TODAY’S READING: LUKE 19-21
OVERVIEW: Jesus as the Saviour Who seeks the lost (19:1-10); Jesus as the Master Who rewards the faithful (19:11-27); Jesus as the King Who offers peace (19:28-48); a question concerning John the Baptist (20:1-19); a question concerning Moses (20:27-40); a question concerning David (20:41-44); a warning concerning the Scribes (20:45-47); a teaching concerning giving (21:1-4); the revealing of the first half of the Tribulation (21:5-19); the revealing of the middle of the Tribulation (21:20-24); the revealing of the last half of the Tribulation (21:25-27); the closing admonitions (21:28-36).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As we move into chapter 19 in Luke’s Gospel, keep in mind that we are also moving into the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. He is getting closer and closer to Jerusalem where two groups of people passionately await His arrival. Some are passionately preparing to exalt a King, while others are passionately preparing to execute a fraud.
As Jesus comes into Jericho in chapter 19, Luke’s account centers around a man whose name is Zacchaeus. His name means, “righteous one.” Actually, he was anything but! He was the top-dog tax-collector (“chief among the publicans” – 19:2) in Jericho, which in and of itself was bad enough. For a Jew to have sold out to the Romans to extract taxes from fellow Jews was despicable in this culture. They were viewed as ruthless, heart-less, conniving, lying, traitors, and those would have been their good qualities!
And evidently, Zacchaeus had made quite a reputation for himself! (See 19:7). It seems apparent that Zacchaeus was a guy sporting a major “short-man complex,” and found he could be “taller,” not by beating up bigger guys, but by making them submit to him as he gouged them out of money through their taxes.
But, oh the difference one day can make in a person’s life! Just like Zacchaeus, when I lifted my head up off my pillow to begin my day on September 24, 1972, I had no idea what would take place in my life by the time my head would hit the pillow again, but in that one day, I was turned:
•From darkness to light. (Col. 1:13; Acts 16:18a) •From the power of Satan to the power of God. (II Tim. 2:26; Acts 26:18b) •From guilt to forgiveness. (Acts 16:18c) •From serving sin to serving righteousness. (Rom. 6:17-18) •From separation from God to a relationship with Him. (Eph. 2:1; Gal. 4:5-7) •From spiritual death to spiritual life. (Eph. 2:1; Rom 8:2)
And in this story, this was that one day that would forever change Zacchaeus’ life! He hears word that Jesus is coming to town, and desperately wants to lay his eyes on this One for whom there had been so much hype. He goes out to catch a glimpse, but because of his short stature, he can’t see Him. He decides to run ahead and climb a tree so he can at least see Him, and much to his surprise, as Jesus passes under the tree, not only does He see him, and not only does He speak to him, but He invites Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house! Can you imagine?
Zacchaeus was stoked (19:6)! He received Jesus into His home as a guest, and in just a matter of minutes, Jesus had become its Master! Zacchaeus acknowledged Christ’s lordship, and was saved (19:9)!
Do note in verses 8 and 9, that Jesus wasn’t saying that Zacchaeus was saved because of his pledge to give to the poor and to make right the wrong he had done by gouging people of their money. His willingness to do those things was just the visible PROOF of his salvation. Anyone can talk a big talk about their salvation, but when God has a man’s wallet, it’s usually a pretty good indicator that He has all of him (Matt. 6:21), and visa-versa. In this one afternoon, Jesus caused this “sinner” (19:9) to live up to his name (“righteous one”), as he became a true “son of Abraham” (19:9) by faith (Rom. 4:12; Gal. 3:7).
It might be interesting to note that in reality, we all have a “short-man complex” that only Jesus can help us overcome: “For all have sinned, and come SHORT of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In our lost state we tried to make ourselves not appear to be so “short” through our religiousness, our good works, and our external righteousness, but it only made us “shorter” (Rom. 10:3; Isa. 64:6).
The good news about Zacchaeus, is that not only did everybody else know he was a sinner (19:7), but he knew it too, and was willing to deal with it! HE is the only one in the story who received “salvation” (19:9)! The self-righteous, religious crowd who got their “wig bent” in verse 7 about Jesus hanging with Zacchaues probably ultimately went to Hell. That scenario continues to repeat itself right up to this present hour.
A couple of other comments about today’s reading:
19:10 – Zacchaeus ran up the road seeking to see Jesus, at the same time Jesus was walking up the road seeking to save Zacchaeus.
19:14-15 – Recognize that we are living right now in the very last hours in that time between verses 14 and 15, between the Master’s absence and His promise to return!
19:41-44 – This is only the second time that Jesus wept publicly (John 11:35). Notice that while the crowd is rejoicing (19:37), Jesus is weeping. Sounds a whole lot like Laodicea.
20:1-47 – Chapter 20 can be broken down by the four questions Jesus asks:
•A question concerning John the Baptist. (20:1-19) •A question concerning Caesar. (20:20-26) •A question concerning Moses. (20:27-40) •A question concerning David. (20:41-44)
21: 1-4 – Jesus isn’t impressed with the size of our gift, but the size of our sacrifice.
21:5-38 – The remainder of chapter 21 lines up with the things we covered in Matt. 24 and Mark 13.