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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Luke 19



Verse 1


(1) And passed through Jericho.—Better, and was passing through. The narrative that follows is peculiar to this Gospel.

Verse 2

(2) There was a man named Zacchæus, . . .—The name appears in the Old Testament in the form Zaccai (Ezra 2:9; Nehemiah 7:14), and meant “pure” or “innocent.” Rabbinic writers mention a Zacchæus as living at Jericho about this time, the father of a famous Rabbi, Jochanan or John.

The chief among the publicans.—The position of Jericho near the fords of the Jordan made it a natural trade-centre for the imports from the Gilead country—myrrh and balsam. Under the government of Herod and Archelaus it had become once more a city of palm-trees (Judges 1:16), and their dates and palm-honey were probably liable to an octroi duty. The “farming” system adopted in the Roman revenue probably gave Zacchæus the status of a middle-man or sub-contractor between the great capitalists of the equestrian order at Rome, the real publicani, and the “publicans” commonly so called, who were the actual collectors. As such he had as abundant opportunities for enriching himself as a Turkish pacha, and, as we may infer from his own words, had probably not altogether escaped the temptations of his calling.

Verse 3

(3) He sought.—Better, was seeking. The verb expresses vividly the oft-repeated attempts of the man, little of stature, to get a glimpse of the Prophet as He passed.

For the press.—The word is the same as that elsewhere rendered “multitude” or “crowd.” The motive is left to be inferred. It was not mere curiosity, for that would not have met with the Lord’s warm approval. Had he heard that there was a publican like himself among the chosen disciples of the Teacher whom the people were receiving as the Son of David? Had some one told him of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican? Had the fame of the miracle wrought on the entrance into Jericho made him eager to see the Worker?

He was little of stature.—The individualising feature may be accepted, in connection with what follows, either as a touch of consummate art, or a note of artless truthfulness.

Verse 4

(4) And climbed up into a sycomore tree.—The name of “sycomore” has been variously applied—(1) to a species of maple (Acer pseudo-platanus); (2) to the mulberry (Morus nigra), more properly, “sycamine,” as in Luke 17:6; and (3) to the fig mulberry (Ficus sycomorus). The last is the tree here meant. It grew to a considerable height in the Jordan valley, and was much used by builders and carpenters (1 Kings 10:27). The care taken by St. Luke to distinguish between the “sycamine” of Luke 17:6 (where see Note), and the “sycomore” here, may fairly be noted as an instance of botanical accuracy, such as was likely to be found in a physician. We can picture the scene to our mind’s eye—the eager, wistful, supplicating face looking down from the fresh green foliage (it was early spring), and meeting the gaze of Jesus as He passed,

Verse 5

(5) To day I must abide at thy house.—The words gain a fresh significance, if we remember that Jericho was at this time one of the chosen cities of the priests. (See Note on Luke 10:30.) Our Lord passed over their houses, and those of the Pharisees, in order to pass the night in the house of the publican. There, we may believe, He saw an opening for a spiritual work which He did not find elsewhere.

Verse 6

(6) Received him joyfully.—The joy is significant as implying previous yearning, a desire for communion with the new Teacher, the wish to sit at His feet and drink in the words of eternal life.

Verse 7

(7) They all murmured.—Better, were all murmuring. It is significant that the murmur was not confined to a special section of rigorous Pharisees, but came from the whole crowd. The chief publican was clearly not popular, and probably the priestly tone of the place (see Note on Luke 19:5) gave additional strength to all caste feelings. We are carried forward in this verse from the promise to the performance. Our Lord was in the house when the murmurs found expression.

With a man that is a sinner.—The term was obviously used from the popular Pharisaic stand-point, as attaching necessarily to the calling of Zacchæus. He had placed Himself on a level with the heathen or the vilest Jew, and ought to be treated accordingly.

Verse 8

(8) Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord . . .—The word for “stood” is the same as that used in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:11). Too much stress has, perhaps, been laid on its supposed force as indicating self-assertion in both cases. It does not seem to imply more than that Zacchæus, in his own house, hearing the murmurs of those who looked in at doors or windows, rose from his couch, and stood up, and in the hearing of all, said what follows. The phrase, “unto the Lord,” indicates, as elsewhere, that the facts were recorded by St. Luke at a comparatively late period. (See Note on Luke 7:11.)

The half of my goods I give . .—It seems more natural to see in this the statement of a new purpose than that of an habitual practice. In the absence of any words implying a command of this nature, we must assume either that it was a spontaneous impulse of large-hearted devotion, or, possibly, that Zacchæus had heard of the command given but a few days before to the young ruler (Luke 18:22). The promise implies immediate distribution. The compensation for wrongs that men might have suffered at his hands was to come out of the remaining half.

If I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation.—The seven words of the English text are all needed to express the one Greek word, the same as that in Luke 3:14, where see Note. It is a pity that English usage, and the modern meaning of the words, do not allow us to say, “If I have sycophanted any man.” Conscience probably reproached Zacchæus with not a few of such acts of spoliation in the past. The Greek phrase, “If I have taken anything,” hardly implies doubt as to the fact, and is used like our English “wherever.”

I restore him fourfold.—Here, also, it seems best to recognise in the words a new purpose. He is ready to compensate now for whatever wrong had been done before. There seems, indeed, something almost ludicrously incongruous in a devout man boasting that his rule of life is to make amends to those whom he deliberately cheats, and the special force of the verb practically excludes the idea of involuntary wrong.

The Law required in cases of voluntary restitution the addition of one-fifth of the value of the thing restored (Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:6-7).

The whole force of the history seems lost if we suppose Zacchæus, as some have done, to have been a model of a virtuous publican before he sought to see Jesus. On that supposition his words are like those of the Pharisee in the parable, a self-righteous boast. The strivings of repentance must, indeed, have begun before, and the man, when he welcomed our Lord’s presence, and trusted His words, was “justified by faith.” Is it too utterly bold a conjecture that He who saw Nathanael under the fig-tree (John 1:48), had seen Zacchæus in the Temple, and that the figure in the parable of Luke 18:14, was in fact a portrait?

Verse 9

(9) This day is salvation come to this house.—The Greek tense, This day came there salvation to this house, has a force which it is not easy to express in English, implying that the salvation was already looked back upon as completed in the past. In one sense salvation had come in the personal presence of the Saviour, but we must remember all that the word implied—deliverance, not from the penalty only, but from the habit and the power of sin. This had come, and the words and acts of Zacchæus showed the fruits. And it comes to him because “he also is a child of Abraham.” The Abraham character was in him, as that of the true Israel was in Nicodemus (John 1:47). A son of Abraham, like him in his noble generosity (comp. Genesis 13:9; Genesis 14:23), was found where, to the common observer, it would have seemed as hopeless to look for one as among the stones of the Jordan valley (Matthew 3:9).

Verse 10

(10) The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.—Like words had been spoken once before, under circumstances that presented a very striking contrast to those now before us. Then the loving purpose of the Christ had for its object the “little child,” as yet untouched by the world’s offences (Matthew 18:2; Matthew 18:11): now it rested on the publican, whose manhood had been marred by them. The same law of work is reproduced in a more emphatic form. There it had been that He “came to save:” here it is that He came to “seek” as well.

Verse 11

(11) He added and spake a parable.—As in Luke 18:1; Luke 18:9, so here, it is characteristic of St. Luke that he states, more fully than is common in the other Gospels, the occasion and the purpose of the parable which follows. The verse throws light upon all the history that follows. In all previous visits to Jerusalem our Lord had gone up either alone or accompanied only by His chosen disciples. Now He was followed by a crowd,, gathering strength as they journeyed on, and roused, by their very nearness to the Holy City, to an almost uncontrollable excitement. The time for delay, they thought, had come to an end. He was about to claim the throne of His father David. The Kingdom of God would “immediately appear.” The parable shows us, and was, in part, meant to teach them, how the Master regarded the dreams of the disciples.

Should immediately appear.—Better, perhaps, should be shown forth, or manifested. The Greek word is not used by any other New Testament writer. It is clear, from the tenor of the parable, that disciples and multitude were alike dwelling on the greatness to which they were to attain, on the high places in store for them on the right hand and on the left, rather than on their work and their duties in relation to that Kingdom of God.

Verse 12

(12) A certain nobleman went into a far country.—See Notes on Matthew 25:14-30, with which the parable that follows has many obvious points of resemblance. There are, however, many noticeable differences in detail. At the outset we have the new feature of the nobleman going “into a far country to receive a kingdom.” This had an obvious starting-point in the recent history of Judæa. Both the Tetrarch Antipas and Archelaus, on the death of their father, had gone to Rome to submit their claims to the kingdom to the decision of Augustus (Jos. Ant. xvii. 9, §§ 3, 4). The Greek for “nobleman” is not the same as in John 4:46, where the word means a “king’s officer.” Here it is simply a “man of noble family.” In the interpretation of the parable we may see a prophetic announcement by our Lord of His own departure to the “far country,” that lay behind the veil, to receive His Kingdom, and of His subsequent return.

Verse 13

(13) And delivered them ten pounds.—In this, again, we have a noticeable difference. Here we begin with equality; in Matthew 25:15 the servants start with unequal amounts, “according to their several ability.” So far as we lay stress on the difference, it implies that the trust in this case is that which all disciples of Christ have in common—viz., their knowledge of the truth and their membership in the Kingdom, and not the offices and positions that vary in degree. The pound, or mna, was, in Greek numismatics, not a coin, but a sum equal to the sixtieth part of a talent. The Greek name was probably derived from the Hebrew Maneh. According to another estimate it was equal to 25 shekels, or 100 drachmœ? or denarii. The word meets us, as far as the New Testament is concerned, in this parable only.

Occupy till I come.—The better MSS. give, “while I am coming.” The Greek verb for “occupy” occurs in this passage only in the New Testament. A compound form of it is rendered, in Luke 19:15, by “gained in trading.” The English verb meets us in Ezekiel 27:9; Ezekiel 27:16; Ezekiel 27:21-22, in the sense of “trading,” in which it is used here. (See also the Prayer Book version of Psalms 107:23.)

Verse 14

(14) But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him.—Here, also, recent history supplied a feature in the parable. This was precisely what the Jews had done in the case of Archelaus, both at the time referred to in the Note on Luke 19:12, and later on, when their complaints were brought before the Emperor, and led to his deposition and banishment to Gaul. That which answers to it in the inner meaning of the parable is the unwillingness of the Jews—or, taking a wider view of the interpretation, of mankind at large—to accept the law of Christ or acknowledge His sovereignty.

Verse 15

(15) It came to pass, that when he was returned.—See Note on Matthew 25:19. The absence of the words “after a long time” is noticeable, and suggests the thought that our Lord may have added them in the later form of the parable as a further safeguard against the prevalent expectations of the immediate coming of the Kingdom, and, we may add, against the thought which sprang up afterwards in men’s minds, that there was no kingdom to be received, and that the King would never return. (Comp. 2 Peter 3:4.)

Had gained by trading.—The Greek verb is a compound form of that translated “occupy” in Luke 19:13.

Verse 16

(16) Thy pound hath gained ten pounds.—The increase is on a larger scale than in the parable in Matthew 25. There each of the faithful servants gains as much again as he had received. Here the gain is tenfold (1,000 per cent.). Adopting the view which has been taken of the distinctive ideas of the two parables, it may be said that what is suggested is the almost boundless opening for good acquired by the simple acceptance of the truth, apart from the opportunities offered by special gifts and functions. So interpreted, the several grades of increase correspond to the thirty, sixty, and hundredfold in the parable of the Sower. (See Note on Matthew 13:23.)

Verse 17

(17) Because thou hast been faithful in a very little.—More literally, because thou didst become faithful. The words are in their substance like those in St. Matthew, but their absolute identity with those in the lesson drawn from the parable of the Unjust Steward (see Note on Luke 16:10) is every way suggestive. This parable is connected with that as its natural sequel and development.

Have thou authority over ten cities.—The truth implied in Matthew 25:21 (where see Note), that the reward of faithfulness in this life, and probably in the life to come, will be found in yet wider opportunities for work in God’s service, is stated here with greater distinctness. “Authority over ten cities” must have something corresponding to it, some energy and work of guidance, in the realities of the unseen world, and cannot simply be understood as fulfilled in the beatific vision or the life of ceaseless praise and adoration.

Verse 20

(20) Thy pound, which I have kept ., .—Literally, which I kept—i.e., all along. He had never made any effort at doing more.

Laid up in a napkin.—The smaller scale of the parable is shown in the contrast between this and the “hiding the talent in the earth,” in St. Matthew. The “napkin” (the Greek word is really Latin, sudarium) appears in Acts 19:12 as “handkerchiefs.” Such articles were naturally, then as now, used for wrapping up and concealing money which the owner wished simply to hoard.

Verse 21

(21) I feared thee, because thou art an austere man.—The Greek adjective (from which the English is derived) is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. Literally, it means dry, and so, hard and stiff. In 2 Maccabees 14:30 it is translated “churlish.” On the plea of the wicked servant, see Note on Matthew 25:22.

Verse 22

(22) Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.—See Note on Matthew 25:26. These words are, perhaps, somewhat more emphatic than in the parallel passage. The very term which the servant had dared to apply to his lord, is repeated with a solemn impressiveness.

Verse 23

(23) Into the bank.—Literally, the table, or counter. The Greek substantive is the root of the word translated “exchangers” in Matthew 25:27 (where see Note).

That at my coming I might have required . . .—Literally, And when I came I should have got it with interest.

Usury.—The word is used (as in Matthew 25:27) in its older meaning, as including interest of any kind, and not exclusively that which we call usurious.

Verse 25

(25) And they said unto him, Lord . . .—The touch of wonder, perhaps of indignation, is peculiar to St. Luke. It can scarcely be thought of as simply an element of dramatic vividness. It foreshadows the feelings with which men have in all ages looked on those greater than themselves. They grudge the influence and opportunities for good which are transferred from those who have not used them to those that will. May we not think of some such feeling as working among those members of the Church of the Circumcision, who did not hold out to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Galatians 2:9)? When Galatia received the gospel from one who had already planted churches far and wide, St. Luke may well have seen in it an illustration of the pound taken from the slothful servant and given to him that had ten.

Verse 26

(26) Unto every one which hath shall be given.—This again takes its place among the oft-repeated axioms of our Lord’s teaching. It meets us after the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:18; Matthew 13:12; Mark 4:25), in that of the Talents (Matthew 25:29), and here. (See Notes on the several passages.)

Verse 27

(27) But those mine enemies.—This feature of the parable is peculiar to St. Luke’s report. Like the earlier portions of the outer framework of the story, it had an historical groundwork in the conduct of Archelaus on his return from Rome (Jos. Wars, ii. 7, § 3). Spiritually, it represents, in bold figures drawn from the acts of tyrant kings, the ultimate victory of the Christ over the unbelieving and rebellious. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:25.) They who will not have Him to reign over them will learn that He does reign, and having shut Love out, will themselves be shut out from Love.

Verse 28

(28) He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.—Better, going up, as elsewhere throughout the New Testament. The words indicate the same mode of journeying as that which we have traced before—the Master going on in advance, and the disciples following. (See Notes on Luke 8:1; Mark 10:32.)

The journey from Jericho to Jerusalem was literally an ascent all the way (see Note on Luke 10:30), and in this sense, as well as following the language common to most nations, in speaking of their capitals, the verb might well be used. The English word “ascend,” however, is not used elsewhere in the New Testament of any earthly journeys.

Verses 29-38

(29-38) When he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany.—On the general narrative, see Notes on Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11. In details we note (1) that St. Luke unites the “Bethphage” of St. Matthew with the “Bethany” of St. Mark; (2) that, as a stranger to Judæa, he speaks of the “mountain that was called the Mount of Olives. Possibly, indeed, both here and in Luke 21:37, as certainly in Acts 1:12, he uses the Greek equivalent for Olivet (the Latin Olivetum, or “place of Olives”) as a proper name. The absence of the article before the Greek for “Olives,” and the accentuation of the words in many MSS., seem decisive in favour of this view.

Verse 30-31

(30, 31) Go ye into the village over against you.—The agreement with St. Matthew and St. Mark is singularly close.

Verse 31

(31) Because the Lord hath need of him.—See Note on Matthew 21:3 as to the meaning of the word “Lord” as thus used.

Verse 33

(33) The owners thereof.—In this instance St. Luke, though less graphic in his narrative generally, is more specific than St. Mark, who represents the question as coming from “some of those that stood by.” The use of the same Greek word for “owner” and for the “Lord” affords a striking example of the elasticity of its range of meaning.

Verse 35

(35) They cast their garments upon the colt.—St. Luke agrees with St. Mark in speaking of the “colt” only, not of the “ass.”

Verse 36

(36) They spread their clothes in the way.—Better, garments, the word being the same as in the preceding verse, and in both cases meaning the outer garment or cloak. (See Note on Matthew 5:40.) St. Luke, it may be noticed, does not mention the “branches of trees” of which St. Matthew and St. Mark speak. The verb implies the constantly repeated act of casting down the garments as the Lord rode on.

Verse 37

(37) The descent of the mount of Olives.—The Greek word for “descent” is not used by any other New Testament writer. As being a technical geographical word, it was one that might naturally be used by one who may have been a pupil of Strabo, or a student of his works. (See Introduction.)

To praise God.—The Greek verb is another instance of a word used by St. Luke (seven times) and St. Paul (twice), and by them only in the New Testament.

All the mighty works . . .—Literally, powers, and so works of power. The words probably refer to the recent miracle at Jericho (Luke 18:35-43; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52), and, as interpreted by St. John’s Gospel, the recent raising of Lazarus.

Verse 38

(38) Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. The substitution of “glory” for the “Hosanna” of St. Matthew and St. Mark is characteristic of the Gentile Evangelist. The parallelism between the shouts of the multitude before the Passion, and the song of the angels at the Nativity (Luke 2:14) is, in many ways, suggestive. There the voices spoke of “peace on earth;” here the multitude, prophesying unconsciously, speak of “peace in heaven.”

Verse 39

(39) And some of the Pharisees.—The comparative brevity of St. Luke’s description is more than compensated by the interest of the two narratives that follow, and which are found in his Gospel only. The section of the Pharisees that spoke was probably that which had all along more or less acknowledged our Lord as a “Master” (i.e., Teacher or Rabbi), and were willing to give Him what they thought a fair share of respect as such. To go beyond that, to receive Him as the promised “He that cometh,” as “the king of Israel, the Christ,” seemed to them but the wild frenzy of the disciples, which the Master ought to check.

Verse 40

(40) If these should hold their peace.—Here, then, at the very moment when He foresaw most clearly His own approaching end, and the failure of all earthly hopes of the city over which He wept, our Lord accepted every word that disciples or multitude had uttered of Him as being in the fullest sense true.

The stones would immediately cry out.—The startling imagery had a precedent in the language of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 2:11), “The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.”

Verse 41

(41) He beheld the city, and wept over it.—This, and the tears over the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35), are the only recorded instances of our Lord’s tears. It is significant that in the one case they flow from the intensity of personal friendship, in the other from that of the intense love of country which we know as patriotism. Neither element of character could well be wanting in the perfect pattern of a holiness truly human.

Verse 41-42

The Impenitent City

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.—Luke 19:41-42.

1. The Saviour’s tears were a startling contrast to the scene of rejoicing to which this incident is appended. It was in the midst of the Triumphal Entry that this occurred, when all were exulting and shouts of hallelujah thrilled the air. The simple pious hearts of the disciples were glad at this evident acceptance of their Master, and they anticipated a speedy capture of Jerusalem itself for Christ, when His cause would lay hold of the whole nation and great and glorious events would ensue. They hardly knew what they expected; but, in any case, it was to be a mighty triumph for Christ, and salvation for Israel. But as the joyful procession swept round the shoulder of the hill, and the fair city gleamed into sight, a hush came over the exulting throng; for the Lord was weeping. He had no bright and futile illusions. A wave of excitement like that which had transported the disciples could not blind Him to the actual facts of the case. He knew that He had lived, and would die, in vain, so far as that hard and proud capital was concerned. He knew that He was rejected of rulers and people; and that ears and hearts were deaf to His message. As He looked at the beautiful city, it was not with pride but with anguish. He knew that city and nation were doomed. They had had their day of visitation, and were still having it—but the sands were fast running out. In compassionate grief He yearned over them still, weeping for their blindness and hardness of heart. What a pathetic scene is here recalled to our imagination! The gay and careless city smiling in the sunlight, with eager crowds of busy men full of their interests and pleasures, full of their great religious celebration about to be kept—and the Saviour looking down on it all, weeping. They were throwing away their last chance, following false lights, and dreaming false hopes, seeking false sources of peace, stopping their ears against the voice of wisdom and of love. “If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

2. Those who heard Him did not understand. Nevertheless He was right. He saw things as they were, not as they seemed. His was that prophet-power which is not so truly the vision of things future as of things present, a power which is less intellectual than moral, which in the sphere of the spiritual is the equivalent of the scientific faculty in the physical order—the power of discerning in human history the reign of law, that necessity by which effect follows upon cause, by which evil conduct must bring to pass evil fortune. He saw, and only He, how things really were with Jerusalem and its people, and therefore He saw what must happen to Jerusalem. So to Him the glowing landscape and the city shining on it like a gem were the illusion, and His doom-picture was the reality; the beauty and peace and glory were the mask; the features behind it were pain, horror, desolation. Jesus was right, and all He wept over came to pass in fullest and most bitter measure.

They climbed the Eastern slope

Which leads from Jordan up to Olivet;

And they who earlier dreams could not forget

Were flushed with eager hope.

They gained the crest, and lo!

The marble temple in the sunset gleamed,

And golden light upon its turrets streamed,

As on the stainless snow.

They shout for joy of heart,

But He, the King, looks on as one in grief;

To heart o’erburdened weeping brings relief,

The unbidden tear-drops start:

“Ah, had’st thou known, e’en thou

In this thy day the things that make for peace;”

Alas! no strivings now can work release.

The night is closing now.

“On all thy high estate,

Thy temple-courts and palaces of pride,

Thy pleasant pictures and thy markets wide,

Is written now ‘Too late.’

Time was there might have been

The waking up to life of higher mood,

The knowledge of the only Wise and Good,

Within thy portals seen;

But now the past is past,

The last faint light by blackening clouds is hid;

Thy heaped-up sins each hope of grace forbid,

The sky is all o’ercast;

And soon from out the cloud

Will burst the storm that lays thee low in dust,

Till shrine and palace, homes of hate and lust

Are wrapt in fiery shroud.”1 [Note: E. H. Plumptre.]

Let us consider:—

I. Jerusalem’s Day of Privilege.

II. Her Rejection of the Light.

III. The Tears of the Redeemer.


The Day of Privilege

1. There are seasons of special privilege. Jesus here speaks of “a time of visitation.” Properly speaking, that means an overseeing. That is the strict meaning of the original word. It is thus used to describe the office of an Apostle, in the Acts of the Apostles, and the office of a bishop, in St. Paul’s First Epistle to Timothy; and, from this employment of the word in Scripture, it has come to be applied to the court—for such it is—which from time to time, a bishop is bound by the old law of the Church to hold, in order to review the state of his diocese. But this word is more commonly applied in the Bible to God’s activity than to man’s; and a visitation of God is sometimes penal or judicial, and sometimes it is a season of grace and mercy. The day of visitation of which St. Peter speaks, in which the heathen shall glorify God for the good works of Christians, is, we cannot doubt, the day of judgment. And Job uses the Hebrew equivalent to describe the heavy trials which had been sent to test his patience. On the other hand, in the language of Scripture, God visits man in grace and mercy—as He did the Israelites in Egypt after Joseph’s death; as He visited Sarah in one generation, and Hannah in another; as He visited His flock, to use Zechariah’s expression, in Babylon. It was such a visitation as this that our Lord had in view. He Himself had held it; and when He spoke it was not yet concluded.

(1) This visitation was unobtrusive.—In the Advent of the Redeemer there was nothing outwardly remarkable to the men of that day. It was almost nothing. Of all the historians of that period few indeed are found to mention it. This is a thing which we at this day can scarcely understand; for to us the blessed Advent of our Lord is the brightest page in the world’s history; but to them it was far otherwise. Remember for one moment what the Advent of our Lord was to all outward appearance. He seemed, let it be said reverently, to the rulers of those days, a fanatical freethinker. They heard of His miracles, but they appeared nothing remarkable to them; there was nothing there on which to fasten their attention. They heard that some of the populace had been led away, and now and then, it may be, some of His words reached their ears, but to them they were hard to be understood, full of mystery; or else they roused every evil passion in their hearts, so stern and uncompromising was the morality they taught. They put aside these words in that brief period, and the day of grace passed.

