And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,Luke 13:22-23
Before we even begin to look at Jesus’ answer to this question, I think we can learn a lot from the question itself.
Contextually, Jesus has had a lengthy conversation with three groups of people; 1. His disciples, 2. The unbelieving Jewish leaders and 3. A large crowd consisting of groups 1 and 2 as well as many others. This is important to understand because this question doesn’t come out of no where. It is directly related to what Jesus has been saying for several chapters.
The unbelieving Jewish leaders are convinced that they have the secret on how to get to heaven. Further, they have the entire people of Israel under their grip causing many of them to wonder if they are saved. But Jesus has been turning the tables on these men at every encounter.
Jesus has just called them hypocrites and showed them their idea of the kingdom of Israel is not God’s Kingdom of Heaven. The men who claimed to have all the answers, and the easy path to heaven, are actually at odds with the Father!
This is the context of the question.
With these ideas as the prevailing opinion in Judea, no wonder someone would ask this question. They have come to the conclusion, “If we leaders are not saved, then can anyone be saved?”
It was no doubt, one of these unbelieving hypocrites that asked this question. Part of Jesus’ answer tells those leaders that “their house” is left unto them desolate.
If salvation is based upon our merits, wisdom, bloodline, or anything else that we control or do, then these “leaders” would have a good argument. If the ones who appear most righteous aren’t saved, then nobody is saved.
Salvation is not based on man’s works, will, or merit. It is by grace alone.
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,Romans 4:13-16
Further, the context of this discussion is showing that their arrogant unbelief will cause a timely judgment to come upon them and the nation of Israel in 70 A.D. Remember, the context of this discussion takes place within a much larger conversation where Jesus warns the nation of Israel of its impending doom because they reject Him as the Messiah!