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V. JESUS’ MINISTRY ON THE WAY TO JERUSALEM 9:51-19:27
This large section of the Book of Luke has no counterpart in the other Gospels, but some of the material in it occurs in other parts of the Gospels (cf. Matthew 19-20; Mark 10). The section consists largely of instruction that Jesus gave His disciples with only brief references to geographic movements. Luke de-emphasized the topographical data in this section except those relating to Jerusalem. [Note: Carson and Moo, p. 200, n. 1.] We have already noticed that Luke had more interest in lessons than in details of geography and chronology. The skeletal references to Jesus’ movements show a general shift from Galilee toward Jerusalem (e.g., Luke 9:52; Luke 10:38; Luke 13:22; Luke 13:32-33; Luke 17:11; Luke 18:31; Luke 18:35; Luke 19:1; Luke 19:28-29). However, His journey was not direct (cf. Luke 10:38; Luke 17:11). Jesus visited Jerusalem more than once, but this section records Jesus leaving Galilee and arriving in Jerusalem for the last time before His passion. Luke presented what were really three trips to Jerusalem as one. [Note: Edersheim, 2:128.] John told us more about those three trips.
The ministry of Jesus during this journey was not just different because of where it took place. It took on new characteristics. His ministry to the disciples seems to have occupied His primary attention, though Luke featured this less than Mark. We have noted a strong emphasis on Jesus’ identity (Christology) in the previous chapters. Now the disciples’ mission becomes the dominant theme. There are many words of warning to the rich and the complacent as well as to the Pharisees in this section. Many students of Luke and Acts have noticed the common emphasis on travel that characterizes both books and have pointed out some significant comparisons. Jerusalem was for Jesus the destination toward which He pressed, as Rome was for Paul.
The literary structure of this section is a chiasm (inverted parallelism). The central, focal sections, where the emphasis falls, are the growth of the kingdom to include Gentiles as well as Jews (Luke 13:18-21) and the judgment coming on Israel for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus (Luke 13:22-35). [Note: See Bailey, p. 123, for a diagram of the chiasm.]
J. The recipients of salvation 18:9-19:27
Luke next developed the idea of faith on the earth that Jesus introduced in Luke 18:8. This whole section clarifies how people become believers. This subject is a fitting conclusion to the part of Luke’s Gospel that deals with Jesus’ ministry on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27). Essentially this section records Jesus’ teaching that salvation and eventual entrance into the kingdom come by God’s grace through faith rather than by claims to legal righteousness. The apostle Paul wrote about the process of justification (e.g., Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:21), but Luke’s concern was the recipients of it. [Note: Danker, p. 185.]
6. Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate 23:13-25 (cf. Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39-19:16)
The overall impression that Luke presented with this part of his narrative is that Jesus’ condemnation was a terrible travesty of justice. Pilate condemned an innocent man. This decision comes across as especially heinous since he also acquitted a guilty man. The strong resolve of the Jewish leaders overcame the weak will of the Roman official.
Probably the new Jericho that Herod the Great had built is in view (cf. Luke 18:35). It stood immediately to the south of old Jericho. Jesus was passing through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem and the Cross.
6. Zaccheus’ ideal response to Jesus 19:1-10
This section in Luke’s long narrative of Jesus’ ministry as He traveled to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27) is climactic. It is a choice example of Jesus offering salvation to a needy person. Zaccheus accepted Jesus’ offer and responded appropriately with joy and the fruits of repentance. He also gave an excellent example of how disciples should use what wealth they have. The section closes with a summary of Jesus’ ministry that is really the key verse in this Gospel.
Zaccheus displayed traits of the tax collector in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). They shared the same despised occupation, the same sense of personal need, and the same childlike humility and receptivity toward God. He also resembles the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-23). He, too, had wealth, but his response to Jesus was precisely the opposite of that other rich man. His salvation is a great example of the truth that with God all things are possible (Luke 18:25-27). Zaccheus, moreover, demonstrated the same faith in Jesus and consequent insight into his responsibility to follow Jesus and glorify God that the blind man did (Luke 18:35-43). His story brings together many themes that Luke interwove in this section in which he stressed the recipients of salvation (Luke 18:9 to Luke 19:27).