There was nothing of the outward pageant of royalty to greet the son of David. There were no guards, no palace, no throne, no royal livery, no currency bearing the king’s image and superscription. All these things had passed into the hands of the foreign conqueror, or, in parts of the country, into the hands of princes who had the semblance of independence without its reality. There was not even the amount of circumstance and state which attends the reception of a visitor to some modern institution—a visitor who only represents the majesty of some old prerogative or of some earthly throne. As He, Israel’s true King, visits Jerusalem, He almost reminds us of the descendant of an ancient and fallen family returning in secret to the old home of his race. Everything is for him instinct with precious memories. Every stone is dear to him, while he himself is forgotten. He wanders about unnoticed, unobserved, or with only such notice as courtesy may accord to a presumed stranger. He is living amid thoughts which are altogether unshared by men whom he meets, as he moves silently and sadly among the records of the past, and he passes away from sight as he came, with his real station and character generally unrecognized, if indeed he is not dismissed as an upstart with contempt and insult. So it was with Jerusalem and its Divine Visitor. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”1 [Note: H. P. Liddon.]

(2) The day of visitation is limited.—Jerusalem’s day was narrowed up into the short space of three years and a half. After that, God still pleaded with individuals; but the national cause, as a cause, was gone. Jerusalem’s doom was sealed when Christ pronounced those words.

Here was His last word to the chosen people, the last probation, the last opportunity. We may reverently say that there was no more after that to be done. Each prophet contributed something which others could not; each had filled a place in the long series of visitations which no other could fill. Already, long ago, Jerusalem had been once destroyed, after a great neglect of opportunity. The Book of Jeremiah is one long and pathetic commentary on the blindness and obstinacy of kings, priests, prophets, and people which preceded the Chaldæan invasion, and which rendered it inevitable. And still that ruin, vast and, for the time, utter as it was, had been followed by a reconstruction—that long and bitter exile by a return. But history will not go on for ever repeating events which contradict the possibility of change and renewal. One greater visitation awaited Jerusalem; one more utter ruin—and each was to be the last.

After the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus no cause of justice, no ministry of truth, no service of one’s fellow-men, need despair. Though the People, Religion and the State together triumph over them, beyond the brief day of such a triumph the days—to use a prophetic promise which had often rung through Jerusalem—the days are coming. The centuries, patient ministers of God, are waiting as surely for them as they waited for Christ beyond His Cross. Thus, then, did the City and the Man confront each other: that great Fortress, with her rival and separately entrenched forces, for the moment confederate against Him; that Single Figure, sure of His sufficiency for all their needs, and, though His flesh might shrink from it, conscious that the death which they conspired for Him was His Father’s will in the redemption of mankind. As for the embattled City herself, lifted above her ravines and apparently impregnable, she sat prepared only for the awful siege and destruction which He foresaw; while all her spiritual promises, thronging from centuries of hope and prophecy, ran out from her shining into the West; a sunset to herself, but the dawn of a new day to the world beyond.1 [Note: G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, ii. 578.]


The Rejection of the Light

1. The Jews were blind to their opportunity. They knew not the day of their visitation. There is the ignorance we cannot help, which is part of our circumstances in this life, which is imposed on us by Providence. And such ignorance as this, so far as it extends, effaces responsibility. God will never hold a man accountable for knowledge which He knows to be out of his reach. But there is also ignorance, and a great deal of it in many lives, for which we are ourselves responsible, and which would not have embarrassed us now, if we had made the best of our opportunities in past times. And just as a man who, being drunk, is held to be responsible for the outrage which he commits without knowing what he was doing, because he is undoubtedly responsible for getting into this condition of brutal insensibility at all, so God holds us all to be accountable for an ignorance which He knows not to be due to our nature. Now, this was the case with the men of Jerusalem at that day. Had they studied their prophets earnestly and sincerely, had they refused to surrender themselves to political dreams which flattered their self-love, and which coloured all their thoughts and hopes, they would have seen in Jesus of Nazareth the Divine Visitor whose coming Israel had for long ages been expecting.

There is a way of blindness by hardening the heart. Let us not conceal this truth from ourselves. God blinds the eye, but it is in the appointed course of His providential dealings. If a man will not see, the law is he shall not see; if he will not do what is right when he knows the right, then right shall become to him wrong, and wrong shall seem to be right. We read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that He blinded Israel. It is impossible to look at these cases of blindness without perceiving in them something of Divine action. Even at the moment when the Romans were at their gates, Jerusalem still dreamed of security; and when the battering-ram was at the tower of Antonia, the priests were celebrating, in fancied safety, their daily sacrifices. From the moment when our Master spake, there was deep stillness over her until her destruction; like the strange and unnatural stillness before the thunder-storm, when every breath seems hushed, and every leaf may be almost heard moving in the motionless air; and all this calm and stillness is but the prelude to the moment when the east and west are lighted up with the red flashes, and the whole creation seems to reel. Such was the blindness of that nation which would not know the day of her visitation.1 [Note: F. W. Robertson.]

2. The blindness of the Jews was the blindness of moral indifference. For years they had been sinking into cold spiritual indifference, while they were clinging all the more strongly to the outward formalities of religion. And then came their rejection of Christ, which consummated their ruin. They knew what tithes the poor man must pay into the treasury, but they could not understand a Christ who came to heal the broken-hearted. They knew that Jerusalem was the place where men ought to worship, and that the Samaritans were heretics; they could not understand One who came to give men life and rest in God. It was their cold-hearted indifference that thus blinded their eyes to the mission of Jesus, and it was this that caused them to destroy Him. They had found a Man who said religion was a reality—who spoke in kindling words of a spiritual world, and pointed the weary to an all-present Father; and when they found they could not put to shame a truth that clashed with their cold-heartedness, they hurried Him to the judgment-hall and the cross.

If we go back to the time of the Greeks, and ask what to the Greek mind was the greatest sin, we find that it was insolence. To them insolence meant the failure of a man to realize what was his true attitude to life, to understand that he was bound, if he would be a true man, to face life boldly and fearlessly with all its issues, to think through its problems, to recognize the limits under which his life had to be lived. Still the same thing is needed. We still ask you to look at your life straight, to see what it means, to see what are the things that will destroy it. And we are forced to conclude with the old Greeks that it is insolence which destroys a man’s life. What the Greeks called insolence, we call irreverence; and irreverence is at the bottom of it indifference. It means the want of self-sacrifice, of self-restraint, the want of manliness, the want of a desire to think things out, to face life and its issues broadly and courageously.1 [Note: Life and Letters of Mandell Creighton, ii. 26.]

3. Such a process of hardening may be very gradual. Little by little we lose our keen delight in God, our warm loyalty to our Saviour, our exquisite pleasure in noble things, our cordial sympathy with spiritual people and their aims; little by little we decline into godlessness and worldliness. There is a growing deadness of nerve, a creeping paralysis which leaves us more and more untouched and unmoved by the high and glorious things of our faith, which renders us more and more careless about the tragic possibilities of life.

Life must be a movement—a progress of some kind. We cannot stand still—rise or fall we must. Unless, therefore, we have a restraining power within us conquering those hidden evil tendencies, our life must be gradually sinking. But indifference—the mere absence of positive Christian earnestness—has no restraining influence. Not what we are not, but what we are, forms character. We resemble that which we supremely love. That rectitude of life and conduct which is not the result of choice or effort, and which may exist in the absence of temptation, is purely negative, and, unless supported by some earnest positive principle, is in peril when the slumbering evil tendencies are wakened into power by temptation. We may go a step farther, and affirm that spiritual indifference actually prepares the way for open sin. “He that is not with me is against me,” said Christ, and then followed His parable of the unclean spirit returning in sevenfold might to the empty house. The mere expulsion of evil which leaves the heart vacant and indifferent is a false reformation. Take away corrupt love, and leave the soul’s chamber empty, and it will come again in gigantic force. Thus indifference is the commencement of a blindfold descent into spiritual ruin.

You have seen the snow-flakes falling—at first they lay like beautiful winter flowers, but gradually they formed an icy crust that hardened and thickened with every snow shower. So, a man may receive the truth of Christ in the freezing atmosphere of cold indifference, until he is girded round with a mass of dead belief which no spiritual influence can penetrate.1 [Note: E. L. Hull.]

4. These Jews knew not the day of their visitation and yet they were always expecting it. Their prophets had foretold it; in their prayers they cried out for it. Even at this very time they were looking for their Messiah. But they had made up their minds as to the way in which the visitation would be made. When at last it came in God’s way—so simply, so quietly—they could not receive it.

How many there are who are still living in carelessness, never really ranging themselves on the side of Christ, never really giving to Him their hearts and souls; and all the time they have a sort of vague idea that some day the Lord will come and visit their hearts! They do not mean to die in their irreligion. They half imagine that suddenly and unexpectedly God will call them and convert them; then the King will enthrone Himself in their hearts, and all will be well; then they must needs give up sin, and delight in religion. So now they are content to wait; till that day it does not matter much, they think, what lives they lead. All the time Jesus is with them; but they know Him not; they know not the time of their visitation; they are expecting a visitation of some strange, sensational, or terrible kind. If some storm or tempest of passion shook their being, they might yield to that; if God were to afflict them by laying them permanently on a bed of sickness, or by taking from them all that makes life dear, they would count that as a visitation of God, and would expect to be converted. Our ordinary language seems to countenance this notion. It is “a visitation of God,” we say, when a city is smitten with cholera or plague, or when death cannot be accounted for. It would be well for us all if we could realize more fully that, although God’s voice may be heard in the whirlwind and the storm, it is more often heard in the quiet whisper, speaking lovingly to the conscience.

Where are thy moments? Dost thou let them run

Unheeded through time’s glass? Is thy work done?

Hast thou no duties unfulfilled? Not one

That needs completion?

Thou would’st not cast thy money to the ground;

Or, if thou did’st, perchance it might be found

By one who, schooled in poverty’s harsh round,

Knew not repletion.

But thy time lost, is lost to all and thee;

Swiftly ’tis added to eternity,

And for it answerable thou must be;

So have a care.

Gather thy moments, lest they swell to hours;

Stir up thy youthful and still dormant powers;

Now only canst thou plant Heaven’s fadeless flowers,

Therefore, beware.


The Tears of Jesus

“He saw the city and wept over it.” He wept—wept aloud (there had been only silent tears at Bethany, for the two Greek words imply this distinction)—He wept aloud as the city of Jerusalem burst on His sight. The spot has been identified by modern travellers, where a turn in the path brings into view the whole city. “There stood before Him the City of ten thousand memories, with the morning sunlight blazing on the marble pinnacles and gilded roofs of the Temple buildings”; and as He gazed, all the pity within Him over-mastered His human spirit, and He broke into a passion of lamentation, at the sight of the city, which it was too late for Him—the Deliverer—to save; at the thought of the ruin of the nation, which He—the King—had come to rule. “If thou hadst known—Oh! that thou hadst known—the things that belong unto thy peace!” As if He had said, “Thou art called Jerusalem, which means ‘They shall see peace.’ Oh that thou wert Jerusalem in truth and hadst known the things that make for thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”

The Son of God in tears

The Angels wondering see:

Hast thou no wonder, O my soul?

He shed those tears for thee!

He wept that we might weep,

Might weep our sin and shame,

He wept to shew His love for us,

And bid us love the same.

Then tender be our hearts,

Our eyes in sorrow dim,

Till every tear from every eye

Is wiped away by Him!1 [Note: H. F. Lyte, Poems, 82.]

There is no more moving sight than a strong man in tears. Only the strong can truly weep. Tears are then the overflow of the heart. They come when words are powerless; they go where deeds cannot follow. They are the speech of souls past speaking.2 [Note: R. W. Barbour, Thoughts, 52.]

1. It was not for Himself that He wept. The Saviour quite forgot Himself. Conscious as He was, perfectly conscious, of the terrible suffering and shame which awaited Him, He thought not of it; His whole soul was taken up with the city which lay before Him, glittering in the brilliant light of early morning. The tide of sorrow and regret which that sight set a-flowing submerged all other feelings for the moment. It is proper to man that only one very strong emotion can find room within his breast at the same moment; and our Lord was man, true man, made like unto us in all points, sin alone excepted. So He forgot for the moment all about Himself; His heart went out to the city which lay before Him, and He wept over it.

He measured the worth, or rather He estimated the worthlessness, of those greetings which greeted Him now. He knew that all this joy, this jubilant burst, as it seemed, of a people’s gladness, was but as fire among straw, which blazes up for an instant, and then as quickly expires, leaving nothing but a handful of black ashes behind it. He knew that of this giddy thoughtless multitude, many who now cried, “Hosanna; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord,” would, before one short week was ended, join their voices with the voices of them who exclaimed, “Crucify him, crucify him; we have no king but Cæsar”; and He wept, not for Himself, but for them, for the doom which they were preparing for their city, for their children, for themselves.

The contrast was, indeed, terrible between the Jerusalem that rose before Christ in all its beauty, glory, and security, and the Jerusalem which He saw in vision dimly rising on the sky, with the camp of the enemy round about it on every side, hugging it closer and closer in deadly embrace, and the very “stockade” which the Roman Legions raised around it; then, another scene in the shifting panorama, and the city laid with the ground, and the gory bodies of her children among her ruins; and yet another scene: the silence and desolateness of death by the Hand of God—not one stone left upon another! We know only too well how literally this vision has become reality; and yet, though uttered as prophecy by Christ, and its reason so clearly stated, Israel to this day knows not the things which belong unto its peace, and the upturned scattered stones of its dispersion are crying out in testimony against it. But to this day, also, do the tears of Christ plead with the Church on Israel’s behalf, and His words bear within them precious seed of promise.1 [Note: Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, ii. 369.]

2. He wept over the doom of the impenitent city that He loved. He foresaw the hour when the Roman army would level its walls, destroy its Temple, and scatter its people through all lands; when the spot that had been so long known as the glory of Judæa should be recognized only by its ruins. And to Christ there must have been something profoundly sad in that prospect. For ages Jerusalem had been the home of truth and the temple of the Eternal. For ages its people had been the solitary worshippers and witnesses to the true Lord of men. And the thought that a nation called and chosen of old, a nation whose forefathers had been true to God through perils and captivities, should fall from its high standing through falseness to its Lord, and, shorn of its ancient glory, should wander through the world, crowned with mockery, misery, and scorn, might well fill the heart of the compassionate Christ with sorrow. But yet we cannot suppose that the downfall of Jerusalem and the scattering of its people were the chief objects of His pity. It was the men themselves—the men of Jerusalem, who, by the rejection of God’s messengers, and of Himself, the greatest of all, were bringing down those calamities—that awakened His compassion. He saw other temples than Solomon’s falling into ruin—the temples of the souls that had spurned His voice; and the ruin of those spirits moved Him to tears.

3. He knew that this dreadful doom might have been averted. There were things which belonged to Jerusalem’s peace, and which would have secured it, if only she would have known them. They were things which He had brought with Him. The guilty city, the murderess of the prophets, she that had been a provocation almost from her first day until now, might have washed her and made her clean from all that blood and from all that filthiness; she might have become, not in name only, but in deed, “the city of peace,” if only she would have consented first to be “the city of righteousness,” to receive aright Him who had come, “meek and having salvation,” and bringing near to her the things of her everlasting peace. There was no dignity, there was no glory, that might not have been hers. She might have been a name and a praise in all the earth. From that mountain of the Lord’s house the streams of healing, the waters of the river of life, might have gone forth for the healing of all the bitter waters of the world. But no; she chose rather to be herself the bitterest fountain of all. As she had refused in the times past to hear God’s servants, so now she refused to hear His Son, stopped her ears like the deaf adder, made her heart hard as adamant that she might not hear Him.

4. But He knew that His bitter tears were unavailing now. The desolation of the beloved city was a catastrophe that even the prevailing work of His redemption was powerless to avert. “Now they are hid from thine eyes.” This is a deliverance which lies beyond the limit even of the salvation which Christ is to accomplish. “Thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” All the opportunities afforded by the Divine forbearance to those who slew the prophets, who stoned the messengers, and who were about to kill the heir, and culminating in this day of Messiah’s unmistakable claim upon the allegiance of God’s people, had passed unheeded and unused. Now, once and for all, the things that belong to peace are hidden. Jerusalem Christ cannot save. Its destruction He cannot turn away. Therefore, He breaks forth into a passionate lament, like Rachel weeping for her children—“And when he drew nigh, he beheld the city, and wept over it.”

Jerusalem is the head and heart of the nation, the seat of the religious power in which Israel is personified. Why then must this power be blind and obstinate, angry and offended? Why should these high priests, elders, masters of the Law and guardians of the traditions, these leaders of the chosen people, fail to understand what the simple, the poor, the humble, the despised have comprehended? Why do their minds blaspheme while the minds of the people welcome with acclamations the Chosen One of God? Such thoughts overwhelmed and distracted the soul of Jesus. There is still time for them to acknowledge Him; they can still proclaim Him Messiah, and save Israel, to bestow upon it the peace of God. The unutterable anguish of Jesus is not for His own fate, to that He is resigned; it is the fate of His people and of the city which is on the point of demanding His execution; and this blindness will let loose upon Israel nameless calamities. The hierarchy, which despises the true Messiah, will be carried away by its false patriotism into every excess and every frenzy. It will endeavour in vain to control the people in their feverish impatience for deliverance. The Zealots will provoke implacable warfare, and, in grasping after empty glory and empty liberty, their fanaticism will be the unconscious instrument of the vengeance of God. Jesus knew it; the future was before His eyes; He saw Jerusalem besieged, invested, laid waste with fire and sword, her children slaughtered, and her houses, her monuments, her palaces, her Temple itself levelled with the ground.1 [Note: Father Didon, Jesus Christ, ii. 175.]

5. And yet, in spite of all, He persisted in His endeavours to reclaim the lost. He threw Himself into the work of rousing and alarming Jerusalem, as though its future might instantly be transformed. From the Mount of Olives He descended straightway to the Temple, and the last week of His life was spent in daily intercourse with its chief priests. How vain, as it then appeared, were all His words! How little availed His sternest tones to stir the slumberous pulses of His time! How unmoved (save by a bitter and personal animosity) were the leaders and teachers to whom He spoke! And when that scornful indifference on their part was exchanged at last for a distinctive enmity, with what needless prodigality, as doubtless it seemed even to some of His own disciples, He flung away His life! Flung it away? Yes, but only how soon and how triumphantly to take it again! The defeat of Golgotha meant the victory of the Resurrection. The failure of the cross was the triumph of the Crucified; and, though by living and preaching He could not conquer the indifference or awaken the apathy of Israel, by dying and rising again He did. It was the chief priests who amid the anguish of Calvary were the most scornful spectators and the most relentless foes. It was “a great company of the chief priests,” who, on the day of Pentecost, scarce fifty days after that dark and bitter Friday, “were obedient unto the faith.” And thus the tide was turned, and though Jerusalem was not rescued from the vandal hordes of Titus, Jerusalem and Judæa alike became the home and the cradle of the infant Church.

The Impenitent City


Arnot (W.), The Anchor of the Soul, 326.

Black (H.), Edinburgh Sermons, 291.

Bright (W.), The Law of Faith, 141.

Clayton (J. W.), The Genius of God, 120.

Davies (D.), Talks with Men, Women and Children, v. 78.

Deshon (G.), Sermons for the Ecclesiastical Year, 315, 441.

Farrar (F. W.), The Silence and the Voices of God, 171.

Fraser (J.), Parochial and other Sermons, 40.

Hull (E. L.), Sermons, iii. 181.

Hunt (A. N.), Sermons for the Christian Year, ii. 82.

Hutton (W. H.), A Disciple’s Religion, 129.

Kuegele (F.), Country Sermons, New Ser., iv. 500.

Leach (C.), Old Yet Ever New, 157.

Lorimer (G. C.), Jesus the World’s Saviour, 196.

McKim (R. H.), The Gospel in the Christian Year, 223.

Neale (J. M.), Sermons Preached in a Religious House, ii. 357.

Percival (J.), Some Helps for School Life, 61.

Potter (H. C.), Sermons of the City, 15.

Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, vi. 73.

Ridgeway (C. J.), Social Life, 68.

Robertson (F. W.), Sermons, iv. 287.

Russell (A.), The Light that Lighteth Every Man, 82.

Skrine (J. H.), The Heart’s Counsel, 55.

Trench (R. C.), Westminster and other Sermons, 203.

Wilberforce (B.), Feeling after Him, 15.

Williams (W. W.), Resources and Responsibilities, 250.

Winterbotham (R.), Sermons, 466.

Christian World Pulpit, xiv. 251 (J. T. Stannard); xxix. 233 (H. W. Beecher); xxxii. 291 (J. Greenhough); xxxvii. 339 (W. A. Blake); lxxiv. 185 (F. L. Donaldson); Ixxx. 57 (C. S. Macfarland).

Churchman’s Pulpit: Tenth Sunday after Trinity, xi. 245 (D. Moore); 247 (J. Vaughan).

Homiletic Review, New Ser., xxxviii. 506 (G. C. Morgan); lviii. 144 (G. C. Beach).

Literary Churchman, xxiv. (1878) 134.

Verse 42

(42) If thou hadst known, even thou.—The emphatic repetition of the pronoun, as in Isaiah 48:15; Isaiah 51:12; Ezekiel 5:8; Ezekiel 6:3; Ps. ixxvi. 7, speaks of the strongest possible emotion. The broken form of the sentence, “If thou hadst known . . .,” with no corresponding clause as to what would then have followed; the “at least in this thy day,” the day that was still its own, in which it was called to repentance and action, all point to the words as being the utterance of the deepest human sorrow that the Son of Man had known.

The things which belong unto thy peace.—Literally, the things that make for, or tend to, peace. The Greek is the same as that translated “conditions of peace” in Luke 14:32 (where see Note); in this case, obviously, the “things that make for peace” are repentance, reformation, righteousness.

Now they are hid.—The Greek tense implies, by a distinction hard to express in English, in conjunction with the adverb “now,” that the concealment of the things that made for the peace of Jerusalem, was a thing completed in the past.

Verse 43

(43) The days shall come upon thee. We again come upon a cluster of words peculiar, as far as the New Testament is concerned, to St. Luke, and belonging to the higher forms of historical composition.

Shall cast a trench about thee.—The Greek substantive means primarily a stake, then the “stockade” or “palisade” by which the camp of a besieging army was defended, then the earth-work upon which the stockade was fixed. In the latter case, of course, a trench was implied, but the word meant the embankment rather than the excavation. The better MSS. give for “cast” a verb which more distinctly conveys the idea of an encampment.

Verse 44

(44) And shall lay thee even with the ground.—See Note on Matthew 24:2. What is there said of the Temple, is here repeated of the city as a whole, and describes a general demolition of everything that could be demolished. So Josephus (Wars, viii. 1, § 1) describes the work as being done so effectively that, with the exception of one or two towers and part of the walls, the fortifications were so laid even with the ground that there was nothing left to make those that came thither believe that that part of the city had been inhabited.

The time of thy visitation.—The phrase is not found in any other Gospel. The idea of “visitation” presents two aspects, one of pardon (Luke 1:68; Luke 1:78; Luke 7:16), the other of chastisement (1 Peter 2:12). In both, however, the act of “visiting” implied looking after, caring for, and so a purpose of mercy. Modern usage—especially, perhaps, the common legal phrase of a man’s dying by the “visitation of God,” of sickness being “His visitation”—has given undue prominence to the latter thought. Here it appears to include both. The Christ had visited it first with a message of peace. Then came the discipline of suffering, and Jerusalem knew not how to make a right use of either.

Verses 45-48

(45-48) And he went into the temple.—See Notes on Matthew 21:12-17; Mark 11:15-19. St. Luke apparently agrees with St. Matthew in thinking of the expulsion of the money-changers as taking place on the same day as the Entry. His narrative is here the least descriptive of the three.

Verse 47

(47) And he taught daily in the temple.—Literally, He was teaching.

The chief of the people.—Literally, the first of the people. The word is the same as in Mark 6:21, for “the chief estates” of Galilee. Here, apparently, it denotes those who, whether members of the Sanhedrin or not, were men of mark—notables, as it were—among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. As to the purpose ascribed to them, see Note on Mark 11:18.

Verse 48

(48) All the people were very attentive to hear him.—Literally, hung upon him as they heard. The Greek phrase is another of the words characteristic of St. Luke. Its force may be gathered by its use in the Greek version of Genesis 44:30, where it stands for “his life is bound up in” (or, hangs upon) “the lad’s life.”


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 19:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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