Luke 19 - The Triumphal Entry
A. Jesus and Zacchaeus
1. (1-4) Zacchaeus climbs a tree and risks ridicule to see Jesus.
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.
a. Jesus entered and passed through Jericho: Why did Jesus go through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem? Perhaps the only real reason was to meet with Zacchaeus. "There were other ways, but He went through Jericho, and the only incident recorded is this story of Zacchaeus, and I have no doubt the reason of His going was the finding of this man." (Morgan)
b. Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector: Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, but a chief tax collector - and men of his profession were despised among the Jews. This was not only due to man's natural hatred of taxes, but more so to the fact that the tax collector made his profit on whatever extra he could get away with charging his client. A tax collector was highly motivated to make the taxes as high as possible.
i. When the tax collectors came to John the Baptist, asking how they could get right with God, he told them collect no more than what is appointed for you (Luke 3:13). If you were a tax collector, and you were rich, you were a rogue.
ii. The name Zacchaeus means "pure one." This man was anything but pure - until he met Jesus.
c. Yet, Zacchaeus was a man of short stature. We can imagine how through is life he might make up for his small size by being specially "tough" on those whom he had to collect taxes from. If so, this would have made him all the more an outcast.
d. He ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him: Because Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus so badly, he didn't mind doing something that many thought was beneath the dignity of a grown, wealthy man - he climbed up a sycamore tree.
i. "I wish there were more of us who did not mind being laughed at if only what we did helped us to see Jesus." (Maclaren)
2. (5-6) Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus' house.
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.
a. Jesus started by calling Zacchaeus by name. Jesus knew the importance of a person's name.
i. In some ways, the most important thing a person has is their name. If you have a person's name, you have the person. If you don't have their name, they don't belong.
ii. Jesus knew the importance of a name. He said that He calls His sheep by name: To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3). In Revelation, we are promised a new name that only God and we know. When we get to heaven, there will be someone there who knows our name.
iii. This may have been the first time Zacchaeus heard someone besides his mother say his name in a kind way. Saying his name made all the difference.
b. Today I must stay at your house: Jesus was willing to reach out His hand in friendship to this man who was universally despised. In the flesh, we can reject outcasts; but Jesus never did.
i. As one commentator says, "His example is our pattern. A Christian church which does not imitate its Master in its frank and continual willingness to associate itself with the degraded and outcast has lost one of the truest signs of its being vitalized with the life of Christ."
ii. The early church was despised for its acceptance of outcasts (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), but the early Christians regarded this as something glorious, not shameful.
c. Make haste and come down: Jesus was forward in pursing friendship with Zacchaeus. He told Him to hurry up and come down, because Jesus invited Himself over for dinner!
i. But who made the first move? In a sense, the both did; Zacchaeus reached out to Jesus by literally "going out on a limb" for Him. Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus by speaking to him. They both reached out to each other.
3. (7-10) Zacchaeus renounces his sin and Jesus proclaims his salvation.
But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner." Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
a. He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner: Was Jesus guilty of associating with sinners? Yes and no; Jesus went into be a guest with a man who was a sinner, but He came out from the dinner with a saved man!
b. Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord: Seemingly, the dinner took place in between Luke 19:7 and Luke 19:8. It was after time with Jesus that Zacchaeus wanted to get right with God. Often people come to Jesus, and only see things that need to get right after they spend some time with Him.
i. The law required someone who had stolen to restore the amount, plus 20%. Zacchaeus cheerfully offers to do far more than the law demands. Also, to restore to anyone he has wronged would be remarkable; "Considering the way he had made his money it was unlikely that this would be a short list." (Morris)
c. Today salvation has come to this house: Jesus did not command Zacchaeus to do what He commanded the rich young ruler to do, because Zacchaeus did not need to. His giving heart was the way that this rich man could receive salvation.
i. In Luke 18:24-27, Jesus said that it was impossible with man for the rich to enter into heaven; but it is possible with God. This is a fulfillment of that promise. Zacchaeus became a joyful giver, thus showing God's impossible work in him, but the young ruler went away sorry, holding on to his riches.
ii. The priests of Jericho (it was a Levitical city) had probably often condemned Zacchaeus and called on him to give to the poor. But after meeting Jesus, such a sacrifice was done joyfully. Love for Jesus can motivate us for greater things than legalism, guilt, or manipulation can ever do.
d. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost: With this, Jesus explains why He extended friendship to a notorious sinner like Zacchaeus. Jesus came precisely to save people like Zacchaeus.
i. Zacchaeus really believed on Jesus. A true son of Abraham was not only descended from Abraham genetically, but also had the faith in God Abraham had.
B. The parable of the stewards.
1. (11) The purpose of the parable.
Now as they heard these things, He spoke another parable, because He was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
a. He was near Jerusalem: Jericho is not a great distance from Jerusalem, and as Jesus nears the city, the disciples and others expected Jesus to take control of Israel, and to be the political savior of the nation.
i. Passover was coming soon; according to Josephus, more than two million pilgrims would pour into Jerusalem shortly, and the air would be heavy with the sense that something big might happen.
ii. George Macdonald has a pretty rhyme about their confused expectations:
They were all looking for a King,
To slay their foes and lift them high.
He came a little baby thing,
That made a woman cry.
b. Because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately: Jesus spoke this parable to give His disciples insight on how they must conduct themselves in the period of time before He would come as a political ruler over this earth.
c. The following parable is rich in historical allusions. "The Saviour probably derived the details of this parable from the actual history of Archelaus, the son of Herod, who after his father's death went to Rome to receive the sovereignty over part of his father's kingdom in accordance with the intentions of his father's testament. Its confirmation by the Roman emperor was necessary, because Herod's empire in reality formed part of the Roman Empire. A Jewish deputation at that time also went to Rome to dispute Archelaus's claim to kingship, bit the emperor nonetheless appointed him as ruler (though not as a full sovereign king) over half of his father's kingdom." (Geldenhuys)
2. (12-13) The master distributes minas - units of money.
Therefore He said: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business till I come.'"
a. A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return: This parable is different than the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Here, ten servants are each given an equal amount of money, and a fair amount of money; a mina was worth a hundred days of work for a common laborer.
i. Some gifts are distributed differently by God, according to His own pleasure; others are universally given to believers - such as the gospel, which is given to each Christian in equal measure.
ii. Delivered to them ten minas: It isn't that each servant received ten minas, but that ten were distributed to the group as a whole, one to each of the ten servants.
b. Do business till I come: While the master was away, receiving his kingdom, the servants were expected to do business - to use the resources that the master gave, and to use them to the utmost.
3. (14) The rebellion of the citizens.
"But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.'"
a. But his citizens hated him: These are the citizens of the nobleman, who lived in the area he ruled. These are not the servants who received the minas.
i. In this sense, every person is a citizen of God's earth. We are all under His ultimate rule and have to answer to Him.
b. These citizens hated him, and they made it clear to the nobleman we will not have this man to reign over us. In Jesus' parable, the nobleman did nothing to deserve this rejection; it was only because the citizens have heart full of hate.
4. (15-26) Accounting day comes for the servants.
"And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.' And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.' Then another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.' And he said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.' (But they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas.') For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."
a. Having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him: First, the master will deal with his servants. He will deal with the rebellious citizens, but they are not his first concern. He first wants to know how faithful his servants have been in his absence.
b. Then came the first, saying, "Master, your mina has earned ten minas." The first servant brought a good report. He did business with his master's mina, and had ten more to show for it. This was an impressive 1000% increase.
i. The first servant's praise from his master is beautiful: Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities. Because he demonstrated faithful handling of the master's resources, he was given authority over ten cities in the kingdom his master just received.
ii. Have authority: The reward for faithful service is not rest, but more service! This is entirely pleasing to the servant of God.
c. Master, your mina has earned five minas: The second servant brought another good report. He did business with his master's mina and had five more to show for it - a 500% increase.
i. He is also rewarded, though not with the words "Well done, good servant." The number of cities he is given authority over is in proportion to his faithfulness in doing business with his master's resources.
d. Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief: The third servant did not have a good report. He did not obey the master's command to do business till I come. Taking the mina and burying it underground is not doing business!
i. He excused his disobedience by claiming that his master was so powerful that he didn't need him to do business with his master's resources (you collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow).
e. Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man: The master does not reward the third servant. Instead, he rebukes him because the great power of the master should have inspired the servant to greater diligence, not to disobedience and laziness.
i. It would have been easy for this servant to do something with his master's resources (Why then did you not put my money in the bank?). But out of disobedience, he did not do anything.
ii. This helps us to understand the plan of the master. It was not to make money by his servants, but to make character in them. He didn't need them to make money, but they needed to work with him to build their character.
f. Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas: The third servant had all taken from him. He remained his master's servant, and in his house, but was left with nothing. He proved himself unable to manage his master's things, and was given nothing to manage.
i. "In the Christian life we do not stand still. We use our gifts and make progress or we lose what we have." (Morris)
g. The main point of this parable is clear; the kingdom will be delayed, so we must concentrate on being faithful servants in the meantime. Our Master has gone away to a far country, and will one-day return with His kingdom. In the meantime, we are commanded to do business with what He has given us until He returns.
i. "By the ten minas given to each, we may understand the Gospel of the kingdom given to each person who professes to believe in Christ, and which he is to improve to the salvation of his soul. The same word is given to all, that all may believe and be saved." (Clarke)
ii. When our Master returns, He will come to reward us according to our faithfulness, and we will be rewarded with different levels of authority in His kingdom.
iii. All His servants will escape the Master's wrath, yet those who have not been faithful with His resources will be saved only by the skin of their teeth.
iv. The unfaithful servants are those who think that because their Master is so mighty, He doesn't need their help. But the issue is not His need of my help; the issue is my need to help Him, my need to be part of His work.
5. (27) Judgment day comes for the master's enemies.
"But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me."
a. But bring here those enemies of mine: The servants all had to answer for their work in the master's absence, but at least none of them were guilty of treason. Now the master deals with his enemies, the rebellious citizens mentioned in Luke 19:14, who hated him and said, "We will not have this man to reign over us."
i. Who did not want me to reign over them: They could try and deny the reign of the master as much as they pleased, but it would get them nowhere. He would rule over them one way or another.
b. And slay them before me: The servants of the master each had to answer to him, but so did his enemies. They met with certain, final judgment.
c. The application is clear: do you want Jesus to reign over you? He will, one way or another. And if you are already His servant, are you doing the business He told you to do?
i. Slay them before me seems so severe; we might even think that Jesus compels us to a life or death decision. And indeed He does.
C. Jesus enters Jerusalem.
1. (28) On to Jerusalem.
When He had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
a. When He had said this: After carefully correcting His followers as to the true nature of His kingdom and His mission, Jesus heads steadfastly into Jerusalem.
i. "At last Jerusalem, the temple city in which the greatest and holiest drama on earth will be staged the following week, is in immediate vicinity." (Geldenhuys)
b. He went ahead: Knowing full well what awaited Him, knowing that He must endure the cross before receiving the kingdom, Jesus went. In His suffering, we should admire, not pity Jesus. He knew exactly what He was getting into.
i. John 11:57 makes it clear that there was a price on Jesus' head, an "all-points-bulletin" was put out for His arrest. Yet, He came into Jerusalem in the most public way possible.
2. (29-34) Careful preparations are made for the entrance ceremony.
And it came to pass, when He came near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that He sent two of His disciples, saying, "Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here. And if anyone asks you, 'Why are you loosing it?' thus you shall say to him, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'" So those who were sent went their way and found it just as He had said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of him."
a. Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied: Jesus now comes to this last, critical week before the crucifixion. He carefully and deliberately sends His disciples to make arrangements for His arrival into Jerusalem. Jesus had been to Jerusalem at least half a dozen times before; but there was something very special about this journey to Jerusalem.
b. The Lord has need of him: Jesus would ride this colt into Jerusalem. It was important that it wasn't a horse, because that would send the message that Jesus was a man of war.
i. "The ass was the mount of a man of peace, a merchant or a priest. A king might ride an ass on occasion, but he would be more likely to appear on a mighty war-horse. Zechariah's prophecy saw Messiah as the Prince of peace." (Morris)
3. (35-40) Jesus enters the city to a humble display of praise and honor.
Then they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him. And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: " 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
a. We like this slice from the life of Jesus because it simply feels so right. For much of Jesus' ministry, He was despised and rejected of men, and many of the adoring crowds following Him cared only for what they could get from Him, and most His audience rejected any kind of personal commitment to Jesus.
b. But on this day, Jesus was going to be praised. For most of His ministry, Jesus did everything He could to discourage people from publicly celebrating Him as Messiah. But here, Jesus goes out of His way to invite public praise and adoration as Messiah.
i. In fact, when the religious leaders of His day object, He tells them "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."
ii. The idea of creation itself praising God may seem strange, but the Bible speaks about it in a few places - trees, hills, oceans, rivers, mountains, valleys, cattle and creeping things, birds and fields all give praise to God (Psalm 148:7-13, Psalm 96:11-12).
c. Why did Jesus want to receive such praise? It was not for His sake. It wasn't that Jesus had a self-esteem problem and needed affirmation. Jesus wants to be praised because we need to praise Him. God will get His praise, and He invites us to be a part of it.
d. They praised Jesus with whatever they had, using simple things like palm branches (John 12:13). Jesus does not need great things to give Him honor. You may feel you do not have a great voice, or heart, or life - but give it to Him, and praise Him with it.
i. They were all praising God: the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice. "And yet, I suppose, those disciples had their trials as we have ours. There might have been a sick wife at home, or a child withering with disease." (Spurgeon) Yet they all praised Him!
