Jesus says, "We're going up to Jerusalem for the Scriptures to be fulfilled". "All right!" the disciples think. "After three years, we're finally gonna get going on this kingdom thing! Wait'll the Romans see a legion of angels coming down to decimate their armies, and free us Jews from their oppression!"
But then Jesus tells them exactly what He means by "the Scriptures are going to be fulfilled". Those messianic Scriptures that the average Jew had put out from his mind. Scriptures like,
Isa. 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
Isa. 53:3-7 He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
Dan. 9:26 "Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.
This humiliation, spitting, beating, and death that Jesus was telling them would happen - it wasn't what they were expecting, it wasn't what they wanted to hear. So they didn't. Luke writes that "they understood none of these things." How often we are guilty of that! It always amazes me when I close my mind and my heart to something that the Lord has to say because of my preconceived notions of how He's supposed to do something, or what He's said about a subject. The church hadn't even begun yet, and already people were putting the Lord in a box - thinking, "we've got this all figured out, so any information that conflicts with our preconceived notions is either forgotten or filed away." But we need to continually be open to the Lord showing us new things in His Word. If what He shows us doesn't line up with what we think, we can't change what He said, we have to change what we're thinking.
Although those who led the way told the blind man to be quiet, he kept crying out "Jesus! Jesus!" And Jesus stopped. Do you ever wonder why sometimes it seems that Jesus doesn't stop for you? Notice two things: 1) the blind man didn't stop calling to the Lord when he first got no response, and 2) he didn't stop calling to the Lord when other people tried to discourage him. How often we get discouraged when it seems that the Lord has not heard our prayers. The old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" applies - keep praying until you get an answer. James put it very simply when he wrote,
James 4:2 ... You do not have because you do not ask.
Thinking about it a lot doesn't cut it. Hoping for it to happen won't make it happen. You've got to call out to the Lord. You've got to pursue Him in prayer.
Now we see another guy who pursued Jesus - Zaccheus. You see, just like the hostility of the crowd tried to prevent the blind man from getting to Jesus, it was the height of the crowd that was keeping Zaccheus from getting to Jesus. But Zaccheus wouldn't give up - he climbed a tree. So what if the crowd's height was preventing him? He went up and over! Romans 8 says,
Rom. 8:38-39 ...I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Many people have many excuses for why they haven't pursued the Lord, why they haven't come to Him for salvation or for a solution. And most of them are so common - excuses like, "Those Christians are a bunch of hypocrites!" But you know what? And yes, those hypocrites might get in the way, but if someone truly wants to see God, they'll get over it. They'll get around it. They'll do whatever it takes to see Jesus.
And when you see Jesus, He sees you. James 4 says,
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Zaccheus climbed the tree, and Jesus looked up and said, "Zaccheus. Dinner, tonight, your place!" The neat thing is that although Zaccheus didn't know Jesus, Jesus knew Zaccheus! You might not know Jesus yet, but he knows you, and His desire is to come in and sup with you.
Jesus going to the house of a chief tax gatherer! How outrageous! Remember that the tax gatherers were Jews who worked for the Roman government - this Zaccheus was a traitor! The Roman government demanded a certain amount from each area's tax gatherers, but whatever they collected above that amount went right into their pockets - this Zaccheus was a thief! And now Jesus is going into this guy's house! Can you imagine? Jesus could. And did.
The actions of Jesus often cause me to relook and refocus on decisions I've made for my own life.For example, the other night, I was moving some equipment from my office to the site where our new radio station's antenna will be. The place is sandwiched right in between two liquor store taverns. After unloading the stuff, I had to move my car out of the alley, and instead of quickly pulling around the corner and parking in the tavern's parking lot, I drove all the way across the street to park in a different lot. Why did I do that? As a Christian and a pastor, I am constantly aware of appearances. I try to be above reproach everywhere I go. I don't want to give the devil a chance to start a rumor that could hurt the ministry.
But what amazes me, is that Jesus never seemed to care! In Samaria, He talked with the promiscuous woman at the well all by Himself! No one else there for "accountability". He went into Zaccheus' house for dinner, even when the crowd who was following Him said, "Unbelievable! This man dines with sinners!" Jesus was more concerned with people's condition than His reputation. He was always above reproach, yet never above the rumors. He lived without being the victim of sin, yet was always the victim of gossip. Though I avoid the world to be above reproach, Philippians 2 says to be...
Phil. 2:15 ...blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
Above reproach in the midst of, and among. That disassembles and destroys many of the rules and regulations that I've made for myself in the ministry! Remember that Jesus said back in chapter five,
Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
You can't call sinners without mixing with sinners. You can't preach the gospel to all creation unless you're within speaking distance. Jesus called us be evangelists, not isolationists. He called us to be pure, not to be segregated. He came to call sinners to repentance.
And there was repentance! Zaccheus says,
Luke 19:8 ..."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."
2Corinthians 5 says,
2Cor. 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
You could tell that Zaccheus had truly decided to follow Christ - he had become a new creature! The old desire for riches and wealth had immediately passed away! His priorities were rearranged, his thoughts toward sin were different. Have you changed since you became a Christian? Have you discarded the old habits of the flesh? Have the temporal things that were important to you before been replaced by the eternal things? If not, why not? "...This is the only way the world will know that you are converted. They do not know it by testimony; they know it only by what they see in your life." (McGee) If you haven't become a new creature, there are two possibilities: 1) Either the Word of God is wrong, or 2) You're not in Christ. Sobering thoughts for a carnal age.
Interesting parable. For some background, we see that Revelation chapter 20 says,
Rev. 20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
After Jesus comes back to judge the inhabitants of the earth for their sin and rejection of Him, He will establish the throne of His father David here on earth. At that point, those of us who were saved will rule and reign with Him for a thousand years! How exciting! In teaching us this parable, the Lord is showing how He will distribute the authority in that millennial kingdom. Notice that:
Luke 19:12 He said therefore, "A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return."
This is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Father said to Jesus,
Ps. 2:8 "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession."
He died, received the kingdom as an inheritance, and will one day return. At that point, He will reward to each of us according to our deeds. He will say, "I gave you this much faith, these spiritual gifts, and this amount of resources. What kind of return did you give me for my investment?" And depending on how we've shared that faith, how we've used those gifts, how we've utilized those resources, the Lord will say, "Alright! Rule over ten, five, or one city in my millennial kingdom!" But if you've hidden your light under a basket - if you buried all that God gave you to use and invest - there will be no inheritance for you. Paul put it this way:
1Cor. 3:10-15 ...But let each man be careful how he builds upon (this foundation). For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.