The conversion of Zaccheus. (1-10) The parable of the nobleman and his servants. (11-27) Christ enters Jerusalem. (28-40) Christ laments over Jerusalem. (41-48)
Verses 1-10 Those who sincerely desire a sight of Christ, like Zaccheus, will break through opposition, and take pains to see him. Christ invited himself to Zaccheus' house. Wherever Christ comes he opens the heart, and inclines it to receive him. He that has a mind to know Christ, shall be known of him. Those whom Christ calls, must humble themselves, and come down. We may well receive him joyfully, who brings all good with him. Zaccheus gave proofs publicly that he was become a true convert. He does not look to be justified by his works, as the Pharisee; but by his good works he will, through the grace of God, show the sincerity of his faith and repentance. Zaccheus is declared to be a happy man, now he is turned from sin to God. Now that he is saved from his sins, from the guilt of them, from the power of them, all the benefits of salvation are his. Christ is come to his house, and where Christ comes he brings salvation with him. He came into this lost world to seek and to save it. His design was to save, when there was no salvation in any other. He seeks those that sought him not, and asked not for him.
Verses 11-27 This parable is like that of the talents, ( Matthew 25 ) . Those that are called to Christ, he furnishes with gifts needful for their business; and from those to whom he gives power, he expects service. The manifestation of the Spirit is given to ( 1 Corinthians. 12:7 ) ( 1 Peter. 4:10 ) account required, resembles that in the parable of the talents; and the punishment of the avowed enemies of Christ, as well as of false professors, is shown. The principal difference is, that the pound given to each seems to point out the gift of the gospel, which is the same to all who hear it; but the talents, distributed more or less, seem to mean that God gives different capacities and advantages to men, by which this one gift of the gospel may be differently improved.
Verses 28-40 Christ has dominion over all creatures, and may use them as he pleases. He has all men's hearts both under his eye and in his hand. Christ's triumphs, and his disciples' joyful praises, vex proud Pharisees, who are enemies to him and to his kingdom. But Christ, as he despises the contempt of the proud, so he accepts the praises of the humble. Pharisees would silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot; for as God can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, and turn the stony heart to himself, so he can bring praise out of the mouths of children. And what will be the feelings of men when the Lord returns in glory to judge the world!
Verses 41-48 Who can behold the holy Jesus, looking forward to the miseries that awaited his murderers, weeping over the city where his precious blood was about to be shed, without seeing that the likeness of God in the believer, consists much in good-will and compassion? Surely those cannot be right who take up any doctrines of truth, so as to be hardened towards their fellow-sinners. But let every one remember, that though Jesus wept over Jerusalem, he executed awful vengeance upon it. Though he delights not in the death of a sinner, yet he will surely bring to pass his awful threatenings on those who neglect his salvation. The Son of God did not weep vain and causeless tears, nor for a light matter, nor for himself. He knows the value of souls, the weight of guilt, and how low it will press and sink mankind. May he then come and cleanse our hearts by his Spirit, from all that defiles. May sinners, on every side, become attentive to the words of truth and salvation.
Luke 19:1-10 . ZACCHEUS THE PUBLICAN.
The name is Jewish.
2-4. chief among the publicans--farming a considerable district, with others under him.
rich--Ill-gotten riches some of it certainly was.
3. who he was--what sort of person. Curiosity then was his only motive, though his determination not to be baulked was overruled for more than he sought.
4. sycamore--the Egyptian fig, with leaves like the mulberry.
5, 6. looked up,--in the full knowledge of who was in the tree, and preparatory to addressing him.
Zaccheus--whom he had never seen in the flesh, nor probably heard of. "He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out" ( John 10:3 ).
make haste, and come down--to which he literally responded--"he made haste and came down."
for to-day, &c.--Our Lord invites Himself, and in "royal" style, which waits not for invitations, but as the honor is done to the subject, not the sovereign, announces the purpose of royalty to partake of the subject's hospitalities. Manifestly our Lord speaks as knowing how the privilege would be appreciated.
to-day . . . abide--(Compare John 1:39 ), probably over night.
6. joyfully--Whence this so sudden "joy" in the cold bosom of an avaricious publican? The internal revolution was as perfect as instantaneous. "He spake and it was done." "Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" ( Isaiah 35:6 ).
7. to be guest--or lodge: something more than "eating with" such ( Luke 15:2 ).
a sinner--that was one but a minute ago, but now is not. This mighty change, however, was all unknown to them. But they shall know it presently. "Sinner" would refer both to his office, vile in the eyes of a Jew, and to his character, which it is evident was not good.
8-10. stood--before all.
said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord--Mark how frequently Luke uses this title, and always where lordly authority, dignity, or power is intended.
if I have--that is, "so far as I have," for evidently the "if" is so used (as in Philippians 4:8 ).
taken by false accusation--defrauded, overcharged ( Luke 3:12 Luke 3:13 ).
fourfold--The Roman law required this; the Jewish law, but the principal and a fifth more ( Numbers 5:7 ). There was no demand made for either; but, as if to revenge himself on his hitherto reigning sin experienced, besides surrendering the half of his fair gains to the poor, he voluntarily determines to give up all that was ill-gotten, quadrupled. He gratefully addressed this to the "Lord," to whom he owed the wonderful change.
