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Jesus went on into Jericho. Jesus had crossed the Jordan near Jericho, the city of palm trees, and the road led directly through there on the way to Jerusalem. Mark shows us that Jesus was ahead of the crowd; went on in to Jericho; the noise of the crowd disturbed the blind men [Luke mentions only the one who shouted]; and as Jesus was leaving the town, the healing in Luke 18:35-43 took place; then this meeting with Zacchaeus. From Jericho the road climbs more than 3,000 feet in eighteen miles, from the valley floor to Jerusalem in the mountains.
There was a chief tax collector there. Both the importance and location of Jericho would make it a center for the Roman tax collection. Zacchaeus was supervisor of the district. Who was rich. The job paid very well. But he was honest (Luke 19:8).
He was trying to see who Jesus was. His curiosity was aroused by all the noise and the crowd. Climbed a sycamore tree. This was a type of fig-mulberry tree with low-hanging branches. His smallness would not allow him to see over the heads of the crowd.
Because I must stay in your house today. Not just to find a place to stay, but because Jesus saw in this man something valuable. His work was to search out and to save.
And welcomed him with great joy. He had not expected such an honor.
Started grumbling. This crowd expected Jesus to be crowned king of a political kingdom as soon as he arrived at Jerusalem. Here he is the guest of a tax collector, a chief agent for the Roman oppressors. If Jesus had been concerned about popularity, he would not have gone to Zacchaeus’ house.
Zacchaeus stood up. This must be in response to the Lord’s teaching. I will give half my belongings to the poor. This is proof of his faith! No doubt he had been in love with the idea of being rich. Now he has found something much greater, and gives his love to Jesus! And if I have cheated anyone. Perhaps he had, because tax collectors were notorious for their dishonesty. If he has cheated anyone, he makes the promise to pay them back four times as much! True repentance causes us to try to right the wrongs we have done to others. “If you cannot restore what you got by cheating others, give it to God; because the poor receive God’s charity.”
Salvation has come to this house. Because Zacchaeus has truly turned from sin and turned to God! Is a descendant of Abraham. Jesus may have said this to the crowd, because in their narrow understanding, they thought only Jews had any part in God’s kingdom. But the true descendants of Abraham are those who believe in Christ (Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:29).
For the Son of Man came. His whole purpose is to rescue those who are lost. This is why he went to Zaccheaus’ house.
He was now almost at Jerusalem. Not over twenty miles from there. Since the crowd expected him to set up an earthly kingdom like David’s as soon as he arrived at Jerusalem, he tells this parable.
There was a nobleman. This is a lot like the parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25:14-30. But this one has a different purpose. To be made king. Christ would leave earth and return to heaven before being made King.
And gave them each a gold coin. [Worth perhaps $160 in 1974 dollars.] See what you can earn with this. It was given to be used. Note that in this parable, each received exactly the same amount. It seems a small amount for a nobleman to give, and would not “buy loyalty.”
We don’t want this man to be our king. After his raising from death and his being taken up to heaven, many of the Jews would still reject him.
The nobleman was made king and came back. His Second Coming, when he rewards his servants. To appear before him. To find out how much each has earned with the “gold coin.”
Sir, I have earned ten gold coins. Compare notes on Matthew 25:19-23. The gold coin can be symbolic of truth. Their ability to use it accounts for the different degree of gain. [Will there be degrees of reward and punishment in Eternity? See note on Luke 12:48.] In this life, being trustworthy in small matters brings greater responsibility, and honor as well.
Sir, here is your gold coin. It is not enough that we do no harm to others. We must take positive action to do good! Salvation is solely on the basis of God’s act in Christ; but we have been created for a life of good works (Ephesians 2:10). To fail to do this is rebellion against God. Compare notes on Matthew 25:24-27.
Then he said. To the angels (Matthew 13:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14]. That to everyone who has. Those who have been faithful to their trust will receive all that God has promised! But the unfaithful will be disinherited forever! [These are all God’s people who are being judged. The Jews had not kept their trust (compare Matthew 23:37-39).]
As for these enemies of mine. This shows the doom of all who will not permit the Lord to be their King. See Matthew 13:49; Matthew 21:44; Matthew 25:30; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10.
And then went on to Jerusalem. The road from Jericho to Jerusalem climbs 3,000 feet in eighteen miles. All four Gospels give this. See notes on Matthew 21:1-16. Down the Mount of Olives. The city of Jerusalem and the temple burst into view! God bless the king! They still expected Jesus to announce himself as the Messiah-King and set up a political kingdom. Jesus had told them he must die, but they could not understand. Compare note on Acts 1:6.
When he saw it he wept over it. Only Luke gives these words. This is a lot like what Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:15-22. Compare notes there. Only one other place speaks of Jesus weeping (John 11:35). If you only knew today. This was the time of opportunity and peace. But unbelief made it impossible for them to see the truth. What is needed for peace. If they had believed in Christ, they would not have rebelled against Rome, Jerusalem would not have been destroyed, and the 1,100,000 who were killed in that horror would not have died (see note on Matthew 24:21). They could have had earthly peace, as well as the peace of God, but they did not want it! Will surround you with barricades. The Roman soldiers built barricades to blockade the city and starve it into surrender. Inside the city civil war raged, they destroyed their own food supplies, and the thousands died at the hands of their own people (see note on Matthew 24:21). Not a single stone. This is how complete the destruction would be! The soldiers may have believed gold had been hidden between the stones, and they dismantled the entire city completely! Because you did not recognize the time. Christ had come to save them from their doom. Because they would not listen and repent, a double measure of God’s wrath would come on them (Matthew 23:35-36).
Jesus went into the temple. An act of authority. He made the temple ritually pure. See notes on Matthew 21:12-17. Because all the people. Public opinion made it difficult for the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus.
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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Luke 19". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29