Luke 19. The Strangeness of the Kingdom.
Key Notes: Conspicuous rescue of a tax-collector. Investing in the Kingdom. Coming to Jerusalem as King. Weeping over the City. Commerce in the Temple.
The focus of action turns in this chapter from the disciples and their problems to Jesus. Since Luke 9:51, Jesus has been moving down from His principal ministry site in Galilee toward Jerusalem, traveling through Perea, and East Jordan. Now this Perean phase of His work is finished, and He has crossed the fords of the Jordan, will pass through Jericho on His way to His final residence in Jerusalem. We watch Him closely, because as always, He exceeds our expectations, and confounds our imaginations. The chapter pulls us in various directions emotionally.
19:1–10 Passing through Jericho, He attracted Zaccheus, a chief tax-collector. Zaccheus was rich, but short in stature--and athletic--up a tree-- and not a town favorite. Likely, he was hated for extorting money from his country-men on behalf of the Roman government and teaching his assistants to do the same. No one in the crowd was pleased that Jesus invited Himself to that house. But evidently, Zaccheus experienced a dramatic change of heart which we shall see. He offered four-fold restitution. (OT law required two-fold. Ex.22:4,7,9). In addition he would give half of his possessions to the poor. Jesus put His stamp of approval on Zaccheus: Today has salvation come to this house." He reminded His hearers that Zaccheus was, after all, a child of Abraham, a Jew like the rest of them.
19:11–27 Approaching Jerusalem, the rumor kept circulating that the Kingdom was going to come at once. Jesus gave two answers: in a parable He said the Kingdom is future. In His next move, Palm Sunday, He proclaimed that the Kingdom is now. It is the now and future Kingdom.
The parable of the minas / pounds has two kinds of characters: servants and citizens. When the nobleman left to go away to receive credentials as king (the kingdom is future), his citizens rebelled and invited him not to return. Meanwhile, he had given a third of a year's wages to each of ten servants with the instructions to invest the money. Three servants are described: one made ten-fold and was rewarded with authority over ten cities. Another made five-fold and was rewarded with five cities. The third servant made no interest on the investment because he feared and disliked the nobleman. His mina / pound was given to the most productive servant. To him who has, more will be given; to him who has made nothing, even that will be taken away. And the rebels would be slain.
19:28–40 Jesus approached Jerusalem from the east, and set in motion a surprising series of actions: He secured an untried donkey from the nearby village, as if He and the owners had a prearranged signal. The donkey was padded with garments, and Jesus seated upon it. The multitude took up the cry "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (Psa.118:26). "Peace on earth and glory in the highest." This was the second answer: the Kingdom is now.
The Pharisees were offended and asked Jesus to stop the disciples' shouting. Jesus said it was impossible to stop them.
19:41–44 When Jesus approached the city, His mood changed suddenly to weeping. He knew the city was doomed because of its rejection of its last Prophet. He prophesied the destruction which the Roman legions would carry out on the city in 70AD.
19:45–48 He promptly took on the Passover animal merchants for the second time (Jn.2:13-), driving them out of the Court of the Gentiles. He was teaching daily under the hateful glare of the religious leaders, calm under pressure, sure of what He was doing.
The chapter hits what some feel is a low point when a notorious "white-collar criminal" like Zaccheus is given Jesus' special attention. It is good that He came to save, but why pick a crook? We have good ideas about who should be saved and who should not. Bad people should be punished, not saved, in our view. But God is no respecter of persons.
The parable of the minas is encouraging because two servants were productive and rewarded, but painful because the weakest servant lost everything,. The citizens (representing Israel) were all slaughtered for their rebellion.
The Triumphal Entry is baffling because it is out of character.
•Jesus' policy was to avoid publicity. His policy is spelled out in Matt.12:15–19: "...nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets." When Satan offered Him publicity by jumping off the Temple parapet, Jesus refused. (Lk.4:9). He had visited Jerusalem numerous times as told in the Gospel of John, but never with public display.
•Jesus came mainly in His prophetic role, although Gabriel said "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end". (Lk.1:32–33). Peter spoke of Him as prophet (Act.3:22, quoting Deut.18:18). He was viewed as a prophet by the people. (Lk.9:7–8,19; Matt.21:11).
He rode into Jerusalem as King.
Then it is as Priest that we see Him (Heb.8:1) cleansing the Temple.
•Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world, else would my servants fight." (Jn.18:36). When the Jews tried to make Him king by force after the feeding of 5000, Jesus withdrew. Jn.6:15
But Matt.21:4 relates the Triumphal Entry to the fulfillment of prophecy in Zech.9:9. There is no doubt that He was to be seen as king in this situation. Why?
•Ex.12:3,6 says that the lamb to be sacrificed was to be set aside four days before Passover. Palm Sunday is four days before Passover. Here Jesus enters Jerusalem, announcing publicly that He is in residence--as the Passover Lamb--unknown to them. At the same time, in answer to the prophecy, He is hailed as king, giving the Jewish leadership the pretext it needed to indict Him for treason against Rome.
As if to added to the bafflement, Jesus further antagonized the leaders by driving out those who sold temple sacrifices.
It is clear that Jesus knows exactly what He is doing, even to the detail of knowing about the colt. We look on in wonder.
Does He know what goes on with us now? He does, even when we do not.