In Luke chapter 19 the same story that we have examined in Matthew/Mark and John is told in a slightly different perspective. Here we get some idea of the way Jesus felt. The chapter begins with Zacchaeus… the wee little man. Being a wee little man, Zach climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus eats and has fellowship with Zach. Of course, Luke gives us some insight into Jesus’ thoughts: as he pronounces Salvation over Zach and his household, He tells a parable. The parable involves a king who leaves his citizens to go and receive a greater Kingdom from some other place. Upon leaving, the King divides some of his fortune among some stewards and charges them to increase it. Luke tells us a peculiar phrase in verse 14. This King evidently had some citizens who did not want Him as King. When the King returns two have done well, and one had done nothing. The one who had done nothing was rebuked harshly and then the King proclaims that He is going to kill the ones who did not want Him as their King. Presumably this one who did nothing was among those who did not want this King. He defames the character of the King and the King shows him how illogical his actions have been.
Luke follows this parable of the King collecting His Kingdom immediately with the triumphal entry. Read carefully and you will see the worthless steward in the rest of the chapter. On the way into the city, the disciples begin to proclaim “Hosanna! The King has come!” In verse 39, the Pharisees call for Jesus to correct His disciples. Essentially saying, “You’re not the King we want! Tell them to stop!” Jesus answers simply, “It doesn’t matter if you want me, I AM THE KING!” Take note, even the rocks can’t deny the reality. (v.40)
Imagine, The King of all things riding into his Kingdom and seeing His people, His stewards, whom He put in place, whom He gave authority… all of them hating Him. Have you ever felt this way, surely not to this extent, but perhaps on a small scale? You see that guy across the room, supposedly your brother in Christ, and you know that no matter what you do, He is going to hate you? Perhaps you’ve done something in the past, or maybe he just doesn’t like you. You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach like you need to throw up. Your knees go weak as you cross the room to say hello, hoping for some glimpse of forgiveness for the offense you never gave and therefore cannot remedy. I think that is something like the feeling Jesus felt. On a small scale, maybe. Even as I imagine the feeling, my arms are weak and I feel like I am going to drop my tea mug. It’s in these moments that we feel utterly alone. We feel like no one is with us, even if we are surrounded by an army. I believe Jesus’ mourning over Jerusalem in verses 41-44 are born out of this feeling. He sees His own people, whom He has protected and shepherded hate Him and don’t want Him as King. The stewards have taken advantage of the citizens who would Love their King. The consequence will be dire and many of the people who imagine a false offense will be slaughtered because they did not know the King would return. (v.44)
Imagine with me, the King enters His palace (the Temple) and His servants do not take note of Him. In spite they turn their faces away. The brothers, His disciples, are clueless and numb to the pain of their King. The King looks over His Kingdom and finds that His stewards have been abusing his citizens. They did not want the King, so they have put in place their own system of righteousness and approval. I think Jesus walked into the Temple and perhaps he heard some of the money changers, “Come get your spotless lamb, to make atonement for your sins. Half Price! Two doves for a buck!” Maybe he overheard the Pharisees, “The LORD is pleased, look at how many lambs we’ve sold today.” One of the smaller ones says, “We could rake in even more if we sold tickets.”
Just then a skinny teenage boy brushes past with his parents, “Dad, make sure we get the best lamb, I want the Lord to have the best!” (Teenagers are often more zealous than the rest of us.) The father turns, “Son, we will be sure to honor the Lord,” his eyes slightly strained as if trying to hold back tears, “but I don’t think we can afford the best.” Jesus sees His citizens clamoring for salvation under a system that is horrifically abused and oppressive. Then he saw Kyle and the Johnsons, having been taught that they needed money and ritual to be called His citizens! In fury, Jesus starts throwing tables and screaming, swinging a whip around, and driving out everything that is not of His rule. The Pharisees try to stop Him and in warning he raises his fist and points at them shouting “You’ve made my House a den of thieves!” I imagine tears streaming down the Messiah’s face as He can scarcely contain His wrath. Panting heavy from having thrown out the thieves and dismissed the foolish stewards, I can imagine Him locking eyes with the frightened young teenager and pleading with tears in His eyes, “you don’t need a lamb, I have come and My Kingdom is yours to enter.”
So it is for us. Our King returns to find us struggling to find our own righteousness in the things we do or the things we own or the rituals we practice. We think to ourselves, “If I could just be good enough” or “If I could just get this thing right” or “I’ve gotta get my life right with God” or “I have got to get back into church.” He walks into our worship centers and sees us trying our hardest to say the right words and pray the right prayers. We long for application in our Bible studies that could just tell us something to DO to earn our right standing before God. We clamor for worthiness when all along He has called us His own, and there is NO greater worth than His proclamation of ownership. Sometimes I think my worship proves how little I would recognize the King of Glory if He were to walk into the room. I hope I would be like the teenager I have imagined for you in these illustrations. But I worry that I’d be like the priest… at best a disciple fretting over bread because I missed something. If we are to see the Kingdom, we must rest in the righteousness of the King. Our obedience to the King must stem from a love for Him as King. “For this is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice for us.” (1 John 4:10) The Kingdom has come, and the King will soon return. “Seek Him while He may be found.” (Isa. 55:6)
There is a grave warning in this chapter as well. You see the parable ended with the slaughter of those who would not accept the King. That comes later in the Bible… but it still comes. If you do not trust the King and you put anything else to rule your life, woe to you when The King returns, for you have less sense than a rock. (v.40)