Luke 19

Luke 19:8

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, 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.”

(a) I will give. No one told Zaccheus to give half his stuff away. It was a spontaneous and joyful act made in response to grace. When you meet the Giver of all good things, it makes you generous.

(b) Give back four times. Under the old covenant, thieves were required to repay double what they stole (Ex. 22:3–4). In offering to repay four times what he had cheated out of people (Luke 19:8), Zacchaeus went twice as far as the law required. It was a generous offer, but it was an old covenant offer. Jesus wanted Zacchaeus to have a new covenant understanding of abounding grace, so he told him a story about turning minas into cities (see Luke 19:12–27).

Luke 19:9

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.

(a) Salvation has come to this house. Jesus was not saying, “Zac, you just bought yourself a ticket to heaven.” He was saying, “The Savior has been welcome in your house.”

(b) A son of Abraham. Jesus was not implying that Zacchaeus was a Jew, which was obvious, but acknowledging that he had become a believer like Abraham (Rom. 4:3, 11).

Luke 19:10

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

(a) The Son of Man; see entry for Matt. 8:20.

(b) Lost. Through the prophets God had promised that he would search for his lost sheep and bring back the strays (Eze. 34:11, 16). To be lost means you belong to someone who values you. The lost sheep belongs to the shepherd (Luke 15:4), the lost coin belongs to the woman (Luke 15:8), and the lost son belongs to the father (Luke 15:24).

Luke 19:38

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The King. Many people in scripture recognized Jesus as the king who reigns over an everlasting kingdom. These people included the magi (Matt. 2:2), the disciples (Luke 19:38), the palm-waving people of Jerusalem (John 12:13), Paul and Silas (Acts 17:7), the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:32-33), and the seventh angel (Rev. 11:15). However, during his earthly ministry, Jesus rarely referred to himself in such royal terms (see entry for Matt. 21:5).

Luke 19:41

When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,

Wept. In his time on earth only two things made the Son of God cry: the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35) and the thought of Jerusalem’s destruction. The original word (klaio) means to sob and wail aloud. For Lazarus Jesus shed tears, but for Jerusalem he wailed and sobbed, and with good reason. See entry for Luke 21:23.

Luke 19:42

saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.

Jerusalem was doomed because the people and their rulers did not recognize the time of God’s coming. They didn’t recognize Jesus (Acts 13:27). They shut their eyes to the Prince of Peace even as he walked among them. If the Jews had embraced him and his gospel of peace they would not have been crushed by the Romans.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies,” but the Jews hated their enemies. Jesus said, “Pray for those who persecute you,” but the Jews fought and murdered their oppressors. By persecuting Jesus the religious Jews showed they were more than ready to engage in the politics of violence as practiced by the Romans. They weren’t interested in a new kingdom built on love and forgiveness. They were driven by hatred and a lust for power. The idealistic Zealots murdered all who got in their way, while the “law-abiding” Pharisees persecuted the Christians and tried to kill the apostles (Acts 5:33). And these were the “good” citizens of Jewish society. Judea was also wrecked by homicidal Herodians, lawless gangs, and bloodthirsty warlords who emerged in the years following Christ’s resurrection.

Luke 19:43

“For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side,

A barricade against you; see entry for Luke 21:20.

Luke 19:44

and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Level you to the ground. Jesus pointed to the temple and said, “Those stones are coming down” (Luke 21:6). It was a strange prophecy, because why would the Romans, those curators of art, want to destroy one of the wonders of the ancient world?

Josephus records that after the AD70 siege of Jerusalem, Titus ordered the temple’s demolition. Although it was a notable landmark, it had been the cause of so much trouble that it had to go. We can be sure the order was carried out because Simon, one of the rebel leaders, went to ground during the last days of the siege only to emerge some time later “in the place where the temple had formerly been” (Wars, 7.2.1).

By the end of AD70, the temple that had stood, in one form or another, for 586 years was no more. Indeed, most of the city was leveled to the ground save for a part of the wall and a few towers that the Romans kept for themselves.

Further reading: AD70 and the End of the World

Luke 19:45

Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling,

Drive out. This was the second time Jesus cleared the temple. The first time happened at the beginning of his public ministry (John 2:13–17). On that occasion, Jesus drove out the livestock with a homemade whip and he overturned the tables of the money changers. Evidently, the merchants had moved back in, so Jesus cleared them out again. Mark adds that Jesus also stopped those who were carrying merchandise through the temple (Mark 11:16).

The temple precinct was a massive 35 acre complex. For Jesus to put a stop to all trade and through-traffic would have required a coordinated effort involving his disciples. But shut it down he did. The religious leaders were alarmed. Since Jesus had become a threat to their business, they resolved to kill him (Mark 11:18, Luke 19:47).

Luke 19:46

saying to them, “It is written, ‘AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

Robbers. The original word (lestes) means armed brigands of the kind who robbed and beat the traveler on the road to Jericho (Luke 10:30), and who also menaced Paul in his travels (2 Cor. 11:26). Two such brigands were crucified beside Christ (Matt. 27:38), and Barabbas was also a brigand (John. 18:40).

Luke 19:47

And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him,

Teaching in the temple; see entry for Luke 20:1.

(b) The chief priests; see entry for Matt. 2:4.

(c) Scribes; see entry for Matt. 5:20.

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