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: Jericho was an ancient and important city, and as Jesus passed through the city on His way to Jerusalem, it seems that the reason was to meet with this man named Zacchaeus.
i. Jericho was a prosperous city. “It had a great palm forest and world-famous balsam groves which perfumed the air for miles around. Its gardens of roses were known far and wide. Men called it ‘The City of Palms.’ Josephus called it ‘a divine region,’ ‘the fattest in Palestine.’ The Romans carried its dates and balsam to world-wide trade and fame.” (Barclay)
b. Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector: Zacchaeus was not only a tax collector, but a chief tax collector – and the Jews hated men like him. This was not only due to their natural dislike of taxes, but more so because of the practice known as tax farming, the collector made his profit on whatever extra he could get away with charging his victims. 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. Morris on chief tax collector: “The title is not found anywhere else, so its precise significance is not known, but it seems to point to the head of the local taxation department.”
iii. The name Zacchaeus means “pure one.” This man was anything but pure – until he received Jesus. “He should by his name have been a puritan (in the best sense), but he was an arch-publican, a public sinner, not simple, but subtle, a griping extortioner, a rich but wretched sycophant.” (Trapp)
c. He sought to see who Jesus was: Zacchaeus wanted to set his eyes on Jesus; he sought after Him. Perhaps Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus accepted people like him; he longed to see this remarkable Man Jesus for himself.
d. He was of short stature: His natural state gave him a disadvantage in seeking after Jesus. It also probably affected his personality; small in size, we can imagine how Zacchaeus was mocked and hated by others – and how he returned the favor by increasing the taxes on his victims.
i. If Zacchaeus had a small heart, he would have given up and not worked to see Jesus. “But Zacchaeus had had a great will to grow rich, and he had found there a way to that. And now he had a great will to see Jesus, and he was not the sort of person to be stopped.” (Morrison)
e. He ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him: Because Zacchaeus sought Jesus so intensely, 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. He climbed the tree like a little boy, and without knowing fulfilled Jesus’ word that unless we become like children we will not see the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3).
ii. “A traveller describes the tree as being like ‘the English oak, and its shade is most pleasing… It is very easy to climb.” (Barclay)
iii. “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. He looked up and saw him: Because Zacchaeus worked hard and risked embarrassment to see Jesus, Jesus saw him and did not pass him by. In the best sense, Zacchaeus stood out to Jesus, and Jesus connected with Him.
b. Zacchaeus, make haste: Jesus started by calling Zacchaeus by name. Jesus knew the importance of a person’s name. This may have been the first time Zacchaeus heard someone besides his mother say his name in a kind way.
i. Saying his name made all the difference; Jesus told Zacchaeus, “I know you, and I lay some claim upon you.”
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.
c. Make haste and come down: Jesus told Zacchaeus to hurry and to come down. If He did not hurry the opportunity might be lost; if he did not lower himself he would never meet Jesus.
i. This says to each, “Come down from your high place; Jesus would never have eaten with Zacchaeus if he stayed in the sycamore tree.”
d. Today I must stay at your house: Jesus didn’t merely want to preach to Zacchaeus and convert him in a spiritual or religious sense. Jesus wanted to have real relationship with Zacchaeus, beginning with a meal and time spent together.
i. Jesus invited Himself to spend time with Zacchaeus, the hated outcast. 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.
e. And received Him: Jesus would only come into the house of Zacchaeus and into his life if invited, if received. He received Jesus first, and then started a relationship with Him.
i. “Christ will not force himself into any man’s house, and sit there against the man’s will. That would not be the action of a guest, but of an unwelcome intruder.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Perhaps Zacchaeus had a lot of questions; but he didn’t ask them from the sycamore tree. He came down from the tree, met Jesus, and then asked Him whatever he wanted to.
f. And received Him joyfully: Zacchaeus was happy to receive Jesus. Jesus called Zacchaeus to Himself, and it was to Jesus that he came, and happily so. Zacchaeus received Him – that is, Jesus Himself. Not primarily to a creed or a doctrine, not to a theory, and not to a ceremony – but to Jesus.
i. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, and would be received into the city with joy, with what is called the triumphal entry. Here, before that, He had a different entry into the heart of just one man. This entrance, this reception seemed to have more lasting results.
ii. Jesus is joyful to receive sinners, and they are joyful to be saved. We know that the joy of Jesus is greater, because it is more blessed to give than to receive.
iii. Zacchaeus is a model to everyone of how to receive Jesus:
· Receive Jesus by seeking after Him with real effort.
· Receive Jesus by humbling yourself.
· Receive Jesus no matter how sinful or hated you are.
· Receive Jesus as He invites you by name.
· Receive Jesus without delay.
· Receive Jesus by coming down to Him.
· Receive Jesus Himself.
· Receive Jesus into your life, your home.
· Receive Jesus joyfully.
· Receive Jesus despite what other say.
· Receive Jesus with repentance and restitution.
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: The people (they all, not only the religious leaders) thought Jesus had gone too far by associating with a man as bad as Zacchaeus – so they protested.
i. “Jesus Christ did not teach Zacchaeus by going to his house that character was of no consequence; on the contrary, Zacchaeus perceived at once that character was of the greatest consequence, and so he stood forth, and said ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.’” (Spurgeon)
b. Look, Lord… I restore fourfold: In receiving Jesus and spending just a little time with Him, Zacchaeus knew he had to repent and make restitution. First he just sought after Jesus; but in seeking Jesus he also came to seek repentance.
i. Zacchaeus cheerfully offered to do as much or even more than the law demanded. The promise to make restitution to anyone he had wronged was be remarkable; “Considering the way he had made his money it was unlikely that this would be a short list.” (Morris)
ii. Can a life change this quickly? Yes. Not every habit in the life of Zacchaeus changed immediately, but the heart changed and there was some evidence of life-change immediately.
c. Today salvation has come to this house: Jesus knew that the repentant Zacchaeus was saved, rescued from the bondage, power, guilt, and penalty of his sin. The word was no longer sinner but salvation, and Jesus told everyone.
i. Jesus commanded the rich young ruler to give away everything (Luke 18:18-23); but for Zacchaeus it was enough to make restitution to those he had wronged. Jesus knew Zacchaeus by name and knew exactly what he must do to repent and be right with God and man.
ii. 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.
d. Because he also is a son of Abraham: Since Zacchaeus was so hated by his fellow Jews, they probably often said that he wasn’t a “real” Jew. Jesus wanted everyone to know that Zacchaeus really was a son of Abraham, both by genetics and by faith – because he really, joyfully received Jesus.
i. 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.
e. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost: Jesus explained why He sought and 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.
ii. Even though Zacchaeus sought Jesus, it turns out that he was the one who was lost, and Jesus sought him (has come to seek). Zacchaeus was lost to his parents; lost to the religious, lost to his community, lost to whatever friends he might have had – yet in a sense, not lost to God. “As the story of his conversion unfolds, his seeking Jesus (Luke 19:3) turned out to be the result of Jesus’ first seeking him (Luke 19:10).” (Pate)
iii. The entire account with Zacchaeus gives us a remarkable who, what, where, when, why, and how of receiving Jesus.
· Who Jesus wants to receive Him: those lost.
· What Jesus wants with those who receive Him: relationship.
· Where Jesus wants to go: down to Him.
· When Jesus wants you to receive Him: immediately, quickly.
· Why Jesus wants you to receive Him: to be with Him, to connect with Him in life.
· How Jesus wants you to receive Him: joyfully.
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 neared the city, the disciples and others expected Jesus to show Himself as Messiah and the political savior of Israel (they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately).
i. Passover was coming soon. According to Josephus, more than two million pilgrims poured into Jerusalem in this season. There was also great messianic expectation, strengthening the idea that the kingdom of God would appear immediately.
ii. George Macdonald wrote 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 warn His disciples that He would depart and return again before the kingdom came in full glory, and to tell them how to conduct themselves in His absence.
i. “It was an emblem of His own departure to a far country to receive a kingdom. It taught in figure that first there must be departure, and the long absence of the King, before the Kingdom could come in its full glory.” (Morrison)
ii. 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, but 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 were each given an equal amount of money, worth about three months of wages for a working man.
i. God distributes some gifts differently, according to His own pleasure; others are universally given to every believer – 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 them, 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 were the citizens of the nobleman, who lived in the area he ruled. These were not the servants who received the minas.
b. We will not have this man to reign over us: These citizens hated him, and they made it clear to the nobleman. In Jesus’ parable, the nobleman did nothing to deserve this rejection; it was only because the citizens had hearts full of hate.
