(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
(16). Lack Of Spiritual Discernment
“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.” They were able to predict the type of weather to expect by the appearance of the sky and the direction of the winds, but they were unable to recognize the spiritual crisis that confronted them. “How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” The events Messiah’s coming, His approaching death on the cross, the coming confrontation with Rome would have eternal consequences, yet they were unable to interpret these and the effects on their own lives.
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Despite all the pressures of society and family, God must be accepted on His terms, and the signs of the times make it imperative that immediate action is taken; we need to be reconciled to God and each other before it is too late or suffer the consequences of judgment .
(17). A Lesson Of Repentance From The Barren Fig Tree
It is not certain what the reference was to these two incidents that our Lord referred to in verses 1-4, but it was often assumed that those who met untimely deaths were extremely sinful people , thus His question to the people: “Do you think that these…. were worse sinners than all the other…. do you think they were more guilty than all the others….” Sinners they were for sure but not greater than any other sinner, for we are all guilty of the same sin that will cause all sinners to perish under the judgment of God, which is, that they have refused to accept the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of their sin , and unless there is true repentance all sinners will be found guilty of death – “..unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
So the parable of the barren Fig tree speaks to us of the fruit of repentance where the owner of the vineyard has seen no fruit being produced – “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any.” – He had waited for a considerable length of time and had not seen any fruit produced, so he gave instructions to cut down the tree. So it can be in the life of an individual who demonstrates no fruit of the Spirit and life seems unchanged. God sees no sign of real spiritual life and eventually such an individual will come under the judgment of God for sin that has not been pardoned and cleansed.
It is the responsibility of every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to be fed by the Word of God through the help of the Holy Spirit so as to produce the fruit of repentance .
(18). Healing Of A Crippled Woman On The Sabbath
“….a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.”There were many illnesses and physical disabilities that were caused by evil spirits, and our Lord Jesus was able to identify these situations. Having compassion on her He healed her of her infirmity, which immediately aroused the indignation of the Synagogue ruler, “There are six days for work”was his response, accusing the Lord Jesus of working on the Sabbath. Addressing this hypocrisy, our Lord countered the accusation with the fact that they all looked after the needs of their animals on the Sabbath, asking the question, “…should not this woman….. whom Satan has kept bound…. be set free on the Sabbath…”, which humiliated His opponents.
It is apparent that they had more regard and compassion for their animals than for the sick and handicapped people to whom our Lord brought healing and deliverance from evil spirits that controlled them. So it is today that due to the bondage of sin and Satan, mankind must be, and can only be delivered by the intervention of our Lord Jesus Christ, He alone can deliver us from such bondage .