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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Luke 19

 

 

Verses 1-10

Luke 19:1-2. 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.

Jesus Christ had just blessed a blind man who was poor, so poor that he was a common wayside beggar; will he bless the rich man, too? Oh, yes! he knows no distinction of persons, he is ready to bless all classes; whether they be rich or poor is nothing to him.

Luke 19:3. And he sought to see Jesus who he was;

Possibly he had not much respect, but he had great curiosity; he would like to see the man about whom everybody was talking: “He sought to see Jesus who he was.”

Luke 19:3. And could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

The crowd round about him was so thick that the little short man could not see over the heads of the tall people. Though he pushed, and tried to get in front, there was always some bigger body before him, so that he could not see the great Teacher.

Luke 19:4. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree —

Do you not see the little short man running in front of the throng, and climbing up a tree that stood in the way? Rich men do not generally climb trees, but here was a man whose curiosity overcame his dignity, so he “climbed up into a sycomore tree” —

Luke 19:4-5. To see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him,

Cannot you imagine that you see the blessed Master stopping, and looking up at that tree? Somehow, he always made himself one with those whom he meant to bless. When he spoke to the blind man, he stood as if he were himself blind, and asked him, “What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?” And now he stops under this sycomore, and looks up at curious Zacchaeus as if he, too, were taken with a fit of curiosity, and asks, “Who is that up in this tree?” “He looked up and saw him,”-spied him out, —

Luke 19:5. And said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.

Oh, how astonished must the little Jew have been when he heard Christ’s words! Never was a man so taken with surprise before, but with the word there came a divine softness into the heart of the chief of the publicans, and he yielded to that singularly condescending invitation, that strangely unexpected command.

Luke 19:6. And he made haste, and came down; and received him joyfully.

A great change had been suddenly wrought in him; the opening of the blind man’s eyes was not at all more remarkable than the renewing of the heart of Zacchaeus: “He made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

Luke 19:7. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

I wonder where he could have gone and not been guest with a man that was a sinner; but Zacchaeus was thought to be a sinner beyond ordinary sinners. Our Lord still loves to be the guest of a man that is a sinner, he still wants a place where he can stay. O man, thou who art a sinner, ask him home with thee! O woman, thou who art in thy very trade a sinner, ask him home with thee, and we will say again, not murmuringly, but joyfully, “He has gone to be guest with one who is a sinner.”

Luke 19:8. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;

That was a grand proof that the conversion of Zacchaeus was genuine; I should like to see the same kind of proof in many professors whom I know: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.” I remember one who was converted in this place, and he at once gave £50 to some good object, and I said to his brother, “I think your brother I converted.” He answered, “I hope he is, but he is a dreadful skin-flint.” “But,” I replied, “only yesterday, he gave £50 to such-and-such a work.” “Ah, then!” said the brother, “I am sure he is converted, for nothing but the grace of God would make him do such a thing as that.” Now Zacchaeus was, no doubt, a man of that kind, one who loved his money, and kept it to himself as long as ever he could; but now that he is converted, he says, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;” —

Luke 19:8. And if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

He acts in charity and justice, for he is determined to do the right thing with his substance. You see, he was a rich man, so his money was a source of trouble. The blind beggar had no such difficulty, for he had not any money that he must distribute when he was converted; but this rich man —this camel, as our Saviour called such men, went through the eye of a needle by the grace of God, and thus the Lord proved the reality of his conversion.

Luke 19:9. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

“He does not look like it, he has become a tax-gatherer for the Romans, he has oppressed his own countrymen. But he is a son of Abraham, and salvation has come to him.”

Luke 19:10. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

If, at this time, we ask our Lord Jesus, “Whither goest thou, Divine Master?” his answer still is, “I am come to seek and to save that which was lost.” “Art thou come after those who think themselves good enough without thee?” He shakes his head and says, “I am a Physician, and the whole have no need of a Physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” The gospel of the grace of God is for the guilty; if you are not guilty, there is no gospel for you; but if you are guilty, and confess it, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

This exposition consisted of readings from Luke 18:31-43; Luke 19:1-10.


Verses 1-27

Luke 19:1-2. 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.

Many of those tax-gatherers were rich; they usually farmed the taxes, and took care to extort all that they possibly could out of the poverty of the people.

Luke 19:3. And he sought to see Jesus who he was;

He did not seek to hear him; his curiosity lay in another direction, — he desired to see him. Who could this man be who created such a stir? What kind of man was he?

Luke 19:3-5. And could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, —

Zacchaeus went up into the sycamore tree that he might see Jesus, but he was himself seen there by Jesus; and that, dear friends, is the first act in the process of salvation. Jesus looks at us, and then we look at him. So, here, the Lord spied out Zacchaeus up among the branches of the tree; “he looked up, and saw him,” —

Luke 19:5. And said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.

His surprise at receiving such a message must have been overwhelming, yet he did not suffer that surprise to delay his obedience to Christ’s command.

Luke 19:6-7. 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.

“This professedly superior teacher, this purist, this teacher of the highest morality, has gone to be guest with this tax gatherer, — a man who is a sort of outlaw, a disreputable person altogether.” Ah! how does the legal spirit, in self-righteous men, cry out against the sweet benevolence of our blessed Master, who comes into the world for this very purpose, — to be the Guest of sinners, that he may be the Physician of sinners!

Luke 19:8. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;

There was not one among those self-righteous people who would have done a tenth as much as Zacchaeus declared that he would do.

Luke 19:8. And if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

There was not one among the murmurers who would have dared to say as much as that. There are a great many people who are quick to condemn those who are a hundred times better than themselves. I wonder whether there are any people of that sort here; I should not wonder if there are.

Luke 19:9. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.

When our Lord was here, his personal mission as a soul-winner was to the Jews, to those who were of the house of Abraham; so he shows that however much despised this man might be, he came within the compass of the Christ’s immediate mission: “forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”

Luke 19:10-11. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. 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.

Some of them dreamt of a temporal sovereignty with Christ at its head, so he taught them that his kingdom was something very different from that.

Luke 19:12-13. 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.

“Use these pounds on my account; be stewards of them for me until I return.”

Luke 19:14-16. 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.

He was a modest man; he did not say, “I have gained ten pounds;” but, “Thy pound hath gained ten pounds.” And if God has blessed anyone so as to enable him to bring in a large result from the talent entrusted to him, he must ascribe it all to God, and not to himself: “Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.”

Luke 19:17-19. 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.

Observe that, whatever the triumph of Christ is to be, his faithful servants are to share in it. He is to be the King of the many cities in the rich provinces of his Father’s domain; but he will give to one of his servants ten cities, and to another five cities. But what a vast dominion that must be out of which he can afford to give such rewards as this! Ten Cities, — can any earthly king give in this fashion? There are royal rewards at the last for those who are faithful now. No pitiful pence shall fall to the lot of those who diligently serve the Lord Christ; they shall have a rich reward, not of debt, but of grace; and, therefore, all the larger.

Luke 19:20. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

He had not lost it, he had not spent it, he had not even dug a hole in the earth and hidden it; but he had used a nice piece of linen to wrap it in, and had taken great care of it; and there it was just as when he received it. It had not diminished, neither had it grown at all.

Luke 19:21. 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.

So there is a slavish kind of fear, a dread, a horror of God, which will even keep men out of his service. It ought not legitimately to do so, but, undoubtedly, there are some persons who, out of an evil timidity, are afraid to attempt anything for God or man, and hence their life is useless. Their talent cankers and rusts in the napkin in which they have wrapped it.

Luke 19:22. 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, —

“That was thine opinion; according to thine own confession, that was thine idea concerning me: ‘Thou knewest that I was an austere man,’ —

Luke 19:22-23. 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?

‘”With proper interest.” God does not trouble about clearing his character with ungodly men. You and I are very particular and punctilious in defending ourselves against false accusations; but God’s character needs no clearing. It is so transparent that, if ungodly men choose to besmear it, he argues with them on their own ground, and does not stay to answer their slanders. When I have heard people say of God that he is unjust or too severe, all I have felt inclined to say in reply was just this, “Whatever he may be, he is the God who will judge you at the last; and if you think thus of him, so much the more ought you to yield yourself to him, and submit to his infinite majesty, for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. It is an ill day when we attempt to be the judge of our Judge, and pretend to be the god of God. He is infinitely glorious, so let us bow before him.’

Luke 19:24-26. 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.

They who have some already shall have more, especially in the matter of grace. If you serve God well, he will give you more to do. If you love him ardently, he will reward you by enabling you to have more love to him; and if you exercise great faith, he will give you yet more faith. The way to be truly enriched, spiritually, is to be faithful to God in what we have.

Luke 19:27. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

Whatever these words mean, it is certain that there is a terrible doom in store for all who are God’s enemies, May none of us be found among them!


Verses 1-48

Luke 19:1-5. 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 sycamore 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.

Remember that the Lord Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to suffer and to die; and there he was the patient, suffering Lamb of God; but here he speaks in that commanding tone which well became the Prince of the House of David: “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.”

Luke 19:6. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

Solomon said, “Where the word of a king is, there is power;” omnipotence went with the word of this King of kings, so Zacchaeus was bound to obey it.

Luke 19:7-11. 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. 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.

Their minds were full of thoughts concerning Christ’s coming as a King, and they had very mistaken notions concerning his kingdom, so he indicates to them that, for the present, the practical matter to be remembered was that he had come “to seek and to save that which was lost.” If they had not been so full of their idle dreams of a temporal sovereignty, they would have perceived that, in the calling of Zacchaeus, Christ had manifested his Kingship in the realm of mercy, and had there exercised the sovereignty of his grace. In order that they might be able the better to understand the meaning of his spiritual kingdom, and not have their eyes so dazzled by the illusions which had so long deceived the Jews, our Lord pointed out to them, in the parable of the pounds, the practical way of preparing for his second coming.

Luke 19:12-15. 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.

It would have been well if our translators, instead of using that ugly Latin word, “occupy,” had kept to the expression, “trade with it,” for here we get the same words again: “that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.”

Luke 19:16. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.

The genuine servant, with due humility, puts himself in the background. It is not he who has “gained ten pounds;” it is his Lord’s pound that has done it. He is pleased to bring the ten pounds; yet he claims no credit for himself, but says, “Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.”

Luke 19:17. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

There is no comparison between the servant’s work and the reward for its faithful performance. That ten pounds, if his Lord had given it all to him, would not have bought a house in a village, unless it had been a very tiny one, — “a cottage in a vineyard,” or “a lodge in a garden of cucumbers;” yet his Lord gives him “authority over ten cities.”

Luke 19:18-19. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.

How he must have opened his eyes, when he received authority over five cities!

Luke 19:20. And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:

The napkin, with which he ought to have wiped away the sweat from his brow, he had used merely as a wrapper for the pound that his lord had entrusted to him for the purpose of trading with it. He had done nothing with the pound; he thought he was all right because he had not done any harm with his lord’s money. He had not joined the revolting citizens, who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us;” he had not spent the pound, nor embezzled his master’s money; in fact, he had been very careful to keep intact the treasure that had been entrusted to him, and he felt proud of his own prudence, and said, “Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin.”

Luke 19:21. 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.

This was impudence indeed; but his master took him on his own ground, and showed that, even if his statement had been true, he ought to have been the more diligent in obeying his lord’s command.

Luke 19:22-23. 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?

“Thou mightest have done that, at any rate, even if thou wast afraid to trade with it, as I bade thee.” God often deals with men on their own ground, and condemns them out of their own mouth. They say that God is very severe in threatening them with “the wrath to come.” Well, if you so believe, and so speak, there is the more reason why you should fear to disobey him, and so to incur his just displeasure. If, in spite of such terrible threatenings, you still defy him, it only brings out the more clearly the greatness of your guilt.

Luke 19:24-25. 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.)

They were quite astonished. “What! give more to the man who has so much already?” “Yes,” says the master, “that is my command.”

Luke 19:26. 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.

Hear again the note of sovereignty. Christ will do as he wills; and his mode of action shall sometimes be so singular that even his own attendants will wonder at the strangeness of his procedure, and will begin to ask, “How is this?” But, as Elihu said to Job, “He giveth not account of any of his matters.”

Luke 19:27-31. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. 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.

Here we see Christ’s true royalty again flashing out from beneath the humiliation of his humanity. He lets us know that, although he is going up to Jerusalem to die, it is not because he is not Lord of all; but that, being Lord of all, he makes himself of no reputation, takes upon himself the form of a servant, is made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbles himself, and becomes “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Luke 19:32-34. 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.

The word of the King was again with power, and the owners of the colt were willing to let the animal go since the King had “need of him.” They may have been secret disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we have no information upon that point. Our King’s warrant runs anywhere; and even when his personal presence is not consciously realized, his royal and divine word still rules the minds and hearts of men.

Luke 19:35-38. 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.

They were so jubilant that they seemed to have caught some notes from the song that the angels sang at the Saviour’s birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” There had been war in heaven, but these disciples of Christ sang, “Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.”

Luke 19:39-41. 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,

What a contrast! The King’s courtiers shouting for joy, and the King himself weeping over the guilty city where the greatest tragedy in the history of the whole universe was about to take place. The King saw, in the near and more remote future, what no one else could see, so, “when he was come near, and beheld the city, he wept over it.”

Luke 19:42-48. 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. There was a popular wave of enthusiasm in his favor; but, alas! it soon ebbed away, and then the multitudes that had cried, “Hosanna!” were just as loud in their shouts of “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 19:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/luke-19.html. 2011.

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