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What a view we have here of His mission! What if we even give our life, as He did, in the service and for the sake of others! The Lord here plainly announces the great object of His mission. He willingly gave His life to set us free from the captivity of sin, to ransom us from the power of the grave. One (but what an one !) for the many.?
And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was ; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him : for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchæus, make haste, and come down ; for to day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
Zacchæus was a sort of receiver-general of the taxes in his district. He made some effort to see this stranger of whom he had heard, that he might know what manner of man He
So Herod desired to see Him, but was none the better for it. The crowd however prevented, as he was small of stature, and of still less account. The difficulty however served but to stimulate the efforts of this earnest seeker after Christ. So he ran on ahead, and climbed up into one of the
I Hos. xiii. 14.
2 Alford remarks that no stress is to be laid on this word many here, as though it excluded some.
“ It is
placed in opposition to the one which is given, the one for many." 1 Tim. ii. 6.
3 St. Luke ix. 9; xxiii. 8-11.
1 3 looked
trees common in that part of the country. It was not the sort of tree we understand by this name sycomore. It rather resembled the mulberry-tree in its leaves, and the fig-tree in its fruit. Here the Lord looked up and saw him “in the shade of the sycomore," ? under his "leafy screen;
2 for him in the appointed place; saw him, as before he saw Nathanael “ beneath the thick foliage of the fig-tree and more than grants his prayer." 2 He calls this stray sheep of His by name. Everything in this princely progress was arranged beforehand. It behoved Him to abide not with one of the chief Pharisees (though He would not churlishly refuse even such invitation“) but with the chief of the Publicans, where He might do the most good, where at least He would have less prejudiced hearers. Open sin yields more readily to Christ than spiritual pride. And still He stands at our door, and knocks, and says, “ If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” 6 Here however, as elsewhere, prejudice is heard to murmur. But the action of this penitent was the best answer. It was a sufficient refutation of their censoriousness, justification enough of the conduct of Jesus.
THE SAME SUBJECT-- continued.
St. Luke xix. 8-10.
And Zacchæus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, 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. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,
1 It is in fact the Egyptian fig, ? Bp. Wordsworth. described by Pliny (Nat. Hist. xiii. 7) 3 A Plain Commentary. —though he is mistaken in speaking
4 St. John X. 3. of it as not found out of Egypt—as
5 St. Luke xiv. 1. “ like the mulberry-tree in leaf, in 6 Rev. iii. 20. size, in general appearance.”
Zacchæus had been reclining at the table with the rest, listening to the Lord's faithful and loving words. Now he rises and solemnly shows their powerful effect. He stood, not as that Pharisee in the parable, who boasted that he gave tithes of all that he possessed, but he humbled himself by voluntary confession and restitution; giving there and then,--not putting off the intention to a time when it might cool down, or leaving it as a legacy in his will when the money would be of no more use,—but giving the half of his goods to the poor, for whom no provision was made. And, for without restitution is no repentance,-let any whom he may have wronged in the way of his business, by giving false information in respect to his dues, and so exacting more than was appointed, let any such come forward and he will render him, not just a fifth part,” which was what the Law commonly required in such cases; nor yet double, which was the utmost the Law under any circumstances of mere fraud could demand; but even fourfold, its highest penalty for what were accounted still graver crimes. His saying is included among the sentences at the Offertory, and his resolve to give the half of his goods may well be considered by richer men who refuse to restore even a tenth to God. That this was no vainglorious boast, but a sincere profession, which it must have cost him much to make, is plain from the Lord's language. How it must have cheered this true penitent to be told who this guest was that he had been entertaining unawares. No mere Jewish Rabbi, better than the rest, but the Saviour of the world. Now with old Simeon he might say, “Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” Despised though he was by his fellow-countrymen, and regarded as an
i St. Luke iii. 12, 13.
• Ex. xxxii. 1. “ The expression seems to indicate that his gains had been comparatively innocent, in an occupation proverbial for extortion ; else, how could he restore fourfold out
of the remainder ?"—Williams, quoted in A Plain Commentary.
“ Gifts to the poor, payments to the injured. There is liberality in the former; in the latter justice
In both the proportions are large : half to the poor, fourfold to the wronged.”—Bp. Hall.
alien from the commonwealth of Israel, he is pronounced by the Messiah Himself to be a true son of Abraham. The Lord repeats that former saying? wherein He sets forth the purpose of His coming in the flesh, even to seek and to save those who, as Zacchæus, had been lost in the love of money or lust of any other thing. “Often by reason of the crowd of worldly affairs, and on account of our spiritual lowness of stature, we cannot discern Christ; but there are sycomores planted in the road by which He will pass. He has given us the means of grace, -Prayer, Scripture, Sacraments. These are the trees which He has planted by the way-side of life.”? Through their shade is the Lord evermore discerned by those that look for Him.
PARABLE OF THE POUNDS.
St. Luke xix. 11-14.
And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reig
Our Lord in this last progress to Jerusalem, for that final Passover in which He was Himself to be sacrificed for us, was accompanied by many besides the Twelve. All understood this journey to be undertaken for a special purpose. That purpose they presumed was to proclaim an earthly kingdom, to expel their Roman rulers, to exalt the Jewish nation; to do in fact what the Jews soon accused Him of
"St. Matt. xviü. 11. See also x. 6; xv. 24.
? Bp. Wordsworth.
intending to do,' and yet, disappointed, rejected Him for not doing. Jericho was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen miles off. They would not, so they supposed, have long to wait. In this Parable of the Pounds, as it is popularly called, the Lord seems to have in view first His own immediate disciples, and then the mixed multitude. There seems in it instruction for either. To the former He would teach " the need of a patient waiting for Christ,” and “of an active working for Him during the time of His absence." 3 The lesson for the latter we shall see presently. What this well-born man,* this man of high birth, is represented as doing, is what Herod and his son Archelaus had in fact done. They had gone successively to Rome, whence they
. had received the kingdom which they assumed on their return. This groundwork therefore of the parable would be quite intelligible to the Jews; the picture so far being taken from the life. Ten of his servants before their lord's departure received each a certain sum of money,s with directions to turn it to good account, that he might receive something more than the principal on his return. His citizens however, as they virtually were, send a deputation to the court from which he expects to receive his title, protesting against the appointment. This is in fact what certain of the Jews did in the case of Archelaus before referred to. They sent ambassadors to Cæsar Augustus, the Roman emperor, to hinder if possible his promotion.
i St. Luke xxiii. 2.
Archelaus having built himself a
? Altogether distinct from the Parable of the Talents in St. Matt. xxv. 14 jf
3 Abp. Trench.
6 Jericho too, as Alford notes, was appropriate enough for such a Parable;
? We are not to suppose he had no more than ten servants.
& A mina is set down in Smith's Dict. of Antiquities (Table xii) at £4 18. 3d.
9 See the original word.