9. Jesus said unto him--but also before all.
This day, &c.--memorable saying! Salvation already come, but not a day old.
to this house--so expressed probably to meet the taunt, "He is gone to be guest," &c. The house is no longer polluted; it is now fit to receive Me. But salvation to a house is an exceedingly precious idea, expressing the new air that would henceforth breathe in it, and the new impulses from its head which would reach its members ( Psalms 118:15 , Acts 16:15 Acts 16:16 Acts 16:31 ).
son of Abraham--He was that by birth, but here it means a partaker of his faith, being mentioned as the sufficient explanation of salvation having come to him.
10. lost--and such "lost" ones as this Zaccheus. narrative to hope for unexpected conversions?
Luke 19:11-27 . PARABLE OF THE POUNDS.
A different parable from that of the Talents ( Matthew 25:14-30 ). For, (1) This parable was spoken "when He was nigh to Jerusalem" ( Luke 19:11 ); that one, some days after entering it, and from the Mount of Olives. (2) This parable was spoken to the promiscuous crowd; that, to the Twelve alone. Accordingly, (3) Besides the "servants" in this parable, who profess subjection to Him, there is a class of "citizens" who refuse to own Him, and who are treated differently, whereas in the parable of the talents, spoken to the former class alone, this latter class is omitted. (4) In the Talents, each servant receives a different number of them (five, two, one); in the Pounds all receive the same one pound, which is but about the sixtieth part of a talent; also, in the talents, each shows the same fidelity by doubling what he received (the five are made ten; the two, four); in the Pounds, each receiving the same, render a different return (one making his pound ten, another five). Plainly, therefore, the intended lesson is different; the one illustrating equal fidelity with different degrees of advantage; the other, different degrees of improvement of the same opportunities; yet with all this difference, the parables are remarkably similar.
12. a far country--said to put down the notion that He was just on His way to set up His kingdom, and to inaugurate it by His personal presence.
to receive . . . a kingdom--be invested with royalty; as when Herod went to Rome and was there made king; a striking expression of what our Lord went away for and received, "sitting down at the right hand of the Majesty on high."
to return--at His second coming.
13. Occupy--"negotiate," "do business," with the resources entrusted.
14. his citizens--His proper subjects; meaning the Jews, who expressly repudiating our Lord's claims said, "We have no king but Cæsar" ( John 19:15 ). In Christendom, these correspond to infidel rejecters of Christianity, as distinguished from professed Christians.
ten . . . five cities--different degrees of future gracious reward, proportioned to the measure of present fidelity.
27. bring hither, &c.--(Compare 1 Samuel 15:32 1 Samuel 15:33 ). Referring to the awful destruction of Jerusalem, but pointing to the final destruction of all that are found in open rebellion against Christ.
Luke 19:28-44 . CHRIST'S TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM AND TEARS OVER IT.
29-38. Bethphage--"house of figs," a village which with Bethany lay along the further side of Mount Olivet, east of Jerusalem.
31. the Lord hath need, &c.--He both knew all and had the key of disciple.
35. set Jesus on--He allowing this, as befitting the state He was for the first and only time assuming.
37. whole multitude, &c.--The language here is very grand, intended to express a burst of admiration far wider and deeper than ever had been witnessed before.
38. Blessed be the King, &c.--Mark ( mark 11:9 mark 11:10 ) more fully, "Hosanna," that is, "Save now," the words of Psalms 118:25 , which were understood to refer to Messiah; and so they add, "to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord ( Psalms 118:26 ), Hosanna in the highest." This was the very loftiest style in which He could be saluted as the promised Deliverer.
40. the stones, &c.--Hitherto the Lord had discouraged all demonstrations in His favor; latterly He had begun an opposite course; on this one occasion He seems to yield His whole soul to the wide and deep acclaim with a mysterious satisfaction, regarding it as so necessary a part of the regal dignity in which as Messiah He for this last time entered the city, that if not offered by the vast multitude, it would have been wrung out of the stones rather than be withheld ( Habakkuk 2:11 ).
41-44. when beheld . . . wept--Compare Lamentations 3:51 , "Mine eye affecteth mine heart"; the heart again affecting the eye. Under this sympathetic law of the relation of mind and body, Jesus, in His beautiful, tender humanity, was constituted even as we. What a contrast to the immediately preceding profound joy! He yielded Himself alike freely to both.
42. at least in this, &c.--even at this moving moment.
thy peace--thinking perhaps of the name of the city. ( Hebrews 7:2 ) [WEBSTER and WILKINSON]. How much is included in this word!
now . . . hid--It was His among His last open efforts to "gather them," but their eyes were judicially closed.
43. a trench--a rampart; first of wood, and when this was burnt, a built wall, four miles in circuit, built in three days--so determined were they. This "cut off all hope of escape," and consigned the city to unparalleled horrors. (See JOSEPHUS, Wars of the Jews, 6.2; 12.3,4.) All here predicted was with dreadful literally fulfilled.
Luke 19:45-48 . SECOND CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE AND SUBSEQUENT TEACHING.
45, 46. As the first cleansing was on His first visit to Jerusalem ( John 2:13-22 ), so this second cleansing was on His last.
den of thieves--banded together for plunder, reckless of principle. The mild term "house of merchandise," used on the former occasion, was now unsuitable.
47. sought--continued seeking, that is, daily, as He taught.
48. were very attentive to hear him--hung upon His words.