Luke 19


‘Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.’ Luke 19:1-2

The Tax Collectors

Most people know that a tax collector wasn’t highly esteemed in Biblical times, in fact, most were hated because they were considered either a traitor or a thief.

This is because Israel was occupied by Rome and all the taxes collected went to Rome. The Romans demanded a certain amount of tax, but the tax collector could add more to bump up his wages, Luke 3:13.

The tax collectors were called ‘publicans’, which is the equivalent of what we would call the Inland Revenue. Their job was to collect not only Roman taxes but the temple tax which was paid yearly, about a month before Passover, in order to support those who worked with the religious services of the temple, Exodus 30:13-14.


Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector for the Romans, but Luke also tells us that he was wealthy but not how he came by his wealth, because the name Zacchaeus means ‘pure’ we would assume that he became wealthy through collecting taxes, that was his job.

We can also assume that he was a righteous man, Luke 19:9, and this is one of these people who remained faithful to God despite his wealth, Luke 18:24-27 / 1 Timothy 6:6-12.

It’s all too easy to condemn someone because of their wealth and it’s all too easy to tell them they must give up everything they own and give it to the poor, Matthew 10:17-27.

I guess we could say that Zacchaeus was the camel passing through the eye of the needle, and the rich man entering the kingdom of God. There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, it all depends if we rely on our wealth more than we do on God and how we use our wealth.

‘He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So, he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’ Luke 19:3-7

It’s clear that Zacchaeus was small in size because he couldn’t see over the crowd but something else to keep in mind here, because he was a tax collector the Pharisees commanded that they would be a part of God’s people when the Messiah came.

Despite him being rich and in a high position in the Roman rule, he still had to climb up a tree to get a look at Jesus. The tree in question was the sycamore-fig tree, the fig-mulberry, having fig-like fruit and leaves like the mulberry.

These trees were strong, with long branches and were often climbed, especially by young children. The very fact that he took the time to climb the tree tells us a lot about his determination just to see Jesus in the flesh.

Jesus Knows Everything And Everyone

Even though Jesus had never met Zacchaeus before, He certainly knew His name, Luke 6:8 / Luke 9:47 / Matthew 9:4 / Matthew 12:25 / Matthew 22:18 / Matthew 24:25 / Mark 2:8 / Mark 5:30.

Isn’t it wonderful that He knows us personally, Luke 12:7. He not only knew who Zacchaeus was, but He also knew the condition of Zacchaeus’ heart.

Notice that he ‘welcomed him gladly’, which tells us that God will always welcome anyone who welcomes Him into their lives. But, as always there are those in the background who aren’t happy with Jesus and His decisions to associate with ‘sinners’.

The crowd seem to have made up their minds that Zacchaeus was a traitor to the Jews and therefore a sinner because he was a tax collector, regardless if he was an honest tax collector or not, 1 Samuel 16:7.

In other words, Zacchaeus was guilty, in their minds at least, of being a sinner because he worked for sinners, the Romans. He was guilty by association. Jesus was going to deal with this mentally later in Luke 19:11-27.

‘But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Luke 19:8

I don’t believe that Zacchaeus is saying from this point on he’s going to do all these things, I believe he’s saying that he’s going to continue to do what he’s been doing for years, he will continually give to the poor, he will continue to have compassion on the poor, Psalm 41:1.

Surely this gives us a glimpse into his heart and his honesty, he wants to continue to do what’s right, he’s even willing to pay back anyone ‘if’ he has cheated anybody out of anything.

Other tax collectors may have been charging a lot of extra charges over and above what was actually required by the Romans, but Zacchaeus seems to be charging just enough to earn a decent living.

This idea of paying back ‘four times the amount’, went way beyond what the Old Testament law required, Exodus 22 / Numbers 5:6-7 / Leviticus 6:1-6, but was often what was required by Roman law in some cases.

Zacchaeus was obviously very careful when it came to dealing with people’s money, and if he overcharged people by mistake he would go back and give them not just the difference but four times the amount.

Again, this shows us the integrity of the man, he was honest and also strove to do what was right, even if that did mean he had to humble himself when he realised he made a mistake. How many of us are quick to give the shopkeeper the money back when they give us too much change?

