Grace: What It Is And What It Does -- Luke 19:1-10
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who He was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see Him: for He was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”- Luke 19:1-10.
This is another incident preserved for our edification for which we are indebted wholly to Luke, writing under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We do not read in any other of the four Gospels of this visit to the house of Zacchaeus. The Lord Jesus was nearing the city of Jericho. As He entered it He would pass the customs house, which was at the entrance-gate on the side nearest to the river. It was there, in all probability, that Zaccheaus had his office, for he was the chief publican. No one admired a publican. Such an one was looked upon as a traitor to his own people. The Jews were looking for the time when the promised Messiah would appear to deliver them from the power of Rome. They detested the Imperial Government and hated to be taxed by it. What made it worse was that the position of tax-collector was sold to the one who offered the most money for it. He who secured the privilege imposed heavy taxes on the people so as to reimburse himself for all he had paid for his position and to obtain a good living besides. If he were a reasonably honest man he could do well, but if he were a rogue or a rascal, he might accumulate vast wealth. Zacchaeus was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. This tells its own story. We can well understand why the Jews detested him: he had made himself wealthy by oppressing his own people.
This man heard that Jesus was coming to his city. I do not know how much he knew about Jesus, perhaps very little; perhaps he had been told by others that Jesus was the Prophet who was to come into the world and re-establish the kingdom of Israel and bring them back to God. At any rate, he had heard of Jesus and wanted to see Him. There was a crowd gathered about our Lord, and Zacchaeus, being small of stature, could not get sight of the face of Jesus. He ran ahead and climbed into a sycamore tree, or really a wild-fig tree, a very leafy tree. Ensconced in its branches he thought he could see, without himself being seen. This man, Zacchaeus, in one respect at least, is like all of us: he was a “come-shorter.” He had come short. The Bible tells us that “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Zacchaeus was a sinner, he was a come-shorter, and he thought he had to do something in order to see Jesus. Many people have that idea. They imagine that they must do something special if they are going to make contact with the Saviour. The Lord Jesus came that way. He stopped and looked up into the leafy tree; He could see the little man up there on that limb. At once He called him by name, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house. “ Jesus knew his name. Elsewhere we read, “He calleth His own sheep by name,” So evidently the Lord had marked this man out and knew he would respond to His solicitation. We read that Zacchaeus “made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” No one else in all Jericho had invited Jesus to his home. We read in this Gospel of many people inviting Him to be their guest, and He always accepted; we never read that He refused an invitation. But no one in this village was concerned enough about Jesus to offer Him entertainment; so He invited Himself to the home of the man who was considered by the stricter Jews to be the chief of sinners. In answer to His request we are told that Zacchaeus “made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” He invited Himself, and Zacchaeus was delighted to have Him enter his house. That little man got,out of the tree in much less time than it took him to climb up, we may be sure. We can imagine him exclaiming, “My Lord, come right along; I never dreamed, of anything like this.” And home they went; and the door was closed. Inside that home something was going on that you and I will never know till we get to heaven. It must have been a wonderful experience for this despised publican. We may be sure that Jesus was faithful to him, that He told Zacchaeus of his need to repent and to get right with God.
Outside the people could not hear what was going on between Jesus and Zacchaeus. It is always that way when the soul and the Lord Jesus get into close contact. Something goes on between Christ and the sinner that no one else can enter into. Friends sometimes only hurt instead of helping; they get in the way. The Lord wants to speak to people alone. So this day, while Jesus sat at Zacchaeus’ table, enjoying the food prepared for Him, the great throng outside look at the house and said to one another: “Think of Him, a Prophet forsooth! He says He is the Messiah, but see what He has done; He has gone in with a publican, a man who is a sinner!” Where else could He go? There was not a house in all the world where He would not have to be entertained by a sinner, for “There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” These Pharisees knew that Zacchaeus was a sinner, but they esteemed themselves as righteous and did not think that they too were sinful and needed a Saviour.
