In this chapter we have,
I. The conversion of Zaccheus the publican at Jericho,
II. The parable of the pounds which the king entrusted with his
servants, and of his rebellious citizens,
III. Christ's riding in triumph (such triumph as it was) into
Jerusalem; and his lamentation in prospect of the ruin of that city,
IV. His teaching in the temple, and casting the buyers and sellers out
The Conversion of Zaccheus.
1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.
2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchæus, which was the
chief among the publicans, and he was rich.
3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the
press, because he was little of stature.
4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see
him: for he was to pass that way.
5 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.
6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he
was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
8 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.
9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this
house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which
Many, no doubt, were converted to the faith of Christ of whom no
account is kept in the gospels; but the conversion of some, whose case
had something in it extraordinary, is recorded, as this of Zaccheus.
Christ passed through Jericho,
This city was build under a curse, yet Christ honoured it with his
presence, for the gospel takes away the curse. Though it ought
not to have been built, yet it was not therefore a sin to live in it
when it was built. Christ was now going from the other side Jordan to
Bethany near Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus to life; when he was going to
do one good work he contrived to do many by the way. He did good both
to the souls and to the bodies of people; we have here an
instance of the former. Observe,
I. Who, and what, this Zaccheus was. His name bespeaks him a Jew.
Zaccai was a common name among the Jews; they had a famous
rabbi, much about this time, of that name. Observe,
1. His calling, and the post he was in: He was the chief among the
publicans, receiver-general; other publicans were officers under
him; he was, as some think, farmer of the customs. We often read of
publicans coming to Christ; but here was one that was chief of
the publicans, was in authority, that enquired after him. God has his
remnant among all sorts. Christ came to save even the chief of
2. His circumstances in the world were very considerable: He was
rich. The inferior publicans were commonly men of broken fortunes,
and low in the world; but he that was chief of the publicans had
raised a good estate. Christ had lately shown how hard it is for
rich people to enter into the kingdom of God, yet presently
produces an instance on one rich man that had been lost, and was found,
and that not as the prodigal by being reduced to want.
II. How he came in Christ's way, and what was the occasion of his
acquaintance with him.
1. He had a great curiosity to see Jesus, what kind of a man he
was, having heard great talk of him,
It is natural to us to come in sight, if we can, of those whose fame
has filled our ears, as being apt to imagine there is something
extraordinary in their countenances; at least, we shall be able to say
hereafter that we have seen such and such great men. But the eye
is not satisfied with seeing. We should now seek to see
Jesus with an eye of faith, to see who he is; we should
address ourselves in holy ordinances with this in our eye, We would
2. He could not get his curiosity gratified in this matter because he
was little, and the crowd was great. Christ did not study
to show himself, was not carried on men's shoulders (as the pope
is in procession), that all men might see him; neither he nor his
kingdom came with observation. He did not ride in an open
chariot, as princes do, but, as one of us, he was lost in a
crowd; for that was the day of his humiliation. Zaccheus was
low of stature, and over-topped by all about him, so that he
could not get a sight of Jesus. Many that are little of stature have
large souls, and are lively in spirit. Who would not rather be a
Zaccheus than a Saul, though he was higher by head and shoulders
than all about him? Let not those that are little of stature take
thought of adding cubits to it.
3. Because he would not disappoint his curiosity he forgot his
gravity, as chief of the publicans, and ran before, like a
boy, and climbed up into a sycamore-tree, to see him. Note,
Those that sincerely desire a sight of Christ will use the proper means
for gaining a sight of him, and will break through a deal of difficulty
and opposition, and be willing to take pains to see him. Those that
find themselves little must take all the advantages they can get
to raise themselves to a sight of Christ, and not be ashamed to
own that they need them, and all little enough. Let not dwarfs despair,
with good help, by aiming high to reach high.
III. The notice Christ took of him, the call he gave him to a further
and the efficacy of that call,
1. Christ invited himself to Zaccheus's house, not doubting of
his hearty welcome there; nay, wherever Christ comes, as he brings his
own entertainment along with him, so he brings his own
welcome; he opens the heart, and inclines it to receive him.
Christ looked up into the tree, and saw Zaccheus. He came
to look upon Christ, and resolved to take particular notice of him, but
little thought of being taken notice of by Christ. That was an honour
too great, and too far above his merit, for him to have any thought of.
See how Christ prevented him with the blessings of his goodness,
and outdid his expectations; and see how he encouraged
very weak beginnings, and helped them forward. He that had a mind to
know Christ shall be known of him; he that only courted to see
him shall be admitted to converse with him. Note, Those that are
faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more. And sometimes those
that come to hear the word of Christ, as Zaccheus did, only for
curiosity, beyond what they thought of, have their consciences
awakened, and their hearts changed. Christ called him by name,
Zaccheus, for he knows his chosen by name; are they not in his
book? He might ask, as Nathanael did
Whence knowest thou me? But before he climbed the sycamore-tree
Christ saw him, and knew him. He bade him make haste, and come
down. Those that Christ calls must come down, must humble
themselves, and not think to climb to heaven by any righteousness of
their own; and they must make haste and come down, for delays
are dangerous. Zaccheus must not hesitate, but hasten; he knows it is
not a matter that needs consideration whether he should welcome such a
guest to his house. He must come down, for Christ intends this
day to bait at his house, and stay an hour or two with him.
Behold, he stands at the door and knocks.
2. Zaccheus was overjoyed to have such an honour put upon his
He made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully; and his
receiving him into his house was an indication and token of his
receiving him into his heart. Note, When Christ calls to
us we must make haste to answer his calls; and when he comes
to us we must receive him joyfully. Lift up your heads, O ye
gates. We may well receive him joyfully who brings all good
along with him, and, when he takes possession of the soul, opens
springs of joy there which shall flow to eternity. How often has Christ
said to us, Open to me, when we have, with the spouse, made
Song of Solomon 5:2,3.
Zaccheus's forwardness to receive Christ will shame us. We have not now
Christ to entertain in our houses, but we have his disciples, and what
is done to them he takes as done to himself.
IV. The offence which the people took at this kind greeting
between Christ and Zaccheus. Those narrow-souled censorious Jews
murmured, saying that he was gone to be a guest with a man
that is a sinner, para hamartolo andri--with a
sinful man; and were not they themselves sinful men? Was it not
Christ's errand into the world to seek and save men that are
sinners? But Zaccheus they think to be a sinner above all men
that dwelt in Jericho, such a sinner as was not fit to be conversed
with. Now this was very unjust to blame Christ for going to his
1. Though he was a publican, and many of the publicans were
bad men, it did not therefore follow that they were all
so. We must take heed of condemning men in the lump, or by common
fame, for at God's bar every man will be judged as he is.
2. Though he had been a sinner, it did not therefore follow
that he was now as bad as he had been; though they knew his past life
to be bad, Christ might know his present frame to be good. God allows
room for repentance, and so must we.
3. Though he was now a sinner, they ought not to blame Christ
for going to him, because he was in no danger of getting hurt by
a sinner, but in great hopes of doing good to a sinner; whither
should the physician go but to the sick? Yet see how that which is
well done may be ill construed.
V. The proofs which Zaccheus gave publicly that, though he had been a
sinner, he was now a penitent, and a true convert,
He does not expect to be justified by his works as the Pharisee who
boasted of what he had done, but by his good works he will,
through the grace of God, evidence the sincerity of his
faith and repentance; and here he declares what his
determination was. He made this declaration standing, that he
might be seen and heard by those who murmured at Christ for coming to
his house; with the mouth confession is made of repentance as
well as faith. He stood, which denotes his saying it
deliberately and with solemnity, in the nature of a vow to God. He
addressed himself to Christ in it, not to the people (they were not to
be his judges), but to the Lord, and he stood as it were at his
bar. What we do that is good we must do as unto him; we must
appeal to him, and approve ourselves to him, in our integrity, in all
our good purposes and resolutions. He makes it appear that there is a
change in his heart (and that is repentance), for there is a
change in his way. His resolutions are of second-table duties; for
Christ, upon all occasions, laid great stress on them: and they are
such as are suited to his condition and character; for in them will
best appear the truth of our repentance.
1. Zaccheus had a good estate, and, whereas he had been in it hitherto
laying up treasure for himself, and doing hurt to himself, now he
resolves that for the future he will be all towards God, and do good to
others with it: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the
poor. Not, "I will give it by my will when I die," but, "I
do give it now." Probably he had heard of the command of trial
which Christ gave to another rich man to sell what he had, and give to
and how he broke with Christ upon it. "But so will not I," saith
Zaccheus; "I agree to it at the first word; though hitherto I have been
uncharitable to the poor, now I will relieve them, and give so much the
more for having neglected the duty so long, even the half of my
goods." This is a very large proportion to be set apart for works
of piety and charity. The Jews used to say that a fifth part of a man's
income yearly was very fair to be given to pious uses, and about that
share the law directed; but Zaccheus would go much further, and give
one moiety to the poor, which would oblige him to retrench all his
extravagant expenses, as his retrenching these would enable him to
relieve many with his superfluities. If we were but more temperate and
self-denying, we should be more charitable; and, were we content with
less ourselves, we should have the more to give to them that need. This
he mentions here as a fruit of his repentance. Note, It well becomes
converts to God to be charitable to the poor.
2. Zaccheus was conscious to himself that he had not gotten all he had
honestly and fairly, but some by indirect and unlawful means, and of
what he had gotten by such means he promises to make restitution: "If
I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, or if I
have wronged any man in the way of my business as a publican,
exacting more than was appointed, I promise to restore him
four-fold." This was the restitution that a thief was to make,
(1.) He seems plainly to own that he had done wrong; his office,
as a publican, gave him opportunity to do wrong, imposing upon the
merchants to curry favour with the government. True penitents will own
themselves not only in general guilty before God, but will particularly
reflect upon that which has been their own iniquity, and which, by
reason of their business and employment in the world, has most easily
(2.) That he had done wrong by false accusation; this was the
temptation of the publicans, which John Baptist had warned them of
They had the ear of the government, and every thing would be stretched
in favour of the revenue, which gave them an opportunity of gratifying
their revenge if they bore a man an ill will.
(3.) He promises to restore four-fold, as far as he could
recollect or find by his books that he had wronged any man. He
does not say, "If I be sued, and compelled to it, I will make
restitution" (some are honest when they cannot help it); but he
will do it voluntarily: It shall be my own act and deed.
Note, Those who are convinced of having done wrong cannot evidence the
sincerity of their repentance but by making restitution.
Observe, He does not think that his giving half his estate to the poor
will atone for the wrong he has done. God hates robbery for
burnt-offerings, and we must first do justly and then
love mercy. It is no charity, but hypocrisy, to give that which
is none of our own; and we are not to reckon that our own which
we have not come honestly by, nor that our own which is not so when all
our debts are paid, and restitution made for wrong done.
VI. Christ's approbation and acceptance of Zaccheus's
conversion, by which also he cleared himself from any imputation in
going to be a guest with him,
1. Zaccheus is declared to be now a happy man. Now he is turned
from sin to God; now he has bidden Christ welcome to his house, and is
become an honest, charitable, good man: This day is salvation come
to this house. Now that he is converted he is in effect
saved, saved from his sins, from the guilt of them, from the
power of them; all the benefits of salvation are his. Christ is come
to his house, and, where Christ comes, he brings salvation along
with him. He is, and will be, the Author of eternal salvation to
all that own him as Zaccheus did. Yet this is not all. Salvation this
day comes to his house.
(1.) When Zaccheus becomes a convert, he will be, more than he had
been, a blessing to his house. He will bring the means of grace
and salvation to his house, for he is a son of Abraham indeed
now, and therefore, like Abraham, will teach his household to keep
the way of the Lord. He that is greedy of gain troubles his own
house, and brings a curse upon it
but he that is charitable to the poor does a kindness to his own house,
and brings a blessing upon it and salvation to it, temporal at least,
(2.) When Zaccheus is brought to Christ himself his family also
become related to Christ, and his children are admitted members of his
church, and so salvation comes to his house, for that he is a
son of Abraham, and therefore interested in God's covenant with
Abraham, that blessing of Abraham which comes upon the
publicans, upon the Gentiles, through faith, that God will be a
God to them and to their children; and therefore, when he
believes, salvation comes to his house, as the gaoler's to whom
it was said, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be
saved, and thy house,
Zaccheus is by birth a son of Abraham, but, being a publican, he was
deemed a heathen; they are put upon a level,
And as such the Jews were shy of conversing with him, and expected
Christ should be so; but he shows that, being a true penitent, he is
become rectus in curia--upright in court, as good a son of
Abraham as if he had never been an publican, which therefore ought not
to be mentioned against him.
2. What Christ had done to make him, in particular, a happy man, was
consonant to the great design and intention of his coming into the
With the same argument he had before justified his conversing with
There he pleaded that he came to call sinners to repentance; now
that he came to seek and save that which was lost, to
apololos--the lost thing. Observe,
(1.) The deplorable case of the sons of men: they were
lost; and here the whole race of mankind is spoken of as one
body. Note, The whole world of mankind, by the fall, is become a
lost world: lost as a city is lost when it has revolted to the
rebels, as a traveller is lost when he has missed his way in a
wilderness, as a sick man is lost when his disease is incurable, or as
a prisoner is lost when sentence is passed upon him.
(2.) The gracious design of the Son of God: he came to
seek and save, to seek in order to saving. He came from heaven
to earth (a long journey), to seek that which was lost
(which had wandered and gone astray), and to bring it back
and to save that which was lost, which was perishing, and in a
manner destroyed and cut off. Christ undertook the cause when it was
given up for lost: undertook to bring those to themselves that
were lost to God and all goodness. Observe, Christ came
into this lost world to seek and save it. His design was to
save, when there was not salvation in any other. In
prosecution of that design, he sought, took all probable means
to effect that salvation. He seeks those that were not worth seeking
to; he seeks those that sought him not, and asked not for him, as
The Nobleman and His Servants.
11 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.
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far
country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten
pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him,
saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having
received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be
called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might
know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou
hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound,
which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou
takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst
22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge
thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere
man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not
23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that
at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the
pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be
given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be
taken away from him.
27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign
over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
Our Lord Jesus is now upon his way to Jerusalem, to his last passover,
when he was to suffer and die; now here we are told,
I. How the expectations of his friends were raised upon this
occasion: They thought that the kingdom of God would immediately
The Pharisees expected it about this time
and, it seems, so did Christ's own disciples; but they both had a
mistaken notion of it. The Pharisees thought that it must be introduced
by some other temporal prince or potentate. The disciples thought that
their Master would introduce it, but with temporal pomp and power,
which, with the power he had to work miracles, they knew he could
clothe himself with in a short time, whenever he pleased. Jerusalem,
they concluded, must be the seat of his kingdom, and therefore, now
that he is going directly thither, they doubt not but in a little time
to see him upon the throne there. Note, Even good men are subject to
mistakes concerning the kingdom of Christ, and to form wrong notions of
it, and are ready to think that will immediately appear which is
reserved for hereafter.
II. How their expectations were checked, and the mistakes
rectified upon which they were founded; and this he does in
1. They expected that he should appear in his glory now
presently, but he tells them that he must not be publicly
installed in his kingdom for a great while yet. He is like a certain
nobleman anthropos tis eugenes--a certain man of
high birth (so Dr. Hammond), for he is the Lord from heaven, and is
entitled by birth to the kingdom; but he goes into a far country, to
receive for himself a kingdom. Christ must go to heaven, to sit
down at the right hand of the Father there, and to receive from him
honour and glory, before the Spirit was poured out by which his
kingdom was to be set up on earth, and before a church was to be set up
for him in the Gentile world. He must receive the kingdom, and then
return. Christ returned when the Spirit was poured out, when
Jerusalem was destroyed, by which time that generation, both of friends
and enemies, which he had personally conversed with, was wholly worn
off by death, and gone to give up their account. But his chief return
here meant is that at the great day, of which we are yet in
expectation. That which they thought would immediately appear,
Christ tells them will not appear till this same Jesus who is taken
into heaven shall in like manner come again; see
2. They expected that his apostles and immediate attendants should be
advanced to dignity and honour, that they should all be made princes
and peers, privy-counsellors and judges, and have all the pomp and
preferments of the court and of the town. But Christ here tells them
that, instead of this, he designed them to be men of business;
they must expect no other preferment in this world than that of the
trading end of the town; he would set them up with a stock under their
hands, that they might employ it themselves, in serving him and the
interest of his kingdom among men. That is the true honour of a
Christian and a minister which, if we be as we ought to be truly
ambitious of it, will enable us to look upon all temporal honours with
a holy contempt. The apostles had dreamed of sitting on his right
hand and on his left in his kingdom, enjoying ease after their
present toil and honour after the present contempt put upon them, and
were pleasing themselves with this dream; but Christ tells them that
which, if they understood it aright, would fill them with care, and
concern, and serious thoughts, instead of those aspiring ones
with which they filled their heads.
(1.) They have a great work to do now. Their Master leaves them,
to receive his kingdom, and, at parting, he gives each of them a
pound, which the margin of our common bibles tells us amounts in
our money to three pounds and half a crown; this
signifies the same thing with the talents in the parable that is
parallel to this
all the gifts with which Christ's apostles were endued, and the
advantages and capacities which they had of serving the interests of
Christ in the world, and others, both ministers and Christians, like
them in a lower degree. But perhaps it is in the parable thus
represented to make them the more humble; their honour in this world is
only that of traders, and that not of first-rate merchants, who
have vast stocks to begin upon, but that of poor traders, who must take
a great deal of care and pains to make any thing of what they have. He
gave these pounds to his servants, not to buy rich liveries, much less
robes, and a splendid equipage, for themselves to appear in, as they
expected, but with this charge: Occupy till I come. Or, as it
might much better be translated, Trade till I come,
Pragmateusasthe--Be busy. So the word properly
signifies. "You are sent forth to preach the gospel, to set up a church
for Christ in the world, to bring the nations to the obedience of
faith, and to build them up in it. You shall receive power to do
this, for you shall be filled with the Holy Ghost,"
When Christ breathed on the eleven disciples, saying, Receive
ye the Holy Ghost, then he delivered them ten pounds. "Now,"
saith he, "mind your business, and make a business of it; set about it
in good earnest, and stick to it. Lay out yourselves to do all the good
you can to the souls of men, and to gather them in to Christ." Note,
[1.] All Christians have business to do for Christ in this
world, and ministers especially; the former were not baptized,
nor the latter ordained, to be idle.
[2.] Those that are called to business for Christ he furnishes with
gifts necessary for their business; and, on the other hand, from those
to whom he gives power he expects service. He delivers the
pounds with this charge, Go work, go trade. The manifestation
of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal,
1 Corinthians 12:7.
And as every one has received the gift, so let him minister
1 Peter 4:10.
[3.] We must continue to mind our business till our Master
comes, whatever difficulties or oppositions we may meet with in it;
those only that endure to the end shall be saved.
(2.) They have a great account to make shortly. These servants
are called to him, to show what use they made of the gifts they
were dignified with, what service they had done for Christ, and what
good to the souls of men, that he might know what every man had
gained by trading. Note,
[1.] They that trade diligently and faithfully in the service of Christ
shall be gainers. We cannot say so of the business of the world;
many a labouring tradesman has been a loser; but those that trade for
Christ shall be gainers; though Israel be not gathered,
yet they will be glorious.
[2.] The conversion of souls is the winning of them; every true
convert is clear gain to Jesus Christ. Ministers are but factors for
him, and to him they must give account what fish they have enclosed in
the gospel-net, what guests they have prevailed with to come to the
wedding-supper; that is, what they have gained by trading. Now
First, The good account which was given by some of
the servants, and the master's approbation of them. Two such are
1. They had both made considerable improvements, but not both
alike; one had gained ten pounds by his trading, and
another five. Those that are diligent and faithful in serving
Christ are commonly blessed in being made blessings to the places where
they live. They shall see the travail of their soul, and not
labour in vain. And yet all that are alike faithful are
not alike successful. And perhaps, though they were both
faithful, it is intimated that one of them took more pains, and applied
himself more closely to his business, than the other, and sped
accordingly. Blessed Paul was surely this servant that gained ten
pounds, double to what any of the rest did, for he laboured more
abundantly than they all, and fully preached the gospel of
2. They both acknowledged their obligations to their Master for
entrusting them with these abilities and opportunities to do him
service: Lord, it is not my industry, but thy pound, that
has gained ten pounds. Note, God must have all the glory of all
our gains; not unto us, but unto him, must be the praise,
Paul, who gained the ten pounds, acknowledges, "I
laboured, yet not I. By the grace of God, I am what I am, and do
what I do; and his grace was not in vain,"
1 Corinthians 15:10.
He will not speak of what he had done, but of what God had done by
3. They were both commended for their fidelity and industry: Well
done, thou good servant,
And to the other he said likewise,
Note, They who do that which is good shall have praise of the same.
Do well, and Christ will say to thee, Well done: and, if he
says Well done, the matter is not great who says otherwise. See
4. They were preferred in proportion to the improvement they
had made: "Because thou hast been faithful in a very little, and
didst not say, 'As good sit still as go to trade with one pound, what
can one do with so small a stock?' but didst humbly and honestly apply
thyself to the improvement of that, have thou authority over ten
cities." Note, Those are in a fair way to rise who are content to
begin low. He that has used the office of a deacon well purchaseth
to himself a good degree,
1 Timothy 3:13.
Two things are hereby promised the apostles:--
(1.) That when they have taken pains to plant many churches they
shall have the satisfaction and honour of presiding in them, and
governing among them; they shall have great respect paid them, and have
a great interest in the love and esteem of good Christians. He that
keepeth the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof; and he that
laboureth in the word and doctrine shall be counted worthy of
(2.) That, when they have served their generation, according to the
will of Christ, though they pass through this world despised and
trampled upon, and perhaps pass out of it under disgrace and
persecution as the apostles did, yet in the other world they shall
reign as kings with Christ, shall sit with him on his throne, shall
have power over the nations,
The happiness of heaven will be a much greater advancement to a good
minister or Christian than it would be to a poor tradesman, that with
much ado had cleared ten pounds, to be made governor of ten cities. He
that had gained but five pounds had dominion over five
cities. This intimates that there are degrees of glory in
heaven; every vessel will be alike full, but not alike
large. And the degrees of glory there will be according to the
degrees of usefulness here.
Secondly, The bad account that was given by one of
them, and the sentence passed upon him for his slothfulness and
1. He owned that he had not traded with the pound with which he
had been entrusted
"Lord, behold, here is thy pound; it is true, I have not made it
more, but withal I have not made it less; I have kept it
safely laid up in a napkin." This represents the carelessness of
those who have gifts, but never lay out themselves to do good with
them. It is all one to them whether the interests of Christ's kingdom
sink or swim, go backward or forward; for their parts, they will take
no care about it, no pains, be at no expenses, run no hazard. Those are
the servants that lay up their pound in a napkin who think it
enough to say that they have done no hurt in the world, but did no
2. He justified himself in his omission, with a plea that made the
matter worse and not better
I feared thee, because thou art an austere man, rigid and
severe, anthropos austeros ei. Austere is the
Greed word itself: a sharp man: Thou takest up that which
thou laidst not down. He thought that his master put a hardship
upon his servants when he required and expected the improvement of
their pounds, and that it was reaping where he did not sow;
whereas really it was reaping where he had sown, and, as the
husbandman, expecting in proportion to what he had sown. He had no
reason to fear his master's austerity, nor blame his
expectations, but this was a mere sham, a frivolous groundless excuse
for his idleness, which there was no manner of colour for. Note, The
pleas of slothful professors, when they come to be examined, will be
found more to their shame than in their justification.
3. His excuse is turned upon him: Out of thine own mouth will I
judge thee, thou wicked servant,
He will be condemned by his crime, but self-condemned by
his plea. "If thou didst look upon it as hard that I should expect the
profit of thy trading, which would have been the greater profit, yet,
if thou hadst had any regard to my interest, thou mightest have put my
money into the bank, into some of the funds, that I might have
had, not only my own, but my own with usury, which,
though a less advantage, would have been some." If he
durst not trade for fear of losing the principal, and so
being made accountable to his lord for it though it was lost, which he
pretends, yet that would be no excuse for his not setting it out to
interest, where it would be sure. Note, Whatever may be the pretences
of slothful professors, in excuse of their slothfulness, the true
reason of it is a reigning indifference to the interests of Christ and
his kingdom, and their coldness therein. They care not whether
religion gets around or loses ground, so they can but live at ease.
4. His pound is taken from him,
It is fit that those should lose their gifts who will not
use them, and that those who have dealt falsely should be no
longer trusted. Those who will not serve their Master with what he
bestows upon them, why should they be suffered to serve themselves with
it? Take from him the pound.
5. It is given to him that had the ten pounds. When this was
objected against by the standers-by, because he had so much already
(Lord, he has ten pounds,
it is answered
Unto every one that hath shall be given. It is the rule of
(1.) That those should be most encouraged who have been most
industrious, and that those who have laid out themselves most to do
good should have their opportunities of doing good enlarged, and
be put into a higher and more extensive sphere of usefulness. To him
that hath gotten shall more be given, that he may be in a capacity to
(2.) That those who have their gifts, as if they had them not, who have
them to no purpose, who do no good with them, should be deprived of
them. To those who endeavour to increase the grace they have, God will
impart more; those who neglect it, and suffer it to decline, can expect
no other than that God should do so too. This needful warning Christ
gives to his disciples, lest, while they were gaping for honours on
earth, they should neglect their business, and so come short of their
happiness in heaven.
3. Another thing they expected was, that, when the kingdom of God
should appear, the body of the Jewish nation would immediately fall in
with it, and submit to it, and all their aversions to Christ and his
gospel would immediately vanish; but Christ tells them that, after his
departure, the generality of them would persist in their obstinacy and
rebellion, and it would be their ruin. This is shown here,
(1.) In the message which his citizens sent after him,
They not only opposed him, while he was in obscurity; but, when he was
gone into glory, to be invested in his kingdom, then they continued
their enmity to him, protested against his dominion, and said, We
will not have this man to reign over us.
[1.] This was fulfilled in the prevailing infidelity of the Jews after
the ascension of Christ, and the setting up of the gospel kingdom. They
would not submit their necks to his yoke, nor touch the top of his
golden sceptre. They said, Let us break his bands in sunder,
[2.] It speaks the language of all unbelievers; they could be content
that Christ should save them, but they will not have him to
reign over them; whereas Christ is a Saviour to those only to
whom he is a prince, and who are willing to obey him.
(2.) In the sentence passed upon them at his return: Those mine
enemies bring hither,
When his faithful subjects are preferred and rewarded, then he will
take vengeance on his enemies, and particularly on the Jewish nation,
the doom of which is here read. When Christ had set up his gospel
kingdom, and thereby put reputation upon the gospel ministry, then he
comes to reckon with the Jews; then it is remembered against
them that they had particularly disclaimed and protested against his
kingly office, when they said, We have no king but Cæsar,
nor would own him for their king. They appealed to Cæsar, and to
Cæsar they shall go; Cæsar shall be their ruin. Then the
kingdom of God appeared when vengeance was taken on those
irreconcileable enemies to Christ and his government; they were
brought forth and slain before him. Never was so much slaughter
made in any war as in the wars of the Jews. That nation lived to see
Christianity victorious in the Gentile world, in spite of their enmity
and opposition to it, and then it was taken away as dross. The
wrath of Christ came upon them to the uttermost
(1 Thessalonians 2:15,16),
and their destruction redounded very much to the honour of Christ and
the peace of the church. But this is applicable to all others who
persist in their infidelity, and will undoubtedly perish in it.
[1.] Utter ruin will certainly be the portion of all Christ's enemies;
in the day of vengeance they shall all be brought forth, and
slain before him. Bring them hither, to be made a spectacle to
saints and angels; see
Bring them hither, that they may see the glory and happiness of
Christ and his followers, whom they hated and persecuted. Bring
them hither, to have their frivolous pleas overruled, and to
receive sentence according to their merits. Bring them, and slay
them before me, as Agag before Samuel. The Saviour whom they have
slighted will stand by and see them slain, and not interpose on their
[2.] Those that will not have Christ to reign over them shall be
reputed and dealt with as his enemies. We are ready to think that none
are Christ's enemies but persecutors of Christianity, or scoffers at
least; but you see that those will be accounted so that dislike the
terms of salvation, will not submit to Christ's yoke, but will be their
own masters. Note, Whoever will not be ruled by the grace of
Christ will inevitably be ruined by the wrath of Christ.
Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.
28 And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to
29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and
Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two
of his disciples,
30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the
which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet
never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither.
31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye
say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.
32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he
had said unto them.
33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said
unto them, Why loose ye the colt?
34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him.
35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments
upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the
mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to
rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works
that they had seen;
38 Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the
Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
39 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto
him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if
these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry
We have here the same account of Christ's riding in some sort of
triumph (such as it was) into Jerusalem which we had before in Matthew
and Mark; let us therefore here only observe,
I. Jesus Christ was forward and willing to suffer and die for us. He
went forward, bound in the spirit, to Jerusalem, knowing very
well the things that should befal him there, and yet
he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem,
He was the foremost of the company, as if he longed to be upon the
spot, longed to engage, to take the field, and to enter upon action.
Was he so forward to suffer and die for us, and shall we draw back from
any service we are capable of doing for him?
II. It was no ways inconsistent either with Christ's humility or with
his present state of humiliation to make a public entry into
Jerusalem a little before he died. Thus he made himself to be the more
taken notice of, that the ignominy of his death might appear the
III. Christ is entitled to a dominion over all the creatures, and may
use them when and as he pleases. No man has a property in his estate
against Christ, but that his title is prior and superior. Christ
sent to fetch an ass and her colt from their
owner's and master's crib, when he had occasion for their
service, and might do so, for all the beasts of the forest are
his, and the tame beasts too.
IV. Christ has all men's hearts both under his eye and in his hand. He
could influence those to whom the ass and the colt belonged to consent
to their taking them away, as soon as they were told that the Lord had
occasion for them.
V. Those that go on Christ's errands are sure to speed
They that were sent found what he told them they should find,
and the owners willing to part with them. It is a comfort to Christ's
messengers that they shall bring what they are sent for, if indeed the
Lord has occasion for it.
VI. The disciples of Christ, who fetch that for him from others which
he has occasion for, and which they have not, should not think that
enough, but, whatever they have themselves wherewith he may be served
and honoured, they should be ready to serve him with it. Many can be
willing to attend Christ at other people's expense who care not to be
at any charge upon him themselves; but those disciples not only fetched
the ass's colt for him, but cast their own garments upon the
colt, and were willing that they should be used for his
VII. Christ's triumphs are the matter of his disciples' praises. When
Christ came nigh to Jerusalem, God put it of a sudden into the hearts
of the whole multitude of the disciples, not of the twelve only,
but abundance more, that were disciples at large, to rejoice and
and the spreading of their clothes in the way
was a common expression of joy, as at the feast of tabernacles.
1. What was the matter or occasion of their joy and praise. They
praised God for all the mighty works they had seen, all the
miracles Christ had wrought, especially the raising of Lazarus,
which is particularly mentioned,
That brought others to mind, for fresh miracles and mercies should
revive the remembrance of the former.
2. How they expressed their joy and praise
Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord. Christ
is the king; he comes in the name of the Lord, clothed
with a divine authority, commissioned from heaven to give law
and treat of peace. Blessed be he. Let us praise him, let
God prosper him. He is blessed for ever, and we will
speak well of him. Peace in heaven. Let the God of heaven send
peace and success to his undertaking, and then there will be glory
in the highest. It will redound to the glory of the most high God;
and the angels, the glorious inhabitants of the upper world, will give
him the glory of it. Compare this song of the saints on earth with that
of the angels,
They both agree to give glory to God in the highest. There the praises
of both centre; the angels say, On earth peace, rejoicing in the
benefit which men on earth have by Christ; the saints say, Peace in
heaven, rejoicing in the benefit which the angels have by Christ.
Such is the communion we have with the holy angels that, as they
rejoice in the peace on earth, so we rejoice in the
peace in heaven, the peace God makes in his high
and both in Christ, who hath reconciled all things to himself, whether
things on earth or things in heaven.
VIII. Christ's triumph's, and his disciples' joyful praises of them,
are the vexation of proud Pharisees, that are enemies to him and his
kingdom. There were some Pharisees among the multitude who were
so far from joining with them that they were enraged at them, and,
Christ being a famous example of humility, they thought that he would
not admit such acclamations as these, and therefore expected that he
should rebuke his disciples,
But it is the honour of Christ that, as he despises the contempt of the
proud, so he accepts the praises of the humble.
IX. Whether men praise Christ or no he will, and shall, and must be
If these should hold their peace, and not speak the praises of
the Messiah's kingdom, the stones would immediately cry out,
rather than that Christ should not be praised. This was, in effect,
literally fulfilled, when, upon men's reviling Christ upon the cross,
instead of praising him, and his own disciples' sinking into a profound
silence, the earth did quake and the rocks rent. Pharisees would
silence the praises of Christ, but they cannot gain their point; for as
God can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, so he can
out of the mouths of those children perfect praise.
The Doom of Jerusalem Lamented; The Doom of Jerusalem Foretold.
41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over
42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy
day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are
hid from thine eyes.
43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall
cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee
in on every side,
44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children
within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon
another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
45 And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that
sold therein, and them that bought;
46 Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of
prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
47 And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and
the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him,
48 And could not find what they might do: for all the people
were very attentive to hear him.
The great Ambassador from heaven is here making his public entry into
Jerusalem, not to be respected there, but to be rejected;
he knew what a nest of vipers he was throwing himself into, and yet see
here two instances of his love to that place and his concern for
I. The tears he shed for the approaching ruin of the
When he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.
Probably, it was when he was coming down the descent of the hill from
the mount of Olives, where he had a full view of the city, the
large extent of it, and the many stately structures in it, and his eye
affected his heart, and his heart his eye again. See here,
1. What a tender spirit Christ was of; we never read that he laughed,
but we often find him in tears. In this very place his father David
wept, and those that were with him, though he and they were men of
war. There are cases in which it is no disparagement to the
stoutest of men to melt into tears.
2. That Jesus Christ wept in the midst of his triumphs,
wept when all about him were rejoicing, to show how
little he was elevated with the applause and acclamation of the people.
Thus he would teach us to rejoice with trembling, and as
though we rejoiced not. If Providence do not stain the beauty of
our triumphs, we may ourselves see cause to sully it with our
3. That he wept over Jerusalem. Note, There are cities to be
wept over, and none to be more lamented than Jerusalem, that had been
the holy city, and the joy of the whole earth, if it be degenerated.
But why did Christ weep at the sight of Jerusalem? Was it because
"Yonder is the city in which I must be betrayed and bound, scourged and
spit upon, condemned and crucified?" No, he himself gives us the reason
of his tears.
(1.) Jerusalem has not improved the day of her opportunities. He wept,
and said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy
day, if thou wouldst but yet know, while the gospel is preached to
thee, and salvation offered thee by it; if thou wouldest at length
bethink thyself, and understand the things that belong to thy
peace, the making of thy peace with God, and the securing of thine
own spiritual and eternal welfare--but thou dost not know the day of
The manner of speaking is abrupt: If thou hadst known! O that thou
hadst, so some take it; like that O that my people had hearkened
Or, If thou hadst known, well; like that of the fig-tree,
How happy had it been for thee! Or, "If thou hadst known, thou wouldest
have wept for thyself, and I should have no occasion to weep for thee,
but should have rejoiced rather." What he says lays all the blame of
Jerusalem's impending ruin upon herself. Note,
[1.] There are things which belong to our peace, which we are
all concerned to know and understand; the way how peace
is made, the offers made of peace, the terms on which we may have the
benefit of peace. The things that belong to our peace are those things
that relate to our present and future welfare; these we must know with
[2.] There is a time of visitation when those things which
belong to our peace may be known by us, and known to good
purpose. When we enjoy the means of grace in great plenty, and have the
word of God powerfully preached to us--when the Spirit strives with us,
and our own consciences are startled and awakened--then is the time
of visitation, which we are concerned to improve.
[3.] With those that have long neglected the time of their visitation,
if at length, if at last, in this their day, their eyes be opened, and
they bethink themselves, all will be well yet. Those shall not be
refused that come into the vineyard at the eleventh hour.
[4.] It is the amazing folly of multitudes that enjoy the means of
grace, and it will be of fatal consequence to them, that they do not
improve the day of their opportunities. The things of their
peace are revealed to them, but are not minded or regarded by them;
they hide their eyes from them, as if they were not worth taking
notice of. They are not aware of the accepted time and the
day of salvation, and to let it slip and perish through mere
carelessness. None are so blind as those that will not
see; nor have any the things of their peace more certainly
hidden from their eyes than those that turn their back upon them.
[5.] The sin and folly of those that persist in a contempt of gospel
grace are a great grief to the Lord Jesus, and should be so to us. He
looks with weeping eyes upon lost souls, that continue impenitent, and
run headlong upon their own ruin; he had rather that they would turn
and live than go on and die, for he is not willing that any
(2.) Jerusalem cannot escape the day of her desolation. The things
of her peace are now in a manner hidden from her eyes; they will be
shortly. Not but that after this the gospel was preached to them by the
apostles; all the house of Israel were called to know
assuredly that Christ was their peace
and multitudes were convinced and converted. But as to the body of the
nation, and the leading part of it, they were sealed up under unbelief;
God had given them the spirit of slumber,
They were so prejudiced and enraged against the gospel, and those few
that did embrace it then, that nothing less than a miracle of divine
grace (like that which converted Paul) would work upon them; and it
could not be expected that such a miracle should be wrought, and so
they were justly given up to judicial blindness and hardness.
The peaceful things are not hidden from the eyes of
particular persons; but it is too late to think now of the nation of
the Jews, as such, becoming a Christian nation, by embracing
Christ. And therefore they are marked for ruin, which Christ here
foresees and foretels, as the certain consequence of their rejecting
Christ. Note, Neglecting the great salvation of ten brings temporal
judgments upon a people; it did so upon Jerusalem in less than forty
years after this, when all that Christ here foretold was exactly
[1.] The Romans besieged the city, cast a trench about it, compassed
it round, and kept their inhabitants in on every
side. Josephus relates that Titus ran up a wall in a very short
time, which surrounded the city, and cut off all hopes of escaping.
[2.] They laid it even with the ground. Titus commanded his
soldiers to dig up the city, and the whole compass of it was
levelled, except three towers; see Josephus's history of the wars of
the Jews, 5. 356-360; 7.
1. Not only the city, but the citizens were laid even with the ground
(thy children within thee), by the cruel slaughters that were
made of them: and there was scarcely one stone left upon
another. This was for their crucifying Christ; this was because
they knew not the day of their visitation. Let other cities and
nations take warning.
II. The zeal he showed for the present purification of the
temple. Though it must be destroyed ere long, it does not therefore
follow that no care must be taken of it in the mean time.
1. Christ cleared it of those who profaned it. He went straight to the
temple, and began to cast out the buyers and sellers,
Hereby (though he was represented as an enemy to the temple, and that
was the crime laid to his charge before the high priest) he made it to
appear that he had a truer love for the temple than they had who had
such a veneration for its corban, its treasury, as a sacred thing; for
its purity was more its glory than its wealth was. Christ gave reason
for his dislodging the temple-merchants,
The temple is a house of prayer, set apart for communion with
God: the buyers and sellers made it a den of
thieves by the fraudulent bargains they made there, which was by no
means to be suffered, for it would be a distraction to those who came
there to pray.
2. He put it to the best use that ever it was put to, for he taught
daily in the temple,
Note, It is not enough that the corruptions of a church be purged out,
but the preaching of the gospel must be encouraged. Now, when Christ
preached in the temple, observe here,
(1.) How spiteful the church-rulers were against him; how industrious
to seek an opportunity, or pretence rather, to do him a mischief
The chief priests and scribes, and the chief of the people, the
great sanhedrim, that should have attended him, and summoned the people
too to attend him, sought to destroy him, and put him to death.
(2.) How respectful the common people were to him. They were very
attentive to hear him. He spent most of his time in the country,
and did not then preach in the temple, but, when he did, the people
paid him great respect, attended on his preaching with diligence, and
let no opportunity slip of hearing him, attended to it with care, and
would not lose a word. Some read it, All the people as they heard
him, took his part; and so it comes in very properly as a reason
why his enemies could not find what they might do against him;
they saw the people ready to fly in their faces if they offered him any
violence. Till his hour was come his interest in the common people
protected him; but, when his hour was come, the chief priests'
influence upon the common people delivered him up.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Luke' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".