus Himself had taught in their streets, and yet the answer in verse 27 is, “I do not know where you've come from.”

When you have faith in Jesus Christ, you have faith in Jesus Christ because you know who He is. You know that He's the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You know that He died for sinners like you. You know Him, and, because you know Him, you trust in Him. But the Bible also tells us that the reason that you know Him is because He knows you. When the word comes, “I don't even know where you come from,” it's saying, “You didn't have faith in Me. You didn't know Me, and I don't know you.” Then the terrifying words of verse 27 are, “Depart from Me, all you workers of evil.” Jesus is not only calling them to repentance; He's calling them to faith, and he’s speaking of those who attempt to come into the presence of God without trusting in Him, without knowing Him and being known by Him.

III. The Judgment

Then He speaks of the judgment in verse 28: “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.” Jesus pictures for these Jewish people their forbearers in the faith all gathered around in God's kingdom enjoying fellowship with Him, and He says, “And yet you yourselves cast out.” They are excluded. Why? They haven't repented, and they haven't had faith. Again in verse 27 he says, “Depart from Me,” and in verse 28, “Cast out.” Jesus does not delight in speaking of this judgment. It does not give Him joy to think of those being eternally cast out, but He is passionately urging us to repent and believe so that we do not receive in our own bodies the eternal and just punishment for our sin.

IV. The Great Reversal

Then Jesus says something interesting in verses 29 and 30. “People will come from the east and west and from north and south and recline at table in the kingdom of God, and behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Jesus is talking about us there. He's speaking to Jewish people, urging them to believe on Him, but He's saying, “Even Gentiles are going to come and repent. They’re going to trust in Me and sit at My table.” It's another way of saying, “Why would you stand by while those who you think of as last become first and enter into My kingdom?”

We also can have the same attitude as the Jewish people in Jesus’s day. We can rest on our laurels, but entrance into the kingdom is not our birthright. We do not have that because we happen to attend a Bible-believing congregation that has been faithful for generations. The question is, have we repented?  That was Jesus’s call to the Jews, and it's His call to you and me.