Oftentimes when one tries to speak to people about the Lord-about their need of redemption- they start talking of their own goodness, their charity, the money they give to certain good causes; and they think they do not need to repent. We want to lead them to Christ, but they are trying to make out that they are not sinners and so have no need of a Saviour. If you are not a sinner then there is no salvation for you. If you can prove that you are not a sinner, then I can prove to you that there is no Saviour for you, and you will never go to heaven, because heaven will be filled with redeemed sinners -sinners cleansed by the precious blood of Christ. Only sinners need to be saved; so if you are righteous in yourself then you have no need of Christ. Jesus said He came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. These Pharisees did not realize they were sinners. They knew that man inside the house was a sinner, for all publicans were sinners, but not such people as the Pharisees themselves! They were proud of their own self-righteousness. In Isaiah 64:6 we are told that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. This does not mean rags made unclean merely by the dirt of the streets, but it refers to garments defiled by that which exudes from within, as from the sores of a leper. No matter how beautiful such clothing might be, no matter how fine the texture, they were all contaminated from the corruption within. You would not thank a person for bringing you a beautiful robe which had belonged to a leprous friend who had died and willed the robe to you. No. You would say, “Take it away; it is filthy. I do not want it; it is contaminated by the uncleanness of leprosy.” Well, that is how God looks upon our own righteousness. Our hearts are evil, and yet we draw apart from other people and pride ourselves on being better than they. We say, “Stand by thyself, for I am holier than thou.” But the Word says, “There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Some realize their sinfulness; others do not, but God’s holy eyes see all to be alike. Zacchaeus was a sinner. Yes, Jesus had gone to be guest with a man who was a sinner. Those who were finding fault with Zacchaeus were also sinners, but they did not realize their need of a Saviour as did Zacchaeus. By-and-by the doors of the house were flung open. Zacchaeus came out into the light of day again, and by his side was Jesus. The crowd had been wondering what was going on, and Zacchaeus evidently knew what was in the hearts of those Pharisees. He knew how he was hated and detested; he knew how he had been looked down upon. But he had spent an hour or two alone with Jesus, and something had happened to this man which was to change everything. Zacchaeus said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Expositors are not agreed as to whether Zacchaeus spoke of what had been characteristic in his life, or whether he was declaring his intentions for the future. But his wealth declared him to be dishonest. I take it that he had been brought to know the grace of God in Christ, and this grace had changed his heart and his whole attitude. He said, “From now on everything is going to be different; I am going to divide my wealth with the poor; and then above that, if anyone can come to me and prove that I have taken anything by false accusation, I will give him four times what I took from him wrongfully.” “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.” Why? Because,of his giving half of his goods to the poor? Oh, no! Because he is restoring fourfold? No. Why, then? “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” We are told that they who have faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. This poor sinner, this despised publican, had real faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and recognized Him as the Son of God and his Saviour, and so salvation had come to his house. Grace had saved him and changed his whole attitude.
“For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” This was the very purpose for which He came to earth. He was ever on the lookout for sinners who knew their need and were ready to be saved. It is His gracious mission still. Though seated on the Father’s throne He is working by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of His servants as they carry the glad tidings to lost men, telling them of salvation from sin and its judgment through faith in Him who died to redeem them.
When The King Returns To Reign -- Luke 19:11-27
“And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: for I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me”- Luke 19:11-27.
Our blessed Lord had passed through Jericho and was well on His way to Jerusalem. He knew that many were expecting Him to set up immediately the kingdom which had been predicted for so long by the prophets. Many of the Jews looked for Him to enter the royal city and declare Himself Israel’s Messiah. They expected Him to put Himself at the head of an army of Jewish zealots and drive out the Romans, take over the throne of His father David and begin His reign on Mount Zion. Some day these Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled, but the time had not yet come, and it is still in the future. During the present age the kingdom,of God cometh not with outward show; the kingdom is now apprehended by faith. It is a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men and women who are born again, and who own the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is preached in order that men may be saved and reign with Him when He returns.
The Lord Jesus related a parable to make it plain that His kingdom was not to be set up at His first coming but will be manifested when He comes back: that is, at His second advent. This parable was based on an historical incident that had taken place not many years before, and with which the people generally would be familiar. When King Herod died, that is, the Herod who lived when our Lord Jesus Christ was born, and who decreed that all babies in Bethlehem should be put to death, he decreed in his will that Archelaus should succeed him on the throne. But the Jews hated this man and did not want him to reign over them, and so he went over the sea to Rome to confer with Augustus Caesar, and to secure his approval regarding the kingdom. Before going away he entrusted large sums of money to many of his friends and gave instructions as to how this money was to be used in his absence, in order to make other friends who would forward his interests and be ready to acknowledge his claims. But the Jews who hated him sent an embassy after him and said to Caesar, “We do not want this man to reign over us. He is cruel; we hate every member of his house.” Archelaus conferred with the Emperor, secured his approval and eventually returned to Jerusalem to be proclaimed king over Judaea. He then sent for the servants to whom he had entrusted the money and inquired as to the use they had made of it, rewarding them according to their faithfulness to his interests. After that he summoned his enemies who had been determined that he should not be recognized as king, and put many of them to death.
