In chapter 19, we find Jesus earthly ministry coming to a close. The chapter begins with him passing through Jericho. We are told that the Chief Tax Collector, a man named Zaccheus, wanted to see Jesus. Unfortunately, there was a small problem with then plan. We are told that “he was small in stature.” (v 4, NASB) In other words, Zaccheus was to short to see Jesus over the crowd. Zaccheus, however, had a plan. He climbed a tree so that he could see. To his surprise, however, as Jesus walked by, he looked up in the tree and told Zaccheus to come down because He was going to stay at his house.
We are then told that “When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'” (v 7) It is not exactly clear who the “they” is, but I am not sure that really matters. This is one of those things that we can get caught up in, and miss the real point. They saw Jesus’ actions of staying with a sinner as unacceptable for a teacher of the law. But they missed the point. Jesus was not going to spend time with them to lower to their level, but to help elevate them to his level. In other words, Jesus knew that the only way to truly impact the lives of others was to be involved in their lives.
We are quickly told that Jesus was right in doing so, and his actions did impact the life of Zaccheus. It tells us that Zaccheus declared, “half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” (v 8) Jesus tells them that this is why he is there. He had “come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (v 10) He was not there to simply tell the truth, but to become involved in people’s lives to show them the way.
As they were drawing nearer to Jerusalem, it seems that those around began to believe “that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.” (v 11) Apparently, they had heard enough to understand that the Kingdom of God was at hand and to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. The logical next step was to believe that since Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, he must be about to inaugurate the Kingdom.
He told the parable of a nobleman who was about to set out upon a journey. Before he leaves, he calls 10 servants and issues each of them a set amount of money, telling them to “Do business with this until I come back.” (v 13) When he returned, he once again called each of them too Himself. Each of the early servants reported how they had been able to use the money and now had, even more, to return to him. The nobleman praised them, telling them that, “because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority.” (v 17)
When he finally came to the last servant, the story was quite different. This man had nothing but the original money he had been entrusted with. He told the nobleman that he knew he was a shrewd man. As a result, he had hidden the money so he would not lose it. The nobleman was so angry he ordered the one taken away from the last servant and given to another. The point is that if we do not use the gifts God has given us, they will be taken away.
Now Luke brings us to the climax of Jesus’ earthly ministry. As he approached Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples on ahead to find a colt that he could ride into the city. When they returned, Jesus climbed on the colt and proceeded on. As he went, many of the people would laying their cloaks on the ground in front of him.
Suddenly, the crowd began to cry out,” Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (v 38) The Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke those who were saying this. “Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (v 40)
We then see a different side of Jesus. Luke tells us that when He saw the city, He wept. He wept because he knew the fate that was to befall Jerusalem.
It is interesting that immediately Luke gives us yet another side of Jesus. As Jesus entered the temple and saw the business that was taking place, he became angry. I think we do have to note that his anger was not personal for him, but for the disrespect that was being shown for the righteousness of God. We are told that he drive them from the temple, saying, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.”
Finally, Luke tells us that Jesus was in the temple daily teaching from then on. This will come to be significant later on, that Jesus did not hide, but stayed in the public eye. During this time, the priest and scribes tried to find a way to destroy him, but they could not, “for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.” (v 48)
My takeaways from this chapter are: 1) To reach people, we need to do more than share words, we need to be involved in their lives. 2) We need to use what God has given us. 3) We need to declare God to the world. 4) We need to become zealous for the righteousness of God. And 5) if we are going to impact the world, we can not hide but must be out in the world.