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LUKE - Chapter 19

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Luke 19

Supplemental Commentary:

Note.  Only those parts of the Third Gospel that are peculiar to it are commented on here.  For all other parts the reader should consult the Commentaries on the parallel passages in the other Gospels.

I.  THE PUBLIC MINISTRY OF JESUS  3-21 (continued)

6.  Last Ministry at Jerusalem  18, 35 -- 21, 38 (continued)

19, 1-10:  Zacchaeus the Publican.  Luke alone records this incident of Christ's mercy to a publican, since this aspect of our Lord's life is especially stressed in his Gospel.    1.  Jericho was at this time an important commercial city which did a good business in the exportation of balm.  This fact as well as its position at the border on the main road between Judea and Perea accounts for the presence there of one of the higher tax-officials.    2.  The name Zacchaeus is derived from a Hebrew word meaning "pure, innocent."  From this Hebrew name, from the fact that he was called a sinner (8), and especially from Christ's designation of him as a true son of Abraham (9), there can be hardly any doubt that he was a Jew and not a Gentile.  A leading publican: i.e., commissioner of taxes and customs for this district, having under his authority several ordinary publicans or tax-gatherers, such as St. Matthew had once been (Matt. 9, 9).  He was rich, no doubt from the income derived from his lucrative position.    4.  Sycamore means literally in Greek "fig-mulberry."  This tree, which is related to the true fig-tree, has fruit resembling figs but leaves like the mulberry-tree.  It is entirely different from the American buttonwood tree, which is also known as a "sycamore tree."  The tree mentioned here does not grow to a great height and its lower branches are near the ground; hence it was easy to climb.

5.  Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was well-disposed.    7.  Although Gal. 2, 5 uses the word sinner as designating a Gentile, the ordinary Jewish use of this term signified a fallen-away Jew.    8.  I give: not in the sense of "I am accustomed to give," but in the sense of "I here and now promise to give."  One-half of my possessions to the poor: perhaps to make atonement for his past lack of almsgiving.  Fourfold: i.e., out of the remaining half of his possessions.  If he had been as unjust as the publicans were generally accused of being, he probably would not have much left.  But note that Christ does not demand an absolute renunciation of his office and all his possessions as He demanded of the publican Levi (cf. 5, 27 f).  The fourfold restitution which Zacchaeus imposed upon himself was prescribed in Ex. 22, 1 for a convicted thief.    9. This house: not the edifice but the household.  The whole family of Zacchaeus believed in Christ.    10.  Cf. 9, 56; Matt. 18, 11; John 3, 17.

19, 11-28:  Parable of the Gold Pieces.  In some respects this is very similar to the parable of The Talents (Matt. 25, 14-30).  There are, however, many differences between the two parables so that there is no reason to think that they represent merely two records of one and the same parable.  Matthew places this parable as spoken by our Lord at Jerusalem during Holy Week, whereas Luke mentions explicitly that this parable was given on the way from Jericho to Jerusalem (11.28).  The principal lesson is the same as that of the parable of the Talents, i.e., that during the period between Christ's departure from this earth and His Second Coming Christians should make use of the spiritual gifts that He has entrusted to them; at His coming He will reward those who have made good use of these gifts but will punish those who fail to co-operate with His graces.  However in the present parable a prophetic element is interwoven with this moral theme: Christ foretells the rebellion of the Jews against His spiritual Messiasship and their subsequent punishment (12.14.27).  This latter theme is sometimes considered as a separate parable and called "The parable of The Rebellious Subjects."

11.  The triumphant spirit that pervaded the Galileans who were accompanying Jesus on His last journey to Jerusalem (see Commentary on Matt. 21, 1-11) led the people to believe that He was about to proclaim Himself the political Messias whom they desired.    12.  Jesus spoke this parable to correct this false opinion which they entertained of Him: He had first to die and go to heaven before He would enter into His kingdom.  At that time many of the petty kings of the Roman Empire had to go to Rome to obtain their crown from the Emperor.  Our Lord may be borrowing this imagery of the parable from such historical circumstances.    13.  Ten gold pieces: literally "ten mnas"; the mna was a very ancient name of a certain definite weight.  In regard to money it was the designation of a certain weight of gold or silver bullion.  Actually no coin called a mna was ever minted.  It was merely a fixed sum of money equivalent to one hundred shekels (two hundred denarii); sixty mnas made one talent.  Here each of the servants receives one mna apiece.    14.  This very thing happened when Archelaus (cf. Matt. 2, 22), the son of Herod the Great, went to Rome after the death of his father.  The Jews sent a delegation to Rome protesting his appointment as king over them.  Our Lord may here be alluding to this but His real meaning is, that the Jews will refuse to receive Him as their king.

16-19.  In the parable to The Talents the servants receive different amounts to begin with, but finally each good servant receives the double amount as his reward.  Here each receives the same initial amount of money, but the good servants increase their capital to different degrees.  This is simply a different aspect of the same spiritual truth of man's co-operation with grace.  Here the rewards vary according to each one's co-operation; in Matthew the reward is the same for all the servants, and all are pictured as co-operating to the same degree.    20-26.  Substantially the same as Matt. 25, 24-29.    27.  A prophecy of the punishment of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem and of all the enemies of Christ at the end of the world.

19, 29-44: Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.    29-38.  Parallels in Matt. 21, 1-9; Mark 11, 1-10; John 12, 12-15.    38.  Peculiar to Luke is the cry of the people, Peace in heaven and glory in the highest: cf. 2, 14.

39-44.  Only in Luke.    39 f.  Jesus defends the enthusiasm of His followers as a natural outburst which could not be checked; cf. the similar attempt of the chief priests to have Jesus stop the cheering of the children in the temple (Matt. 21, 15 f).  The stones will cry out: cf. Hab. 2, 11.

41-44.  Similar words of Christ are recorded in 13, 34 f; Matt. 23, 37-39; but this is on a different occasion and His words here are even more pathetic.    41.  When he drew near and saw the city: from the top of the Mount of Olives one beholds Jerusalem and its temple spread out in a magnificent panorama.  Only on one other occasion does an Evangelist record that Jesus wept (cf. John 11, 35).    42.  If thou hadst known: i.e., "O would that thou hadst known!"  In this thy day: the time of Christ's ministry was Jerusalem's special day of grace.  For thy peace may be understood in the general sense, "for thy happiness, for thy greatest good," but the following context seems to imply the meaning of peace in the limited sense of "freedom from wars."    43 f.  This prediction was fulfilled to the letter in the year 70 A.D., when the Romans under Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem.  The time of thy visitation: i.e., "the time when God came to thee with His extraordinary graces."

19, 45-48:  Cleansing of the Temple.  Parallels in Matt. 21, 12-14 and Mark 11, 15-18; cf. also John 2, 13-17.

Confraternity Bible:

Zacchaeus the Publican  1 And he entered and was passing through Jericho.  2 And behold there was a man named Zacchaeus; and he was a leading publican, and he was rich.  3 And he was trying to see Jesus, who he was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature.  4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was going to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay in thy house today."

6 And he made haste and came down, and welcomed him joyfully.  7 And upon seeing it all began to murmur, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."  8 But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, I give one-half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold."  9 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he, too, is a son of Abraham.  10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Parable of the Gold Pieces  11* Now as they were listening to these things, he went on to speak a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.

12* He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went into a far country to obtain for himself a kingdom and then return.  13* And having summoned ten of his servants, he gave them ten gold pieces and said to them, 'Trade till I come.'

14* "But his citizens hated him; and they sent a delegation after him to say, 'We do not wish this man to be king over us.'  15* And it came to pass when he had returned, after receiving the kingdom, that he ordered the servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him in order that he might learn how much each one had made by trading.

16* "And the first came, saying, 'Lord, thy gold piece has earned ten gold pieces.'  17* And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because thou hast been faithful in a very little, thou shalt have authority over ten towns.'

18* "Then the second came, saying, 'Lord, thy gold piece has made five gold pieces.'  19* And he said to him, 'Be thou also over five towns.'

20* "And another came, saying, 'Lord, behold thy gold piece, which I have kept laid up in a napkin; 21* for I feared thee, because thou art a stern man.  Thou takest up what thou didst not lay down, and thou reapest what thou didst not sow.'  22* He said to him, 'Out of thy own mouth I judge thee, thou wicked servant.  Thou knewest that I am a stern man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow.  23* Why, then, didst thou not put my money in a bank, so that I on my return might have gotten it with interest?'  24* And he said to the bystanders, 'Take away the gold piece from him, and give it to him who has the ten gold pieces.'  25* But they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten gold pieces.'

26* "I say to you that to everyone who has shall be given; but from him who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken away.  27* But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence."

28 And when he had said these things, he went ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem  29 And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olivet, that he sent two of his disciples, 30 saying, "Go into the village opposite; on entering it you will find a colt of an ass tied, upon which no man ever yet sat; loose it and bring it.  31 And if anyone ask you, 'Why are you loosing it?' you shall answer him thus, 'Because the Lord has need of it.'"

32 And they who were sent went away and found the colt standing, even as he had told them.  33 And as they were loosing the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?"  34 And they replied, "Because the Lord has need of it."

35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks over the colt they set Jesus on it.  36 And as he went, they kept spreading their cloaks upon the road.  37 And when he was drawing near, being by now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole company of the disciples began to rejoice and to praise God with a  loud voice for all the miracles that they had seen, 38 saying,
"Blessed is he who comes as king, in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!"
39 And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him, "Master, rebuke thy disciples."  40 He said to them, "I tell you that if these keep silence, the stones will cry out."

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 42 "If thou hadst known, in this thy day, even thou, the things that are for thy peace!  But now they are hidden from thy eyes.  43 For days will come upon thee when thy enemies will throw up a rampart about thee, and surround thee and shut thee in on every side, 44 and will dash thee to the ground and thy children within thee, and will not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation."

Cleansing of the Temple  45 And he entered the temple, and began to cast out those who were selling and buying in it, 46* saying to them, "It is written,
'My house is a house of prayer,'
but you have made it a den of thieves."

47 And he was teaching daily in the temple.  But the chief priests and the Scribes and the leading men of the people sought to destroy him; 48 but they found nothing that they could do to him, for all the people hung upon his words.


11-27: Not only the crowds but also the disciples thought Jesus would immediately establish in Jerusalem the temporal messianic kingdom and proclaim His royalty publicly.  Through this parable Jesus intimated that considerable time would elapse before the establishment of the glorious phase of His kingdom.  In the meantime His disciples should work for Him, and thus prepare for the judgment.

46: Isa. 56, 7; Jer. 7, 11.