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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Luke 19

 

 

Verses 1-48

ZACCHAEUS RECEIVING THE LORD JESUS

(vs.1-10)

There was yet another man to be rescued from Jericho, the city of the curse (Joshua 6:26). The Lord, in faithful grace, passed through that city, an available Savior for all, but responded to by only a few, for Jericho is a picture of the attractive world that He was about to leave by way of death. Zacchaeus was a rich man among the tax collectors, but his riches did not satisfy him. Hearing of Jesus, he desired to see Him, drawn by the question in his mind as to the person of the Lord, not with desire to see a miracle done by Him.

The obstacle of his physical shortness did not hinder him, for faith will overcome obstacles. It produced the energy to climb a sycamore tree (v.4). How little he anticipated that the Lord would even notice him in the tree, let alone stop and speak to him by name, telling him to make haste and come down. It was the call of sovereign grace, powerful and real, with the addition that He must come to the little man's house. We may well marvel at the delight of the Lord's heart in coming personally into the home of one in whose heart His grace had worked to awaken faith. Zacchaeus responded without delay, rejoicing in receiving this Guest so infinitely great.

But many witnesses were present with strong criticism of the Lord for partaking of the hospitality of a man they considered a sinner because he was a tax collector for the Roman government. These critics were religious Jews, jealous of the reputation of their own nation. In answer to these accusations Zacchaeus told the Lord that he gave half of his goods to the poor, and if by false accusation he had taken more from any man than was fair, he restored this fourfold. It is possible that by mistake he exacted an unfair amount, and later restored fourfold, but there is no doubt that he was telling the truth, for the Lord would certainly have exposed a falsehood. How many of Zacchaeus' accusers could have honestly said the same?

Yet he did not have to tell the Lord of his good works: the Lord knew well every detail concerning these. Moreover, his works had nothing to do with his salvation, for the Lord said that salvation had come to his house that very day, not when he was doing his good works (v.9). For Christ Himself is salvation (Luke 2:27-30); and salvation came to Zacchaeus because he was a son of Abraham. The meaning of being a son of Abraham is clearly told us in Galatians 3:7 : "those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." Then the Lord added a statement that sweeps completely away all thought of Zacchaeus deserving any blessing from God; and yet gives assurance that the blessing was his: "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (v.10). This salvation was entirely by the grace of the Son of Man who had sought and found a lost sinner.

THE PARABLE OF THE TEN MINAS

(vs.11-27)

Although salvation is according to grace, yet we must have the balancing truth that reward is according to works. This fact is seen in this section. Because the Lord was nearing Jerusalem, and the crowd thought this meant that the Kingdom of God would be immediately established, He spoke a parable to correct this misconception.

The nobleman going into a far country indicates that the Lord Jesus would leave this world in view of receiving a kingdom in the future, and returning. The disciples themselves had no conception of the Lord leaving and returning, for they expected Him to take His royal throne on His current trip to Jerusalem. But the kingdom and glory must be delayed, though in another form the kingdom of God would exist in the midst of a contrary world. This other form is called "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:9), the King Himself being absent, but His blessed authority recognized by those true to Him in the midst of circumstances contrary to the coming glorious display of His millennial kingdom.

The ten servants of the nobleman (v.13) speak of those in the place of responsible testimony given us today, as disciples called upon to fulfill a sacred trust of representing Him in His absence. For the words, "Occupy till I come" imply that they are to occupy His place of testimony till He comes. How serious and holy a trust! Each is given the same amount of money, in contrast to Matthew 25:15, where talents given to each differ in number according to ability. The talents speak of varying spiritual gifts given to disciples, while it would seem that the pounds (or minas) picture "the faith which was once delivered to the saints?" (Judges 1:3), and of which, as to an individual, we read, "0 Timothy, guard what was committed to your trust" (1 Timothy 6:20). This is the sacred truth of God, that which is capable of giving great increase as we rightly use it. As to this, each servant has the same resources with which to trade.

But a word is inserted here as to the citizens of this nobleman so hating him as to send a message after him, "We will not have this man to reign over us." When Christ was raised from the dead and returned to glory, this harsh message was sent by Israel early in the book of Acts in their determined persecution of those who preached Christ, including the murder of Stephen. The very scene then of our trading with the truth of God is one in which we may expect persecution.

However, nothing can hinder Christ receiving His kingdom and returning in power and glory. Then He will reward His servants. There is no reason here to speak of the Lord's coming first to rapture His saints into His presence. This is passed over, for reward is connected with the kingdom, not with the rapture. The reckoning here is to determine how much has been gained by trading and pictures how much we have gained by use of the Word of God committed to us.

One servant is said to have gained one thousand percent, and another five hundred percent. Each of these servants is commended and given a commensurate reward -- the one, authority over ten cities, the other, over five cities. This large sphere of authority is because of faithfulness "in a very little"; that is, the servant has proven trustworthy and in the millennial kingdom he will have this degree of public prominence.

But one servant made no gain whatever. His excuse was foolish, both showing his critical attitude against the nobleman, which was unjustified, and his stupidity in not at least depositing the mina in the bank, since he did consider his master as "austere." He was judged out of his own mouth. This is the case of one who claims to be a Christian, but has no true respect for the Lord Jesus: he is not a child of God at all. He may have a Bible, but keeps it unopened on a shelf. It does not mean enough to him to cause him to share its precious truths with others because he has a critical attitude toward its Author.

The man therefore lost what he had been entrusted with, and it was given to the man who had the ten minas. Notice the parenthesis of verse 25, "But they said to him, Master, he has ten minas". The man had gained the ten minas for his master, and though it rightly belonged to his master when he brought it to him, yet the servant was still in possession of it! He had been allowed to keep it! What we gain honestly for the Lord we really gain for ourselves. How far He is from being an austere master! Indeed, this man was rewarded with all he had gained, plus the Lord's commendation, plus authority over ten cities, plus the mina for which the other man had no proper respect! The one who proves faithful in valuing what God gives will receive more: he who places no value on God's grace will lose even that with which he might have gained more.

The final judgment will come for the outright enemies of the Lord, who did not want Him to reign over them. They will be slain before Him (v.27). But the unfaithful servant will share in this judgment too, for he had virtually taken the same stand as they. The judgment is swift and immediate, with no delay and no appeal, but according to simple, plain truth.

PRESENTED AS KING IN JERUSALEM

(vs.28-40)

The Lord Jesus had declared plainly the glorious end in view of His supremacy in reigning. Now He proceeds purposefully toward that end, though this meant by way of rejection and death. Nearing Bethphage -- meaning "the house of unripe figs" typical of Israel's being unprepared to receive Him; and Bethany -- meaning "the house of affliction" -- picturing His treatment by His own people; He sent two of His disciples to a nearby village where they immediately found an unbroken colt tied, which they were told to bring to Him,. Only the Lord could give such instructions, for all things are His property; for another to do this would be stealing. No difficulty presented itself, for the words, "the Lord has need of him" settled the matter even for the owners, who at first questioned the disciples.

A most unusual and striking scene then unfolds. Clothing from the people was put on the animal for the Lord to ride upon: other garments were spread on the ground in the way for the donkey to walk on, as symbolizing the submission of the people to this blessed, though lowly Messiah of Israel. He did not ride on a war horse, as He will when coming in judgment (Revelation 19:11), but on a lowly donkey's colt, for He was presented in grace, offering peace, if peace would be received. The Spirit of God mightily moved the mass of disciples in praise to God for this One whose works had proven the glory of His person. They declared that He was the King come in the name of Jehovah.

But the Lord was the King rejected by earth, for it was no longer said "on earth peace" (Luke 2:14), but "peace in heaven and glory in the highest." The Prince of peace would return to heaven by way of death and resurrection, and peace would now be available only in heaven, not on earth, which God would give up to its state of hostility against the true King. This giving up would result in unceasing trouble and distress for all the present day of grace, until the King will be revealed in power and glory. The disciples did not understand this, but it was the Spirit of God who caused them to speak as they did.

Some of the Pharisees resented this adulation given to the Lord Jesus, and wanted Him to rebuke His disciples. If He had not been Israel's true King they would have had reason for objecting, but the Lord silenced their objections by implying that the disciples were energized by the Spirit of God to speak, and if they would not speak, then God would make even the stones to immediately cry out. How true it is that if people will not give true honor to the Son of God, this will not stop God from using any means He pleases to glorify His Son.

WEEPING OVER JERUSALEM

(vs.41-44)

Though the Lord's ride on the young donkey has been called His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it is with no such feelings that He viewed the city. He wept, for Jerusalem was not prepared to receive Him: it was ignorant of the things that belonged to its peace. Just as is true of the world today, men wanted peace, but were so blinded as to not recognize the necessary requirements for peace. These were centered in the person of the Lord Jesus, the Prince of peace, but because of unbelief those things necessary for peace were hid from Israel's eyes (v.42). Prophetically the Lord pronounced upon Jerusalem the terrible alternative to peace -- that it would be made the prey of its enemies, subjected to oppression, siege and destruction. This judgment fell in the year 70AD, for they did not recognize God's time of visiting them in the person of His Son (v.44).

CLEANSING THE TEMPLE

(vs.45-48)

For the second time (John 2:13-17) the Lord found in the temple those who bought and sold, and again He acted with firm decision for His Father's glory in expelling them from His Father's house. His words were solemn and scathing: God's house was a house of prayer, but men were showing their contempt for God promoting their selfish practices there, taking advantage of those who came for prayer. He did not hesitate to accuse these merchants of making God's house a den of thieves (v.46).

By this time the chief priests and scribes had fully purposed to kill the Lord, and they sought opportunity for this. But He taught daily in the temple during these days before His apprehension. They could do nothing until God allowed it. The Lord Jesus continued to act for God in the face of their resentment and enmity. The people were attentive to His words, and on this account the leaders were fearful of arresting Him lest it would provoke the people to riot. The fear of God was of little importance to them, but the fear of man and the pride of self-righteousness always go hand in hand.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Luke 19:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/luke-19.html. 1897-1910.

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