"The incident contains several primary Lukan features: the universal appeal of the gospel (Luke 19:2-4); the ethical problem of wealth (Luke 19:2); the call of a ’sinner’ who was in social disfavor (Luke 19:7); the sense of God’s present work (Luke 19:5; Luke 19:9); the feeling of urgency (’immediately,’ speusas, Luke 19:5), of necessity (’must,’ Luke 19:5), and of joy (Luke 19:6); restitution, with goods distributed to the poor (Luke 19:8); and, above all, salvation (Luke 19:9-10)." [Note: Liefeld, "Luke," p. 1007.]
Luke underlined Zaccheus’ occupation and wealth, two things that Jesus had taught His disciple about earlier. Tax collectors represented social outcasts, but they typically responded positively to Jesus’ ministry. Zaccheus ("the just" or "pure") was a chief tax collector (Gr. architelones), which probably made him the object of special hatred in Jericho. The wealth that he had accumulated through his occupation probably made his neighbors hate him even more. They probably ridiculed him for his name too. It is an abbreviated form of Zechariah, and means "the righteous one." Tax collectors normally became wealthy by extorting more taxes from their fellow Jews than those that the Jews owed Rome. Jericho would have been a main tax-gathering site since many people who approached Jerusalem and Judea from the east passed through it. Rich people typically did not respond positively to Jesus’ ministry. How will Zaccheus respond, as a typical tax collector or as a typical rich man?
Zaccheus’ curiosity about Jesus was understandable since one of Jesus’ disciples had been a tax collector (Luke 5:27-30). Moreover Jesus had a reputation for associating with people in his profession (Luke 5:29-30; Luke 7:29; Luke 7:34; Luke 15:1). Luke’s reference to his stature prepares the reader for his climbing a tree to see Jesus (Luke 19:4). It is interesting that Zaccheus did some childlike things, namely, running to see Jesus and climbing a tree, unusual activities for an adult government official. Jesus had formerly commended the tax collector in His parable for childlike faith (Luke 18:13). He had also taught the importance of childlike faith (cf. Luke 18:16-17).
"The crowd as physical barrier and Zacchaeus’ strange position up in a tree can serve as spatial symbols of his isolation from his community." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:123.]
Jesus initiated a relationship with Zaccheus. Since he called him by name He evidently knew about him, though Zaccheus had obviously not seen Jesus formerly. Jesus not only wanted to talk with him but to stay in his house. Jesus spoke as though He felt compelled to do this, as is clear from the recurrence of one of Luke’s favorite words, "must" (Gr. dei, cf. Luke 4:43; et al.). "Today" further stresses urgency and the fulfillment of God’s plan (cf. Luke 2:11; Luke 4:21; Luke 19:9). [Note: Ellis, p. 221.] This attitude was typical of Jesus who sought out lost people. Zaccheus gladly and obediently responded to Jesus’ offer.
". . . the coming of Jesus to share his home is a sign of fellowship and ultimately forgiveness." [Note: Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 697.]
Luke 19:5 records an instance of divine sovereignty and Luke 19:6 human responsibility. [Note: Liefeld, "Luke," p. 1007.]
"They" (NASB) were the people in the crowd (Luke 19:3). It was as though Jesus had become the guest of a Mafia godfather (cf. Luke 5:29-30; Luke 15:1-2). However table fellowship implied even more comradeship then than eating in someone else’s home today does. Staying in a person’s home amounted to sharing in his sins. [Note: Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 697.]
