Luke 19

Only Luke tells us about the conversion of Zacchaeus, which fits in
so strikingly with the theme of his Gospel. The publican, though so
despised by the leaders of his people, was a fit subject for the grace
of the Lord, and he was marked by the faith which is ready to receive
it. Zacchaeus had no physical or material needs; his was a case of
spiritual need only. The people flung the epithet, "sinner," at him. It
was a true epithet, and Zacchaeus knew it, yet it provoked him into an
attempt to accredit himself by recounting his benevolences and
scrupulous honesty. Jesus however put his blessing on its proper basis
by proclaiming him to be a son of Abraham-that is, a true child of
faith-and Himself to be the One come to seek and save that which was
lost. Zacchaeus was in himself a lost man, yet he was a believer, and
so salvation reached him that day. On exactly the same basis has it
reached every one of us since that day.

The Lord had shown the Pharisees that the kingdom was already in
their midst in His own Person; He had also again told His disciples
about His impending death and resurrection. Yet they still cherished
expectations as to the immediate appearing of the kingdom in glory. So
the Lord added the parable, of verses 11-27, as a further corrective to
these thoughts of theirs. The time of the kingdom would come, when all
His enemies would be destroyed; but first comes a period of His
absence, when the faithfulness and diligence of His servants would be
tested. To each servant the same sum is entrusted, so that the
difference in the result sprang from their diligence and skill, or
otherwise. According to their diligence they were rewarded in the day
of the kingdom. The servant, who did nothing, only showed that he did
not really know his Master. In result, he not only had no reward but he
suffered loss.

This is another reminder that grace calls us into a place of
responsibility and service, and that our place in the kingdom will
depend upon the diligence with which we have used that with which we
have been entrusted.

Having spoken the parable of the pounds, the Lord led His disciples
on the ascent towards Jerusalem, and reaching Bethphage and Bethany He
sent for the ass colt, on which He made His entry to the city,
according to the prophecy of Zechariah. The colt was unbroken for no
man had sat upon it, and consequently it was tied up under restraint.
It was loosed from restraint, but only in order that He might sit upon
it. Under His powerful hand it was perfectly restrained. A parable
this, of how grace sets us free from the bondage of the law.

Though the kingdom was not at this time to be established in glory,
He did in this way most definitely present Himself to Jerusalem as its
rightful and God-sent King. His disciples assisted in this, and as they
approached the city they began to praise God and rejoice. We are told
quite plainly in John 12: 16 that at that time they did not really
understand what they were doing, yet it is evident that the Spirit of
God took possession of their lips and guided them in their words. They
acclaimed Him as the King, and they spoke of "peace in heaven, and
glory in the highest."

At the incarnation the angels had celebrated "on earth peace," for
the Man of God's good pleasure had appeared, and they celebrated the
whole result of His work. But now it was clear that death lay before
Him and that His rejection would entail a period of anything but peace
on earth. Nevertheless the first effect of His work on the cross would
be to establish peace in the highest Court of all-in heaven-and to
display glory in the highest, Himself going up there in triumph. This
note of praise had to be struck at this juncture. God could have made
the stones cry out, but instead He used the lips of the disciples,
though they uttered the words without full intelligence of their

Now comes a striking contrast. As they approached the city the
disciples rejoiced and shouted blessings on the King. The King Himself
wept over the city! In John 11: 35, the word used indicates silent
tears; here the word used indicates breaking forth in lamentation,
visible and audible. The lament of Jehovah over Israel, as recorded in
Psalm 81: 13, reappears here, only greatly accentuated as they
approached the greatest of all their terrible sins. Jerusalem did not
know the things that belonged to her peace, hence peace on earth was
impossible at that time, and the Lord foresaw and predicted her violent
destruction at the hands of the Romans, which came to pass forty years
later. The Dayspring from on high had visited them, and they did not
know the time of their visitation.

As a consequence, everything in Jerusalem was in disorder. Entering
the city, the Lord went straight to its very centre, and in the temple
found evil enthroned. The house of Jehovah, intended to be an house of
prayer for all nations, was just a den of thieves, so that any
stranger, coming up there as a seeker after God, was swindled in the
obtaining of the necessary sacrifices. Thereby he would be repelled
from the true God instead of being attracted to Him. Thus in the hands
of men the house of God had been wholly perverted from its proper use.
Moreover the men who held authority in the house were potentially
murderers, as verse 47 shows: so it had become a stronghold of
murderers as well as a den of thieves. Could anything be much worse
than this? No wonder God swept it away by the Romans forty years later!