All this was fresh in the minds of the people, for it had occurred when Jesus was only a little lad. He based His parable upon that incident, because there was a certain likeness in what took place then and what will take place in connection with His present rejection and future return.
“And as they heard these things, He added and spake a parable, because He was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” “A certain nobleman”: the Nobleman is the Man Christ Jesus, and He has gone into a far country. He has gone to the Father’s house, not like Archelaus to confer with some earthly ruler, but He has gone to confer with His Father and to remain with Him yonder until the time when He is to take the kingdom. Ere going away the nobleman “called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.” Our blessed Lord has conferred upon all His servants certain treasure, certain talents, certain abilities, all of which He holds us responsible to use for His glory during His absence. Every Christian has something committed to him which he can use for Christ. Suppose you have the talent of public speaking: you can preach the gospel before great throngs; you can tell of the Saviour who died, and who has been raised again-if you have this talent then you are responsible to proclaim His message. But suppose you say you have no special gift. Well, you can live for Christ in your own home. You can so live for Him before your friends and your neighbors that they will realize the importance of owning His authority over their own lives. Possibly yours is the talent of singing. Then He would have you dedicate your voice to Him, and use that talent He has given you to make Him known to men. I heard of one young lady who had a talent along that line. Her worldly father had spent great sums of money to fit her for the opera platform or stage, but just as she was completing her musical education-if you can ever complete a musical education-she was saved at a special meeting and yielded her life to the Lord. When she returned home, she said, “Father, I cannot go on the opera-stage now: Christ has saved me; I have yielded my life to Him. He has given me my voice, and now I want to use it for Him.” Her father was intensely angry; and he finally said to her, “My daughter, I am going to give you one more opportunity. We have planned a great party to welcome you home-your graduation party. Now your friends will be here tonight, and when they come I want you to sing for them some of those operatic songs that you have learned; and if you do not I shall disown you and cast you out.” She waited until evening came. Her friends arrived, and she was presented to them. The hour came when she was asked to go to the piano and sing. She breathed a prayer in her heart and went over to the instrument and sat down. After the first introductory note, she began to sing with her beautiful, trained voice:
“No room for mirth or trifling here,
For worldly hope or worldly fear,
If life so soon is gone;
If now the Judge is at the door,
And all mankind must stand before
The inexorable throne.”
She sang all four stanzas of that old Wesleyan hymn. After she finished she rose from the piano, expecting her father to dismiss her from the house, but he came forward with tears streaming down his face and said, “My daughter, I too want to know your Saviour.” The reward of dedicating her voice to the Lord was the winning of her own father to Christ. We all have talents committed to us which we are to use in His interests during His absence. Just as in the case of Archelaus, we read of those who hated our Lord and sent a messenger after Him, saying, “We will not have this Man to reign over us.” I do not think I am stretching it by saying that the messenger was no other than Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, who went into the presence of the Lord to bear witness that they did not want Jesus to reign over them. They stoned Stephen to death because of his message. And he went to be with Christ and to give the decision of the people. That was their attitude then, and it has been their attitude all through the centuries since. They said, “We have no king but Caesar.” They refused to own Jesus as their rightful Ruler, and so they abide still in unbelief.
As our Lord looked forward to His second advent, He said, “And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.” Only three are mentioned particularly, as examples. “Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.” By wise and careful investment the first servant had made an excellent profit on what had been committed to him. His integrity and trustworthiness were recognized by the master, and he was rewarded accordingly. This of course suggests the way Christ’s faithful servants will be compensated at His return for all they have accomplished for Him in His absence. If you are faithful even in a little now, you will reign with Him in power then. The measure of our authority in our association with Him when He comes back will be according to the measure of our devotion to Him now.
The second servant came and said, “Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.” All have not the same business acumen, nor the same talents and abilities. But this man, too, had acted wisely and with concern for his master’s interests. The reward was not so great as in the other case, but it was in proportion to the gain that had resulted from the servant’s business activities. You see the place given us is according to the work done. I am afraid there are many of us who are Christians, who know our souls are saved, but who are going to find out when the King returns that we have lost out terribly, because we have done so little self-denying service for Him. We have lived to please ourselves to a great extent. So there will be very little for which He can reward us.