4. (15-19) The first two servants give account to their master.
“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.’”
a. Having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him: When the master returned, he dealt first with his servants. He later dealt with the rebellious citizens, but they were not his first concern. He first wanted to know how faithful his servants had 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 heard beautiful praise from his master: 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. “The reward of work well done was more work to do… The great reward of God to the man who has satisfied the test is more trust.” (Barclay)
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. Each of the servants credited the gift of the master (your mina) for the work instead of their own effort or intelligence. “Not my pains, but thy pound hath done it.” (Trapp)
ii. He was also rewarded, though not with the words “Well done, good servant.” The number of cities he was given authority over was in proportion to his faithfulness in doing business with his master’s resources.
5. (20-26) The third servant gives account to his master.
“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. 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. He merely kept the master’s resources and did no good with them.
i. The third servant excused his disobedience by claiming that his master was so powerful that he didn’t need the servant’s help (you collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow).
b. Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man: The master did not reward the third servant. Instead, he rebuked 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?). Yet out of disobedience, he did nothing.
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.
c. Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas: The third servant had everything 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. Jesus emphasized this by saying, “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.” “The paradoxical, almost oxymoronic, statement reflects the spiritual axiom earlier recorded in Luke 8:18: Whoever is faithful to the Lord will be rewarded and whoever is not will suffer loss. Light received brings more light; light refused brings the night.” (Pate)
ii. “In the Christian life we do not stand still. We use our gifts and make progress or we lose what we have.” (Morris)
iii. 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.
iv. “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)
v. 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.
vi. The unfaithful servants were those who thought that because their Master was so mighty, He did not need their help. But the issue is not His need of my help; the issue is my need to help Him and my need to be part of His work.
6. (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 dealt 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. This dramatic and strong ending shows that responding to the reign of Jesus is a life-or-death decision.
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 went steadfastly towards 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, going up to Jerusalem: 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 was before Him.
i. John 11:57 makes it clear that there was a price on Jesus’ head, and He was a wanted man. Despite all that, Jesus 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: As Jesus came to this last, critical week before the crucifixion, He carefully and deliberately sent His disciples to make arrangements for His arrival into Jerusalem. Jesus had been to Jerusalem many times before; but there was something very special about this journey to Jerusalem.
b. You will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat: Jesus rode this relatively humble animal into Jerusalem. Instead of coming on a horse as a conquering general, He came on a colt, as was customary for royalty. He came to Jerusalem as the Prince of Peace.
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)
ii. “This entry into Jerusalem has been termed the triumph of Christ. It was indeed the triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice.” (Clarke)
iii. On which no one has ever sat: F.B. Meyer observed that this is an illustration of how God requires of us undivided loyalty; that the seat of authority is for Jesus and Jesus alone. He also noted that Jesus may require of us only one brief service of renown or notice; and if this is His plan, we will find satisfaction in it.
c. The Lord has need of him: Seemingly, this was a pre-arranged borrowing or rental of this animal for the use of Jesus. The disciples needed to tell the owners that it was for the use of Jesus.
i. “Normally, animals such as donkeys (for the poor) and horses (for the wealthy) were made available by their owners for travelers for a price or, at times, to be borrowed.” (Pate)
ii. “What a singular conjunction of words is here, ‘the Lord’ and ‘hath need!’ Jesus, without laying aside his sovereignty, had taken a nature full of needs; yet, being in need, he was still the Lord and could command his subjects and requisition their property.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Hath need of them: not for any weariness: he who had travelled on foot from Galilee to Bethany, could have gone the other two miles; but that he might enter into Jerusalem as was prophesied of him, Zechariah 9:9.” (Poole)
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. Threw their own clothes on the colt… spread their clothes on the road…began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice: The crowd extravagantly honored Jesus and praised God for sending this King unto Jerusalem, saying Blessed is the King who comes in the name of LORD!
i. The idea of a victorious, conquering king entering a city was well known in that time. Typically, a victorious king came into a city escorted by the citizens of his kingdom and his army. As he entered, songs were sung in praise and acclamation of the conqueror and he came with symbols of his victory and authority. Finally, he came into the city’s prominent temple and made a sacrificial offering to honor the gods and associate himself with them.
ii. The Gospels take these well-known forms and turn them on their head. Jesus entered Jerusalem with a relatively humble and motley escort and singing. The only symbols of His power were a humble donkey and palm branches. Upon entering the city, He did not offer sacrifices but He challenged the religious status quo and cleansed the temple.
