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The Lord does not go around Jericho. It is the city of the curse, but if He is there, He is there to give blessing. So it is with the world He came into. The world lies in the evil one (1 John 5:19), but He came into the world to spread blessing. He has to go through Jericho because he knows that there lives a man called Zaccheus, who is a wealthy chief tax collector and who seeks Him.
Zaccheus is touched by the Spirit of God. When he hears that the Lord Jesus is coming, he makes an effort to see Him. He is not like Herod who also wanted to see the Lord (Luke 9:9). With Herod it was an evil curiosity, which, by the way, was also satisfied (Luke 23:8). With Zaccheus it is a hungry curiosity. He gets to see the Lord and more than that.
However, there are two obstacles: there is a crowd and he is small. As so often, here too the crowd is a hindrance for someone who wants to see the Lord. People stand in the way (Luke 5:19) or consciously keep someone away from Him (Luke 18:39). In addition, he is small in stature, which seems to be an additional impediment to seeing him. But whosoever genuinely seeks the Lord will find Him (Luke 11:9).
Just as the blind man in the previous chapter did not allow himself to be hindered by the crowd (Luke 18:39), so Zaccheus is not prevented from seeing the Lord by the crowd, nor by his physical disadvantage. Like the blind man, he shows the power of faith. He sees a solution in a sycamore tree. Like a little boy he climbs into the tree. He is small and makes himself small. He also has a foresight. He knows the Lord Jesus’ route and takes his place on that route. Faith feels the way He is going, even though there is no direct relationship with Him yet.
The desire and faith of Zaccheus are not ashamed. When the Lord comes to the place where Zaccheus is in the tree, He looks up. Not only does he know there is someone in the tree, but he also knows his name. His searching heart has met someone who longs for Him. This is for His heart a great joy on His way to the cross.
He tells Zaccheus to come down quickly and makes a great proposal. He invites Himself to come into the house of Zaccheus. He asks not only for dominion over our personal lives, but also over our house, our family. Hence believing parents will raise their children according to God’s standards (Ephesians 6:1-Numbers :).
This is more than Zaccheus expected, but of which his heart immediately grasps the meaning. He comes down quickly and receives the Lord with joy. The surrounding people find it strange. They even grumble about it. It’s something they don’t understand. How can he enter a sinful man’s house and even stay there? What is the joy of faith is a stumbling block for unbelief.
The people see an in their eyes distinguished rabbi entering a sinful persons house. In their thinking that doesn’t fit together. This is because they do not see themselves as sinful, while the Lord Jesus is indeed for them nothing more than a distinguished rabbi.
Although Zaccheus may be a rich chief tax collector, he must have been lonely. The people will have shunned him. He has also felt within himself the emptiness of his life and has a need for real peace.
Faced with the grumble of men, Zaccheus takes the place of respect before the Lord. He stands up. Then he says what he is doing with his possessions. He doesn’t say this out of pride, but to show that there is a desire in his heart to clean up his past. He does not spare himself if he says that he has extorted people. By repaying it fourfold, he goes further than the law prescribes. He wants to repair the damage so abundantly that the injustice done will no longer be remembered.
Zaccheus met the Lord and received Him in his house and in his life. With Him the salvation has come to this house. Zaccheus has found what he sought: peace for his soul. He had already been converted, he was already a son of Abraham in the true sense of the word (cf. Luke 13:16), but he still lacked the certainty of the forgiveness of his sins and the knowledge of salvation.
In response to what He said to Zaccheus, the Lord Jesus points to the great purpose of His coming into the world. He has come to seek that which was lost. It is the searching grace for people who need forgiveness and salvation. Salvation means the escape of judgment through repentance and the entering into the kingdom. He has come to seek people in whom He has worked the need for grace, and then to fulfill that need.
The disciples hear the Lord Jesus speak of salvation. That reminds them of the kingdom of peace. They see in Him the Messiah. All their thoughts are that He will go to Jerusalem to sit on the throne of David and establish the kingdom of God in public glory and majesty. Because they are always busy with this, they understand nothing of it every time He speaks about His suffering and death that await Him in Jerusalem. Again they assume he is going to Jerusalem to ascend the throne and accept his reign.
The Lord knows their thoughts, and so He tells a parable. He Himself is the nobleman. He is the Son of God, also as Man. He came to the earth to establish the kingdom of God, but He was rejected. Now He travels to a distant country, heaven, to receive the kingdom there. He is truly King with a real kingdom. He reigns not yet publicly, but in the hearts of those who profess Him as Lord. But He comes back to establish His kingdom on earth.
Before He goes to heaven, He gives His slaves – they who confess Him as Lord – a minas with the instruction to do business with it. He adds “until I come,” which is until He comes back. All slaves, who are expressly called “His” slaves, are entrusted with the same sum. The number ten represents responsibility. All slaves are responsible to do business with what the Lord has given them. The fact that they receive the same sum means that the difference in results is the result of their diligence, commitment, motivation and the like and not of their capacities.
In Matthew 25, the Lord tells a parable that is very similar to this parable. However, there is a difference. There He speaks of a lord who goes abroad and who entrusts to his own slaves each a different sum (Matthew 25:14-Ezra :). In Matthew 25 He emphasizes the power and wisdom of the Giver who distinguishes in His gifts, according to the ability of each slave. The result is a yield in accordance with the difference in the gift, but an equal reward (Matthew 25:19-Isaiah :).
Whereas in Matthew 25 the sovereign power of the Lord is more in the foreground, here it is more about the responsibility of the slaves. In the pound we can see the entrusted deposit (1 Timothy 6:20). What is entrusted to us is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6), with the purpose that we make it visible in our lives. In the Gospel according to Luke this means that we show the grace given to us in Christ to those around us. If the grace from us goes to others, it will also work in others and thereby increase the effectiveness of grace. So we can do business with grace.
Apart from slaves, there are also citizens. The citizens are the Jews. They have rejected the Lord Jesus, for they hate Him. Their hatred is so great that once He is gone they even send a delegation after Him to emphasize that they do not want His kingship.
This happened when they stoned Stephen who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, offered them, as it were, a last chance to accept Him as their King (Acts 7:54-James :). By killing him, they followed Christ’s message as it were, as a statement that they do not want anything to do with him. With this they signed their own verdict which was later, in the year 70, executed by the Roman armies under the leadership of Titus in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Reward of the Faithful Slaves
The citizens did not want him to be king over them, but that did not prevent Him from receiving the kingdom. After He has received it, He returns. Luke does not speak about the time that has passed between His receiving of the kingdom and His return. Now, some two thousand years ago, He received the kingdom, and He has not yet returned, but the moment of His return is ever closer. When He returns, He wants His slaves to whom He has given money to be called to Him. He wants to know what they have earned from the business. That is His good right. He gave His slaves that money to make profit for Him.
The first to come before Him says to Him that His mina – the slave speaks of “Your” mina – has yielded tenfold profit. He is one who, with dedication to his Lord, has been occupied with the mina entrusted to him. The profit is not the number of converts that someone can show or the number of speeches that someone has made, but what has become visible throughout the life of the slave of Christ.
The life of Christ brought abundant praise to God. Wherever people saw and heard Him, they glorified God, even though many of them did not accept Him and even rejected Him. The more the life of Christ is seen in the life of a believer, He will reward it. This is not a question of possessing a special gift, but of a mind that does everything for Christ. This is open to every believer without distinction. It is about a choice to be made or not to be made.
As has been said, it is about responsibility. This slave receives the Lord’s approval. The Lord praises him and says to him “well done” and calls him a “good slave”. The Lord also rewards him. Because the slave was faithful in a very little thing (cf. Luke 16:10), much is entrusted to him. He may reign in the kingdom together with Christ (Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2-Leviticus :; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26-Daniel :) and rule over ten cities. He has shown in his life that he has dealt well with the goods of his Lord. The reward he receives is a part in the kingdom in accordance with his work.
The second slave comes. He also speaks of “Your” mina and can give his Lord five extra minas. He too has been diligent in his service to the Lord, but not with the same dedication as the other. The Lord therefore does not give His approval in the same way as for the first. However, this slave also receives the reward that matches his profit. He also gets his share in the kingdom and may rule over five cities.
The Worthless Slave and the Citizens
Then comes the next slave before his Lord. He also calls Him “Master” and thereby acknowledges His authority, and he also speaks of “Your” mina. He thereby acknowledges that what He has received is of His Lord. But it is all just a confession with the lips. Inward, there is no connection between him and His Lord. Therefore, there has been no dedication to Him at all. There was nothing in his life that led people to glorify God. He put the mina he had received in a handkerchief . He did not intend to work hard for his Lord. And He did not do so.
His conduct resulted from a totally false image of his Lord. He did not understand anything of His grace, he never got to know Him. He was afraid of Him, and found Him exacting and unrighteous. He had his own view of that Lord and thought that you’d better not have to deal with Him. He did not face the fact that he would have to deal with Him anyway. Living for such a Lord seemed unbearable to him. You weren’t allowed to do anything and you had to do everything. It was all ‘not allowed’ and ‘had to’. In that view on his Lord, he did not want to be corrected either. He held on to it and it determined his life.
With his statements about his Lord, the slave makes his own judgment. If he really was afraid of that Lord, and if it really was so that he was exacting and, to his judgment, dealing unrighteous, that should have led him to act differently from what he has done now. The Lord calls him a worthless slave because he has not done according to what he knew. He used his idea about Him as an excuse to do nothing at all with his mina. If he had been really scared, he would have given His money to a bank. Just thinking soberly would have led him to the conclusion that the money would at least have been a little bit profitable for Him. After all, it was His money and the task was to do business with it.
The Lord does not blame him for not having done business. If he had no energy to do business, by bringing the money to a bank he would have recognized that his Lord was entitled to profit. Because he was led by selfish fear, he showed that there was no love for his Master (1 John 4:18). He lacked not so much the power to act, but the right spirit or mind to act. He did not know grace. If we have a legalistic mind, we serve only ourselves.
The worthless slave not only does not receive a reward, he also suffers loss. What he was entrusted, he loses because he did nothing with it. He never really possessed it because he had put it away. Yet he knew he had it, for he could give it to his Lord, but it was something outside of him, not in him. The external appearance, the beautiful appearance, is taken from him. What was for him a covering for his inner depravity is for the faithful, dedicated slave the decoration of the authenticity of the faith that is in him. That is why the faithful slave gets what the evil slave has abused.
Those who stand by point out to the Lord that this slave already has so much. He already has ten and now he gets another one. The answer shows how much the Lord appreciates complete faithfulness and dedication and commitment. Such a person cannot be rewarded enough. From those who have no inner connection with Him, but only the appearance to possess something, also that appearance will be taken away.
At the end of His parable, the Lord returns to the citizens whom He spoke of in the beginning (Luke 19:14). He calls them here His enemies. He reminds us that they did not want Him to rule over them. For them, too, comes the day of retribution. For them there is an appropriate judgment. They must appear before Him like the slaves, but there is no conversation with them. They must be slain in His presence. His kingship is a righteous kingship. He rules in righteousness, both in reward and in judgment of evil.
The Lord Has Need of It
After pointing out in the parable the characteristics of the kingdom in the time of His absence, the Lord is going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. The journey to the distant country to receive the kingdom (Luke 19:12) goes for Him via Calvary near Jerusalem. He comes near the mount that is called Olivet, the mountain that reminds us of the future after His rejection and death. When He is risen, He will go from there to heaven (Acts 1:9-2 Kings :) and return there (Zechariah 14:4). The olive is the fruit of the olive oil. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. From heaven the Lord Jesus will first give the Holy Spirit.
This fruit is found in the villages of Bethphage and Bethany which are close to Mount Olivet. Bethphage means ‘house of the figs’ and Bethany means ‘house of the afflicted’. These are places that by their names point to a remnant of the people who receive Him. This remnant is formed by the righteous, of which figs are a picture (cf. Jeremiah 24:5-Judges :), because they have acknowledged their affliction before God. These places are the last stops before the final destination of His journey on earth.
God will still provide an appropriate testimony for His Son by working through the hearts of the crowd. In preparation for this, the Lord Jesus sends out two disciples. This mission follows the parable of the minas. It is about executing a command that corresponds to acting with the entrusted minas. Later they get another command, that is to prepare the Passover (Luke 22:8).
They now have to go to the village opposite the Mount Olivet. He tells them what they will find there and what to do with it. They will find a colt tied up. He also knows that the colt on which no one yet has ever sat. They have to untie it and bring it to Him.
In this command lies a similarity that shows how grace frees a person from all the slavery of the law. The colt is a picture of man (Exodus 13:13) who is bound by the law and therefore not free. To be used by the Lord in His service, it must be untied (cf. Luke 13:16). If a person is freed from bondage by teaching from God’s Word by the Lord’s servants, he can ‘carry’ the Lord around. The Lord can only commit Himself to something that has never served under any other yoke. New life has never been subject to the law.
The Lord knows that there are people who will ask why they untie the colt. He gives His disciples the answer to that question in the mouth. They can simply say that the Lord needs it. That is enough. He, Who does not need to be served by anyone because everything belongs to Him, says of the colt he needs it. This proves His great grace when we think of the picture that is presented to us in this colt, that of the bound human being. He wants to use such people and commit them to His work. He needs them for that. That is encouragement for each of us.
Obedient, the two disciples set off. They find it “as He had told them”. So it is with every mission by Him whereby He gives specific directions. It will then go as He has said.
It is understandable that the owners of the colt ask the disciples why they untie the animal. They give the answer which the Lord has put in their mouths. Then there are no more objections, for Christ has worked in the hearts of the owners the willingness to give the colt to Him. The colt is brought to the Lord Jesus.
Under the working of God’s Spirit, the disciples spontaneously throw their coats on the colt and put Him on it. It is an act of homage to Him. They subject their coats – which speak of their outer behavior, the deeds people see – to Him, they make themselves available to Him. Then they exalt Him by putting Him on the colt and on their coats. Thus, this act has a rich symbolic meaning for our lives. Do we subject our lives to Him so that He may have authority over it and the people around us may see Him?
They throw their coats not only on the colt, but also on the road. The whole road is covered with coats over which He, seated on the colt, goes forth. Not only our deeds, but also our walk should be subject to Him. He desires that we give our path of life to Him so that He can use it to reach His purpose with our lives. If we only remember that the world will reject us if we surrender our way of life to Him.
The Lord Jesus Blessed
The disciples who follow Him massively know nothing about what is going to happen to Him in Jerusalem. They think He is going to Jerusalem to rule. On the way to that glorious accession to the throne, they would like to submit themselves to Him. They start to praise God with joy and a loud voice. They have seen so many powerful deeds, that this must be the Messiah of God.
Unfortunately, these are only external impressions of Who the Lord is. For His message of grace they are and remain deaf. Yet God uses them to glorify the Name of His Son. Touched by God’s Spirit, the crowd praises the Lord Jesus as the Blessed, the Highly Praised, as the King Who comes in the Name of the LORD, Yahweh. That He is indeed to the full.
When they speak of peace in heaven, they say more than they realize. It is indeed so that the kingdom depends for its establishment on earth on a peace established in the highest heavens. This indicates the place which He will take in heaven, exalted as the Son of Man and as the Conqueror of satan. The kingdom of peace and justice that will be established on earth is only a consequence of the glory that grace has already established in heaven since His coming into the distant country to which He is here on His way.
When He was born as a Man, the angels spoke of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14) because the Man on Whom the good pleasure of God rested had appeared. They glorified the full scope of His work. By now it has become clear that death awaits Him and that His rejection results in a period that will be anything but peace. But the heavens will be the stage of peace. There He will go after accomplishing the work on the cross. There He will receive the honor of God to which He is entitled (John 13:32). There is peace in heaven because He entered there as Conqueror and there is peace in the hearts of those who have received Him (Colossians 1:20-Isaiah :; Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:17).
The Pharisees are not part of the praising crowd. As declared opponents of the Lord, they are very disturbed by what is happening. They have the nature of the eldest son who was also annoyed by the feast for his returned brother (Luke 15:25-Amos :). In doing so, they have closed themselves for every work of the Spirit. What they see, is unacceptable in their eyes and must be stopped.
In their approach to the Lord, they call Him “Teacher”. To them He is nothing more than a travelling rabbi who, in their eyes, has far too much support and far too much honor. This is at the expense of the honor they claim for themselves. In their religious zeal they see that what the crowd calls can only apply to the Messiah.
Their conclusion is correct, only He is not the Messiah for them because their eyes are darkened too much by hatred to see even a glimpse of Divine glory in Him. They say to Him to rebuke His disciples. He gives a short answer which is therefore significant. God wants to give a testimony about His Son as the Blessed. He can work the hearts of people who have recognized something of God in the actions of His Son. He is even able to bring dead stones to profess a similar testimony. The fact that the Pharisees do not recognize anything of God in Him and therefore do not give Him any honor, but rather oppose Him, shows how dead and hardened they are.
Lamentation About Jerusalem
However impressive the testimony of the crowd may be and however justified it is that it is given of Him, the Lord knows that it is unfortunately only a superficial emotion. The reality is that they will reject Him. So when He approaches the city and sees it, He knows what the city will do to Him, and what the consequences will be for the city. After the jubilation of His disciples we hear His weeping.
The King weeps over the city. It is a repetition of the lamentation of the LORD, Yahweh, in Psalm 81 (Psalms 81:13), which is expressed even more strongly here because the greatest sin is now about to happen. His powerful testimony does not prevent Him from being deeply saddened by their rejection of Him. Weeping is part of the announcement of judgment and of seeing things that reproach the Lord (Philippians 3:18).
A strict and just judgement must be given, but never harshly. The judgment concerns someone’s evil, the weeping concerns someone’s person. In Scripture there is always a perfect balance between the two. In Christ we see a wonderful and perfect harmony between anger and grieve (Mark 3:5).
The Lord expresses His intense desire that Jerusalem on “this day”, the day of salvation, on which God in Christ visits the city in grace, should nevertheless be able to recognize what serves its peace. Its peace is within reach. They only need to touch Him in faith, only to repent and accept God’s atonement in Him.
But Jerusalem has no eyes to see. Christ has “no [stately] form or majesty” for them; there is in Him no “appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isaiah 53:2). Because Jerusalem does not recognize what serves her peace, there can be no peace on earth. Jerusalem is still in that position.
The Lord speaks of the dramatic consequences that His rejection will have for Jerusalem. He points forward to the days when their enemies will march against the city and besiege it. There will be no escape possible. Completely surrounded by enemies, they will get oppressed, suffocating them. Finally, the city will fall and be levelled to the ground.
Here the Lord points to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans almost forty years later. This judgment comes over them because they did not recognize the time when God in grace in Christ looked after them, that they were visited by God in Christ. They did not know Him, but rejected Him. Then there can be no other result than this. Who rejects peace, dies in battle.
Cleansing and Teaching in the Temple
He entered Jerusalem and now He enters to the temple. As the Lord of His house, He drives out those who abuse His house for their own gain. The way things are going in the temple reveals the true condition of the people. The Lord goes to this center of their religion and finds there how the power of evil controls everything.
The house of God is in the hands of men completely alienated from His original purpose. The temple is meant by God as a house of prayer, a house where His help in need is sought, but these wicked people have made it a robber’s den. A robber is someone who robs the possessions of someone else. By using the temple as a marketplace they rob God of His honor. They also rob their fellow men of their possessions by their unfair trade.
By learning daily about God and the kingdom in the temple, the Lord gives the temple back its true meaning. The temple, the house of God, becomes a house of teaching when it first becomes a house of prayer. The church is primarily a house of prayer (1 Timothy 2:1). Only in the mind of dependence, of which prayer is the expression, can we receive instruction from the Lord in His house. The teachings here in the temple are mainly the result of the Lord’s discussions with diverse groups of opponents. This teaching, which begins here, continues until Luke 21:38.
As the Lord teaches in the temple, religious leaders and influential people seek opportunities to kill Him. Those who have to teach the people about the true God appear to be potential murderers. However, they see no means of turning their plans for murder into action. In their perseverance they see how the people is hanging on His every word. At this moment, taking any action against Him is out of the question, for by such an action the people would turn against them.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany