ZACCHAEUS: A Heb name sig "just" or "pure". Must have
been thought a mockery by the men of Jericho; a "tax collector" was the furthest
thing from purity and justice!
A CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR: A supervisor of other tax
collectors, and therefore very wealthy. "He would have been thought of about as
fondly as a high-level drug dealer" (Deff). "Jericho was a likely post for a tax
officer of some standing, and one who would inevitably become rich. The city was
an important customs station at the main ford of the Jordan, some 17 miles from
Jerusalem on the major route between Judea and lands east of the river. Besides
controlling an extensive carrying trade, Jericho produced and exported costly
HE WANTED TO SEE WHO JESUS WAS: // Joh 12:21. Zacchaeus
had some prior knowledge of Jesus. Had he heard of other tax collectors who
listened to Jesus gladly (Luk 5:30; 7:29)? Jesus, a man who attracted tax
collectors and other "sinners" (Luk 15:1,2).
RAN AHEAD AND CLIMBED: Desire and dedication.
CLIMBED A TREE: "Zacchaeus climbed a tree, and he
withstood the sneers and grumbling of the crowd. His, too, was the experience of
rejection and humiliation. The cross of Jesus Christ is a cross of rejection and
humiliation. Our Lord willingly bore this cross. But the way to that cross is
often also through rejection and humiliation. But what a blessing that way is,
when it leads us to the Prince of Life, to the forgiveness of sins, and to His
mercy. Let us gladly seek the cross through the valley of rejection and
humiliation, for this is the way our Lord came to His cross" (Deff).
SYCAMORE-FIG: Nathanael was under such a tree (Joh
1:48). Such a tree sym Israel (Luk 21:29). A type of great wide fig tree, not
related to sycamores in America. Often planted by wayside, easy to climb (LB
23). The fig-tree (Israel as a nation, with its laws and types) was a good place
from which to view Jesus. But one must leave it behind to get closest to Jesus.
In fact, one must take Jesus into his house.
Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name (Joh 10:3), to leave the "fig
tree" nation of Israel and follow him the Good Shepherd.
In ct fig tree at Jerusalem (Mat 21:19), there was "good
fruit" in this fig tree!
AND WELCOMED HIM GLADLY: Ct Luk 18:23: the rich ruler
who could not welcome (or "receive") Jesus.
HE HAS GONE TO BE THE GUEST OF A 'SINNER': There were
many "holy" priests in Jericho (a priestly city!); why would Jesus ever choose
to stay with a tax collector? May Christ be our guest, although we are
"The human need to despise those of our own kind is really
obvious in the attitude of the Pharisees, isn't it? We despise those that we see
as sinners, forgetting for the purpose of the exercise, that we too are sinners.
Forgetting this fact is dangerous. This lesson comes to us from the Pharisees on
several occasions. Let us be sure to heed it: Luk 5:30; 7:34,39; 15:2; 18:9-14"
HERE AND NOW...: This is Z's fresh response to Christ's
coming -- not a characteristic of his past life (ct Luk 18:22,23). Claims would
soon be coming from the people who stood listening to this promise.
I WILL PAY BACK FOUR TIMES THE AMOUNT: A man who stole
more than 25% of all his possessions cannot say this. Cp Exo 22:1; 2Sa 12:4,6;
ct Lev 6:2-5; Num 5:7. Cp the actions of the "unjust steward" in Luk
TODAY SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOUSE: Being "rich" is
A SON OF ABRAHAM: Z's actions mirrored those of Abraham
when visitors arrived: cp Gen 18: he "hurried" (vv 2,6,7) to offer hospitality
to the visitors, and "stood" (v 8) as a servant.
WENT TO A DISTANT COUNTRY TO HAVE HIMSELF APPOINTED
KING: Provincial governors and lesser officials commonly journeyed to Rome
to receive sanction and authority from the emperor to rule. Jesus may have had
in mind such a state visit made recently by Archelaus upon the death of Herod
the Great (LTJM 1:220).
PUT THIS MONEY TO WORK: Or, simply, "Occupy" (as AV).
In the days before Connecticut became a state, an incident occurred there that
has become known as "the dark day". Suddenly thick darkness -- probably the
result of an abnormal atmospheric condition -- blotted out the sunlight. The
colonial legislature was in session at the time, and some of its members
concluded that the day of judgment had come. The cry went forth, "It is the day
of judgment! Let us go home and get ready!" However, an old church deacon who
was in the legislature stood up and said, "Brethren, it may be the day of
judgment -- I do not know. the Lord may come. But when he does, I want Him to
find me at my post, doing my duty up to the very last moment. Mr Speaker, I move
that candles be brought in and that we get on with the business of the
"Until I come": put this money to work (Luk 19:13); judge
nothing (1Co 4:5); proclaim Lord's death (1Co 11:26); be sincere, without
offence (Phi 1:6,10); listen to word (2Pe 1:19); hold fast (Rev 2:25).
In ct to parable of talents (Mat 25:14-30), this parable shows
equal distribution to every servant -- suggesting the gift of the gospel
SENT A DELEGATION AFTER HIM: As with Archaelaus (v
12n)... A Jewish delegation followed him to Rome, asking for his
YOUR MINA HAS EARNED TEN MORE: "They speak as though
all the virtue resided in what their master had left with them , and not their
own dutiful efforts (1Co 3:6; Act 21:19; 15:4,12)" (WGos 543).
YOU HAVE BEEN TRUSTWORTHY IN A VERY SMALL MATTER:
George Washington Carver once asked God to tell him about the universe.
According to Carver, the Lord replied, "George, the universe is just too big for
you to understand. Suppose you let Me take care of that." Humbled, he replied,
"Lord, how about a peanut?" The Lord said, "Now, George, that's something your
own size. Go to work on it and I'll help you." When Carver was finished studying
the peanut, he had discovered over 300 products that could be made with that
little bit of God's universe.
I HAVE KEPT IT LAID AWAY IN A PIECE OF CLOTH: "Now when
a man purchases a servant, he does not buy him to sit all his days with a bushel
on his head in complacent quietude. A 'doulos' or slave, owns nothing, neither
himself, nor any thing belonging to self before he became a slave. Such is the
relation of brethren to Christ their Lord and Master. A complacently quiescent
Christian is one who will never inherit the kingdom, though his faith be ever so
orthodox, or his baptism ever so valid. He is an unprofitable concealer of his
Master's property in a napkin. He is the napkin, and the property the truth he
has received, and concealed within himself. Woe be to the Christian brother who
presents himself at the tribunal of Christ with nothing else to offer but a
hidden truth. Ill-starred will he be who can only say, 'I received the truth and
was immersed, and henceforth enjoyed myself in silence!' Quietude and silence
are not the prerogatives of the saints in this present evil world. Their duty is
to 'cry aloud and spare not; to lift up their voice like a trumpet and show the
people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' They have
nothing to do with results and consequences -- let them make the truth known,
and leave the rest to him who gives the increase" (JT, Herald Oct
This servant no doubt had the cleanest pound of all, but it
had not grown! He had not been totally indifferent to his lord's gift, but his
fear of failure had compelled him carefully to "protect" his pound. So he had
wrapped it in a cloth and laid it up in some safe place, perhaps checking it
from time to time, maybe even bringing it out, like some housewives do with fine
silver, to polish and admire it. Our attitude toward the Gospel truth we have
received can be similar to the attitude of this man. If we are fearful that we
may "lose the Truth" and conscious only of "keeping the Truth pure", then we are
in danger of forgetting what we are told to DO with it! The gospel is not a
frail greenhouse flower that must have just the right temperature and humidity,
and just the correct amount of light and water in order to survive. The gospel
is very hardy; it is meant like the pound to be carried into the "market" of
life, to the highways and byways, and to make gain for its user. We need have no
fear for the Truth itself -- it springs from God and is impervious to
corruption. We must only be careful that we put it to the use for which it is
This same point is subtly made in other parables of Christ --
for example, the parables of the sower and the wheat and tares (Mat 13). Is it
enough that we as husbandmen of the Lord's "field" be concerned with the
uprooting of "weeds" or "tares"? Is it enough that we keep the field "pure"?
There must be at least as much effort -- and more, much more -- directed toward
the positive endeavor of sowing the seed. The farmer expects some imperfection
in his field, and he puts up with it, knowing that his paramount interest must
be in the production of grain. The harvest is soon enough for the last weeds or
tares to be separated from the good grain.
It is so simple when we see it this way. But how many
frustrated "sowers" have consumed their lives in the Truth in worry and
agitation about the "purity" of the "field", so to speak, and never gotten
around to their real duty? Let us strive for a proper balance in our service in
the Truth, lest our intolerable and unbalanced attitude condemn us outright
before our Judge (Luk 19:22).
LAID AWAY IN A PIECE OF CLOTH: Such a person will at
last be "laid up" in a cloth of graveclothes -- the one coin lost in the house
(Luk 15:8). This is what higher criticism has done to the Bible: covered up its
message, keeping it out of sight (cp 2Co 4:3,4). Cp Achan's buried treasure (Jos
7); treasure hid in a field (Mat 13:44).
"Do you realize what ETERNITY means? It means that -- if
worthy -- you will be given a billion years of perfect, joyful life for every
SECOND you have spent serving God. And you could make that one hundred billion
years -- and still be understating it. In the light of this, how can anyone
claim to love God and not give Him the total full-time devotion and service that
He asks? How can anyone be so cheap and selfish as not to give every possible
effort to manifest love and gratitude in service? No wonder the verdict is to
the napkin-wrapper -- 'Thou wicked and slothful servant! Cast him into outer
darkness' " (GVG).
Stressing negatives ('thou shalt not') instead of positives
(increase, preach). 'I knew you were going to gain your profit anyway... so I
played it safe!'
HARD: "Austere" (KJV), "exacting" (NAS). Cp Mat
ENEMIES: The "subjects" of Luk 19:14, in ct "servants"
of Luk 19:15,22.
HE WENT ON AHEAD, GOING UP TO JERUSALEM: Thus
completing the journey begun in Luk 9:51, where "Jesus resolutely set out for
BETHPHAGE: "House of figs", natural Israel.
BETHANY: "House of dates", spiritual Israel. Upright
palms of the Gentiles. The home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
AT THE HILL CALLED THE MOUNT OF OLIVES: "On that day
his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem" (Zec
COLT: Colt of an ass, humble -- used by kings rather
than the horse. Peaceful burden-bearer.
WHICH NO ONE HAS EVER RIDDEN: "No man can serve two
masters." Uniqueness, separateness. Cp the tomb of Jesus.
"An unusual sympathy between rider and mount for an unbroken
colt to walk quietly in the midst of a shouting crowd" (SMk 152).
THREW THEIR CLOAKS ON THE COLT: Sig Christ the
burden-bearer (Mat 11:28-30).
MOUNT OF OLIVES: Jesus would be coming from the east
and standing on the Mount of Olives: cp Zec 14:4; Eze 43:1,2.
"Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and
rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away
your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is
with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to
Jerusalem, 'Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your
God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he
will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.' The
sorrows for the appointed feasts I will remove from you; they are a burden and a
reproach to you" (Zep 3:14-18).
Disciples sing, "Peace in heaven". Angels sing, "Peace on
earth" (Luk 2:14).
Psa 118:19-26: a familiar psalm sung at Passover and
Pentecost, including: "open the gates... rejected stone... blessed is he that
comes... bind sacrifice to the horns of the altar..." (Quoted by Christ himself
as applicable to the Messiah: Mat 21:42.)
"This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"
In Heb, stone (eben) // son (ben). Stones to be raised up as
sons of Abraham (Mat 3:9). Stones, taken out of earth, can be part of God's
DRIVING OUT THOSE WHO WERE SELLING: The purging of the
leaven from the house of God (Exo 12:19). "And that no man should carry any
vessel": Mar 11:16.
"The action of the Lord in cleansing the temple is often
quoted as an example of righteous indignation. Yet in all the four records (Mat
21, Mar 11, Luk 19, Joh 2) it is nowhere stated that the Lord was angry.
Certainly it was not righteous indignation which drove back those soldiers,
ordered to arrest him (Joh 7:46); nor was it righteous indignation which made
armed men retreat and fall to the ground in Gethsemane (Joh 18:6). Was not the
same power at work in the temple incident? But even if we concede that the Lord
might have been expressing righteous indignation, what right have we unrighteous
ones to claim that we can also show righteous indignation? It is more likely
that we are confusing righteous indignation with wrathful feelings of revenge,
personal provocation, and wounded pride. Certainly the Lord never lost his
temper. Every word and action was under complete control" (Bilton, Xd
"There is much cause for righteous anger in the world; the
travesties and misrepresentations of religion, the hypocrisy of politics, the
perversions of justice, and the abomination of modern warfare. Cruelty and
injustice often go hand in hand with professions of kindness and mercy; an
affectation of extreme righteousness is often used as a cloak to cover
dishonesty. There are still men who try to thwart good work while parading their
excessive piety, whether in zeal for the Sabbath as in the first century, or in
some more modem way. Yet these evils do not often excite a righteous anger. When
we find an angry man he is not often protesting against the prevalent
perversions of divine law. Far more frequently it is a matter of personal
interests or personal feeling. The anger of worldly greed and pride is manifest
every day while righteous anger is a rarity. It is not quite unknown however.
Brethren have sometimes been stirred up by flagrant perversions of truth and
have done some of their best work in a spirit of righteous anger. How good it
would be if this was the only kind of anger ever known among us" (PrPr
The tables of moneychangers, overturned by Jesus, while the
coins fall on the floor (Mat 21:12; Mar 11:15; Joh 2:14). Cp this with Judas
throwing the 30 pieces of silver into the temple (Mat 27:5). Imagine the coins
clattering and clanking along the floor, while the priests scurried here and
there to gather up and hide the evidence. In both cases, this was money paid for
Jesus cast out the moneychangers, and then GAVE AWAY his
blessings (vv 47,48)!
// Mat 21:12-16 / Mark 11:15-19: Here is the second temple
cleansing (cp Psa 69:9). The other sacrifices are driven away; Christ is soon to
become the one true sacrifice... and so "the zeal for your house has consumed
me" (as though he were an offering on the altar).
A HOUSE OF PRAYER: Cited from Isa 56:7. Not just a
house where prayer is offered -- which is true enough -- but also a "house" (a
spiritual house) built up by and consisting of prayers offered by many
individuals. With our prayers we "build" the "house" in which God
The Isa 56:7 quote also has: "for ALL NATIONS"! A symbolic
indication that the court of the Gentiles was henceforth to be holy also (Gal
3:28). This scene took place in the court of the Gentiles (LTJM 114). By using
this area for moneychangers, the leaders had forgotten their delegated role of
witnessing to the Gentiles (Zec 9:8).