b. Teacher, rebuke Your disciples: The crowd’s praise made Jesus’ enemies uncomfortable; it made them object to the praise being offered. 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!”
i. Nothing tells Satan and his followers that they have lost like the praises of God ringing in their ears. Satan loses because when God’s people are really worshipping, their hearts and minds are on Him – and not on sin, self, or Satan’s distractions.
c. I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out: Jesus said this when the Pharisees told Him to quiet those who praised Him and received Him as King. 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. Here Jesus invited public praise and adoration as Messiah.
i. The stones would immediately cry out: 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).
ii. Yet the stones stayed silent on that day, because all the multitude praised Jesus: 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!
d. With a loud 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. Anyone who says, “Praise the Lord!” should be able to answer this question: “Praise Him for what?”
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: This was a deeply moving moment for Jesus. His tears were not for His own fate in Jerusalem, but for the fate of the city itself.
i. “Wept might be rendered ‘wailed’; Jesus burst into sobbing as he lamented lost opportunity.” (Morris)
ii. “The cry was that of a frustrated desire. He had visited the city, with the desire to deliver it from the things of destruction; and with the offers of the things of peace. The spiritual blindness of the rulers and people was such that they did not discern the meaning of the visitation. The result was inevitable. There could be no escape from the destruction.” (Morgan)
b. If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! This was a turning point for the Jewish people. Their leaders had rejected Jesus and most of the people followed their leaders. Yet, if they had known Jesus and His work as Messiah, they might have been spared the destruction to come.
i. 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 their only opportunity to escape the destruction to come.
ii. Jesus here showed the heart of God, how even when judgment must be pronounced, it is never done with joy. Even when God’s judgment is perfectly just and righteous, His heart weeps at the bringing of the judgment.
c. If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! Jesus mourned over the fact they did not know the time of the Messiah’s coming, the day prophesied by Daniel: this your day.
i. This your day was so important because it was likely 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. By the reckoning of Sir Robert Anderson, this was fulfilled 483 years later to the day (by the Jewish reckoning of 360 day years, as in Daniel 9:25).
ii. 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.
d. 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.
e. Days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you: Jesus predicted five specific aspects of the Roman attack upon Jerusalem:
· The building of an embankment.
· The surrounding of the city, laying siege.
· The destruction of the city.
· The killing of the city’s inhabitants.
· The complete leveling of the city.
i. The historian Josephus described 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 purification running about them, he gave a groan, and spreading out his hands to heaven, 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: This seems distinct from the cleansing of the temple courts mentioned in John 2:13-22, which happened towards the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Yet the purpose was the same; to drive out the merchants, who in cooperation with the priests cheated visitors to Jerusalem by forcing them to purchase approved sacrificial animals and currencies at high prices.
i. Barclay notes, “A pair of doves could cost as little as 4p outside the Temple and as much as 75p inside the Temple.” This is almost 20 times more expensive.
ii. Yet Jesus’ anger was against those who bought as well as those who sold in it. “Sellers and buyers viewed as one company – kindred in spirit, to be cleared out wholesale…The traffic was necessary, and might have been innocent; but the trading spirit soon develops abuses which were doubtless rampant at that period.” (Bruce)
iii. What Jesus did was important more as an acted-out parable than for what it accomplished in itself. “There is no indication, nor is it likely, that any lasting reform was achieved; no doubt the tables were back for the rest of the week, and Jesus took no further action.” (France)
b. My house is a house of prayer: The merchants operated 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 marketplace, and a dishonest one (a ‘den of thieves’).
i. Mark’s record contains the more complete quotation of Jesus’ reference to Isaiah 56:7: Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?” (Mark 11:17). The point was that Isaiah prophesied, and Jesus demanded that the temple be a place for all nations to pray. The activity of all those who bought and sold in the outer courts made it impossible for any seeking Gentile to come and pray.
ii. “In that uproar of buying and selling and bargaining and auctioneering prayer was impossible. Those who sought God’s presence were being debarred from it from the very people of God’s House.” (Barclay)
c. And He was teaching daily in the temple: After running the merchants out of the temple courts, Jesus boldly continued His work of public teaching and healing (Matthew 21:14). He was able to continue because the people wanted to hear Him (for all the people were very attentive to hear Him).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission