In this chapter: Jesus and Zacchaeus have a conversation; Jesus tells the Parable of the Ten Minas (or Parable of the Pounds); he makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, weeping over the city; he cleanses a part of the temple. See a table of events during the Passion Week, at the end.
As I write in every chapter:
This commentary and entire website is for everyone, but it is mainly for those in oppressed or developing countries, where Christians cannot afford or have access to wonderful Study Bibles or commentaries. I hope it helps them.
The translation is mine. I wrote it to learn what the Greek text really says. The translation tends to be literal, but complete literalism and readability are impossible, so adjustments had to be made. If readers don’t read Greek, they can ignore the left side of the tables. I include the language to check my work and for Greek readers, who can also check my translation.
If you would like to see other translations, please go to biblegateway.com. The Greek terms with brief definitions can be looked up at biblehub.com. However, I hope to bring different nuances to the few words I focus on. And I keep things nontechnical.
The commentary has a practical application (GrowApp) at the end of each section of Scripture, for discipleship.
Links are provided for further study.
Jesus and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
|1 Καὶ εἰσελθὼν διήρχετο τὴν Ἰεριχώ. 2 Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ὀνόματι καλούμενος Ζακχαῖος, καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ἀρχιτελώνης καὶ αὐτὸς πλούσιος· 3 καὶ ἐζήτει ἰδεῖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν τίς ἐστιν καὶ οὐκ ἠδύνατο ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου, ὅτι τῇ ἡλικίᾳ μικρὸς ἦν. 4 καὶ προδραμὼν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν ἀνέβη ἐπὶ συκομορέαν ἵνα ἴδῃ αὐτὸν ὅτι ἐκείνης ἤμελλεν διέρχεσθαι. 5 καὶ ὡς ἦλθεν ἐπὶ τὸν τόπον, ἀναβλέψας ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν· Ζακχαῖε, σπεύσας κατάβηθι, σήμερον γὰρ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ σου δεῖ με μεῖναι. 6 καὶ σπεύσας κατέβη καὶ ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν χαίρων. 7 καὶ ἰδόντες πάντες διεγόγγυζον λέγοντες ὅτι παρὰ ἁμαρτωλῷ ἀνδρὶ εἰσῆλθεν καταλῦσαι. 8 σταθεὶς δὲ Ζακχαῖος εἶπεν πρὸς τὸν κύριον· ἰδοὺ τὰ ἡμίσιά μου τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, κύριε, τοῖς πτωχοῖς δίδωμι, καὶ εἴ τινός τι ἐσυκοφάντησα ἀποδίδωμι τετραπλοῦν. 9 εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι σήμερον σωτηρία τῷ οἴκῳ τούτῳ ἐγένετο, καθότι καὶ αὐτὸς υἱὸς Ἀβραάμ ἐστιν· 10 ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός.||1 And after entering the town, Jesus went through Jericho. 2 And look! A man called by the name Zacchaeus, and he was a head tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see Jesus—who he is—but he was unable because of the crowd, for he was short in height. 4 He ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see where he was about to pass through. 5 And as he came to the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!” 6 He hurried down and welcomed him gladly. 7 When everyone saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He entered to take accommodation at a sinful man’s house!” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Consider, Lord! I am giving half of my possessions to the poor! And if I extorted anything from anyone, I am restoring it fourfold!” 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has happened in this household, because this man is also a son of Abraham, 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.”|
Why do we get Zacchaeus’s name here? Indeed, why do we have this story about him in Luke’s Gospel at all (and not in Matthew’s or Mark’s Gospels)? Luke researched these matters for his own Gospel, likely when he entered Jerusalem with Paul (Acts 21:17). Then Luke may have met Zacchaeus either near Jerusalem or in the city itself. Maybe Luke traveled around Israel for a week or two, though hugging the south in Judea (the province around Jerusalem). Did he get to Jericho, which is was eighteen miles away, a walk of about six hours? Probably. A two-day stay would have been sufficient to do his research and return soon enough to support Paul. So it may be the case that Luke interviewed Zacchaeus, if he was still alive two or three decades later, a wealthy member of the earliest Christian community. Or if he had died, Luke interviewed Zacchaeus’s friends or descendants. It’s as simple as that.
So Jesus entered and went through Jericho, and this is where he was in the last chapter. But it’s not clear how far outside of the town he was. See my discussion at Matt. 20:29-34:
“look!”: it is a command or imperative that is often untranslated, but I like it. It is the storyteller’s art to draw attention to the people and action that follows. “As you, my audience, sit and listen to me read this Gospel, listen up! Look! An interesting person or action is being introduced. The story is about to take a noteworthy turn!” Professional grammarians say that when “look!” introduces a character (as here), then he or she will play a major role in the pericope (pronounced puh-RIH-coh-pea) or section. Alternatively, when a verb follows “look!” then a significant act is about to take place and the person or people are less significance. (Culy, Parsons, Stigall, p. 21). Here Zacchaeus plays the prominent role, and his act or fruit of repentance comes at the end.
“head tax collector”: Being a head or chief tax collector, he must have overseen the tax farming system in his area.
For more about tax collectors, go to this post:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
“rich”: no doubt he skimmed money from the top of the tax collectors below him, in a quasi-pyramid scheme. In context, it could have been translated as “very rich,” but since Luke does not use a modifier like “exceedingly” or “very,” let’s leave it alone.
Luke moves to the action of Zacchaeus. Verse 2 was about Zacchaeus’s identity. He was a rich tax collector. Now Luke describes what is about to do. He was trying to see Jesus and who is was (or is). I like the idea of seeing Jesus (direct object), who he is (his identity and ministry)—seeing and figuring out who he was.
Zacchaeus was unable to see Jesus with his eyes, so he takes action. He ran ahead. Does a wealthy tax collector run? It’s difficult to imagine very many doing that. They must have walked with an entourage around them, for protection from a zealous or disgruntled citizen. But not Zacchaeus. He ran ahead. Then he takes the further undignified step of climbing a sycamore tree. Should a wealthy tax collector do such a thing? By running and climbing, he broke down social expectation and humbled himself by climbing up a tree! We saw this stepping over social norms with the blind beggar in the last chapter (named Bartimaeus in Mark’s Gospel). The ones leading the crowd told him to pipe down. Jesus values eager and sincere seeking of him.
Jesus stood right below the sycamore tree. He may have caught a glimpse of him, as he hoisted himself up. If so, then that must have made Jesus smile.
“must”: why didn’t Jesus say, “I want to stay at your house?” Why must? It comes from the word dei (pronounced day), and in some contexts it denotes a destiny orchestrated by God, as it does here. It comes from the word dei (pronounced day), and in some contexts it denotes a destiny orchestrated by God, as it does here. (Compare the French il faut, “one must” or “it is necessary,” if you know this language.) The Greek verb means: “it is necessary, one must … one ought or should … what one should do” (Shorter Lexicon). In Luke it often means divine necessity; that is, God is leading things: Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 12:12; 13:16, 33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:37; 24:7; 24:26, 44; Acts 1:16; 1:21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6, 16; 14:22; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21; 20:35; 23:11; 25:10; 27:21; 27:24, 26. Here Jesus means his mission. What was his mission? We are about to find out as the circumstances inside the house unfold.
I like Zacchaeus’s enthusiasm again. He hurried down and went to his house and told his servants to get things prepared. The Master is stopping by for a visit. He welcomed Jesus gladly, rejoicing. Great image.
Now the scene shifts to the crowd—everyone. They grumbled. it is the verb diagonguzō (pronounced dee-ah-gon-goo-zo), and it is used only here and in Luke 15:2. It is onomatopoeic (the sound of a word gives away the meaning, as in buzz). It means “grumble” or “complain.” The related verb is gonguzō (pronounced gon-goo-zoh), and it too is onomatopoeic. It means “grumble, mutter, complain” (Matt. 20:11; Luke 5:30; John 6:41, 43, 61; 1 Cor. 10:10) and also “secret talk, whisper” (John 7:32). These are the only verses where this verb appears, so it is comparatively rare. Apparently, adding the preposition dia as a prefix makes things a little more thorough.
In any case, all the people knew about the large house of this rich chief tax collector. It must have sat as a memorial to the injustice and squeeze Zacchaeus placed on the populace. It was a scandal for Jesus to be seen entering the house. Everyone saw him do this, too.
“sinful man”: two words here, but let’s focus on “sinful.” It is the adjective hamartōlos (pronounced hah-mahr-toh-loss and used 47 times and used 18 times in Luke), and it means as I translated it. It is someone who does not observe the law, in this context: “unobservant or irreligious person … of one who is especially sinful.”
BDAG, considered by many to be the authoritative Greek lexicon of the NT, defines the adjective hamartōlos as follows: “pertaining to behavior or activity that does not measure up to standard moral or [religious] expectations (being considered an outsider because of failure to conform to certain standards is a frequent semantic component. Persons engaged in certain occupations, e.g. herding and tanning [and tax collecting] that jeopardized [religious] purity, would be considered by some as ‘sinners,’ a term tantamount to ‘outsider.’” Non-Israelites were especially considered out of bounds [see Acts 10:28].)” “Sinner, with a general focus on wrongdoing as such.” “Irreligious, unobservant people.” “Unobservant” means that he did not care about law keeping or observing the law.
Bible Basics about Sin: Word Studies
Human Sin: Original and Our Committed Sin
So Zacchaeus was not very careful about following the law and justice. And the people resented this. Normally it would have been the Pharisees and other legal experts who called out those who did not observe the law, but here everyone felt the same.
It is charming and nice to observe Zacchaeus standing up to make an announcement. Did he feel the pressure from the crowd? No. He had felt this pressure for years and ignored it. What shifted his attitude of heart? Jesus. His presence and his words—not included here—made all the difference. This reason, not clearly spelled out, is one of Luke’s great omissions (see v. 18-19). He does this frequently, and he expects us to fill in the details. Recall that Zacchaeus was already eager to see Jesus, by the tax collector running on ahead and climbing up the tree.
And now for the announcement. He too uses the same verb that Luke did in v. 2—“Consider!” Since Zacchaeus stood up, he must have wanted the people in his house to notice him. Expanded translation: “Look at me and my announcement!” Or even more expanded: “People, please, listen up! I have the following announcement to make!”
And what an announcement. Remember what John the Baptist told the people who gathered around him at the Jordan River?
And the crowds were asking him, saying, “And so what should we do?” 11 In reply he began to say, “He who has two coats should give to the person who doesn’t have one. And the one who has food should do the same thing!” 12 And tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13 He said to them, “Don’t collect more than what has been ordered to you!” 14 And even soldiers asked him, saying, “What should also we do?” He said to them, “Don’t extort and don’t oppress! Be satisfied with your wages!” (Luke 3:10-14)
The tax collectors were called out in vv. 12-13. No doubt Zacchaeus heard about John and even went to be baptized. Jericho was on a major road going towards the Jordan River. Or he did go out to see John and was certainly not baptized. Zacchaeus was not yet ready to make such major changes, until Jesus appeared on the scene. It takes a while for change to happen in most people.
“half my possessions”: In Judaism, giving away twenty percent was not prudent. Zacchaeus was willing to give away half.
“fourfold”: The law prescribed twenty percent to restore extortion (Lev. 5:16; Num. 5:7). The law imposed twenty-five percent on rustlers (Exod. 22:1). Zacchaeus went the extra-mile. He did not give away half of his possession to Jesus’s ministry, nor did the Lord insist on it. Jesus was obviously happy when the rich man gave it away to the poor. Can mega-ministry leaders today act as Jesus did if a rich man repented and said he would give away half of his millions to the poor and not to the ministry? Let’s hope so.
In any case, giving to the poor is a special concern for Luke. The principal word for poor appears 10 times in Luke (4:18; 6:20; 7:22; 14:13, 21; 16:20, 22; 18:22; 19:8; 21:3), contrasted with 5 times in Matt., 6 times in Mark and 4 in John).
Zacchaeus made his announcement and act of repentance from a changed heart, and now Jesus makes one of his own. He pronounced salvation has reached and penetrated Zacchaeus’s house. It is interesting that the head of household leads the way for the blessing on the entire house (Acts 16:32-33).
“salvation”: the noun is sōtēria (pronounced soh-tay-ree-ah and used 46 times). BDAG defines the noun sōtēria as follows, depending on the context: (1) “deliverance, preservation” … (2) “salvation.” Here it means that Zacchaeus experienced God reaching down and touching his heart. Zacchaeus’s heart was changed, and he consequently generously gave away half of his possessions.
What Is the Source of Salvation?
What Is the Work of Salvation?
How Do We Respond to God’s Salvation?
“this man is also”: he too is a son of Abraham. He belongs to the covenanted people. So the populace, the people, should now stop sneering at him. He has repented. He needed salvation and was receptive enough to receive it. Now what about the general public? Are they willing to repent and show the fruit of their repentance?
Jesus announces his main mission. Liefeld and Pao write: “This could well be considered the ‘key verse’ of Luke … The verse itself expresses the heart of Jesus ministry as presented by Luke—both Jesus’ work of salvation and his quest for the lost” Comment on v. 10).
Here’s what the Son of Man was commissioned and anointed to accomplish, in its essence. Recall the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7) and the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10). In both parables the shepherd and the lady of the house looked hard and high and low for his lost sheep and her lost coin. Here is a living example in this dinner with Zacchaeus (Bock, p. 1523).
The Gospel of John adds the clarification that Jesus came down from heaven in his mission. Matthew, Mark, and Luke merely hint at it. But he Father is behind it all.
5. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Came Down from Heaven
“to save”: The verb sōzō (pronounced soh-zoh) means “save, rescue, heal” in a variety of contexts, but mostly it is used of saving the soul. BDAG says that the verb means, depending on the context: (1) “to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve,” and the sub-definitions under no. 1 are as follows: save from death; bring out safely; save from disease; keep, preserve in good condition; thrive, prosper, get on well; (2) “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save or preserve from ‘eternal’ death … “bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation,” and in the passive it means “be saved, attain salvation”; (3) some passages in the NT say we fit under the first and second definition at the same time (Mark 8:5; Luke 9:24; Rom. 9:27; 1 Cor. 3:15).
“lost”: it comes from the verb apollumi (pronounced ah-poh-loo-mee), and it means, depending on the context: (1) “to cause or experience destruction (active voice) ruin, destroy”; (middle voice) “perish, be ruined”; (2) “to fail to obtain what one expects or anticipates, lose out on, lose”; (3) “to lose something that one already has or be separated from a normal connection, lose, be lost” (BDAG). The Shorter Lexicon adds “die.”
Jesus’s mission was to seek and save the lost.
“Son of Man”: it both means the powerful, divine Son of Man (Dan. 7:13-14) and the human son of man—Ezekiel himself—in the book of Ezekiel (numerous references). Jesus was and still is in heaven both divine and human.
4. Titles of Jesus: The Son of Man
It is stunning to me that Jesus had advanced knowledge of the condition of Zacchaeus’s heart. He could read the thoughts and heart of people (Luke 5:22; Matt. 12:25; Mark 2:8; John 2:24-25). Now we know why he must stay at Zacchaeus’s house: his salvation.
2. Gifts of the Spirit: Word of Knowledge
GrowApp for Luke 19:1-10
A.. Zacchaeus was eager and made effort to see Jesus. How eager are you and how much effort do you make?
B.. What practical things have you done to show the fruit or results of repentance? Did you give anything away your resources or give your bad habits to God?
Parable of the Ten Minas (Luke 19:11-27)
|11 Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν διὰ τὸ ἐγγὺς εἶναι Ἰερουσαλὴμ αὐτὸν καὶ δοκεῖν αὐτοὺς ὅτι παραχρῆμα μέλλει ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ ἀναφαίνεσθαι. 12 εἶπεν οὖν· ἄνθρωπός τις εὐγενὴς ἐπορεύθη εἰς χώραν μακρὰν λαβεῖν ἑαυτῷ βασιλείαν καὶ ὑποστρέψαι. 13 καλέσας δὲ δέκα δούλους ἑαυτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς δέκα μνᾶς καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς· πραγματεύσασθε ἐν ᾧ ἔρχομαι. 14 οἱ δὲ πολῖται αὐτοῦ ἐμίσουν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέστειλαν πρεσβείαν ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ λέγοντες· οὐ θέλομεν τοῦτον βασιλεῦσαι ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς.
15 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ ἐπανελθεῖν αὐτὸν λαβόντα τὴν βασιλείαν καὶ εἶπεν φωνηθῆναι αὐτῷ τοὺς δούλους τούτους οἷς δεδώκει τὸ ἀργύριον, ἵνα γνοῖ τί διεπραγματεύσαντο. 16 παρεγένετο δὲ ὁ πρῶτος λέγων· κύριε, ἡ μνᾶ σου δέκα προσηργάσατο μνᾶς. 17 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· εὖγε, ἀγαθὲ δοῦλε, ὅτι ἐν ἐλαχίστῳ πιστὸς ἐγένου, ἴσθι ἐξουσίαν ἔχων ἐπάνω δέκα πόλεων.
18 καὶ ἦλθεν ὁ δεύτερος λέγων· ἡ μνᾶ σου, κύριε, ἐποίησεν πέντε μνᾶς. 19 εἶπεν δὲ καὶ τούτῳ· καὶ σὺ ἐπάνω γίνου πέντε πόλεων.
20 καὶ ὁ ἕτερος ἦλθεν λέγων· κύριε, ἰδοὺ ἡ μνᾶ σου ἣν εἶχον ἀποκειμένην ἐν σουδαρίῳ· 21 ἐφοβούμην γάρ σε, ὅτι ἄνθρωπος αὐστηρὸς εἶ, αἴρεις ὃ οὐκ ἔθηκας καὶ θερίζεις ὃ οὐκ ἔσπειρας. 22 λέγει αὐτῷ· ἐκ τοῦ στόματός σου κρινῶ σε, πονηρὲ δοῦλε. ᾔδεις ὅτι ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος αὐστηρός εἰμι, αἴρων ὃ οὐκ ἔθηκα καὶ θερίζων ὃ οὐκ ἔσπειρα; 23 καὶ διὰ τί οὐκ ἔδωκάς μου τὸ ἀργύριον ἐπὶ τράπεζαν; κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν σὺν τόκῳ ἂν αὐτὸ ἔπραξα. 24 καὶ τοῖς παρεστῶσιν εἶπεν· ἄρατε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὴν μνᾶν καὶ δότε τῷ τὰς δέκα μνᾶς ἔχοντι– 25 καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· κύριε, ἔχει δέκα μνᾶς–
26 λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι παντὶ τῷ ἔχοντι δοθήσεται, ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ μὴ ἔχοντος καὶ ὃ ἔχει ἀρθήσεται.
27 πλὴν τοὺς ἐχθρούς μου τούτους τοὺς μὴ θελήσαντάς με βασιλεῦσαι ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἀγάγετε ὧδε καὶ κατασφάξατε αὐτοὺς ἔμπροσθέν μου.
|11 While they were listening to these things, he proceeded to tell them a parable because he was near Jerusalem, and they thought the kingdom of God was about to appear immediately. 12 Therefore he said, “A certain man of noble birth went to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and return. 13 He summoned ten servants of his and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business until I come.’ 14 But his subjects hated him and sent an emissary after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’
15 And it happened that as he returned after receiving his kingdom, he said to summon to him the servants to whom he had given the money, so he would find out how they conducted business. 16 The first one approached, saying, ‘Master, your mina increased to ten minas. 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant. Because you were faithful in this smallest matter, you are to have authority over ten cities.’
18 And the second one came and said, ‘Your mina, Master, has made five.’ 19 And he also said to this one, ‘You are over five cities.’
20 And the other one came, saying, ‘Master, look at your mina which I was tucking away in cloth, 21 for I was afraid of you because you are a stern man; you take out what you have not put in and harvest what you did not sow.’ 22 He said to him, ‘From your own words I judge you, wicked servant! You knew, didn’t you, that I am a stern man, taking out what I did not put in and harvesting what I did not sow? 23 Why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? When I came back, I would have collected it with interest!’ 24 And to those standing off to the side, he said, ‘Take from him the mina and give to the one who has ten minas.’ 25 And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas—!’”
26 I tell you, “To everyone who has, more will be given. From the one who does not have (much) even what he has will be taken away.
27 However, those enemies of mine who did not want me to rule over them—bring them here and slay them in front of me.”
The distant background to this illustration / parable is that Herod the Great asked Rome to permit him to rule as a client-king (a ruler under Rome). He was granted his request in 39 B.C. before he returned to Judea (province around Jerusalem). He ruled from 37 to 4 B.C. After he died, his son Archelaus left to petition Rome to succeed his father as king. However, his own subjects opposed him, since he had slaughtered three thousand Jews on Passover.
However, let’s not make too much of this distant historical background, interpreting the parable as a rigid allegory. Instead, Jesus has his own purposes, as follows:
(1). The kingdom of God will not be fully manifested when Jesus enters Jerusalem, contrary to his followers’ expectation that the kingdom would and must be. So, by this parable Jesus corrects their misconception and false hope. In fact, after his ascension, Jesus would be gone for a while. That’s the point of the king going to a distant country.
(2). Before the kingdom is fully manifested upon Jesus’s Second Coming, his disciples must be productive for the king and his kingdom. These are the first and second servants.
(3). Subjects who do not really know him will be unproductive and hide his gifts. These are represented by the third servant. The other seven servants are not mentioned because they are represented by these three. This is one of Luke’s omissions again (see v. 8). Luke expects his readers to assume this.
(4). Now, upon the king’s return (Jesus’s Second Coming), productive subjects of the king and kingdom will be rewarded at judgment (the first and second servants), and their rewards come in degrees.
More productivity → more rewards (the arrow means “leads to”).
(5). At the king’s return (Jesus’s Second Coming), in contrast, those who do not really know the king were proven to be unproductive (the third man). This misunderstanding of who God truly is brought him to his unproductivity. He will be judged negatively, but not thrown out of the kingdom. These kinds of disciples will receive no reward, and what little reward they think they have will be taken away from them and given to productive kingdom citizens. In the kingdom of God, after it is fully manifested, there will be countless numbers of men and women who will live without rewards and follow behind the productive, rewarded citizens.
(6). In a separate category, those who were enemies of the king and did not want him to rule over him will be slain—that is, will undergo the ultimate punishment—at the Second Coming. This class of servants is probably the Jerusalem establishment who officially rejected their true Messiah. However, thousands of ordinary Jews (Acts 2:47; 4:4; 21:20) and a great number of priests (Acts 6:7) converted to their Messiah after the ascension, so God’s judgment was not nationwide and entire. God knows those who belong to him, even when the leaders of a nation are to be punished at judgment and the people are to be spared.
Recall that Romans destroyed Jerusalem and killed many Jews who were loyal to the temple, from AD 66 to 70.
Luke 21:5-33 Predicts Destruction of Jerusalem and Temple
Now Luke tells us clearly why Jesus tells this parable. They were hearing these things, so Jesus is still continuing with the audience at Zacchaeus’s house.
In the bigger picture, they were nearing Jerusalem, and the disciples expected some sort of military coup in a full and powerful manifestation of the kingdom of God. They had to be told, however, that this was not the plan. In fact, the king would be gone for a time, but he gave them gifts, and how would they use the gifts? This is the secret kingdom, which would spread all over the globe through the lives of people. The full manifestation of the kingdom will appear when the king returns.
We are already looked at the distant historical background of this parable. Jesus leaves most of those elements behind and puts his new spin on it. Jesus has gone to the heavenly seat of authority until the time of his return. In the meantime, though his qualifications for kingship are impeccable, he has been rejected by those who serve him as subjects (v. 14).
“ten”: this means that not only the twelve disciples are in view here. It many “any disciple.”
“servants”: The word servants here is doulos (singular and pronounced doo-loss; the plural is douloi and pronounced doo-loi) and could be translated as slaves, but I chose servants because in Jewish culture a Hebrew man who sold himself into servitude to his fellow Jew was like an indentured servant whose term of service had a limit; he was freed in the seventh year. But then the indentured servant could stay with his family, if he liked his owner (Exod. 21:2-6; Lev. 25:38-46; Deut. 15:12-18). So there was a lot of liberty even in servitude, in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
Slavery and Freedom in the Bible
It is a sure thing, however, that Luke’s Greek audience would have heard “slaves” in the word douloi. So if you wish to interpret it like that, then that’s your decision. But culturally at that time slavery had nothing to do with colonial or modern slavery.
“minas”: (pronounced mee-nass or my-nass or my-nuhss in American English) it was worth about 100 denarii or about four months wages of an agricultural worker based on a six-day work week.
“do business”: it is the verb pragmateuomai (pronounced prah-mag-tew-oh-my), and it used only here in the entire NT. It means to “conduct business” or “be engaged in business.” (The word pragmatism comes from it.) It means to do the practical things of life, in this case business. Here it means to exercise your gift to do the work of the kingdom. If it means you are in the business world, always keep the kingdom of God in the front of your mind, while you do business. If you are a soccer mom, always keep the kingdom first, while you are a mom. If you take care of your grandchildren, put the kingdom first, while you take care of them. Don’t neglect the business side of life while you live for the king.
This verse introduces the class of citizens who hate the king and become his enemies. They will receive the ultimate punishment when the king (Jesus) returns. They are surely the Jerusalem establishment who denied and rejected and ordered the execution of their rightful King and Messiah. But they also represent many millions of people over the centuries who set themselves against King Jesus and became his enemies.
“this man”: it could be translated as “this fellow” or “that man” because it is a put-down word in this context. If you read it aloud, say it with a condescending sneer in your tone of voice.
“summon”: this speaks of the king summoning all of us at judgment.
“servants”: see v. 13 for more comments.
The judgment is about what we have done with the gift of a mina given to us. How did we conduct business in the kingdom with our gift? He means to find out what the results were. So Christian idealism—contemplating only abstract doctrines and heavenly things—is not the only purpose of the believer. He must do practical work for the kingdom, down here on earth.
“find out”: the verb is ginōskō (pronounced gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard, as in “get”). The verb is so common that it is used 222 times in the NT. (Its cognate epiginōskō, pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh is used 44 times). BDAG has numerous definitions of the verb, depending on the context: (1) “to arrive at a knowledge of someone or something, know, know about, make acquaintance of”; (2) “to acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out”; (3) “grasp the significance or meaning of something, understand, comprehend”; (4) “to be aware of something, perceive, notice, realize”; (5) to have sexual intercourse with, sex / marital relations with”; (6) “to have come to the knowledge of, have come to know, know.” (7) “to indicate that one does know, acknowledge, recognize.” So we can know a person, a thing, a fact, an abstract thing like pure math. We can even know God personally or know about him from a distance, like a theological truth. It is best to know him personally. We can know all these things deeply or shallowly. Probably the second definition is best here.
At judgment, results matter to the king. In other words, did you use your gift effectively and then allow God to increase and bless it? When we are faithful in the least or smallest matter, then we will get promoted and receive more practical gifts. This productive servant gets ten minas more. He can be trusted.
See my post about faithfulness: Word Study on Faith and Faithfulness
“Well done, good servant”: It should be the goal of each disciple to hear this truthful compliment and praise from the king. Note how the king called him good. Contrast this term with Jesus’s deflection of the compliment from the rich ruler when the ruler said “Good teacher” (Luke 18:18). So of course Jesus does not deny that some people behave well (good) or do good things. In fact, some people are good—but not good enough to strut into heaven by their own good works. We must be invited, and that invitation comes from and goes through Christ Jesus.
Will we rule over cities in the millennial kingdom? Though this is not clear literally, I like to believe that somehow productive subjects of the kingdom right now will be given more authority. Will we live in separate communities in the new-age kingdom? Unclear, literally, because we must not read this parable as a rigid allegory. Yet Rev. 2:26 says that believers who overcomes will rule over nations. So maybe it is literal.
“authority”: it is the noun exousia (pronounced ex-oo-see-ah), and it means, depending on the context: “right to act,” “freedom of choice,” “power, capability, might, power, authority, absolute power”; “power or authority exercised by rulers by virtue of their offices; official power; domain or jurisdiction, spiritual powers.”
The difference between authority and power is parallel to a policeman’s badge and his gun. The badge symbolizes his right to exercise his power through his gun, if necessary. The gun backs up his authority with power. But the distinction should not be pressed too hard, because exousia can also mean “power.” In any case, God through Jesus can distribute authority to his followers (Matt. 10:1; Luke 10:19; John 1:12).
As noted, Jesus will give us authority even over the nations, if we overcome trials and persecution (Rev. 2:26). That’s a remarkable promise. And he is about to distribute his power in Acts 2. Never forget that you have his authority and power to live a victorious life over your personal flaws and sins and Satan. They no longer have power and authority over you; you have power and authority over them.
Here in this parable, it is the authority exercised in the new kingdom after judgment, but again let’s not rigidly read this parable as an allegory.
And the second servant was productive enough to earn five more minas, and he received authority over five cities. So rewards are in proportion to the results of doing business in and for the kingdom.
Why doesn’t Luke cover the other seven servants but stops at three? Luke frequently omits details and expects us to fill in the gaps (see v. 8). He expects us to assume that the other seven servants were like these three—some were very productive, others moderately productive, while still others were unproductive. I nickname him Luke the Omitter, just like I nicknamed Matthew the Trimmer.
This “other” servant (“other” in the sense of a different kind of servant) hid the mina in a cloth. He hid it away. We should never neglect God’s gift from God so that we just sit around and do not engage in kingdom business. Worst of all, this servant did not truly know the king, without a personal relationship. Recall that Matt. 7:21-23 says that some people claimed to do some works for the kingdom, like prophesy in his name, cast out demons, and do mighty works in Jesus’s name. But Jesus will tell them that he never knew them. Apparently this “other” servant did not really know the king, either.
The king acknowledges that he is a stern man and takes out what he himself did not personally accomplish but employed servants to do the work for him. The lesson is that Jesus, while he is currently away in heaven, commissions us to do the work of the kingdom. He won’t come down here, appearing personally at every turn, and do the work while we just stand by and gawk with our mouths open. No, he employs us to do the work. The good news is that he empowers us with his Spirit to work through us. We don’t act in our own strength.
The king calls the servant “wicked.” This is the opposite of calling the first servant “good.” This further proves that the servant did not know the king and misread his character in part.
The master: On the assumption that I am as you described, you should have done more! (see Craig Keener’s comment in Matt. 25:24: “On the assumption that I am hard and merciless, you should have been all the more diligent!” (A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. (Eerdmans 1999), p. 601, emphasis original).
Bock: “The master repeats the servants categories (take, set down, reap, sow) to make the case that if he had really thought this way about him, then he should have made some effort to do something beneficial with the money. If the servant really felt this way, he is a fool since he knew the king to be a hard master” (p. 1539).
The punishment is not to be thrown out of the kingdom, but to be stripped of any reward. Sad to speculate, but how many Christians will be lost in a great crowd of people who essentially did not do anything but write snarky comments online and watch television?
Other people standing nearby started to object because the servant with ten minas was destined to get the mina from the unproductive servant. “Ten refers not to his total possession, but to his profit” (Bock, p. 1540).
Now Jesus announces the general principle. If you are productive, you will receive more. And if you are unproductive, then what little you think you have will be taken away.
Jesus calls this class of people “enemies.” They are outside of the kingdom and oppose him.
This slaughtering is not literal, but it does speak of the final judgment, when people outside of the kingdom of God and opponents to it will be sent to their punishment. If anyone opposes God’s appointed king so often and vehemently and therefore turns into his enemy, the enemy will receive punishment.
“Jesus now brings the opportunity for forgiveness; but when that opportunity is spurned, he will bring judgment. It is on this note that Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem. There is no neutral position in relationship to Jesus: one chooses for him and sees his generous work as unique, or one aligns against him (whether in outright rebellion or by faithless association to him)” (Bock, p. 1543).
“The nobleman’s anger is not intended to attribute such behavior to Jesus himself; rather, it pictures the kind of response one might have expected in Jesus’ day, especially from the Herodians. It also reveals the seriousness of flouting the orders of the King whom God has appointed as Judge (Jn 5:22; Ac 17:31; cf. 1 Pe 1:17)” (Liefeld and Pao, comments on vv. 26-27).
Judgment is coming, and people need to be warned. Christians also will be judged, but only to receive rewards or no rewards; they will not be judged to determine whether they are part of the eternal kingdom after the Second Coming.
Are There Degrees of Punishment, Rewards after Final Judgment?
Everyone Shall Be Judged by Their Works and Words
Bible Basics about the Final Judgment
GrowApp for Luke 19:11-27
A.. What is the gift (mina) God has given you?
B.. How productive have you been for the kingdom of God, by his power and grace?
Approaching Jerusalem (Luke 19:28-40)
|28 Καὶ εἰπὼν ταῦτα ἐπορεύετο ἔμπροσθεν ἀναβαίνων εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα. 29 Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἤγγισεν εἰς Βηθφαγὴ καὶ Βηθανία [ν] πρὸς τὸ ὄρος τὸ καλούμενον Ἐλαιῶν, ἀπέστειλεν δύο τῶν μαθητῶν 30 λέγων· ὑπάγετε εἰς τὴν κατέναντι κώμην, ἐν ᾗ εἰσπορευόμενοι εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον, ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς πώποτε ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν, καὶ λύσαντες αὐτὸν ἀγάγετε. 31 καὶ ἐάν τις ὑμᾶς ἐρωτᾷ· διὰ τί λύετε; οὕτως ἐρεῖτε· ὅτι ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει.
32 Ἀπελθόντες δὲ οἱ ἀπεσταλμένοι εὗρον καθὼς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς. 33 λυόντων δὲ αὐτῶν τὸν πῶλον εἶπαν οἱ κύριοι αὐτοῦ πρὸς αὐτούς· τί λύετε τὸν πῶλον; 34 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ὅτι ὁ κύριος αὐτοῦ χρείαν ἔχει. 35 καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἐπιρίψαντες αὐτῶν τὰ ἱμάτια ἐπὶ τὸν πῶλον ἐπεβίβασαν τὸν Ἰησοῦν. 36 πορευομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ὑπεστρώννυον τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ. 37 Ἐγγίζοντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἤδη πρὸς τῇ καταβάσει τοῦ ὄρους τῶν ἐλαιῶν ἤρξαντο ἅπαν τὸ πλῆθος τῶν μαθητῶν χαίροντες αἰνεῖν τὸν θεὸν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ περὶ πασῶν ὧν εἶδον δυνάμεων, 38 λέγοντες·
εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος,
39 καί τινες τῶν Φαρισαίων ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν· διδάσκαλε, ἐπιτίμησον τοῖς μαθηταῖς σου. 40 καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐὰν οὗτοι σιωπήσουσιν, οἱ λίθοι κράξουσιν.
|28 After he said these things, he went in front, going up to Jerusalem. 29 And as it happened that as he was nearing Bethphage and Bethany towards the Mount called Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go to the village ahead, and as you enter, you will find a colt tied up, on which no person has ever sat; untie and lead it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ reply in this way, ‘The Lord needs it.’”
32 After the ones who were sent departed, they found it just as he told them. 33 While they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying it?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 And so they led it to Jesus and threw their garments on the colt and helped Jesus up. 36 While he was going along, they spread their garments on the road. 37 He was already approaching the descent of the Mount of Olives, and the entire crowd of disciples celebrated and began to praise God with a loud voice about all the miracles they saw, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the one, the King, coming,
39 And some of the Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, scold your disciples!” 40 He replied, saying, “I tell you, if these people kept quiet, the stones would cry out!”
The whole episode refers to Zechariah’s prophecy:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech. 9:9, ESV)
At that link, there is a table of quoted prophecies, yet Jesus fulfills more than such verses. He also fulfills the larger themes of the OT, like the sacrificial system or the temple itself and all the old covenants.
I like how Jesus led the way into Jerusalem. If you believe you are a leader and you go ahead of everyone else, turn around once in a while to see if anyone is following. If no one is, then God did not call you to be a leader, or he did call you to be a leader, but you are going in the wrong direction. You did not seek him to find out the right direction. In any case, Jesus gathered a large crowd.
Now for a little historical context; you can look up these places in a biblical map somewhere online.
Bethphage: its precise location is unknown, but most locate it on the southeast side of the Mount of Olives.
Bethany: about 1.5 miles (3 km) east of Jerusalem. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived there (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1).
Mount of Olives: a ridge that goes north to south about 1.8 miles long (3 km), east of Jerusalem, above the valley of Kidron, about 100 feet (30 m) high. A large number of olive trees grew on it.
“two of his disciples”: we don’t know who they were. Neither Matt. 21:1 nor Mark 11:1 name them. Could one of them be Judas who kept the money sack (John 12:6)? Maybe he did other practical business things, but we don’t know whether he was one of the two. Luke 22:8 says that Jesus commissioned Peter and John to prepare the Passover meal, so maybe Jesus asked them to carry out this mission.
Who are disciples generally speaking? The noun is mathētēs (singular and pronounced mah-they-tayss), and it is used 261 times in the NT, though many of them are duplicates in the three synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. BDAG says of the noun that it means (1) “one who engages in learning through instruction from another, pupil, apprentice”; (2) “one who is rather constantly associated with someone who has a pedagogical reputation or a particular set of views, disciple, adherent.”
Now Jesus gives them instructions: Go to the village opposite to or ahead of us; enter the village; a colt will be tied up there, and no one sat on it; untie it and lead it here; if the owners ask why you are untying it, tell them the Lord needs it.
Incidentally, Matt. 21:23 says a donkey with her colt was tied up and the two disciples were to bring both of them. Again Matthew likes to speak in “twos” (4:18, 21; 8:28; 9:27; 20:30). Mark and Luke simply omit these details. Yes, the authors of the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were inspired by the Spirit and gave themselves permission to omit or keep whichever details suited their purposes.
In any case, it happened just as Jesus prophesied.
How did Jesus know these bits of information? One could answer the question in two ways: (1) The first is by natural methods. Maybe he sent a team ahead to scout around for such a colt. But then how did Jesus know that no one sat on the colt? (2) The truth is that Jesus received detailed knowledge through the Spirit that he could not receive it just in his humanity. God looked from heaven in his omniscience and revealed these pieces of information to his Son.
Here are two other theological questions: (1) Did his divine nature shine through his humanity, so that he got this information by his own (hidden) omniscience? (2) Or did the Spirit alone reveal this information to him by the Father’s will? Both interpretations are in view here: The Spirit revealed it, and his divine nature shone through his humanity. But if you want to conclude that the Spirit alone revealed this detailed knowledge without Jesus’s divine nature shining through his humanity, then you are in the company of other Bible interpreters.
What’s my opinion? As it happens, the dominant image throughout the four Gospels is that Jesus worked these visible miracles and gifts of knowledge by the Spirit’s anointing. But I am surely open to the conclusion that his divine nature shone through his humanity, as well. Jesus stayed in close contact with his Father. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. I am in the Father, and the Father is in me” (14:9-10). Jesus “can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son does also” (John 5:19). “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
It is remarkable that we too, by the anointing of the Spirit, can receive such detailed information about our lives and even about the lives of others.
Yes, this is the gift of the word of knowledge. See my post about the word of knowledge:
2. Gifts of the Spirit: Word of Knowledge
However, let’s not push this interpretation too far. He may have known the man by an earlier connection that we don’t know about.
Now Jesus is getting close to the triumphal entry, but Luke again does not yet say that Jesus entered the city, because in v. 41 he stops to weep over the city. The only time we see Jesus enter the city is in v. 45, and even in this case, he is already throwing out the money changers. So officially the triumphal entry is implied, not stated. Why does Luke omit such details? It just seems to be his writing style and purpose. He expects and assumes that the reader will fill in the gaps (see vv. 8 and 18-19). Nickname: Luke the Omitter.
In any case, the disciples toss their clothing or garments on to the colt and help Jesus up on it.
The crowd of his followers, presumably following him also from Galilee in the north, celebrated his arrival. They shout with a loud voice a line from Ps. 118:26, a Messianic psalm. Originally, the people celebrated the psalmist entering the Lord’s temple. He is blessed when he comes in the name of the Lord. Now this verse is applied to and fulfilled in the Messiah. Luke also echoes what he wrote about the angels announced about the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14). “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (v. 38). Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest! And upon earth peace among people with whom he is well pleased.” So it looks like Jesus is bringing peace in heaven down to earth. Let’s always remember that Jesus was a heavenly being before his incarnation (coming to earth in the flesh). And now he is about to ascend back to heaven (Luke 24:51-53, the last verses in Luke’s Gospel).
1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image
Luke omits the Hebraism “Hosanna!” This is one more hint that his audience was Greek-speaking Theophilus and others in his household and sphere of influence. Hosanna may not have made sense to Luke’s readership, so he gives a (very) rough equivalent of praise.
But he adds the word “king.” This clearly refers to King Jesus. All praise goes to him.
“miracles”: it is the plural of the noun dunamis (or dynamis) (pronounced doo-na-mees or dee-na-mis, but most teachers prefer the first one). It is often translated as “power,” but also “miracle” or “miraculous power.” It means power in action, not static, but kinetic. It moves. Yes, we get our word dynamite from it, but God is never out of control, like dynamite is. Its purpose is to usher in the kingdom of God and repair and restore broken humanity, both in body and soul.
For nearly all the references of that word and a developed theology, please click on:
What Are Signs and Wonders and Miracles?
“peace”: It speaks of more than just the absence of war. It can mean prosperity and well-being. It can mean peace in your heart and peace with your neighbor. Best of all, it means peace with God, because he reconciled us to him.
Let’s explore more deeply the peace that God brings.
This word in Hebrew is shalom and means well being, both in the soul and in circumstances, and it means, yes, prosperity, because the farm in an agricultural society would experience well being and harmony and growth. The crops would not fail and the livestock would reproduce. Society and the individual would live in peace and contentment and harmony. Deut. 28:1-14 describes the blessings for obedience, a man and his family and business enjoying divine goodness and benefits and material benefits.
With that background, let’s explore the Greek word, which overlaps with shalom. It is the noun eirēnē (pronounced ay-ray-nay, used 92 times, and we get the name Irene from it). One specialist defines it: “Peace is a state of being that lacks nothing and has no fear of being troubled in its tranquility; it is euphoria coupled with security. … This peace is God’s favor bestowed on his people.” (Mounce, p. 503).
BDAG has this definition for the noun: (2) It is “a state of well-being, peace.” Through salvation we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). We have peace that has been brought through Christ (Col. 3:15). We are to run towards the goal of peace (2 Pet. 3:14; Rom. 8:6). It is the essential characteristic of the Messianic Age (Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:15). An angel greeted and promised the shepherds peace on earth for those in whom God is well pleased, at the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:29). In the entire Gospel of Luke, Jesus was ushering in the kingdom of God.
Do I Really Know God? He Is the God of Peace
I love these verses because we have a study in contrasts between three sets of characters: Jesus (a single character), the Pharisees (a smaller group of characters), and the crowds (the largest group of characters). The largest group were thrilled because of the miracles they saw, and now the miracle worker is about to enter Jerusalem. This is the culmination of his ministry. Now just watch how he would work miracles to banish all the Gentiles (Romans) and purge all unrighteousness from the holy Capital among the Jews! Yes, he works miracles in Jerusalem (Matt. 21:14), but not the kind the people demanded: a military miracle, much like the Israelites defeated Syria and its allies, backed up by a prophet (1 Kings 20). Better still, maybe Jesus would show signs from heaven like Moses did, and the plagues distinguished between the Egyptians (Gentiles) and the Chosen People (Israelites) (Exod. 7:14-12:32). Now signs like that would rid Israel of the Romans and other ungodly people!
But Jesus was ushering in the secret kingdom.
5 The Kingdom of God: Already Here, But Not Yet Fully
The kingdom was destined to go around the globe, not rescue tiny Israel from its temporary trouble. The kingdom of God is seen by the eyes of faith. We enter it by being born again (John 3:3). And then we invite other people to come in.
“Pharisees”: You can learn more about them at this post:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
They were the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior (cf. Garland, p. 243). The problem which Jesus had with them can be summed up in Eccl. 7:16: “Be not overly righteous.” He did not quote that verse, but to him they were much too enamored with the finer points of the law, while neglecting its spirit (Luke 11:37-52; Matt. 23:1-36). Instead, he quoted this verse from Hos. 6:6: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13; 12:7, ESV). Overdoing righteousness damages one’s relationship with God and others.
“scold”: the verb is epitimaō (pronounced eh-pea-tee-mah-oh), and it could be translated as “rebuke,” “warn,” “censure.”
Finally, Jesus (the single character) dominates the scene. He promises the restrictive Pharisees that praise is right. If not, then the stones would be given a voice of praise. Is this literal or prophetic and figurative? In my experience, many Renewalists take this literally. Far be it from me to deny the possibility that God would and could make stones burst out in praise. After all, the morning stars sang together (Job 38:7). And Jesus cursed an unproductive fig tree, which soon withered from the roots (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21); However, I believe v. 40 here is poetic and prophetic language, to indicate how sure the promises of God are—the people would fulfill prophecy by celebrating the king entering Jerusalem (Zech. 9:9 and Ps. 118:25-26). This is like Jesus saying the mountain would be removed and thrown into the sea (Matt. 21:21; cf. 17:20) or the mulberry tree would be uprooted and planted in the sea (Luke 17:6). But if anyone out there with great faith interprets v. 40 literally, go for it! (I just hope this is real faith and not presumption.)
See my posts on praise:
Bible Basics about Praise and Worship
Word Study on Praise and Worship
GrowApp for Luke 19:28-40
A.. Jesus gave two disciples specific instructions. What specific instruction has he given you in the Scripture, applicable to your life? Did you follow his instructions?
B.. Have you ever received acclaim even on a small scale? How did you receive it?
Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44)
|41 Καὶ ὡς ἤγγισεν ἰδὼν τὴν πόλιν ἔκλαυσεν ἐπ’ αὐτὴν 42 λέγων ὅτι εἰ ἔγνως ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ταύτῃ καὶ σὺ τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην· νῦν δὲ ἐκρύβη ἀπὸ ὀφθαλμῶν σου. 43 ὅτι ἥξουσιν ἡμέραι ἐπὶ σὲ καὶ παρεμβαλοῦσιν οἱ ἐχθροί σου χάρακά σοι καὶ περικυκλώσουσίν σε καὶ συνέξουσίν σε πάντοθεν, 44 καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί, καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί, ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου.||41 Then as he was approaching and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you—yes, you!—recognized this day and the things leading to peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes! 43 Days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up barricades and surround you and hem you in from every direction! 44 Then they will destroy you and throw the children in you to the ground and not allow one stone to be on another stone in you, because you did not recognize the day of your visitation!|
Jesus wept at the capital’s lost opportunity. He foresaw or knew in his spirit that the city would be destroyed, because the Jerusalem establishment was about to reject their true Messiah. It should make us wonder how often we have missed God’s opportunities and blessings for us, because we too were spiritually blind. But God can distinguish between the establishment and individuals. Judaism, expressed in the temple worship, sits under judgment (Luke 19:41-45; 21:20-24; 23:26-31; Matt. 21:33-45), though numerous individual priests (Acts 6:7) and thousands of Jews of Jerusalem and Judea converted (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 21:20). God loves people, but he is not enamored with systems.
Morris says that Jesus “burst into sobbing” because the word “wept” could be translated as “wail” (comment on vv. 41-42). Wow.
I like how Jesus says, “yes, you!” It could be translated as “even you!” It seems that the headquarters of a religion, where the most enlightened leaders resided and pored through the law, should have recognized their hour of visitation, but their much learning and religious prejudice—pre-judgment—blinded them. It can be asked: How did they know he would not perform mighty military miracles to bring down the Romans and deliver the nation? He was not going to do that of course, because that was not his mission, but they didn’t know that. Apparently he did not fit the profile of a military commander. Yet he was a miracle worker. Maybe they did not want to give up on their power and control—religious control. In any case, let’s not speculate too much about the what-ifs.
“recognized”: see v. 15 for more comments. It could be translated as “comprehend,” because they did not grasp the significance of the events that were happening right in front of them—their true Messiah just entered the capital.
Maybe the verse can be translated (unliterally, but close enough): “If only you had recognized this day and the things that lead to peace!”
“the day”: it is the standard word for day, so what is special about the day? Jesus just walked in to accomplish his mission, but not the one that would have served Jerusalem in the short term. The long-term mission was to be crucified and die for the sins of the world, which encompasses Israel too. The ultimate mission was to take the kingdom of God outside of tiny Israel to whole world.
“hidden”: the irony is that they did not recognize the significance of the day, but now the significance is hidden from the establishment. Their blindness first, and then the hiddenness. Further, it should be noted that Jesus is not talking about personal salvation after the cross and Pentecost. Rather, he is talking about blindness of a nation represented by its leaders. We should not use this blindness to argue for God making you or me or your neighbor blind so he would not wish to save them. And God does not ignore your neighbor, either. He wants your neighbor to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). He’s working behind the scenes. Pray for your neighbor.
This description actually happened during the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. After four years of holding pout, the Romans broke through and stomped all over the city and temple. They even took the Menorah from the temple, which is depicted on the Arch of Titus (google it please).
If you look closely at the bas relief on the Arch of Titus, you can see the Menorah.
Disaster struck the city and its Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place. Children were thrown down from the walls. Stone upon stone was pulled down.
“barricades”: this word choice does not quite work here, because a barricade or palisade is a defensive wall or pointed posts dug close together to form the wall. It is probably an earth mound that was built to go up to the top of the wall. But since the Shorter Lexicon and Liddell and Scott say “palisade” (or barricade), let’s go for it. “Titus built barricades around the city” (Bock, p. 1562, referring to Josephus, Jewish War, 5:11.44, para. 466; 5.12.2 para. 508).
“Just as the nation went into exile for disobedience, so Jesus predicts judgment for his generation. God’s past activity and consistency of his actions in bringing covenant justice are the presuppositions behind such a prophecy. What was a visitation for salvation has become a visitation of judgment” (Bock, p. 1561).
Luke has the advantage of one Greek verb to work in that one sentence: edaphizō (pronounced eh-dah-fee-zoh), and it can mean both (1) level to the ground or raze to the ground and (2) throw to the ground. Jesus pictures the city and walls being thrown or torn down, and the children being thrown to the ground from the heights. I translated the city and walls as “destroyed” and the children “thrown down to the ground.” Both meanings are in view in the different direct objects of the one verb.
“recognized”: see v. 15 for more comments. It could be translated as “comprehended,” because they did not grasp the significance of God’s visitation through his true Messiah.
“time”: the noun here is kairos (pronounced kye-ross and is used 85 times), which speaks more of a quality time than quantity. BDAG defines the noun as follows: (1) a point of time or period of time, time, period, frequently with the implication of being especially fit for something and without emphasis on precise chronology. (a) Generally a welcome time or difficult time … fruitful times; (b) a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time … at the right time; (2) a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time (e.g. period of fasting or mourning in accord with the changes in season), in due time (Gal. 6:9); (3) a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis, time; (a) generally the present time (Rom. 13:11; 12:11); (b) One of the chief terms relating to the endtime … the time of crisis, the last times.
All of this stand in a mild contrast—not a sharp contrast—from chronos. Greek has another word for time: chronos (pronounced khro-noss), which measures one day, one week or one month after another.
“visitation”: it is the noun episkopē (eh-pea-skoh-pay), and it is used four times in the NT. It means favorable visitation (Luke 19:44) or unfavorable visitation (1 Pet. 2:12); or it means a position or office of an overseer or bishop (Acts 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:1). Here it means a favorable visitation because Jesus in on the scene. The noun has the stem skop– which means to watch or view closely. The verb means: “to look upon or at, inspect, observe, examine, regard … to watch over” (Liddell and Scott). That lexicon further says the noun means “a watching over,” “visitation.” In other words, God through Jesus is examining and inspecting the city (or its leaders), and they are about to fail.
This inspection begins at the temple. Jesus inspected it and saw that is was a failure because of all the merchandising.
GrowApp for Luke 19:41-44
A.. Jesus entered the city and the leaders are about to miss who he was. Read Luke 19:3 again. Contrast Zacchaeus’s eagerness to find out who Jesus was with the Jerusalem’s establishment’s failure to recognize who he was. Where do you see yourself? More inclined to be like the leaders of Jerusalem or Zacchaeus?
B.. What was God’s visitation to you personally? How did you respond?
Jesus Clears Out an Area of the Temple (Luke 19:45-48)
|45 Καὶ εἰσελθὼν εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν ἤρξατο ἐκβάλλειν τοὺς πωλοῦντας 46 λέγων αὐτοῖς· γέγραπται·
καὶ ἔσται ὁ οἶκός μου οἶκος προσευχῆς,
47 Καὶ ἦν διδάσκων τὸ καθ’ ἡμέραν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ. οἱ δὲ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ γραμματεῖς ἐζήτουν αὐτὸν ἀπολέσαι καὶ οἱ πρῶτοι τοῦ λαοῦ, 48 καὶ οὐχ εὕρισκον τὸ τί ποιήσωσιν, ὁ λαὸς γὰρ ἅπας ἐξεκρέματο αὐτοῦ ἀκούων.
|45 After he entered the temple, he began to toss out the merchants, 46 saying to them, “It is written:
‘And my house shall be a house of prayer, [Is. 56:7]
47 And as he was teaching daily in the temple, the chief priests and teachers of the law and the leaders of the people were seeking to kill him, 48 but they could not discover any way to do this, for all the people were hanging on what they were hearing from him.
Incidentally, Bock says there were probably two cleansings, one at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2:13-22) and the one here (if I understood him).
Differences between the Synoptics and John make it slightly more likely that there were two temple cleansings. The use of Ps. 69:9 … in John is a unique citation that the Synoptics lack. True, the Synoptics sometimes use different citations for the same event in their telling of Jesus’ death. Still, it seems odd if this Johannine event actually occurred in the last week that the only temporal note was that the Passover was near. The setting in relation to John 2:23-25 does not look like chronological rearrangement. John apparently intends the reader to see the event as relatively early in Jesus’ ministry. The attempt to argue for Synoptic rearrangement is equally problematic, since the cleansing solidifies the decision to destroy Jesus and is an issue at his trial. If the event were early in Jesus’ ministry, then such a plot would have been present throughout Jesus’ ministry. (p. 1577)
Deut. 14:24-26 says that if the distance to a designated holy place is too far for the Israelite to travel because of the animals or grain are burdensome, he is allowed to exchange the animal or grain for money near his home. Then he can carry the money to the designated holy place and there buy the grain or animal, to sacrifice and eat. In Jerusalem it is a sure thing that the money tables were set up to accommodate this lawful practice. Money changers converted the Greek and Roman currency into temple currency; the half-shekel temple tax had to be paid (Matt. 17:24-27).
Jesus probably cleansed the Court of the Gentiles (Bock, p. 1578).
However, in the last pericope or section, the day of visitation has the meanings “inspection” and “examination” built into it. Apparently Jesus examined and inspected the temple business and found it lacking. Maybe dishonesty was the rule of the day. Maybe interest was charged, or maybe the price of the animal or grain was exorbitant. Maybe the business was conducted too closely to the temple precinct for Passover, which is the most likely occurrence; it provoked his righteous anger.
Whatever the specifics, Jesus did not like what he saw.
His expelling them from the temple took some physical strength. He was no weakling. John 2:13-17 says he made of whip of cords.
Jer. 7:11 says that the temple was a den, cave, grotto, or cavern of thieves. Here Jesus says the same thing, using the same noun. One more tidbit of information that Jesus knew his Bible.
Luke makes a summary statement about teaching daily in the temple, so we have to infer Jesus’s teaching from the previous eighteen chapters and the next few chapters of the Gospel.
Make no mistake: the times are tense right now. Luke had already previewed or forewarned us that Jesus was going to Jerusalem in order to die (Luke 9:22 and 9:44 and 18:32-33; and also see Luke 12:50; 13:32-33). Now he is here/ How will it happen? When? Tension in the reader who may be reading Luke’s Gospel for the first time or may not be as familiar with the story as we are today, two thousand years later.
“teachers of the law”: They are also called scribes in some translations.
They were one of the groups who were the Watchdogs of Theology and Behavior (cf. Garland p. 243).
“leaders”: they are likely Jewish civic leaders, as distinguished from the priestly ones. They were prominent social leaders (Deut. 19:1-13; 21:1-9, 19; Ezra 10:14).
You can learn more about them at this link:
Quick Reference to Jewish Groups in Gospels and Acts
All of them were trying or seeking ways to kill him. This was a gruesome and unjust plan. However, the people loved what he said and hanged on his every word. This popularity for a short time delayed God’s plan, which was to use the hardness of the leaders of Jerusalem to accomplish the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.
GrowApp for Luke 19:45-48
A.. Jesus showed courage to cleanse the temple and teach daily during the days just before his death. How much courage do you have to carry on during really tough times?
Summary and Conclusion
Let’s look at a table that lays out the events of Passion Week:
|Friday||Arrival in Bethany (Jn 12:1)|
|Saturday||Mary’s anointing of Jesus (Jn 12:2-8; Mt 26:6-13 // Mk 14:3-9)|
|Sunday||Triumphal Entry (Mt 21:1-11 // Mk 11:1-10 // Lk 19:28-38); surveying temple (Mk 11:11), return to Bethany (Mt 21:17 // Mk 11:11)|
|Monday||Clearing temple (Mt 21:12-17 // Mk 11:15-19 // Lk 19:45-48); cursing fig tree (Mt 21:18-22; // Mk 11:12-14); miracles and challenge temple (Mt 21:14-16); return to Bethany (Mk 11:19)|
|Tuesday||Disciples’ question about fig tree (Mk 11:20-21); debates with leaders of temple (Mt 21:23-22:46 // Mk 11:27-12:40 // Lk 20:1-44); Olivet Discourse (Mt 24-25; Mk 13; Lk 21:1-36); return to Bethany, but Lk 21:37 says he lodged on Mount of Olives|
|Wednesday||Little recorded in Gospel—Jesus and disciples apparently remain in Bethany; Judas arranges for Jesus’ betrayal (Mt. 26:14-16 // Mk 14:10-11 // Lk 22:3-6); I say he could be teaching in the temple or praying privately|
|Thursday||Preparation for Passover (Mt 26:17-19 // Mk 14:12-16 // Lk 22:7-13); after sundown, Passover meal and Last Supper (Mt 26:20-35 // Mk 14:17-25 // Lk 22:14, 21-23, 15-20); Farewell Discourse (Jn 13-17); Gethsemane (Mt 26:30-46 // Mk 13:32-42 // Lk 22:40-46)|
|Friday||After midnight, betrayal and arrest (Mt 26:47-56 // Mk 14:43-52 // Lk 22:47-53);
Jewish trials—Annas (Jn 18:13-14); Caiaphas and partial Sanhedrin (Mt 26:52-75 // Mk 14:53-72 // Lk 22:54-71); full Sanhedrin (Mt 27:1-2);
Roman trials—Pilate (Mt 27:2-14 // Mk 15:2-5 // Lk 23:2-5); Herod Antipas (Lk 23:6-12); Pilate (Mt 27:15-26 // Mk 15:6-15 // Lk 23:17-27);
Mocked by soldiers (Mt 27:27-31 // Mk 15:16-20);
Road to Golgotha (Mt 27:32 // Mk 15:21 // Lk 23:26-32);
Crucifixion 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. / 15:00h (Mt 27:27-56 // Mk 15:22-41 // Lk 23:33-49);
Burial (Mt 27:57-61 // Mk 15:42-47 // Lk 23:5-56)
|Grant R. Osborne, Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Zondervan, 2010), who got it from Michael J. Wilkens, Matthew: NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 2004). I modified it.|
This chapter begins with the head tax collector being so eager to see Jesus—to see who he was—and ends with the Jerusalem establishment plotting to kill him. Zacchaeus saw things clearly, a sinner, while the powerful and religious were so blinded by their knowledge that they did not recognize their day of visitation. This fulfills the Great Reversal. Recall that Luke 1:51-53 and 2:34 says that Jesus would cause the fall of the mighty and the rise of the needy, and the rich would be lowered, and the poor raised up. It is the down elevator and up elevator. Those at the top will take the down elevator, and those at the bottom will take the up elevator.
Further recall that in the Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), the tax-collector, probably rich, was humble, so he was exalted and left his time of prayer righteous before God. The Pharisee exalted himself in his own eyes and—so he thought—in the eyes of God. But he was humbled. He walked away from his prayer unrighteous.
The Parable of the Ten Minas was really hard hitting. He spoke it to correct a popular misconception that the kingdom of God was about to come in full power and glory. It reveals that during Jesus’s long absence after his ascension, his kingdom subjects were supposed work for the king and kingdom to advance it. When the king returns, he will judge his workers and reward them for their good or unproductive works. And then a third class of people were judged with ultimate judgment—condemnation—because they opposed the king and became his enemies. We are to take warning that God’s judgment is real.
Finally! Jesus entered Jerusalem, but just before then he got a word of knowledge about a colt on which no one had ever sat. The two disciples whom he sent to untie and bring it to him found it just as he said. The crowd of his disciples shouted praise to God with great rejoicing for all the mighty works they had seen.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem, just outside it. The establishment were too blind to see the day of their visitation. Visitation in this context means an examination or inspection. Then Jesus cleansed the temple by ejecting the money-changers from the sacred precinct. Apparently, he did not like what he saw. This act was bound to anger the establishment. They plotted to kill him, but his popularity prevented their plan, for the short term.
Times are now tense in Jerusalem. Expect the parables and speeches to be hard hitting for the rest of Gospel.
Bock, Darrel L. Luke 1:1-9:50. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 1 (Baker, 1994).
—. Luke 9:51-24:53. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 2. (Baker 1996).
Culy, Martin M., Mikael C. Parsons. Joshua J. Stigall. Luke: A Handbook on the Greek Text. (Baylor UP, 2010).
Fitzmyer, Joseph A., SJ. The Gospel according to Luke, I-IX. Vol. 28. The Anchor Bible. (Doubleday, 1981).
—. The Gospel according to St. Luke, X-XIV. The Anchor Bible. Vol. 28A. (Doubleday, 1985).
Garland, David E. Luke. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. (Zondervan, 2011).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger (United Bible Society, 2014). The Greek text in the tables comes from the Nestle-Aland 28th ed, available here: https://www.academic-bible.com/en/online-bibles/novum-testamentum-graece-na-28/read-the-bible-text/
Green, Joel B. The Gospel of Luke. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. (Eerdmans, 1997).
Liefeld, Walter L. and David W. Pao Luke. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. (Zondervan, 2007).
Marshall, I. Howard. The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Eerdmans, 1978).
Morris, Leon. Luke. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. (IVP Academic, 1988).
Stein, Robert H. Luke: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. The New American Commentary. Vol. 24. (Broadman and Holman, 1992).