‘Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ Luke 19:9-10

This is the only occasion where Jesus invites Himself to stay at someone’s house. Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham by faith, Romans 2:28-29 / Galatians 3:7 / Galatians 3:26-29. The Jews wouldn’t accept him as a son of Abraham because he was a tax collector.

Notice his faith had legs attached, he climbed the tree, he came down when Jesus asked him to, He was willing to do what was right, He took Jesus to his house.

In other words, his faith in Jesus moved him to respond to Jesus which resulted in his salvation, James 2:14-26. The Jews believed that salvation comes to a house when the head and master of it are saved.

Here we read about Christ’s mission whilst He was on earth, ‘He came to seek and to save the lost’. It’s a truth that many people ignore, many people won’t admit they are lost, lost in sin.

Isn’t it interesting that despite Zacchaeus being a righteous man, Jesus still classed him as ‘lost’? The word ‘lost’ here simply means ‘spiritual destitution and alienation from God’. Zacchaeus was lost, and he didn’t even know it, salvation came to him because Jesus brought it to him and accepted Him.

Zacchaeus proved that he was the real deal, the Pharisees and the Jews as a whole tried to justify themselves by their works, but Zacchaeus was different and had a different attitude towards his good works, his faith and repentance clearly show us that he was different from those around him.

And as a result, he is saved from his sins, that is, from the guilt of his sins, from the power of his sins, and now all the benefits of salvation are his.

We’re not told if he ever went on in later years to become a Christian, we can only hope that he did, his faith in Christ was rewarded then, but a greater reward awaited him if he obeyed Christ’s later commands, Matthew 28:18-20 / Mark 16:16.

Because Christ’s mission was to ‘save’, this tells us that we couldn’t save ourselves, Christ had to come and do something for us that we couldn’t do ourselves.

Some people are just happy to read about Jesus, whilst others are more than happy to obey Him too. The question is, what heights will we climb, not only to see Jesus but to allow Him to save us?

The Parable Of The Ten Minas

‘While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.’ Luke 19:11

A few commentators suggest that this parable is Luke’s version of the parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30, however, although there are some similarities, they are different.

First of all, they are spoken in different places, this one is spoken in Jericho while the other is spoken in Jerusalem, one involves only servants, this one involves also hostile subjects, one has three servants, this one has ten servants, there are also different amounts of money and different applications.

We must remember that this parable is part of Jesus’ discussion at Jericho where he specifically spoke of His mission on earth. As he gets closer to Jerusalem, the disciples are thinking about what they assumed would soon happen, that is the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Many people believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but they didn’t understand the nature of His kingdom and the purpose behind it. and so, Jesus who is coming near the end of His ministry teaches a parable to help clear up any misconceptions.

The King

‘He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.’ Luke 19:12

The nobleman represents Jesus, the Messiah. He meets the credentials of a king and He is worthy to be king. But His kingship will not begin here where He is. He travels to a distant country far away to receive His crown and begin His reign, to have himself appointed king.

This was pointing out to the disciples that Jesus would not immediately establish His kingdom during the coming Passover at Jerusalem. Later in the upper room discourse, the disciples were perplexed and sorrowful when Jesus spoke to them about going away, John 16.

Where was this ‘distant country’? Was it the grave, at His death, or heaven at His ascension after His resurrection? The best understanding points to His ascension to the Father as the time He would receive the Kingdom, Daniel 7:13-14 / Matthew 28:18-20 / Acts 2 / Ephesians 1:19-21.

Jesus’ parable pointed forward to 50 days after His death at the Passover, on the Day of Pentecost, when the church or kingdom of God began through the coming of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the authority of Christ. After His resurrection, Acts 1:3-8.

The Servants

‘So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ Luke 19:13

In preparation for His reception of His kingdom, the nobleman entrusts his ten servants with the responsibility to do business on His behalf. His journey to the distant country provides an opportunity for His servants to show their faithfulness and loyalty to Him.

For them, the issue is one of stewardship and responsibility. While the master wanted them to make money with what he provided, the amount of money is insignificant in this parable.

All received the same relatively small amount. The question was whether each would faithfully work and submit to His authority. Therefore the authority of the King is in view. Some servants will be faithful, but not all are willing.

The Rebellious Subjects

‘But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ Luke 19:14

Some other subjects hated the nobleman. They went as far as sending a delegation to denounce His authority over them, and attempt to sabotage His reign. But the enemies of this King would have no such success.

David prophesied of the Christ, Psalm 69:4. Jesus warned His disciples that they would be hated because He was hated. Later in the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus spoke of those who treated the servants of the king spitefully and killed them, Matthew 22:6. Jesus was clearly pointing out that His authority would be rejected.

But the hatred and rejection would not preclude His reigning over them. Notice that he returns in verse 15, ‘having received the kingdom’.

His kingship wasn’t postponed because of their rejection. Rather, the accountability He established with His subjects before He left was still intact, and when He returned He came to exercise judgment.

They rejected the chief cornerstone, Psalm 118:22, they rejected the very one who came for them, John 1:11-13.

The Judgment

‘He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’ “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’ “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’ “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’ “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’ “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” Luke 19:15-27

The authority of this king would be exhibited in His willingness and ability to judge His servants. There would be an accounting which is proof that He was in charge. Those servants who are responsible and use what they are entrusted with, are rewarded.

Those who are faithful in little are given power over much, from 10 minas to the rulership of 10 cities. But for the servant is fearful and reproachful to the King there is only punishment. What he was given will be taken away. God demands that we use what He gives.

But then the story turns back to those subjects who tried to sabotage His kingdom and hated Him, His enemies, Luke 19:27. The King has them destroyed.

There is an accounting for those who reject the King. Jesus’ words may have been a prophetic pointer to the coming destruction of the city of Jerusalem as God’s punishment of the Jewish nation for the rejection of their Messiah.

The Triumphal Entry

‘After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.” They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:28-40

Jesus sent two disciples into Jerusalem to bring him a colt. Why had He chosen to enter the capital on a donkey, not on some great white steed? Zechariah 9:9-10. His life reflected one of His favourite sermons, greatness in the kingdom comes to the one who humbles himself.

John 12:14 tells us that ‘Jesus found a young donkey,’ Matthew 21:1-2 tells that He sent two disciples to find and bring an ass and colt. Luke 19:30 says ‘a colt on which no one has ever yet sat’.

The donkey was traditionally ridden by Kings who came in peace, if He had come on a horse instead, that would have reflected a more aggressive tone. The Gospels tell us that this was a young donkey, not yet ridden by any man. Jesus was the first on the back of this donkey.

‘A great crowd’ in Jerusalem crowded with Passover pilgrims, many who would be disciples of Jesus, John 12:12-16. As He approached the city, a crowd accompanied Him and another crowd went out to meet him, Matthew 21:9, ‘the crowds that went before him and followed him’ Luke 19:37, ‘the whole multitude of the disciples’. The ‘next day’ we know from the Gospels that this was the first day of the week.

A King’s Welcome

A welcome for a king is being written of here, as they, spread their garments on the road, along with some palm branches before Him, Psalm 118:25-26 / Leviticus 23:40 / Matthew 21:8 / Mark 11:8.

Many carried branches of palm which are symbols of victory, Revelation 7:9, and of the righteousness and vigorous spirituality of God’s children, Psalm 92:12.

They point to the joy of victory, the feeling that everything will now be better, it’s clear, the people were expecting something to change.

The Saviour

‘Hosanna!’ they cry, this was a joyous call, meaning ‘save’ or ‘save us now’, it hadn’t become a simple exclamation of surprise such as we use ‘hurrah’ today. The call had a great deal of meaning to it, Psalm 118:25-26.

The Messiah

Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, His so coming is in fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9 / Matthew 21:4-5. The crowd of disciples wanted Him to assert publicly that He was the Messiah and He did but in such a way as to assert the peaceful nature of his kingdom, Zechariah 9:10.

‘Hosanna!’ they cry, Matthew 21:8-9, this was a joyous call meaning ‘save’ or ‘save us now’, it hadn’t become a simple exclamation of surprise such as we use ‘hurrah’ today. The call had a great deal of meaning to it.

‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ is an extract from Psalm 118:25-26. The context of the Psalm is of a Messianic tone, indicating that they considered Jesus the Messiah, still expecting Him to establish some sort of earthly kingdom. The balance of the call that rang out seems to confirm this idea, ‘Blessed is the King of Israel.’

Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, His so coming is in fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9 / Matthew 21:4-5. The crowd of disciples wanted Him to assert publicly that He was the Messiah and He did but in such a way as to assert the peaceful nature of his kingdom, Zechariah 9:10.

The horse was the symbol of war and conquest and the donkey was the symbol of peace. The disciples only made this connection between Jesus the king of peace, the donkey and the Scriptural quotation after Jesus had ascended and they had received the Holy Spirit. Much became obvious to them at that time.

As He rode it into the city thousands of people lined the route, spreading their clothes and leafy branches in His path to honour Him. While the enthusiastic crowd cheered, Jesus remained calm.

The final entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was like that of a king riding triumphantly in his return home after a victorious battle. Those who have known the works and teachings of Jesus accompanied Him on this triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Look at the reactions to all of this, Matthew 21:10-11 ‘All the city was stirred’, ‘agitated’, ‘went wild with excitement.’ Luke tells us that the Pharisees objected, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’ Jesus, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out!’ Habakkuk 2:11.

Jesus was saying to the Pharisees, ‘you can’t hide from what is happening right now, even if you could silence everyone, these very stones would have shouted glory to God because even they recognise that it’s God’s Son who is entering Jerusalem’.

Jesus’ Sorrow Over Jerusalem

‘As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near to the city and He wept over it, He foresaw and described the disaster coming to a people who rejected the Messiah, Matthew 23:37-40. We can almost feel the emotions of Jesus’ words here.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘If thou had known, says he, even thou, with all thy guilt, the things that make for thy peace, if thou had repented, had been righteous, and had received the Messiah, if thou had not stained thy hands with the blood of the prophets, and shouldn’t have with that of the Son of God, then these terrible calamities would not come upon thee. But it is too late. The national wickedness is too great; the cup is full: mercy is exhausted and Jerusalem, with all her pride and splendour, the glory of her temple, and the pomp of her service, ‘must perish!’

The days did indeed come when Jerusalem fell and the temple was destroyed, the days indeed come when not one stone was left on another, Matthew 24:1-35. This was done by Titus, in 70 A.D., about thirty years after this was spoken.

All this was done, says Christ, because Jerusalem knew not the time of its visitation, that is, did not know, and ‘would not’ know, that the Messiah had come. ‘His coming’ was the time of their merciful visitation.

That time had been predicted, and invaluable blessings promised as the result of his advent, but they would not know it. They rejected him, they put him to death, and it was just that they should be destroyed.

The Cleansing Of The Temple

‘When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” Luke 19:45-46

This is now the second time that Jesus clears out of the temple, the first time was earlier in His ministry, John 2:13-22.

Notice the quotation Jesus uses to cover His actions. Isaiah 56:7 ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.’ This is because the only place that the Gentiles were allowed to enter, the only part of the temple open to them and the only place where they were allowed to pray, was the ‘Court of the Gentiles.’

But how could they pray in a place which had been turned into an open cattle market and money exchange and a public thoroughfare? So, Jesus points out that in allowing these things, the priests were defeating the fulfilment of Scripture.

Notice the strong language He uses, ‘a den of robbers’. Remember that Jesus had just travelled to Jerusalem from Jericho, coming, along that notorious Jericho road, where the man fell along with thieves and was helped by a Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37.

Judea in those days was full of thieves and robbers, and they occupied the limestone caves in the hills. But Jesus says that what went on in the temple was every bit as bad as what went on outside.

So, He quotes from Jeremiah’s temple sermon, Jeremiah 7:11 ‘Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.’

‘Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.’ Luke 19:47-48

The reaction to Jesus was favourable, at least from the people but the reactions from the authorities were violent, ‘that they might kill Him’. However, the priests had to exercise caution, ‘for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching,’ Mark 11:18.

Any of those who had come with Jesus to the city had also come with Him to the temple. In other words, there were many good Galileans present, not just people from the city, who would be under the thumb of the priests and with such enthusiasm being shown for Jesus, it might be dangerous for the priests themselves if they dared to lay hands on Jesus.

In any case, they would not stone Him in the temple itself, so they had to plan to put Him to death elsewhere, Luke 20:1-6.

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