e. Many spread their clothes on the road: They honored him with their garments. This meant a lot in time, when most people had only one set of clothes. To lay aside part of their small wardrobe to let a man riding a donkey to go over them was really laying something down.
f. Voice for all the mighty works they had seen: Their praise was filled with remembrance. They remembered all the mighty works they saw Jesus do such as the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17-18). They told of the great things God had done in their life.
i. A great indictment against much of our praise is that it is mindless. We do not have anything specific in our minds that we praise God for, things that we have seen Him do in our lives.
ii. Think of loving words between a husband and wife - we always long to hear that our spouse loves us, but sometimes we ask "why?" because we want to know if they are just saying words or if they are really thinking of how they love us. Anyone who says "Praise the Lord!" should be able to answer one question: "Praise Him for what?" And they should have a good answer.
g. Teacher, rebuke Your disciples: Their praise made Jesus' enemies uncomfortable; it made them object to the praise being offered. There is something about the true worship of God that often makes people feel uncomfortable, especially people who aren't Christians yet.
i. Often times, a newcomer who wants Jesus will think worship is a little strange; but someone who is hostile might be absolutely offended by the worship.
ii. It made them know they were being defeated. John 12:19 says that on this day, The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!"
iii. Nothing tells Satan and his followers "you've lost" like the praises of God ringing in their ears. Satan has lost because when God's people are really worshipping, their hearts and minds are on Him.
4. (41-44) Jesus weeps over Jerusalem.
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
a. As He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it: "Wept might be rendered 'wailed'; Jesus burst into sobbing as he lamented lost opportunity." (Morris)
i. It is the eleventh hour for the Jewish nation - their leaders have rejected Jesus, and most of the masses have followed their leaders. But there is still time, if they will only take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
ii. In some old copies of the Bible, they removed the passage about Jesus weeping here, because they thought that if Jesus were perfect, He would not weep. But the perfection of Jesus demands that He weep at this occasion, when Israel rejected Him - their only opportunity for salvation.
iii. Jesus shows us the heart of God, how even when judgment must be pronounced, it is never done with glee. There is weeping in the heart of God even when His judgment is perfectly just and righteous.
b. If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! He mourns over the fact they did not know the time of the Messiah's coming, that day prophesied by Daniel: this your day.
d. Why was this your day so important? Because this was the day prophesied by Daniel that Messiah the Prince would come unto Jerusalem. Daniel said that it would be 483 years on the Jewish calendar from the day of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the day the Messiah would come to Jerusalem - and it was 483 years, by the Jewish reckoning of 360 day years, exactly to the day (Daniel 9:25).
i. This is the day mentioned in Psalm 118:24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
c. The things that make for your peace: The name Jerusalem means "city of peace"; but the city of peace did not know the things that make for your peace. Jesus knew that their desire for a political Messiah would bring total destruction in less than a generation.
i. Days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you: The historian Josephus describes in detail the embankment around Jerusalem; how it utterly shut up the city before the Romans totally destroyed them (Wars of the Jews, 5.12.1-3).
ii. From Josephus: "All hope of escaping was now cut off from the Jews, together with their liberty of going out of the city. Then did the famine widen its progress, and devour the people by whole houses and families; the upper rooms of women and infants that were dying by famine, and the lanes of the city were full of the dead bodies of the aged; the children also, and the young men wandered about the market places like shadows, all swelled with the famine, and fell down dead wheresoever their misery seized them. For a time the dead were buried; but afterwards, when they could not do that, they had them cast down from the wall into the valleys beneath. When Titus, on going his rounds along these valleys, saw them full of dead bodies, and the thick putrefication running about them, he gave a groan, and spreading out his hands to heave, called God to witness this was not his doing." (Cited in Spurgeon. He adds: "There is nothing in history to exceed this horror. But even this is nothing compared with the destruction of a soul.")
5. (45-48) The cleansing of the temple.
Then He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'" And He was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people sought to destroy Him, and were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.
a. He went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it: What was the problem? Profiteers, in cooperation with the priests, robbed visitors to the temple by forcing them to purchase "approved" sacrificial animals and currencies at inflated prices.
i. Every Jewish male had to pay a yearly temple tax - an amount equaling about two days pay. It had to be paid in the currency of the temple, and the money exchangers would change you your money for the temple money, and they did it at outrageous rates.
ii. As well, they did this in the outer courts of the temple, the only area where Gentiles could come and pray. Therefore, this place of prayer was made into a swap meet, and a dishonest one at that! Their corruption of the court of gentiles defeated one of the purposes of the temple - to be a house of prayer for all nations.
b. We do love Jesus; and we want to praise Him; yet we must also allow His cleansing presence in our lives. If He wants to turn over some tables in our hearts, so be it.