“And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin.” It was an inexcusable fault thus to have failed in the trust committed to him, not realizing that “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Yet how many Christians are failing in the same way, not using that which God has entrusted to them. Clean, straightforward business methods are as important in the Lord’s work as in secular affairs. This man said, as it were, “Master, here is your money. I have not lost it; but I have not used it, because I was afraid I could not use it satisfactorily. I knew that thou wert a hard man to please.” “For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow”-“I knew you demanded a lot, and so I did not try to do anything.” It shows how little he knew his master. If the servant really believed this, it was all the more reason why he should have been diligent in business, in order that he might have pleased the one who employed him (Romans 12:11; Proverbs 22:29). Is there anyone who says, “I have only one talent, and I can do so little; I cannot do enough to win His approval, and so I will not do anything at all”? This nobleman turned to the slothful servant and said, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knew-est that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?” The servant’s excuse was hypocritical. He did not know his master, and he did not want to put himself to any trouble on his behalf. Sternly the master rebuked the slothfulness of his servant, pointing out that if he feared to make any investments, he might, at least, have placed the money where it would have drawn interest and thus not have stood idle. It is a salutary lesson in the right use of capital which God has put in our hands, and the spiritual lesson is even clearer. We shall be held responsible, not alone for overt acts of evil, but also for sins of omission. And so he had all taken from him, and he found himself without reward because of his failure to serve. That which is not used will profit nothing, rather shall we suffer loss. Whereas they who wisely use what they have will be further rewarded.
Actually, I gather, from the fourth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, that there will be no Christian left without reward, for we read, “Then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). But I am afraid there will be many of us who will have very little reward because we have done so little real service for our Lord Jesus Christ. “Unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away.” The first half of the verse is clear enough and requires no comment. The latter part may be better understood if we paraphrase slightly, so that it would read: From him who hath not used that which was entrusted to him, even that itself shall be taken. Opportunities neglected are lost forever.
The nobleman then commanded that his enemies be brought before him, “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” And in that coming day when Christ returns, those who reject His grace, those who refuse to own Him, those who spurn His love, will have to know His judgment when He is “revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.” Have you bowed your heart before Him? Have you recognized Him as the rightful King? Have you put your trust in Him as Saviour? Do you own Him as Lord of your life? “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” If you have never recognized Him as your rightful Lord, do it today. It is not yet too late. The King has not returned, although His coming draws nigh. He will soon be back, and then it will be too late to get right with Him. Why not make this the occasion when you yield your heart and your life to Him and acknowledge Him as earth’s rightful Lord and King?
Welcoming The King -- Luke 19:28-48
“And when He had thus spoken, He went before, ascending up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when He was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat; loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. And they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as He went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when He was come nigh, even now at 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 that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him, and could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him”- Luke 19:28-48.
We come now to the Lord’s last days on earth. Notice in the first part of this passage how careful He was to fulfil everything that was written of Him in the Prophets. In the book of Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), it was written some five hundred years before, that the King would come riding upon the colt of an ass: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Nearing Jerusalem, Jesus came to Bethany which is over the slope of the mount of Olives. He said to His disciples, “Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.” He was the omniscient One, and He knew exactly where the disciples would find the ass. He said to them, “And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.” This colt was only a dumb beast, but it knew its Owner. We read in Isaiah 1:3, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.” The lower creatures act in subjection to the will of the Lord. Man alone of all God’s creatures-man, who is made a little lower than the angels, with his remarkable powers and his wonderful intellect-sets himself in opposition to the will of God. Jesus sent His disciples over to get this colt, and we read that it was one “whereon yet never man sat.” It was an unbroken colt. You know that, ordinarily, it takes a rider of some dexterity to break in a colt; but here we find this unbroken colt in complete subjection to the will of its Creator. The One who was to ride that colt was the Creator whose power had brought it into existence. “And they that were sent went their way, and found even as He had said unto them. And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt?” They answered as they had been instructed by the Lord, and the owners gave consent to take him and use him as Jesus desired. “And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.” So He began His so-called “triumphal entry,” and the people hailed Him as their King as they led Him into the city. “And when He was come nigh, even now at 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 that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Another scripture was fulfilled as the people were doing all this. Long years ago, in the 118th Psalm (Psalms 118:26), it was written that the people should greet their King with the cry, “Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And so His disciples and the little children who had heard of the promised King, shouted with joy as He entered His capital, for they thought He was immediately to set up His kingdom. They had to learn that there could be no kingdom for Him before the cross; that He must die for our sins before He could establish His throne in power and glory. So in the next verse of that 118th Psalm (Psalms 118:27) we read, “Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” He was to offer Himself a sacrifice on our behalf ere He could “take His great power and reign.”
The religious leaders of the people who professed to be waiting for the Messiah were out of sympathy with all this. They looked on with indignation and turned to the Lord Himself and said, “Master, rebuke Thy disciples.” They would have had Him repudiate the extravagant claims, as they considered them, which the disciples were making on His behalf. But Jesus, instead of rebuking them, rebuked the critics and said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” Those who welcomed Him with cries of joy acted as the Scriptures predicted. It was foretold by God that they should receive Him in this way. If they had not done so the stones would have cried out to welcome the glorious King.
So He entered the city, but He did not find the populace ready to receive Him. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” “His own” in the original text is neuter. First it refers to “His own things.” In the second instance, it is personal and refers to “His own people.” “He came unto His own things, and His own people received Him not.” Here we behold Him coming to His own city, and His own temple, but His own people-the nation that had been waiting for Him for so long- received Him not. Knowing exactly what their attitude was to be, His great heart was breaking as He looked down over the city and realized all that Israel must suffer in the centuries to come as well as in the near future. He wept over the city. He saw, as no one ese could, all the sin and iniquity of which the people of Jerusalem were guilty. This is one of the three times when He is said to have wept. What a sad sight must any one of our great cities present to the all-seeing eyes of our Lord as He beholds them today! Beneath all the outward splendor of architecture, beautiful parks, schools, and great business houses, His holy eyes discern all the hidden sin, the selfishness, the unbridled lust, the vice and corruption, the hypocrisy and hardness of conscience which call as loudly for judgment now as the evils tolerated in Jerusalem cried to God for destruction so long ago. Jerusalem was the city Jehovah had chosen to place His name there; and and He was rejected. Its men and women preferred to go on in their own godless ways. As He wept over the city He exclaimed, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” “If thou hadst known!” But they did not know. That was the trouble with people then, and that is the trouble with people now: they do not know. There is a solemn pathos in His lament. They might have known, but there was no desire to understand, and so they had to suffer for their wilful ignorance. We read that Peter said to the people concerning the crucifixion of our Lord, “Through ignorance ye did it.” They did not understand, neither did the princes of this world, “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” In the day of judgment we shall not be able to say, “I did not know who Jesus was.” We have the Word; we have heard it again and again. The people of Israel did not know, and because they did not know, they fulfilled their own Scriptures in rejecting their Messiah. “If thou hadst known!” It was too late! They had turned their hearts against Him; they had spurned His grace. And now their judgment was on its way. He said, “For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side.” He foresaw the Roman armies under Titus surrounding the city and cutting off all sources of provision for its trapped populace. Graphically He portrayed what became actual history forty years afterward. It was all fulfilled literally when the Roman legions besieged the city, and at last entered it and destroyed its great buildings as Jesus had predicted. “And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Think of a statement like that! As the disciples looked upon that vast city with its great and wonderful buildings, and the Lord Jesus dared to say that not one stone should be left upon another! It must have seemed, even to His disciples, as though His words never could be fulfilled literally, yet in due time they were, carried out to the letter, for Jerusalem became but a ruined heap. Long before, God had declared, “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps” (Micah 3:12). God’s Word never fails. All that He has declared must come to pass.
Notice the reason for all this: “Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” God Himself had come to them in the Person of His Son, but they realized it not. Unsaved one, this is the time when God is visiting you, and if you refuse Him, some day you must stand before Him in judgment, because you knew not the day of your visitation.
“And He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.” In that temple everything spoke of Him. He acted as Son over His own house (Hebrews 3:6) in casting out those who sought to commercialize that which had been dedicated as a house of prayer for all nations. It was presumably for the accommodation of visitors from distant lands that the moneychangers and vendors of doves, and so on, were first given places in the temple courts, but through covetousness they made merchandise of these things and so dishonored God.
From that time He taught the people in that temple until the time came when He was to be offered upon the cross. But the leaders sought how they might destroy Him; but they could not find what they might do, for all the people were very attentive to hear Him. Doubtless many in the crowds that heard His words were brought to trust in Him eventually, and we may be sure that numbers of them were among that great throng on the day of Pentecost when many accepted Him as Saviour and owned Him as their Lord.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Luke 19". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany