Jesus Enters Jerusalem
We now begin the fourth part in our outline of Luke's gospel record:
- The beginning - 1:1-3:38
- Jesus in Galilee - 4:1-9:50
- Jesus facing Jerusalem - 9:51-18-30
- Jesus entering Jerusalem - 18:31-21:38
- The consummation - 22:1-24:53
Until this point Jesus' teachings, miracles and confrontations have occurred at places outside of Jerusalem. In the next section of Luke's account, he will describe events taking place as Jesus and the Apostles are in the vicinity of Jerusalem and preparing to enter in.
Jesus Enters Jerusalem – Luke 18:31-19:48
Jesus and the Apostles are now close to the city and the Lord prepares His Apostles for what will take place there.
Jesus Prophesizes His Death and Resurrection
31Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, 33and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again." 34But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.
- Luke 18:31-34
Jesus gives the Apostles more details concerning what will take place once they enter the city as all the prophesies concerning His treatment by the Jews will be fulfilled.
Jesus' triumphal entry
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
- Zechariah 9:9
Rejection by leaders
22The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
23This is the Lord's doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
- Psalms 118:22-23
Betrayal by Judas
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.
- Psalms 41:9
Suffering and humiliation
7All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
8"Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him."
- Psalms 22:7-8
9Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
- Psalms 16:9-10
Reason for the cross
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.
- Isaiah 53:5
There are many more, but these demonstrate the point Jesus was making to the Apostles: that everything He is telling them about His treatment at the hands of the Jews will happen to Him, and all prophesies concerning His death and resurrection will be fulfilled.
In verse 34, Luke states that the Apostles did not understand what Jesus was saying since the meaning was hidden from them. It could be that as in the case of John the Baptist, they assumed that when Jesus entered Jerusalem He would be hailed by everyone great and small; or, if rejected, a judgment would immediately come upon His enemies. Jesus was preparing them for a time when neither of these things would happen. The end result would be what the psalmists and prophets spoke of long ago: the Messiah would be rejected, tortured and executed, but would "rise again" on the third day.
Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus
35As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38And he called out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" 39Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" 40And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41"What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!" 42And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." 43Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
- Luke 18:35-43
Luke again situates the action by describing the location (Jericho, 18 miles north of Jerusalem) where Jesus and the Apostles are as they make their final approach to the great city.
This miracle is described in both Matthew and Mark's accounts. Matthew says that two blind men were healed, but Mark and Luke focus only on Bartimaeus' reaction. They describe a man who could not see Jesus or His works, but nevertheless called out to Him in faith and as a result, regained his sight.
Bartimaeus' faith will later be contrasted to that of the religious leaders in Jerusalem who actually witnessed many of Jesus' miracles but refused to believe and, consequently, remained spiritually blind.
Zaccheus Converted (19:1-10)
Once in Jericho, Jesus spots Zaccheus (a tax collector like Matthew) who because of his short stature had climbed into a tree in order to get a better view of the Lord as He passed by.
Jesus calls out to him by name and tells the diminutive tax collector that He will visit his home. The religious leaders grumble because Jesus would associate, even visit the home of a sinner/tax collector. Zaccheus is so grateful for Jesus' kindness that he confesses and repents of his past improper conduct as a tax collector, and commits to giving to the poor and returning money to those he may have defrauded (overcharged in taxes for his own profit). Jesus confirms that Zaccheus is saved but points out that these are the people He has been sent to save: sinners who believe and repent.
This event provides another contrast between those who believed and those who did not (blind Bartimaeus vs. religious leaders) and those who repented and those who did not (Zaccheus vs. self-righteous Jewish religious leaders).
Parable of the 10 Minas
Luke records another of Jesus' parables that is contained in both Matthew and Mark. This parable is yet another reference to the religious leadership in Jerusalem, however, it deals with the quality of their stewardship and not their faith or repentance.
11While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. 12So He said, "A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, 'Do business with this until I come back.' 14But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' 15When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. 16The first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.' 17And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.' 18The second came, saying, 'Your mina, master, has made five minas.' 19And he said to him also, 'And you are to be over five cities.' 20Another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; 21for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.' 22He said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? 23Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?' 24Then he said to the bystanders, 'Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' 25And they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas already.' 26I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 27But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence."
- Luke 19:11-27
Note the additional parallels that Jesus adds in this parable in order to reflect His present and coming situation: the time frame for the action is over a long period, clarifying the teaching on this matter for those like John the Baptist who thought that the coming of the kingdom and the judgment would appear at exactly the same time. Jesus, however, describes four periods of time:
- The point when the nobleman assigns the responsibility.
- The undisclosed amount of time he is gone during which the true attitudes of the servants are seen.
- The time when the nobleman returns to punish and reward.
- The destruction of the nobleman's enemies.
The order of events in the parable parallels the order of Jesus' ministry and its eventual outcome:
- Jesus will assign the great commission to His disciples (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:16).
- The church will continue in its ministry until Jesus returns (Acts 2:37-47).
- Jesus will return to reward and punish (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Thessalonians 1:6-10).
- The end of the age and the appearing of the new heavens and earth will accompany His return (II Peter 3:11-13).
This parable may not have meant much more to the Apostles than its primary lesson on good stewardship, but once Jesus' ministry was completed they would then be able to recall and fully understand this teaching in the light of fulfilled prophecy.
The Triumphal Entry (19:28-44)
We have here another event described by both Matthew and Mark. Luke, however, adds the passage describing Jesus' personal reaction upon reaching the city. He writes that Jesus sent disciples ahead to secure a donkey to ride on: Matthew writes that they brought back two donkeys, a colt that had never been ridden and its mother (probably to stabilize the young animal as it carried its first mount through a noisy crowd, Matthew 21:1-3).
Jesus arrived at Jerusalem from Bethany where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived, and where He often stayed when traveling back and forth from His home in Capernaum to the capital in Jerusalem. Bethany was about 1.5 miles from Jerusalem with the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane as the last stop before going down into the valley from the garden and up again to enter the city of Jerusalem on the opposite side.
From the Garden of Gethsemane on the crest of the valley, a person could see the entire city of Jerusalem located on the opposite side. Today, from this vantage point, one can see a graveyard in front of the Eastern Gate which was the way Jesus entered the city at that time. The planting of the graveyard and the bricking over of the gate in 1530 AD was an attempt by Muslims to prevent the return of the Messiah.
36As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38shouting: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" 39Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." 40But Jesus answered, "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!"
- Luke 19:36-40
Matthew quotes the Old Testament prophecy that described the manner in which the Messiah would enter the city, humbly riding a donkey, as opposed to being mounted on a horse or chariot as earthly kings would enter (Matthew 21:5).
Luke continues to contrast the attitude of ordinary people who believed, and thus rejoiced, to that of the religious leaders who did not believe and were offended by the demonstration of faith and praise coming from the crowd.
41When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42saying, "If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."
- Luke 19:41-44
This section is particular to Luke and in it he describes Jesus' great sorrow for two things:
- What the Jews would miss seeing because of their spiritual blindness caused by their disbelief. He weeps because the joy and gladness expressed by His disciples could have been shared by everyone in the city if they had known (accepted) what God required of them in order to have peace with Him (belief in the Son). As it was, they would be denied the blessings and joy that faith could have brought them.
- What the Jews would suffer as a consequence of their disbelief. Jesus makes very clear the reason for the punishment that was to come, "...because you did not recognize the time of your visitation." (verse 44c).
Up until this time in His teaching and preaching, Jesus used parables to describe the attitude of disbelief and hostility expressed by the Jewish religious leadership. In this passage, however, he states in no uncertain terms or hidden meaning the sin of the Jews (their rejection of Him as their Messiah) and their punishment (destruction of their city and death to its people).
Traders Driven From the Temple (19:45-48)
45Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, 46saying to them, "It is written, 'And My house shall be a house of prayer,' but you have made it a robbers' den." 47And He was teaching daily in the temple; but the chief priests and the scribes and the leading men among the people were trying to destroy Him, 48and they could not find anything that they might do, for all the people were hanging on to every word He said.
- Luke 19:45-48
Matthew and Mark make this action the high point of the section on Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Luke's high point, however, is Jesus' pronouncement on the Jewish nation which, for Luke's audience of one (Theophilus), will go a long way in explaining the hostility of the Jews towards Christianity and the subsequent offer of the gospel to Gentiles from Jewish Apostles and teachers. He devotes only two lines summarizing Jesus' reason for clearing out the traders from the temple courts (an action that would have had little interest to a Gentile reader).
Luke finishes the section by describing the battle lines as far as Jesus was concerned: The chief priest, scribes (Pharisees) and leading men (elders, wealthy, political class, teachers) vs. The people.
Summary / Lessons
Luke describes the final interactions, miracles and teachings by Jesus as He approaches and enters Jerusalem. These events and teachings are such that they describe the situation and divide among the people with the disbelief and rejection of the religious and political elite contrasted by the faith, enthusiasm and joy of ordinary people and social outcasts. At this point the only thing restraining the Jewish leadership from arresting Jesus is the fear of a backlash from the common people.
In the next section, however, we will see closer infighting as Jesus is confronted by various leaders who now have easy access to Him as He ministers to people in the temple area of Jerusalem. Here are a couple of lessons we can draw from the material we have covered in this chapter.
1. Believe the Book
The great sin of the Jews was that they refused to believe their own prophets. The problem was not that Jesus didn't perfectly fulfill all that was said about the Messiah in the writing of the prophets, their issue with Him was that He didn't look or sound like the image of the Messiah they had created in their own minds (a powerful military/political miracle worker). They failed because they didn't believe their own book! We risk the same error if our Jesus is the Jesus of popular movies, ideas or movements. Our Lord, His will, His word and His church are all clearly presented and explained in His book: the Bible. Let's make sure that our lives and religious practices are based on His book and not our opinions or feelings.
2. We Will All Be "Visited"
Luke writes that the Jews didn't recognize the time of their visitation, and were lost because of it. We are all visited by Christ at one time or another. The visit comes in many forms, but it always comes. Sometimes it appears as an invitation to study the Bible or attend a service, other times the visit is a temptation allowed into our lives in order to measure our obedience. For many it materializes as an illness, accident, offense or challenge that examines our faith or love. In the end, for everyone, it comes as death signaling that there is no longer any time left to choose to believe or not because death frames how we will remain in eternity for good or bad.
Not all visitations are the same in nature or length of time, but the common denominator is that everyone gets a visit and the visit is always about whether we believe in Christ or not.
- What are some of the popular misunderstandings of who Jesus is today? Why do you think people believe these false ideas about Jesus?
- Describe one of your under-used talents. Explain why this talent is not developed and how it could be used in the service of the church.
- Select one of the religious groups listed below and explain how you would proceed in trying to convert a follower of these to Christianity. Provide three scripture references.