July 18, 2015.
Daily Reading: Luke 19-20.
Background: Luke 17-18.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Zacchaeus and the parable of ten minas: In the first half of this chapter, Jesus teaches two lessons in the house of Zacchaeus, a short man who was a rich, tax collector. Tax collectors in this day were considered to be sinners and traitors to the Jewish people because they were working with the Roman government to collect money from their own people. Whereas they would make good living, no one would want to be associated with them. Jesus teaches a first lesson to the people here by calling out to Zacchaeus and going into his house to be a guest of his. When the people saw this, they grumbled because He associated with sinners. They had already judged Zacchaeus outright. Yet Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, something the Jewish leaders were unwilling to do when they felt someone was a sinner. Zacchaeus shows a repentant heart in this story, and Jesus says that that day salvation came to the house, emphasizing the intent of the heart. Then Jesus tells the parable of the ten minas to all who were gathered with him at the house of Zacchaeus. Unlike the parable of the talents (see Matthew 25:14-30), in this parable, each servant was given the same amount of money and specifically told to engage in business. Note here that the important thing for the servants was that they went out and did their best to make more from the mina they were given, as the one who made 10 minas and the one who made 5 minas both received a “well done.” Though they were both approved, each was rewarded according to the profit that he had made. There are two parties in this story that receive condemnation. The first was the servant who was afraid and did nothing with the mina he was given. Though he gave back what he was given, he was called wicked because he had not done what he was supposed to do. The second condemnation was to the group of people who rejected the master, saying they did not want Him to rule over them. This shows a distinction of condemnation, one to those who are outside the kingdom, and separately to those who are wicked though inside the kingdom.
2. The triumphal entry, lament over Jerusalem and cleansing the temple: The latter half of this chapter focuses on Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem where He would teach and eventually be betrayed and crucified. Jesus enters into Jerusalem on a young colt, as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9, and is praised and glorified by the people, citing Psalm 118:26 as they praised Him. When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the crowd for crying out, He said that even if He did, the rocks and stones would cry out. There was no stopping the praise of the Messiah who had come to save the world. When He arrives in Jerusalem, He laments and weeps over the city for the destruction that is going to come on it, prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem that would occur in AD 70 by the hand of the Romans. He then enters the temple and drives out those who sold and made prophet, citing Isaiah 56:7 that the house of the Lord was a house of prayer. His teaching continued daily, and His enemies were looking for a way to destroy Him, though they could find nothing to catch Him in.
1. Authority of Jesus and the parable of the wicked tenants: The chief priests and the scribes looking to catch Jesus in His teaching, came to challenge His authority, asking Him where He received this authority from. Instead of answering directly, Jesus counters with a question of His own, putting them in a difficult position. Since there was no good answer for them to say where John the baptizer’s authority came from (showing their fear and refusal to believe), they could not answer; neither did Jesus answer, demonstrating that He would not be fooled. Jesus then tells a parable of the wicked tenants, which is a story that describes the children of Israel through history. Note the responsibility given the people of God, as they were lent the vineyard and the owner then went away for a long while, entrusting it to them. When things started going awry, he sent servants time and again, but the wicked tenants killed them (just as the children of Israel killed the prophets). Finally, the owner decided to send back his son; surely they wouldn’t kill him. This was Christ, the Son of God. But they would kill Him too. When the owner of the vineyard came back, he came with wrath, killing the wicked tenants and giving the vineyard to others. The people hearing the story seem to understand what Jesus is addressing here, as they cried out “surly not!” But it was true, just as the prophet had said, the children of God had rejected their Messiah (see Psalm 118:22). He would, through their rejection, bring all men the invitation into spiritual Israel, the kingdom of God (see Romans 9-11).
2. Questioning the Christ: In the middle of this chapter, different groups try to catch Jesus in His teachings. First, the scribes and chief priests sent out spies to ask Jesus a question to trick him. They ask if it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, knowing that the people did not hold the tax in a favorable light, however if He said that it was not lawful, then they would have something to accuse Him of before the Roman government. Jesus stumps them again, however, answering their question in a pleasing light from both parties. Then the Sadducees come to Him to ask Him a question about the resurrection, which they denied as true, probably looking more to prove their own position amongst the Jews than to prove Jesus wrong. They ask Him a question concerning the law, which said that a brother was to take his brother’s wife if the brother had died before having children, that he might raise up children in the name of his brother (see Deuteronomy 25:5). Jesus answers them by making their question mute, as He says there would be no marrying or giving in marriage in the resurrection, which circumvents their perceived problem with the resurrection. It was clear that Jesus knew what He was talking about and that He was not going to be caught in a trap, and thus His enemies no longer dared ask Him any more questions.
3. Jesus on the offensive: When His enemies stopped asking Him questions to try to catch Him, Jesus switched from being on the defensive to being on the offensive, proposing a question to them. He asks them why they say that the Christ is the son of David, indicating a lower position of authority than David, when the book of Psalms showed that David called Him Lord (cited from Psalm 110:1). Though the psalms, Jesus was showing His position of authority as Lord. He then gives a warning against the scribes because of their hypocrisy and pride. He said that they would receive the greater condemnation.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Thessalonians 4-5.