Scripture reading – Matthew 21; Luke 19
Our Scripture reading brings us to two pivotal chapters in the week leading up to the Cross. Luke 19 records Christ and His disciples passing through Jericho (Luke 19:1-27), and beginning His final journey to Jerusalem (Luke 19:28). The setting of Matthew 21 is what is traditionally referred to as Palm Sunday (although, many believe the day was most likely Monday).
Luke 19 – A Friend of Sinners
Luke 19 followed Jesus’ journey through Jericho, as He made His final journey to Jerusalem. Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world, is located on an oasis in the desert, about ten miles northwest of the Dead Sea. It was in Jericho that Jesus providentially encountered a wealthy publican, a tax collector, named Zacchaeus, and demonstrated his love for sinners (19:1-10).
An Unexpected Guest for Supper (19:1-10)
Let’s step into the scene where Zacchaeus, a notorious sinner, came face-to-face with Jesus. In earlier devotions we have stated the disdain the Jewish people held for tax collectors (publicans). Employed to collect taxes for Rome, publicans were viewed as traitors of Israel. Men like Zacchaeus were infamous for cheating the people and skimming monies from taxes they collected. Publicans enriched themselves at the expense of their own people, and were named among the worst of sinners.
We read, “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house” (19:5). Of all the homes in Jericho, the home of a publican was the last place the people would have pictured Jesus dining. Nevertheless, He knew the heart of Zacchaeus, and was received into his home with rejoicing (19:6).
The people began to murmur among themselves, and were appalled Jesus would “be guest with a man that is a sinner” (19:7). Zacchaeus, however, was humbled and moved to repentance by the LORD’s love and compassion. His sorrow over his sins moved him to rise from the table, and proclaim, “Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (19:8). Genuinely repentant over his sins, Zacchaeus desired to make restitution of all he had wrongfully taken (19:8).
Closing thoughts – Jesus, seeing in Zacchaeus the fruit of sincere repentance, announced: “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of man [a Messianic title; Daniel 7:13] is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (19:9a–10).
Though a notorious sinner in the eyes of men, Zacchaeus placed his faith in Jesus Christ, and was saved from the condemnation of his sins. By birth he was a physical “son of Abraham.” By grace through faith, he became more than a “son of Abraham” (19:9-10), he became a child of God. Abraham and Zacchaeus were saved from the curse of sin because they believed God would place His righteousness to their account.
Romans 3:23–24 – 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Jesus and His disciples were coming near Jerusalem. As they passed through Bethphage, a village near the Mount of Olives, the LORD directed two disciples to go a nearby village (21:1), and find a colt He would ride as He approached Jerusalem (thus dramatically fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9). The news of Jesus’ approach spread through the city of Jerusalem, and “a very great multitude” (perhaps tens of thousands), poured out of the city to greet Him (21:7-8).
The scene was like the coronation of a king, as the people “cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (21:9). Because it was about the time of the Passover, people from all over the known world were gathered in Jerusalem, and some who did not know Jesus. Thus, we read there were some who asked, “Who is this? 11And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” (21:10-11).
Briefly, you will notice in Matthew 21 the rising tension between Jesus and His enemies (the priests and Pharisees). I believe it was on the next day, after His triumphant entry, when Christ entered the Temple, drove out the “moneychangers,” and condemned them saying, “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (21:13).
Rebuking the hypocritical Pharisees, the LORD taught the people three parables. The Parable of Two Sons (21:28-32), the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (21:33-41), and the Builders’ Rejection of the Cornerstone (21:42-44). The Pharisees, and Israel as a people, were prophetically represented in the parables as rejecting Christ (which they would fulfill when Jesus would be led away to be crucified).
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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