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The Gospel according to Luke (17)

(19:11 to 20:44)

The Evangelist at this point gives us the parable of the Ten Pounds (Minas N.I.V.). This is very much like the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, but there is no need to try to identify them. There are differences, one of them being the fact that in the parable of the Pounds all receive the same -- one pound each; but they vary in the profit they make with it. The parable in Matthew teaches the use to be made of various gifts; that in Luke the various amounts of advantage that different men will make with similar gifts. Furthermore the parable of the Pounds introduces the incident of the rebellious citizens and their punishment which is missing in Matthew.

Luke tells us that Christ gave his hearers the parable of the Pounds because 'the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once' (verse 11), but the religious leaders and others had made it clear that they were going to reject Christ and kill Him if possible. The rejection of the king made the realisation of the kingdom impossible at this time, although it had been preached as being near. This is stressed in the parable in the attitude of the citizens towards the king when they said, 'We don't want this man to be our king' (verse 14). Before the man chosen to be king departed for a distant country, he gave ten servants one pound each and ordered each to trade with them and do business. When he returned home he called for the servants to find out what each had gained. The first man had increased the value of the gift and made ten more. The king praised him highly, because of his industry and faithfulness, and he was rewarded by being put in charge of ten cities.

The second man had traded and produced five more, and so he was rewarded by being put in charge of five cities (verses 15-19). The third man handed back the original sum to the king without any addition. He made the excuse that, believing that the king was a severe man, he was afraid of him. But the king quickly turned this against the lazy servant by saying to him that if that was his real estimate of the king's character, then he should have put the money on deposit, so that interest could have been collected from it (verses 22,23).

The king then ordered the pound to be taken away from him and given to the one who had ten. Someone raised an objection and said, 'Sir, he already has ten!'. The king's reply was:

"I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away." (verse 26 N.I.V.).

The point about the story revolves round faithful or unfaithful service. And this is stressed again and again in the New Testament. There can be no substitute for faithfulness and 'the righteous Judge' (2 Tim. 4:8) will certainly take account of all Christian service, because He is righteous. It is impossible to have the truth of God without responsibility, though some apparently think it is possible and stress grace as though this does away with reward or loss of reward for service. 'Saved to serve' is Scriptural truth, and the wise believer will always keep in mind that the final verdict is the Lord's in the day of His assessment for all that has been done in His Name. His Truth has been given to us as a sacred trust for which we shall have to answer one day. If we are being absolutely faithful to it whatever the cost, then we can look forward with joy to the day of reckoning and perhaps hear His 'well done good and faithful servant' or words equivalent to these.

The conclusion of the parable of the Pounds is given in verse 27, 'but those enemies of mine who did not want me to be a king over them -- bring them here and kill them in front of me' -- a sad and solemn end to the Lord's enemies who were working and plotting against Him.

The next verses record the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem as the King of Israel and their Messiah. He had been challenged a number of times to publicly present Himself as King but the Lord, in His wisdom, refused to do this before the right time. The Jews' conception of the Messiah was tainted with political and military ideas. They expected Him to free them from the Roman yoke even if this meant war. A year previously in Galilee He frustrated their plans for a revolutionary movement 'to take Him by force to make Him King' (John 6:15). Now at last the right time had come, and as Matthew 21:5 tells us Zechariah's prophecy was fulfilled, 'Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt, the foal of an ass' (Zech. 9:9). The colt had not been broken in by training, 'whereon no man ever yet sat'. This reminds us of the Ark of the Old Testament which was drawn by cattle, 'on which there hath come no yoke' (1 Sam. 6:7). All this suggested a symbolical ceremonial riding.

The people spread their garments in the way to express their great enthusiasm and joy that at last the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus was being announced publicly.

The four Gospels give the account of this momentous event because of its importance in God's kingdom purpose.

When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the King Who comes in the Name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (verses 37,38 N.I.V.).

They were singing from the Hallel in their joy that Christ at last was making public proclamation of His Messiahship. This language reminds one of the song of the angels at His birth (Luke 2:14). Mark 11:10 and Matthew 21:9 also have 'Hosanna in the highest', and Mark tells us that the people strewed the way with branches from trees (11:8).

The time of crisis had now come for the religious leaders and the nation as a whole to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and King, or to reject Him. Luke immediately adds that some of the Pharisees objected to this scene of joy among the people. They said, 'Teacher, rebuke your disciples!' (verse 39), but the Lord's answer was, 'if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out'. The popular enthusiasm was irrepressible. But this group were not typical of the nation as a whole, for, in a few days, many were going to shout 'crucify Him' and the leaders' plot to kill Christ would be carried out.

The procession went forward over the Mount of Olives and suddenly Jerusalem came into view. At the sight of it the Lord burst into tears, saying:

"If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God's coming to you." (verses 42-44 N.I.V.).

Thus Christ gave a vivid picture of the destruction of the city by the Romans in A.D.70.

Matthew records another occasion when the Lord lamented over God's city (23:37-39). The occasion was not the same, and there is no need to confuse the two. Surely Christ can express His intense feelings more than once for this city, which has such a prominent place in the purpose of God! Summed up here is 'I would have gathered ... but you would not ...'. The clash between the will of God and the will of men, even in God's people, can lead to tragedy.

The Evangelist now records Christ's second cleansing of the Temple. At the beginning of his ministry He had cleansed it (John 2:14-22). There is no need to accuse John or the Synoptic writers of a chronological blunder as some have done. There was ample time in these three years for all the abuses at the Temple to be revived and therefore the need for it to be cleansed again. Mark's quotation (11:17) completes the quotation from Isaiah, giving the words 'for all the nations' and this would therefore include Gentiles. The constant traffic and sale of animals and pigeons for sacrifice in the court of the Gentiles made the place totally unsuitable for prayer, so the Lord once more cast out all the traders, and daily continued His ministry in the outer courts. (verses 45-47).

The leaders of the people were grossly offended at the Lord's conduct which they took to be a usurpation of their rights.

The Sadducees were now united with the Pharisees in their determination to get rid of Christ, but they were hindered by the attitude of many of the people who hung on His words (verse 48).


The opposers now determined to challenge the Lord as to what right He had to interfere with the affairs of the Temple. So they asked Him and said, 'Tell us by what authority you are doing these things. Who gave you this authority?' (verses 1 and 2). Christ replied by putting a question to them, 'Tell me', He said, 'John's baptism -- was it from heaven or from men?' The Lord Jesus often met questions with question. This was not a device to avoid giving a direct answer. It cleared the ground and made the questioners consider points that ought to be first settled. The baptist came as a prophet. Then why had not the Jewish rulers examined his credentials and pronounced on them, as they were doing in the Lord's case? Had they done so, it would have gone far to determine the question now raised, for John had borne full and clear witness to the Person and work of Christ.

They were now on the horns of a dilemma, for whichever way they answered, they would be in the wrong. If they said he came from heaven (God), then why did they not believe him? Or if they denied this, they would run the risk of offending the people who had a high opinion of John and accepted him as a prophet. The people might even go so far as to stone them, which shows the strong hold the memory of John had on the minds of the average person even after his death. As a result the enemies of the Lord could only give the cowardly reply, 'We don't know' (verses 3-8) and the Lord replied, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things'.

Christ followed this by giving another parable, that of the vineyard and its cultivations. It is given also in Matthew 21:33-46 and Mark 12:1-12 with variations. It is not the vineyard that is central here, but those in charge of it, who represent the Jewish leaders, as verse 19 clearly shows.

Their opposition, from time to time, to God's servants whom He sent to them is portrayed, till at last the owner says, 'I will send my son, surely they will reverence him'.

But, rather than this, those in charge of the vineyard see an easy way of getting control of it, so they murder the son. At this point Christ looks at the people and asks them what the meaning is of Psalm 118:22, 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the capstone'. He added:

"Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." (verses 17,18 N.I.V.).

Luke's comment is 'the teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest Him immediately, because they knew He had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people'. Peter quotes this reference twice (Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7) and Paul once (Eph. 2:20). Christ lets it be seen that He is aware of the intention of the Jewish rulers to put Him to death. These enemies realised that if only they could get Him to denigrate Caesar, it would be a trump card in their hand when they approached Pilate to condemn Him to death, for only Rome could do this.

The Jew was not allowed by Rome to carry out capital punishment. Consequently the leaders sent spies, who pretended to be honest when they asked the Lord, 'Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?' Christ's answer astounded and silenced them. He asked to be shown a denarius and then said, 'Whose portrait and inscription are on it?' Naturally they replied, 'Caesar's'. Then, in His matchless wisdom He said, 'Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's' (verses 20-26). This completely silenced them. What an utterly stupid thing it is to argue with God! Yet many do it and deceive themselves into thinking that they are going to win!

The next attack came soon from the Sadducees, who denied the truth of resurrection. They invented the absurd tale of the woman who had seven husbands. Whose wife would she be when all were raised from the dead? Their story went to pieces when Christ told them that in resurrection life there is no marriage or death (verses 34-36). Their wrong ideas came from their ignorance of Scripture (Matt. 22:29; Mark 12:24). That Christ is not dealing here with the intermediate state after death is made clear by the words that Mark adds (which are not found in Matthew or Luke).

For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage ... And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err (Mark 12:25-27 A.V.).

He is the God of the living, because Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the redeemed will be raised from the dead, by the one that spoke these words -- the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He had lately done this very thing and brought Lazarus to life again and furthermore had promised that 'all in the graves would hear His voice and ... come forth ... unto the resurrection of life' (John 5:28,29).

No wonder the Sadducees 'erred greatly' and we are afraid that many are still doing this today with unscriptural views concerning the life to come and how this will take place.

The Lord Jesus concludes by asking the people:

"How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms:
The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."
David calls Him 'Lord'. How then can He be his son?" (verses 41-44 N.I.V.).

In a similar context this quotation can be found in Matthew 22:41-46 and Mark 12:35-37. It is highly significant that Mark declares 'David spake by the Holy Ghost'. David was the mouthpiece; God Himself was the speaker and this is true of all the word of God, for there are no purple patches in the Bible to which this only refers. Christ said it was David himself who was the human author. It is good to see Dr. A.T. Robertson declaring 'the language of Jesus clearly means that He treats David as the author of Psalm 110 ... modern criticism that denies the Davidic authorship of this Psalm has to say either that Jesus was ignorant of the fact about it or that He declined to disturb the current acceptation of the Davidic authorship ... modern scholars are not agreed on the authorship of Psalm 110'. Meanwhile one can certainly be excused for accepting the natural implication of the words of Jesus here, 'David himself'. To believe this is, according to one critic, 'mischievous' and it is 'irreverent to drag the Lord's name into it'. As Dr. E.W. Bullinger says, 'the Lord's name is not dragged in. It is He Who is speaking. It is He Who declares in the name of Jehovah that David himself wrote these words in the book of the Psalms. The denial of this must undermine faith in Christ'.

How is Christ both David's Lord and David's Son? Only those who hold fast to the full deity and humanity of Christ have the answer. As God He is David's Lord, as man He is David's son.


Edited on October 13, 1997 / Updated on October 13, 1997
The Alachua Freenet does not endorse or disendorse the content of this document. Everything is the author's private opinion.
Location: http://www.afn.org/~leo/be_luke_17.html
Contact: Leo Wierzbowski / leo@afn.org

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