Zaccheus’ stood up to make his promises thus symbolizing their solemnity. He addressed Jesus as "Lord" implying respect and Jesus’ deity (cf. Luke 19:9). His statement was a response to Jesus’ gracious initiative and the crowd’s disapproving reaction. His plan to give half his wealth to the poor and to reimburse generously anyone whom he had cheated testified to the genuineness of his faith in Jesus (Luke 19:9). The Mosaic Law only required adding 20 percent to the amount due when restitution was necessary (cf. Leviticus 5:16; Numbers 5:7). When a Jew stole an animal that he could not restore, he had to repay about fourfold, but if he was caught with the stolen property, he had to repay double (Exodus 22:1; Exodus 22:4). Zaccheus’ words were the signs of true repentance (cf. Luke 3:8; Luke 14:33; Luke 18:22).
"Zacchaeus is an example of radical repentance, not of practical wisdom, and it is assumed that his response will leave him pretty much in the same financial state required of the rich ruler." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:124. Cf. 7:36-50; and Matthew 26:6-13.]
Some commentators believed that the conditional clause "if I have defrauded anyone of anything" should better read "from whomsoever I have wrongfully exacted anything." This translation would indicate that Zaccheus had defrauded people. [Note: E.g., Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 698; Liefeld, "Luke," p. 1007; and Morris, p. 273.] However the NASB and NIV translators did not necessarily think that he had. Whichever is the correct translation, it seems clear that the main point is not the extent of Zaccheus’ guilt but his attitude toward it.
Jesus’ assessed Zaccheus’ promises as an evidence of saving faith. Salvation had come to that house because Zaccheus had exercised saving faith and had thereby proved to be a genuine descendant of Abraham, the spiritual father of all believers. [Note: Ellis, p. 220.] His faith and works proved that he was a spiritual son of Abraham and not just one of his physical descendants (cf. Genesis 15:6; Genesis 22:1-19). Now he could enter the kingdom, not because he was a Jew physically but because he was a believer in Jesus.
"This ["He also is a son of Abraham"] will seem to be an irrelevant remark unless we recognize that the principal tension in the story is caused by the rejection of Zacchaeus by the Jewish community." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:124.]
Jesus summarized the present purpose of the Son of Man’s ministry that found fulfillment in Zaccheus’ salvation (cf. 1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus had sought out many, especially among the lost sheep of Israel. He had saved those who would accept His gracious offer of salvation. This verse is the key verse in the third Gospel because it expresses concisely the ministry of Jesus as Luke presented it (cf. Luke 4:18-19; Luke 15:5; Luke 15:9; Luke 15:24).
"This whole incident is the epitome of the messianic mission described in Luke 4." [Note: Liefeld, "Luke," p. 1008.]
The connection between Jesus being almost at Jerusalem and the kingdom appearing immediately implies that the believers in the crowd expected Jesus to begin the kingdom when He arrived there. Jesus had just told Zaccheus that salvation had come to his house that day (Luke 19:9), but salvation would not come to Israel for some time. Even though the Son of Man had come to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), the national deliverance of Israel would have to wait. What follows is another of the many passages in Luke that records Jesus’ teaching about the future.
"In Luke 19:11 the disciples are pictured as expecting something that should have been and could have been apart from the rejection of Jesus. But because of this rejection, the messianic kingdom for Israel does not come immediately, as the disciples mistakenly hoped. We see that in Luke-Acts the problem of eschatological delay is intertwined with the problem of Jewish rejection." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:260.]
7. The parable of the minas 19:11-27
This parable serves in Luke’s narrative as a conclusion to the section on salvation’s recipients (Luke 18:9 to Luke 19:27). It provides something of a denouement (i.e., a final unraveling of the plot) following the excellent example of Zaccheus’ faith and the summary statement describing Jesus’ ministry. In this teaching to the people who were observing his meal with the tax collector, Jesus taught several important lessons. He repeated His coming rejection and future return, and He clarified the time when the kingdom would appear. He also explained the duty of His disciples during His absence from the earth. Both the nation of Israel and the disciples had duties to Jesus. This parable summarizes Jesus’ teaching on this subject.
The parable also prepared the people for the postponement of the kingdom. Most of the people who believed on Him expected it to arrive when Jesus reached Jerusalem. This teaching should have dispelled those hopes.
This parable is similar to the parable of the talents that Jesus gave later in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 25:14-30). However that one lacks the emphasis on the rejection of Jesus that was appropriate for the mixed audience that Jesus addressed in Zaccheus’ house (Luke 19:27).
The nobleman represents Jesus. The distant country to which he went stands for heaven, and the place to which he would return is the earth. Jesus went to heaven to receive the kingdom from His Father. The correctness of these identifications becomes clearer as the parable unfolds.
A situation similar to the one Jesus described had happened not long before Jesus gave this parable, and He may have had it in mind. Herod Archelaus, one of Herod the Great’s sons, had visited Rome after his father’s death in 4 B.C. to receive Caesar’s confirmation to reign over a section of Palestine bestowed on him in his father’s will. Other Herods-Herod the Great, Antipas, Philip, and Agrippa I-also had to go through this procedure, but the case of Archelaus most closely parallels this parable.
Jesus was announcing a postponement of the kingdom (cf. Acts 1:6-7). Some time would elapse between His ascension and His return. This scenario suggests that the messianic kingdom will not begin until Jesus returns to the earth to rule. Some amillennial interpreters take this reference to the kingdom allegorically. [Note: E.g., Morris, p. 274.]
Before departing the king entrusted ten of his servants (Gr. doulous) with equal responsibility for advancing his interests while he was absent. A mina was a Greek coin worth 100 drachmas or slightly more than three months wages. [Note: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, s.v. "money," by H. W. Perkin, 3:409.] In the parable it probably represents the life potential that each servant of Jesus has to invest for His glory. Ten is apparently a round number representing all His servants. Jesus did not mean just the Twelve. He pictured His servants in the role of modern investors who were responsible to increase the amount of money He had entrusted to each during His absence.
In the parable of the talents, each servant received a different sum representing the different gifts and talents that each has compared with the others. In this parable each servant received the same sum representing the one life that each has to invest for the Master.
The citizens of Herod Archelaus’ territory opposed his reign, though his credentials were impeccable. They persuaded Caesar Augustus to give him only half of his father’s kingdom and to award him the title ethnarch rather than king. [Note: Josephus, Antiquities of . . ., 17:9:3-7 and 17:11:1-4; idem, The Wars . . ., 2:2:1-3. ] Similarly the Jews, and particularly their leaders, resisted Jesus’ rightful claim to be their King.
Jesus was speaking of His second coming here. He will return having received authority to reign on earth from His Father (cf. Daniel 7:13-14). After His return and before He begins to reign, He will call His servants to give an accounting of their stewardship. Later New Testament revelation indicates that Christians, believers who have lived between Pentecost and the Rapture, will have to give their accounting at the judgment seat of Christ following the Rapture (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10). Other believers, mainly those who have lived in Old Testament times and the Tribulation, will give their accounting at the judgment in view here that precedes the Millennium. The basis of the judgment is not their saved or lost condition but the profitability of their lives for the Master’s benefit.
The first servant reported a 1,000 percent return on the master’s investment. This report earned the master’s praise and a great reward. The servant had faithfully fulfilled his responsibility. The master considered what the servant had received in trust as a very little thing. His reward consisted of authority over ten cities in the future and was great compared to what the servant had received to invest. In view of the time of this judgment the reward would apply to the messianic kingdom that would follow, and probably eternity after that. Authority to rule (serve) groups of other people under the King’s authority during the Millennium and throughout eternity was the reward. Throughout history kings have rewarded faithful servants by giving them positions of significant responsibility over others in their kingdoms (cf. Daniel 6:3). Modern government leaders typically do the same thing. The Master’s decision reflects the principle that he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10-12).
The second servant had also been faithful, but he had only earned a 500 percent return on the master’s investment. He did not receive as much commendation as the first servant or as much reward, but his reward was also proportionate to his service. This shows that rewards will vary depending on a servant’s effectiveness.
"The reward is not rest, but the opportunity for wider service." [Note: Morris, p. 275.]
Another servant reported that he had not earned anything with the master’s deposit. Keeping money in a scarf (Gr. soudarion) was a common practice in Jesus’ day, but it was unsafe and unproductive. [Note: Jeremias, The Parables . . ., p. 61.] This person represents someone who does nothing of eternal value with his life. The servant explained that his fear of the master was responsible for his lack of fruit (cf. Matthew 25:25). It was appropriate for him to fear the master since He would eventually bring His servants to account, but the servant’s action in view of his fear of the master was improper. He should have gotten busy and served the master since he feared him. His assessment of the master was correct, but it did not have the proper effect on him.
God seeks a disproportionately high return on His investments, so the servant’s conservatism was sinful. He appears to have felt that he would receive no reward for his work for the master if he ever returned. He should have taken some risks. Faithful stewardship involves taking calculated risks. [Note: See Helmut Thielicke, The Waiting Father, pp. 143-45.] Taking up what one had not laid down and reaping what one had not sown (Luke 19:21) were evidently proverbial expressions similar to getting blood out of a stone. [Note: Morris, p. 275.] They described a strict, exacting person.
The master said he would judge the servant on the basis of his own words, namely, that the master was an exacting man who demanded much from his servants (Luke 19:21). Rather than commending him the master condemned this servant calling him worthless, that is, unproductive (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27; James 2:14; James 2:16; James 2:20; James 2:26). He had produced nothing of value for the master. The master’s character should have moved the servant to productive service rather than passive sloth. Even by depositing his investment in a bank the servant could have earned some interest for the master with little risk. Probably the bank in the parable represents a safe investment with comparatively little risk.
The bystanders in the parable represent those who assist Jesus in carrying out His will, perhaps angels or other human servants. The unfaithful servant lost even what the master had given him. If the mina each servant received represents his life potential, this servant would lose that. The master gave it instead to the most faithful servant. This seems to mean that God’s faithful servants will receive additional opportunities to glorify Him in the next stage of their service as well as authority over others. The next stage of these servants’ service will be millennial service in the kingdom. It will be that for Christians as well.
"In the Christian life we do not stand still. We use our gifts and make progress or we lose what we have." [Note: Ibid., p. 276.]
This arrangement appeared unjust to the bystanders. They probably thought the unfaithful servant’s mina should have gone to a servant with a smaller reward. They were looking at what was best for the servants. However the master was operating on the principle that faithfulness with little indicates faithfulness in much. Therefore it was to His advantage to give the unfaithful servant’s mina to the most faithful servant because he would make the best use of it. The master expressed this truth proverbially (Luke 19:26; Luke 13:12). He was looking at what was best for himself. Obviously what is best for God is more important than what is best for His servants. Still the master’s action was also fair to his servants since the servant who glorified the master most received the greatest reward.
Zaccheus, who was listening to this parable, had just promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and to reimburse anyone he had defrauded four-fold (Luke 19:8). Jesus’ teaching here would have encouraged him to follow through on his commitment. He would have a great reward, much treasure in heaven, if he so served the Master faithfully.
The master now dealt with a different group of people. These were the enemies who opposed his rule over them (Luke 19:14), not his servants. They suffered a fate that was typical for such rebels in the ancient world. They correspond to unbelievers in Jesus. They would not only lose a reward but their very lives. Physical death in the parable represents spiritual death in reality. [Note: See Pagenkemper, pp. 194-98.] This judgment will come after Jesus returns and rewards believers at the Second Coming. He will then also slay His enemies (cf. John 5:22; Acts 17:31).
"In Acts 3:13-15 the people of Jerusalem are accused not only of killing Jesus but also of denying him. This repudiation is emphasized in the story of the throne claimant [Luke 19:14; Luke 19:27], an addition to the parable of the pounds found only in Luke." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:161.]
The teaching of the parable is quite clear. Jesus was not going to begin His reign as Messiah immediately. He was going away and would return later to reign. During His absence His servants, believing disciples, need to invest what God has given them for His glory. He will reward them in proportion to what they have produced for Him. This parable teaches that everyone is accountable to God, and everyone will receive what he or she deserves from the King. It provided a warning for the unbelievers in Jesus’ audience as well as believers in view of the postponement of the kingdom.
This parable clarifies that while salvation and entrance into the kingdom come by faith in Jesus, rewards for service rest on the believer’s works. Both salvation and rewards come as a result of God’s grace. Christians have consistently confused teaching about salvation and rewards. Salvation does not depend on working for God but resting in what Jesus Christ has done. Rewards do not depend on resting in what Jesus Christ has done but on working for God. It is a misunderstanding of Scriptural revelation to conclude that because God has saved us by His grace we need do nothing but lie back and wait for heaven. Such behavior constitutes irresponsible stewardship that Jesus Christ will punish by withholding a reward. In view of what lies ahead for us we need to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
"We are all accountable to God for how we conduct our journey through his world. One day he will render judgment. This concept is not popular in some circles today, but it is a biblical concept." [Note: Bock, Luke, p. 488.]
The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) teaches us that God gives everyone a different amount to invest for his glory. Some people have more intelligence or talent or money than others. The parable of the minas teaches that God gives all His servants the same opportunity to invest for His glory. Everyone has only one life. Both believers and unbelievers play a part in both parables. Both parables advocate belief in Jesus, faithfulness, and preparedness, and they both show that God will deal with all people justly, graciously, and generously.
Many amillennial and postmillennial interpreters view this parable as prefiguring the fall of Jerusalem and its attending massacres. [Note: E.g., Luce, p. 297.] Posttribulationists usually view it similarly to pretribulationists.
This parable ends the long part of Luke’s Gospel that deals with Jesus’ ministry as He traveled to Jerusalem from Galilee (Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27). Luke’s narrative highlighted Jesus’ lessons to the multitudes and the disciples in view of His impending passion. This parable also concludes the section dealing with the recipients of salvation, stressing their responsibility (Luke 18:9 to Luke 19:27).
This is another of Luke’s geographical markers that note Jesus’ progress toward his goal, Jerusalem. He traveled west from Jericho, up the Judean wilderness, and toward Bethany. He walked in front of His followers leading them to the Cross.
VI. JESUS’ MINISTRY IN JERUSALEM 19:28-21:38
Luke’s account of Jesus’ passion highlights Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and His teaching there before His arrest.
A. The Triumphal Entry 19:28-40 (cf. Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:12-19)
Luke did not record Jesus’ actual entrance into the city of Jerusalem. He stressed Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem and His lamentation over it (Luke 19:41-44). This presentation has the effect of eliminating the triumphant spirit of Jesus’ coming and replacing it with sadness over Jesus’ rejection.
Until now, Jesus typically discouraged people from proclaiming that He was the Messiah. Now He not only allowed people to identify Him as such but encouraged them to do so. The time of His official presentation to Israel as her Messiah had come.
"Everything He did over the course of these days was designed to call attention to the fact that He is the Messiah." [Note: Martin, p. 253.]
Luke located what happened for his readers’ benefit. Probably Mark and Luke mentioned Bethany because it was a better-known town than Bethphage, though Bethany was slightly farther east. [Note: Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 712.] Bethphage was "the village opposite" or "ahead" (Matthew 21:1). The mention of Mt. Olivet (lit. olive orchard) recalls the prophecy of Messiah’s coming there (Zechariah 14:4). The preparations to enter Jerusalem riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, were to fulfill Zechariah 9:9-10. The disciples were to borrow or rent this animal for Jesus to ride on. Evidently such animals were available to assist travelers. [Note: J. D. M. Derrett, "Law in the New Testament: The Palm Sunday Colt," Novum Testamentum 13 (1971):244.] However, this colt was tied up (cf. Genesis 49:11), and no one had ridden it previously (cf. Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; 1 Samuel 6:7; 2 Samuel 6:3). When a royal or sacred person rode on such an animal, its owners did not normally put it to customary use from then on. [Note: Ibid., pp. 248-49.]
The term "Lord" probably refers to Jesus as the person the owner knew needed the colt, but Jesus was the real owner of it since He owns everything. Thus Luke’s words, as well as Matthew’s and Mark’s, conveyed Jesus’ sovereign authority to his readers. "The Lord has need of it" seems to have been a password. [Note: Morris, p. 278.]
This record shows that things turned out just as Jesus led the disciples to believe they would. This would have strengthened the disciples’ confidence in Jesus as they entered Jerusalem, and it helps the reader appreciate the reliability of all that Jesus predicted. Probably Jesus had previously arranged for the use of the colt. However the evangelists told the story to stress Jesus’ knowledge of things to come.
Others placed Jesus on the colt, but its mother also accompanied it (Matthew 21:7). The disciples honored Jesus by using their outer garments to make a saddle for Him (cf. 1 Kings 1:33). The people who laid their garments down for the colt to walk on were the many people who accompanied Jesus (Matthew 21:8: Mark 11:7). However, Luke stressed the disciples’ part in this act of homage (cf. 2 Kings 9:13). Luke simplified the scene by omitting reference to the branches that others laid in the road before the colt (Matthew 21:38; Mark 11:8).
Luke alone specified that Jesus descended from the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem. He may have done so to associate Jesus with the prophecy of Messiah standing on that mountain (Zechariah 14:4). However this was not a fulfillment of that prophecy. Fulfillment will come at the Second Coming. Jesus had predicted His entrance into Jerusalem (Luke 13:35). Perhaps Luke pictured Jesus descending toward Jerusalem as stage setting for His weeping over the city (Luke 19:42-44).
Luke continued to focus the readers’ attention on the disciples’ role whereas the other evangelists included the whole crowd. Obviously Luke wanted us to appreciate the part the disciples played in Jesus’ glorification here (cf. Luke 2:13; Luke 2:20; Luke 19:37; Acts 2:47; Acts 3:8-9). Perhaps he viewed it as a preview of our participation in His second coming. He alone noted the disciples’ reference to having observed Jesus’ miracles (Gr. dynameon, evidences of spiritual power).
Luke omitted "Hosanna" from the disciples’ praise. His Greek readers probably would not have understood it. The repetition of Psalms 118:26 from Luke 13:35 points to one fulfillment of that messianic prophecy here. There will be another fulfillment at the Second Coming. Luke noted that the King rather than the kingdom (Mark 11:10) was the focus of the disciples’ praise. The kingdom was not yet to appear (Luke 19:11), but the King was at hand.
The words "peace in heaven and glory in the highest" recall Luke 2:14 where the angels expressed similar words in praise to God for providing a Savior. However there they thanked Him for peace on earth, not peace in heaven. Probably the disciples were honoring God as the author of peace as He is the source of glory in the highest (i.e., in heaven).
Some of the Pharisees did not like the disciples using messianic terminology of Jesus and suggesting that He fulfilled messianic prophecy (cf. Matthew 21:14-16). They asked Jesus to silence them. Obviously they thought He would agree that they were going too far. This verse occurs only in this Gospel. It provides a background for Jesus’ strong statement in the next verse.
"The story strongly emphasizes the tension between the scribes-Pharisees and Jesus. Study of the references to scribes and Pharisees in Luke up through Luke 19:39-40 (where Pharisees last appear in the gospel, although scribes will continue to play a role) shows that these groups are mentioned almost entirely in pronouncement stories or similar scenes in which they interact with Jesus by objecting, posing a testing inquiry, or taking a position which Jesus corrects. The only exceptions are the statements about Pharisees and scribes in Luke 7:30, Luke 9:22, and Luke 12:1." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:170.]
However, Jesus refused to silence the disciples. They spoke the truth. The figure of stones crying out (personification) stresses the appropriateness of the disciples crying out. If the disciples kept silence, the stones would need to declare who Jesus was instead of them. This clear messianic claim is unique to Luke. It shows the blatant rejection of Israel’s leaders in the face of indisputable evidence that Jesus was the Messiah.
"All history had pointed toward this single, spectacular event when the Messiah publicly presented Himself to the nation, and God desired that this fact be acknowledged." [Note: Martin, p. 253.]
The Triumphal Entry is only the second incident in Jesus’ ministry that all four evangelists recorded, the first being the feeding of the 5,000. This indicates its great importance in God’s messianic program.
Luke continued to describe Jesus as approaching Jerusalem, His city of destiny. Jesus saw the city in the light of its rejection of His gracious offer of salvation. He foresaw it visited in judgment later since it had rejected His peaceful visit. This is the only place in the Gospels beside John 11:35 where we read that Jesus wept (wailed). His compassion is something Luke pointed out frequently. The fate of sinners who reject God’s grace broke Jesus’ heart. Jeremiah also wept over the fate of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 8:18-22; Jeremiah 15:5; Lam.; cf. 2 Kings 8:11-12).
1. Jesus’ sorrow over Jerusalem 19:41-44
This material occurs in no other Gospel. The destruction of Jerusalem that Jesus predicted here was an important event for Luke. It showed God’s judgment on Israel for rejecting His Son and provided evidence that God had turned from working with the Jews primarily and was now working with Gentiles equally. It constitutes an argument for the distinctively new dispensation that resulted from the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah. It also gives a reason for the Christian mission on which Jesus later sent His disciples.
B. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem 19:41-48
This is a transitional section that bridges Jesus’ approach to the city and His teaching in it. Luke first recorded Jesus weeping over the city from outside its walls because He knew what lay before its people. Then the writer wrote of Jesus cleansing the temple and teaching there.
Jesus meant that if the people of Jerusalem had only known then, that day (cf. Luke 4:21; Luke 19:5; Luke 19:9), what would result in peace for them, they could experience peace. Acceptance of Him and the inauguration of the kingdom would bring peace (i.e., salvation) to the city of peace, Jerusalem. However they did not realize the consequences of their decision. God had withheld that insight from them because they were bent on rejecting Jesus (Luke 11:49-51; Luke 13:34).
The enemies in view proved to be the Roman soldiers under Titus who besieged Jerusalem as Jesus described, breached its walls, and finally leveled it in A.D. 70 (cf. Luke 21:20-24). The reason for its destruction was its failure to realize Messiah’s visit and His offer of salvation. Consequently His visit would result in judgment.
2. Jesus’ cleansing of the temple 19:45-46 (cf. Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17)
Judgment began when Jesus threw the merchants out of the temple courtyard. Jesus did this twice, once at the beginning of His ministry (John 2:13-22) and here at the end. Luke stressed the temple as a place of prayer. Jesus purified it quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. Luke’s interest in this incident, which he related briefly, was primarily as the introduction to Jesus’ teaching that followed. It also explains the religious leaders’ great antagonism toward Jesus (Luke 19:47).
Perhaps Luke omitted Jesus calling the temple a house of prayer for the Gentiles because he thought this might confuse his Gentile readers. The temple had not become a house of prayer for the Gentiles. Was Jesus therefore wrong? The explanation that Luke did not want to digress to explain was that it will become such in the millennial kingdom.
Some interpreters have identified this incident as the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, but none of the evangelists connected the event with that prophecy. Malachi 3:1 is a prediction of Jesus’ coming to the Tribulation temple at His second coming (cf. Zechariah 14:21).
3. A synopsis of Jesus’ teaching in the temple 19:47-48 (cf. Mark 11:18)
Luke stressed the rejection and hostility of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus as He taught daily in the temple courtyards. The common people, however, were very receptive to His instruction. This contrast between popular acceptance and official opposition has characterized Luke’s narrative. The writer evidently included it to show his readers that average people with no vested interests at stake have always been open to the gospel (cf. Luke 1:68; Luke 1:77; Luke 2:10; Luke 2:31-32).
This paragraph is also introductory to what follows. It introduces Jesus’ teaching ministry to His disciples in Jerusalem, as Luke 4:14-15 introduced His ministry in Galilee.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 19". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent