Of Zaccheus the Publican. The Parable of the Talents. Jesus entereth Jerusalem, and goeth immediately to the Temple.
Luke 19:1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
I pause over this verse, short as it is, to remark how much in point of doctrine is contained in it. Jesus entered into Jericho, and passed through it. We read of nothing done in it by the Lord in a way of grace. Were there none of the Lord's family here? Time was when a precious jewel of Christ's crown was found in it. But there is nothing said now! is not this loudly preaching distinguishing grace? I beg the Reader to turn to those scriptures, Jos 2, and Jos 6. (1 Kings 16:34; Hebrews 11:31)
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 anything 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.
The key to open this gracious history is in the close of it. Salvation coming to the house of Zacchaeus is explained, when the Lord saith, Forasmuch as he also is the son of Abraham. Galatians 3:29. Numberless are the beauties in this short memoir of Zacchaeus. But in a Poor Man's Commentary, I must all along study shortness. We are told that his name was Zacchai; but whether a Jew, or Gentile, is not said. It was a name well known among the Jews, and as such, he might have been by nature of the seed of Abraham. But whether this, or not, certain it is by the event of Christ's calling him to salvation, that he was according to grace a child of promise. Galatians 4:28. But we are told that he was a publican, and chief of the order. And how odious this office of a tax-gatherer was, may easily be inferred from what our Lord himself said concerning such. For when Jesus had occasion to remark the character of a man more than ordinarily wicked, he said, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, and a publican. Matthew 18:17. Such was the man as is here represented, whom Christ distinguished among a great multitude, and called by sovereign grace from darkness to light; and from the power of sin and Satan to the living God!
I must not stay to go over every particular, in the relation of this wonderful display of grace. A few only of the more Striking circumstances I would beg the Reader to attend to. Zacchaeus, we are told, sought to see Jesus, who he was. And those who read the history slightly, may suppose that this was mere curiosity. Perhaps, indeed, Zacchaeus himself thought no other. But Zacchaeus, was not first in the intention of this business. It was Jesus sought to see Zacchaeus, before that Zacchaeus thought of seeing him; yea, directed his steps through Jericho, purposely to meet Zacchaeus. And, as this was the day appointed from all eternity for this interview between Christ and this man, all the steps leading to the accomplishment of it were marked, over-ruled, and made to minister to this one great end. Oh! the preciousness of preventing grace! What an huge volume may be read by an enlightened eye, in every man's life, when once the day-light of regeneration hath opened the spiritual sight, to see the instances exemplified in his Own history. To behold, yea, and to trace them unfolded and explained by God the Holy Ghost, when as Jude expresses it, we see ourselves sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called, Jude 1:1. Reader! do you know anything of these unspeakable mercies in your own history? Can you look back and see how preserving grace in Jesus Christ kept you until called to Jesus Christ; and all this from the sanctification of God the Father in his eternal purpose concerning you! Ephesians 1:4.
I beg the Reader to observe with me, some at least of the predisposing causes leading to this meeting of the Savior with the sinner. The poor man is prompted to go to the place where Jesus was to pass. Little of stature, and a great throng around Christ, he is led to climb a tree, that he might have a full view of him. The Son of God comes there, beholds Zacchaeus, who no doubt, though he went to see Christ, never once conceived that Christ would see him. The Lord calls to him, calls him by name, bids him come down, invites himself to his house, tells him that he must to-day abide with him; and Zacchaeus finds his heart instantly disposed to come down from the tree, and to receive Christ joyfully.
Now, while the Reader makes every due observation on this wonderful transaction, as it relates personally to Zacchaeus, I would have him, methinks, (and every poor sinner like him and myself,) consider also, what a blessed subject is folded up in it, for the spiritual improvement of all the Lord's family; and for whose comfort, encouragement, and instruction, we may fairly conclude God the Holy Ghost caused it to be recorded.
When poor sinners, like this publican, feel a desire to see Christ, in his word, in his ordinances, and in the various means the Lord hath appointed, as Jesus passeth by, though such are unconscious that very often it is the Lord working upon their minds to awaken desire, and bring about an interview; yet how blessed is it in the after stages, from certain discoveries, which at the time did not strike the mind, to perceive, that it was the Lord's predisposing grace, which led to all. And though such are little in knowledge, little in the apprehension of their sins, and a want of Christ, as this man was little in stature; yet neither the pressure of the world, the pressure of time, or the pressure of a multitude, shall keep back from Christ, when the hour is come for bringing souls to the presence of Christ, however before unknown by them, or unregarded. It is truly blessed to be brought into acquaintance with those things, after we are brought into acquaintance with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But what I would yet more particularly entreat the Reader to regard, in this striking history of the conversion of the publican, is, the grace Of Jesus manifested to him. Do not lose sight of this. Jesus, from everlasting, had his eye upon this man. The Church in every individual was chosen in Christ. Ephesians 1:4. Their names written in the Book of Life. Revelation 13:8; Luke 10:20. All Christ's sheep were given to him by the Father. John 10:27-29. And everyone of them must again pass under the hand of him that telleth them. Jeremiah 33:13. Now then the hour was come for the recovery of this poor Publican from the Adam-nature transgression in which he Was born, and - in which he was involved. And Jesus, who came upon earth to seek and save that which was lost, disposeth every plan leading to the accomplishment of his purpose, as might best minister to his own glory and Zacchaeus's welfare. Christ prompts the heart of Zacchaeus, perhaps he knew not why, (or if a sense of sin had been previously awakened by grace in his heart, this leads him) to an earnest desire of seeing Jesus. The poor man hastens to the place where Jesus was that day to pass. And the Lord that sent him there, goes there to meet him. But this transaction must not be private. Many shall know it, and behold the whole. The thing shall be recorded, that future generations of the Church may be told it, and rejoice in it also. Zacchaeus therefore climbs a tree. Probably, he concluded that he should be not seen by any one. But this afforded the very means Of making the whole more public. When Jesus arrived to the spot, he looked up, saw Zacchaeus, knew him as his Father's gift, called him by name, told him to come down, and that hastily; invited himself to his house, from the necessity of the case, and inclined the heart of this publican sinner to an instant acceptance of his Almighty Guest, who came down and received him joyfully.
And, Reader! such is the case in every instance of Christ's redeemed! Jesus, from everlasting, hath arranged every step for the accomplishment of this great end, when the hour is come for calling home his own to the knowledge and enjoyment of his grace. The time when, the place where, the manner how, all these and every other are so ordered and disposed, that not one thing can fail. Oh! what a refreshing consideration it ought to be to the Church of God. During the whole days and years of their unregeneracy, the eye of Jesus is unceasingly watching over them. And when the love-calls of his Holy Spirit go forth, like Zacchaeus, if lifted up with Pharisaical pride, self-righteousness, ambition, worldly pursuits, and the numberless other obstructions, which before kept them from Christ; down they come, and lay low at Jesus feet; and then take the Savior home to their house, and to their heart, and receive him joy-fully. Reader! are you personally acquainted with this soul-work? Do you know anything of the love-calls of Jesus? It is impossible not to know them, if you have ever heard them. The soul that hears the voice of Jesus, though he never heard it before, will know it among ten thousand; yea, the sweet sound will be forgotten by him. When Jesus first speaks to a sinner, which was before dead in trespasses and sins, it is a loud voice. John 5:25, a powerful voice, Psalms 29:3-11 a still small voice, 1 Kings 19:9-14 a sweet, loving, winning voice, Song of Solomon 5:2 and it is a personal voice, Proverbs 22:19. It will be well for the Reader, if his heart find a correspondence to these scriptures.
The joyful reception Zacchaeus gave to the Savior; the murmurs of the Scribes and Pharisees; the open confession of the Publican, with his wish to make a fourfold restitution to any he had injured; and the declaration of Jesus in respect to the object for which he came into the world; these are all so many beautiful additions in the history, if the limits I must observe would allow me to enlarge. But I forbear. The Lord bless the whole by his grace, and cause the example shown in Zacchaeus, to have the suited effect upon all his people.
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 everyone 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.
In this parable we have an illustration in part of Christ's method of government in his kingdom. I take it for granted, that without a comment the Reader will immediately understand Christ himself is the nobleman here represented. Having finished redemption-work, he is returned to glory; and in the appointed season will come to judgment. Acts 3:21; John 5:25-29; Acts 10:42.
But it is not so clear who is meant by the Ten Servants, which are here appointed to occupy till Christ shall come. Not the Apostles I should think; for they were twelve in number. And, even if it be supposed that Judas is the one who is represented as the slothful and unprofitable servant, in this case the remainder would be eleven, and not twelve. Neither do I conceive, as some have thought, that the servants here spoken of, mean the Ministers of the Word and Ordinances; for although, as in the instance of Judas, the call to the office doth not imply a call by grace; yet the occupying and improving the trust must carry with it the, blessing of God qualifying; and the reward given, in the different degrees to the faithful servants, doth not bear correspondence to the scripture account of the last day. Neither doth it seem that by the ten servants is meant the world at large. For though, no doubt, the whole creation may be said in this sense to minister to the Lord's service; yet here appears to be some special and personal acts of servitude implied in their labors.
If I venture to give my views of our Lord's meaning, I pray that it may be considered I rather propose them by way of enquiry, than in a way of decision. But I am inclined to think, by the ten servants (in which I conclude our Lord hath only put a certain number for an indefinite,) are intended by the Lord Jesus to distinguish his redeemed from the Adam-nature out of which he hath brought them; and those of the Adam-nature who stand upon their own bottom. And I am inclined to this opinion, because though ten servants are mentioned, we hear only of two classes, though three persons are called when the Lord cometh to reckon with them. And those two classes plainly mean the different states of nature and grace.
To each servant was given a pound; by which is meant the equality of the outward ministry, of the word. All brought under the sound of the Gospel may be said, in the language of the parable, to have the same charge, Occupy till I come. By the improvement, the different situations are marked between those, who through grace, from an union with Christ, increased their riches; and the man who void of grace, stood upon his own creature bottom, and consequently made no advance. The faithful servants represent those, who in the use of the blessed means afforded them, rejoice in the prospect of their Lord's coming, and, through grace, are found waiting in hope of eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The unprofitable servant hath his pound no less, in hearing the Gospel of salvation; but is averse to the method of Gods free grace in Christ, and rejects the counsel of God against his own soul. Both these characters differ from the world at large, in that they are called by the Gospel to occupation; and as such are brought into a state of service. The rejection of the one becomes the cause of just condemnation; while the acceptation of the other tends to magnify the riches of free grace; and both illustrate the equity of the divine will. Had the posterity of Adam continued in the state of uncorrupt nature in which Adam was formed; a state of happiness suited to that state would have followed, as Adam before his fall enjoyed. But, when by that fall transgression entered into the world, it was a merciful dispensation to have the trust of that occupation, as the parable calls it, of the means of grace; and the rejection of it, which the man who kept the pound laid up in a napkin represents, justly induceth the whole condemnation which followeth.
Reader! what a mercy is it to discover our grace-union with Christ, which brings up after it an interest and communion in all that belongs to Christ! The close of the parable in Christ's own words is full to this point. To everyone that hath, that is, that hath union with Christ, shall be given. Jesus hath engaged for all his redeemed. everything which is in Christ, as the head of his body the Church, is for them. In Him all is secured. But the seeming possessor, he who hath all the advantages of the outward means of grace, and yet, from no union with Christ, hath in reality no grace; all those outward privileges will shortly cease and be taken away! And Christ's destruction of all such will follow.
I shall only detain the Reader with just remarking, that in the margin of our old Bibles, (and our old Bibles, like old gold, are precious things,) the word pound is said to be twelve ounces and half, which at five shillings an ounce of our money, would be three pounds twelve shillings and six-pence. I believe that this is tolerably correct. The word Mina, (or more properly MacNeII) being of that value. But if it was a gold coin, (and there is nothing said that it was not,) the pound in that case would be an hundred drachms, which was worth near eighty pounds, and in silver near eight pounds. But our dear Lord in worldly circumstances was poor, and in his days and his company, as one of them said, and all might have said the same, silver and gold have I none, Acts 3:6. it is more than probable Jesus alluded to the common Maneh, which was neither gold nor silver, but ordinary coin, and as the margin of our Bible renders it, three pounds twelve and six-pence!
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.
The entrance of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem, is recorded by all the Evangelists, as if in confirmation of the prophecies. Isaiah 62:11; Zechariah 9:9. Some short observations were made on it in Mt 21 and Mr 11, but, from the importance of the thing itself, it will be proper in addition to what hath been there brought before the Reader, yet further to remark some of the more prominent features attending it. And, first, I do not think it unlikely that God the Holy Ghost had an eye both to Christ's triumphs, and Christ's humiliations, at those memorable spots, Bethphage, and the Mount of Olives; when David, who was an illustrious type of the Lord Jesus, went there bare-footed, 2 Samuel 15:30. The humiliations of the Lord Jesus were the highest of his glories. And I would in the next place, beg the Reader to remark with me, how the Lord Jesus, in preparing for his triumphal entrance into the holy city, gave evidences of his divine nature, in telling the disciples where they should find the colt, and overruling the mind of the owners to lend the beast to Christ. And what I would yet more particularly desire the Reader to remark with me, are the circumstances which attended our Lord's entry into Jerusalem. What but God working upon the human mind, could in one and the same moment overrule so great a multitude, to make the air ring with their Hosannas; and literally to call Him what their scriptures of the Prophets had foretold of the Messiah, in the very hour the Scribes and Pharisees were ripening their schemes to destroy him? And, what but the same Almighty grace, acting to the same purpose, could have caused the mouths of unconscious children, In spite of their Jewish parents, to proclaim a truth their tender years could not understand. According to my view of this subject, yea, to every man's view of the subject, who will look at it as it really is, it forms one of the most palpable and decided testimonies, as far as outward evidence can go, to the glories of Christ's person; and is such, as our Lord himself most blessedly observed upon it, so full in point, as if resisted, became enough to make the stones exclaim.
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.
This view of the Lord Jesus is most lovely and endearing. We behold him here touched with the feelings of our nature, dropping tears over the beloved city, in contemplating her approaching ruin. And to be sure nothing can endear Christ so tenderly to the heart, as when we behold him manifesting the man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. It is blessed to know him, blessed to go to him, blessed to pour out our hearts before him, when the soul is taught by God the Holy Ghost, how much Jesus enters into the concerns of his people, and, from his fellow-feeling, makes their concerns his own. This is to know him as God, to know him as Man, and to draw nigh to him in the union of both.
But who should have thought that this very character of Jesus, of God and Man, in one person, which renders him so dear to his faithful, could have prompted his enemies there from to call his Godhead in question? Who would have believed it possible, had not matter of fact proved it, that the tears which Jesus shed over Jerusalem, when he contemplated her sure ruin as a city, should have been misconstrued, as though Christ lamented over any of his people there, as if they had outlived the day of grace, to whom in numberless instances, (as witness the Jerusalem sinners converted at the day of Pentecost,) the day of grace was not then arrived?
And yet such is the blindness and perversity of men, untaught of God the Holy Ghost, that by putting a wrong construction on the words and actions of Christ, they make that lamentation of Jesus over a beautiful and beloved city, given up to destruction, in a tempora1 way, as if Jesus wept over the people concerning a spiritual ruin; and render the words of Christ as if referring to the everlasting welfare of the people, which only could be meant to the present desolation of the city. If thou hadst known, (saith the Lord,) even thou, (the bloody city of Jerusalem, which hath been the slaughter-house of all the Prophets,) (see Luke 11:31-33 and also Matthew 23:34-39) the things which Belong to thy peace; but now they are hid from their 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.
Now, let any man read these words of the Lord Jesus, and say, whether these things do not wholly relate to Jerusalem as a city, as a nation given up to ruin. And wherefore? but because she, knew not; nationally considered, the time of her visitation. The Prophets with one voice had foretold of Christ. Christ himself had come in conformity to the whole tenor of prophecy. The nation, nationally considered, had rejected the Lord of Life and Glory; killed the Prophets, and Jesus knew would shortly embrue their hands in his blood. The time of visitation as a city therefore is now over; the rulers as such are given up to an incurable blindness. Had the nation received Christ, as Christ, though only in an outward profession, for no more was, or could have been expected from them; then, as a nation, they would still have remained. Jesus saw this rejection, deplored the awful consequence, and wept over the city, in beholding the whole, in consequence thereof, as given up to destruction. This is the plain and evident meaning of the passage.
But what hath this to do with individuals in relation to their everlasting salvation? Who would from hence draw a conclusion, that an individual of the persons given to Christ by the Father, may out live the day of grace, and the things which might at one season have ministered to his peace, at another be forever hid from his eyes? What hath the peace of a nation, as a nation, to do with the peace of God? Is it not notorious that five thousand of those Jerusalem-sinners, who joined the rabble and the multitude of the people in crucifying Christ, were pricked to the heart on the day of Pentecost, were baptized and sanctified by the Holy Ghost? And yet these were among the persons then in Jerusalem, when our Lord wept over it, and expressed himself in those memorable words. A positive proof that they were not meant in the general destruction. So very plain and palpable is the fact, that Christ's apostrophe referred wholly to the city, and not to the people. Jesus had many of His there, at the moment when he thus expressed himself; and who, though they, were then insensible of the Lord, yet when the Holy Ghost, according to Christ's most sure promise, at the day of Pentecost came upon them, were converted and saved.
Reader? I have been the more particular in my view of this passage, because it hath been, and still is, and will be, in the apprehension of, unenlightened free-will men, a favorite portion to bring forward, in justification as they think, to shew that men may outlive the day of grace; but with which those blessed words of our Lord hath nothing to do. And it would be well with such men, whether preachers or hearers, to attend to what our Lord saith in another place on the same subject; and which, if rightly considered, would shew them that such a gracious blessed provision is made for all the Lord's redeemed ones, that the day of grace can never end with them, until grace hath brought them home, and is consummated in glory. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37.
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.
I refer the Reader for my observations on those verses to the similar passage, Matthew 21:12-14.
BLESSED LORD JESUS! do I behold thee, mine honored Lord, entering and passing through Jericho, the cursed city? Yes! I do. And is it, my soul, to be wondered at, when I know that that Holy Lord, who knew no sin, was yet content to be made both sin and a curse, that his redeemed might be made the righteousness of God in Him? And was there a poor Zacchaeus near Jericho, one of Christ's, a son of Abraham, that Jesus went purposely to seek? And will not Jesus still seek his own, wherever they are scattered, in the present cloudy and dark day? Oh! yes! Jesus will call them down from every lofty imagination, or raise them up from every fallen state; for the Son of Man is come to seek and save that which was lost.
Almighty King! thou art indeed a nobleman gone to receive to thyself a kingdom, and to return. Lord! give me grace to occupy till thou shalt come. The truest occupation, my honored Lord, is to live on thee, and to be everlastingly receiving of thy fulness, and grace for grace. And when my Lord shall come, shall I not, as those babes of Israel, hail thee with Hosannas; yea, with shouts and acclamations of praise? Blessed, forever blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And, oh! thou tender compassionate Lord! May my soul often call to remembrance thy tears over Jerusalem. Jesus wept! Oh! the largeness of mercies in the heart of the God-Man Christ Jesus! What shall ever keep my soul from going to Him who knoweth my frame by his own; and whose mercies are the mercies of both God and man in one. Oh! the privilege of a throne of grace! Oh! the blessedness of such an High Priest!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter