and followed him; his kind benefactor, with a grateful sense of his goodness, with strong affection for him, and faith in him;
glorifying God, who had sent such a Saviour to him; who had wrought such a wonderful miracle for him: for he was sensible that none but God could do this.
And all the people, when they saw it; what was done, how that the man they just before saw was blind, and begging by the way side, now had his sight restored to him, in an instant, and was following Jesus, in the crowd, along with them:
gave praise unto God; or, as Beza's most ancient copy reads, "glory"; they ascribed the glory to God, and praised his name, that he had raised up the Messiah among them; of which this was a clear proof, inasmuch as the eyes of the blind were opened, according to Isaiah 35:5.
which was chief among the publicans; the head of them in that place, to whom the rest brought the tax, tribute, or toll; he was the receiver general of the tax: at the toll booths, at bridges, for people's going over the water, there was , "the greater publican", and , "the lesser publican" (f), who was deputy to the other. What sort of tax Zacchaeus was concerned in collecting, is not certain; however, he was a principal man in this employ, and had got great riches by it.
And he was rich; was a person of figure among the publicans, and of substance, which he had gained in his post. And though the instances of rich men being called by grace are few, yet there have been some; and the rather this circumstance is mentioned, because it had been observed in the preceding chapter, how difficult, but not impossible, as this instance proves, it was for rich men to enter into the kingdom of God.
(a) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 27. 2. & Yebamot, fol. 77. 2. Nazir, fol. 38. 1. & Nidda, fol. 41. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 90. 2.((b) R. Benjamin Itinerar. p. 61, 94. (c) Tertull. contr. Marcion. l. 4. c. 37. (d) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 113. 1.((e) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Bava Kama, c. 10. sect. 1.((f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 78. 2.
and could not for the press; the multitude of people that were flocking to meet Jesus, or who came before him, or were about him; for one part of the multitude went before him, and the other followed after him; so that he was in the crowd, and therefore could not easily be seen;
because he was little of stature. The Syriac and Persic versions read, "because Zacchaeus was little of stature", lest it should be thought that this is said of Jesus; for the reason why Zacchaeus could not see him for the crowd, was not because Christ was little of stature, and was hid among them, but because Zacchaeus was little of stature, and could not see over their heads.
and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: which sort of trees were very common about Jericho: hence we read of, , "beams of sycamore" in Jericho, which those that were strong took up in their arms, and the owners stood and devoted them to God (g); and among the things which the men of Jericho did, this was one, that they permitted the branches of trees devoted to sacred uses, and of the "charub" tree, and of the "sycamore", to be cut down and used (h). This sort of trees used to grow in plains and valleys, as appears from some passages of Scripture, 1 Kings 10:27 and from Jewish writings (i); and certain it is, that Jericho was in such a situation. Josephus (k) says, it was seated in a plain; and Strabo says (l), that Jericho is a plain surrounded with mountains; to which agrees the account that (m) Justin gives of it. There is a valley, which is enclosed by mountains on all sides, as with a wall, like a castle; the space of the place is two hundred acres, and it is called Jericho. Hence we read of the plains and valley of Jericho in Scripture, Deuteronomy 34:3 so that it is very probable sycamore trees grew there in great plenty; though the place was more famous for palm trees: hence it is called the city of the palm trees, Deuteronomy 24:3 which the Targumist, in both places, interprets, the city of Jericho: to which agree the accounts given of it by Pliny (n), Strabo (o), and Justin (p), who all affirm, that it abounded with palm trees; and the latter says also with balsam trees, from the sweet smell of which it might have its name: so the Jews say (q), the ointment of balsam is called the ointment of our land, because it grows in Jericho, and because of the smell of it, it is called Jericho; though some think it has its name from the plain, being in the form of a half moon; the moon, in the Hebrew language, being called (r). This tree seems to have been without the city: and indeed, according to the Jewish canon, it ought to be, which runs thus (s);
"they set a tree at a distance from a city, twenty and five cubits, but a "charub tree", and "sycamore", fifty cubits.''
The reason of the greater distance of the latter is, as one of their commentators says (t), because their branches were large; and this is the reason why Zacchaeus went up into one of these trees, because it was large and able to bear him, and tall, from whence he could have a full view of Christ:
for he was to pass that way; or rather, "pass by that"; for the word "way" is not in the text; and the sense is, he was to pass by that tree; or "under" it, as the Arabic version renders it. The tree stood by the road side, in which Jesus came, for which reason Zacchaeus made choice of it, as fit for his purpose.
(g) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 57. 1. & Juchashin, fol. 69. 1.((h) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 71. 1. & Pesachim, fol. 56. 1.((i) Misn. Sheviith, c. 9. sect. 2.((k) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 27. (l) Geograph. l. 16. (m) Hist. l. 36. c. 3.((n) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 14. (o) Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 16.) (p) Ib. (q) Gloss. in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 43. 1.((r) Vid. Masium in Josh. c. 2. p. 37. (s) Misna Bava Bathra, c. 2. sect. 7. (t) Bartenora in ib.
He looked up and saw him; he knew him, he being one of those the Father had given to him, and he had loved and undertook for, and was come into the world to seek, and to save, and now, at this time, was come hither to call by his grace. He had seen him before in the glass of his Father's purposes and decrees, he being chosen in him to grace and glory, and being a vessel of mercy, afore prepared for glory: he had seen him when he was brought into the bond of the covenant; and passed under the rod of him, that telleth all the covenant ones, as they were put into it, and given to him the Mediator of it: he had seen him among them that were lost in Adam, whom he came to recover out of the ruins of their fall in him; and now he saw him in his state of nature and unregeneracy; he saw him in his blood, and said unto him, live: this look was a look of love, grace, and mercy; he looked upon him, and loved him, and was gracious to him, and had compassion on him; and it was a distinguishing look, he looked on him, and not on others. There was a great crowd both before and behind him, and all about him; but he looked not on these, but he looked up to Zacchaeus.
And he said unto him, Zacchaeus; he knew him, and could call him by his name, as he did Saul, when he called him, and revealed himself to him. His name was written in the Lamb's book of life, and so must be known to Christ, who was present at the making of that book, and was concerned in setting down the names in it, and has it in his keeping: he was one of the sheep the Father had given him, he came to lay down his life for, and of whom he had such perfect knowledge, as to call them by name, as he does all the chosen and redeemed ones; see Isaiah 43:1. It must be very surprising to Zacchaeus to hear Christ call him by his name, who was an utter stranger to him, and whom he had never seen before; and it is a very considerable instance of the omniscience of Christ, as well as of the great condescension and affectionate regard he has to his own, and the familiar way in which he uses them.
Make haste, and come down; from the tree. The dangerous estate and condition of a sinner requires haste; it is like that of Lot in Sodom, when it was just going to be destroyed; and like that of the manslayer, when pursued by the avenger of blood; both whom it became to escape for their lives, and flee for refuge as fast as they could: and so it became Zacchaeus to come down with all speed to Christ, who was come hither to call and save him; and the enjoyment of Christ, and his grace, calls for haste; see John 11:28. Such who come to Christ must quit all their exalted thoughts of themselves, of their riches, fulness, and self-sufficiency, and come to him as poor and needy, for such only he fills with his good things; and of their health and soundness, and come to him the great physician, as sick and diseased; and of their purity and goodness, holiness and righteousness, and come to him as sinners: but it must be mighty grace to cast down imaginations, and high things, that exalt themselves against Christ, and the knowledge of him, and to humble a proud sinner, and bring him to the feet of Jesus.
For this day I must abide at thy house; for a little while; not so much for the sake of refreshment for himself, and his disciples, as for the good of Zacchaeus; to make known the great salvation to him, and to bestow his grace upon him, and converse with him in a spiritual way.
and came down; from the tree he had climbed, merely to indulge his curiosity, little thinking that he should be called by name by him; that he should have him a guest at his house, and have such a knowledge of him, and familiar acquaintance with him: so souls, when called by Christ, and made sensible of their need of him, and the worth there is in him, quit their former post and place, part with their carnal lusts and sinful companions, and renounce their own righteousness and works, and come as sinners, humble and lowly, and venture upon Christ:
and received him joyfully; not only into his house, but into his arms and heart: Christ was a welcome guest to him, as he is to every sensible sinner, who by faith receives him, as the Father's free gift; as the alone Saviour and Redeemer; as the great Mediator, in all his offices, of prophet, priest, and king; and in every relation and character he bears; and embraces his doctrines, and submits to his ordinances, and that with, the greatest joy; as there is reason for it, since with him, he receives the free and full forgiveness of his sins, a justifying righteousness, an abundance of grace, and a right unto, and meetness for heaven.
They all murmured; as the Scribes and Pharisees did, at his eating with publicans and sinners, Luke 15:2.
Saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner; a notorious one, an abandoned profligate creature; one of the worst of sinners, as being a publican, and the chief of them; who had amassed vast riches to himself, by extortion and oppression; and they thought it was not agreeable to the character of an holy man, and a venerable prophet, which Christ bore, to go into such a man's house, eat at his table; and have familiar conversation with him; see Matthew 9:10.
and said unto the Lord; that is, to "Jesus", as the Syriac and Persic versions, and some copies read; he addressed himself to Christ, and made his confession to him, as the Israelite, when he brought the basket of the firstfruits to the priest, confessed before the Lord his God, Deuteronomy 26:4. And the rather Zacchaeus directed his speech to Christ, being, as he was now convinced, the discerner of the thoughts, and intents of the heart; who knew the genuineness of his repentance, that it was hearty and real; and the sincerity of his expressions and resolutions, and upon what principles he acted, and proposed to do as follows:
behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give unto the poor; not to make satisfaction for the sins he had committed, but to testify his sense of them, and his repentance for them, and as willing to do good with what he had gotten; which shows, that the disposition of his mind was altered, and of a covetous oppressor, he was become tender, kind, and liberal. According to an order made by the Jews in Usha, a man might not give away more than a fifth part of his estate, unless in some extraordinary cases (u); and we read of one, that gave a "third" part of his goods to the poor (w); and of another, that gave, as here, half of his mammon, or wealth (x); and another, half of his food to the poor (y); and of another, that gave away all his goods to them (z); see 1 Corinthians 13:3; to give a tenth part, was reckoned a medium (a):
and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation; or by extorting any thing from him on any pretence, by making an unjust demand upon him; or in any oppressive way, by defrauding and tricking, and by doing him any injury, in any form or manner:
I restore him fourfold: the same that was done in case of sheep stealing, Exodus 22:1 but in such a case as this, the law only required the principal, with the fifth part added to it; see Leviticus 6:5 but Zacchaeus proposes as much as in the case of theft, and which was rarely used. The Jews (b) say,
"that the manner of paying double, was more used than the manner of paying fourfold, or fivefold; for the manner of paying double was used, both in things animate and inanimate; but the manner of paying fourfold and fivefold, was used but with respect to an ox, and a sheep only.''
This was done by Zacchaeus, to show the truth and reality of his repentance; for with that nation,
"the repentance of shepherds, and of collectors, and of "publicans", is said (c) to be very difficult:''
the reason given by the gloss is, because they rob many, and do not know who to return to.
(u) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 50. 1. & Maimon. in Misn. Peah, c. 1, sect 1.((w) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 44. 1.((x) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 67. 2.((y) Juchasin, fol. 105. 2.((z) T. Hieros. Peah, fol. 15. 2.((a) Maimon. Hilch. Mattanot Anayim, c. 7. sect. 5. (b) Misna Bava Kama, c. 7. sect. 1.((c) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 94. 2.
this day is salvation come to this house: to the master of it, and it may be to others in it; the Arabic version reads, "to the inhabitants of this house". The Persic version reads, "great salvation"; by which may be meant, the Gospel, as in Hebrews 2:3 so called, because it brings the account of salvation by Christ, which is not discoverable by the light of nature, nor made known by the law of Moses; but the Gospel publishes and proclaims it; the ministers of it show unto men the way of salvation, and direct them, and encourage to go to Christ for it; likewise the Gospel is the means of bringing near this salvation, and of applying it to them; and when it comes with the demonstration of the Spirit, it is the power of God unto salvation: and this might be truly said to come to Zacchaeus's house; inasmuch as Christ the great preacher of it, and by whom it first began to be spoken, and was spoken by him, as it never was by any one besides, was now in his house, preaching it; the sum and substance of which lie in the words delivered by him in the following verse; and the Gospel came to him to purpose, and was effectual: sometimes it comes to a people, city, town, or family, and it is rejected, and becomes of no effect; but here it came to Zacchaeus, and into him; and wrought effectually in him, as his words in the preceding verse declare: moreover, the blessing of salvation itself, which is wrought out by Christ, and published in the Gospel, was brought home to him; he was not only made sensible that he stood in need of salvation, but this was brought near unto him, and set before him, and applied to him; he had not only hopes of it, but faith of interest in it; it was made known unto him, that Christ was his salvation; and it was revealed and applied to the rest of the family, as well as to him: sometimes the Lord takes one of a city, and two of a family; and sometimes whole families, as Lydia's and the jailor's, and here Zacchaeus's, as seems probable; for by his house may be meant, his family: though this may be understood of Christ, the author of salvation; who came into his house in a literal sense, as well as in a spiritual sense; and was made known to Zacchaeus, as his Saviour and Redeemer. The Alexandrian copy reads, "in this house": it follows,
forasmuch as he also is the son of Abraham. These words are to be considered, either as a reason, or evidence, of salvation being come to his house; and therefore cannot be understood of him as a son of Abraham, by natural descent: he was indeed a Jew, as appears by his name, and by his knowledge of the Jewish law, concerning restoration; and which may be confirmed by the silence of the Pharisees, who murmured at Christ's going along with him; who, had he been a Gentile, would not have failed to have mentioned it; but then, though this might be a reason justifying Christ in going to his house, who did not exceed the bounds of his office, as the minister of the circumcision, and as sent, and that only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; yet this could be no reason of spiritual salvation coming to him, which was not confined to Abraham's natural seed, nor was it necessary to them, more than others, and much less general; and indeed, very few of them then in being, partook of it; for though salvation was of them, and Christ the Saviour came unto them, yet they rejected him, and died in their sins: nor is this a reason of salvation coming to his family; for though by virtue of the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham and his natural seed, there were many outward privileges bestowed upon them, yet spiritual salvation was not ensured by it to them; and with regard to that, natural descent from Abraham, and circumcision, were of no avail: but this is to be understood of him, as a son of Abraham in a spiritual sense, he being now a believer in Christ, and so one that walked in the steps of the faith of Abraham; and this was an evidence of his interest in salvation by Christ, the blessing with which he was blessed, with faithful Abraham: and also his being a son of Abraham, which is no other than to be a child of the promise, Romans 9:8 or in other words, one of God's elect, a chosen vessel of salvation, was a reason why Christ, the author of salvation, came to him, why the Gospel of salvation was made known to him, and why the blessing of salvation was applied to him. The Jews use this phrase, not only of one whose natural descent is from Abraham, but whose knowledge in divine things is considerable: so when R. Eliezer ben Arach taught the Mercava, (the mystery of Ezekiel's visions),
"R. Jochanan ben Zaccai stood and kissed his head, and said, blessed art thou, O God of Israel, that has given , "a son to Abraham", who has knowledge to understand, and to search out, and to explain the work of Mercava (d).''
For Abraham is said (e) to be a father in this sort of knowledge, for which reason, this man was genealogized a son of Abraham.
(d) T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 14. 2.((e) Caphtor, fol. 69. 1.
is come: from heaven, into this world, being sent by the Father, and with the full consent and good will of his own:
to seek and save that which was lost: as all his elect were in Adam, and by their own actual transgressions; and are considered as such, whilst in a state of unregeneracy: and particularly the lost sheep of the house of Israel are meant, one of which Zacchaeus was; and so the words are a reason of Christ's looking him up, and calling him by his grace, and making a discovery of himself, and an application of salvation to him; see Matthew 18:11.
he added, and spake a parable; that is, as the Syriac version renders it, "he added a parable to the word", or to what he had said:
because he was nigh to Jerusalem: within ten "parsas", or large miles; for at such a distance was Jerusalem from Jericho (f), where Christ now was, according to the Jewish writers; but according to Josephus (g), it was a hundred and fifty furlongs, which must be eighteen or twenty miles, and this may be said to be nigh; and not long after this, we hear of Christ at the Mount of Olives, which was about a mile from Jerusalem, Luke 19:29.
And because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear: or be revealed, or made manifest: the phrase is Jewish; so Sol 2:12 "the time of the singing of birds is come", is interpreted (h), the time that the "kingdom of heaven", "shall be revealed", is come, and elsewhere (i),
"say to the cities of the house of Judah, , "the kingdom of your God is revealed;"''
meaning in both places, as here, the kingdom of the Messiah: what induced the disciples of Christ, or the multitude, or both, to imagine that the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, which they were expecting, would quickly be set up, might be what he had said to Zacchaeus, that salvation was that day come to his house, he being a son of Abraham; which they understanding of a temporal salvation, took it as a hint, that the outward prosperity of the seed of Abraham was at hand; as also what he had said, concerning his coming to seek and save that which is lost; which they were willing to interpret, of the civil state of Judea, and that he was come to restore its lost liberties and privileges; and partly, because he was now not a great way from Jerusalem, and was on his journey thither, in order to make his entrance in a very public manner; which was the metropolis of their nation, and the ancient seat of their kings, David, Solomon, and others: now the scope and design of the following parable, is to refute the notion of a temporal kingdom, and its near approach; by showing, that his kingdom lay a great way off, and was not of this world; and that his servants and disciples had a great deal of business to transact for him, and must not think of pomp and grandeur, but of labour and service; and that the Jews were so far from receiving any advantages by his kingdom, that they would not submit to his government, and would be treated as enemies, and utterly destroyed; even their nation, city, and temple.
(f) Bartenora in Misn. Tamid, c. 3, sect. 8. (g) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 27. (h) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 11. 4. (i) Targum in Isaiah 40.9.
a certain nobleman; the son of a great family, as the Syriac version renders it; of noble descent, of an illustrious extract; by whom is meant Jesus Christ, who was a "man", as he agreed to be, and was prophesied of as such; and who frequently appeared in an human form before his incarnation; and was now actually become man, though not a mere man: and he may truly be said to be "noble"; not only as the word may signify, as it sometimes does, a person of great authority and power, and of great generosity and goodness, but one of a noble birth; for Christ, as man, descended from the kings of the house of Judah, and was the son of David; and from the Jewish fathers and ancestors of the greatest renown, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and he may be so called as man, because of the union of the human nature to the Son of God; or because of his divine relation, as the Son of God: this illustrious person,
went into a far country; by which, heaven is meant; so called, not only because of its distance from the earth, but in comparison of the earth, as a place of pilgrimage; and because that it is out of sight, and the views which are had of it, are very distant ones: hither Christ went at his ascension; he came from heaven at his incarnation, by the assumption of human nature; he stayed here awhile, till he had done his work he came about, and then went up to heaven; where he is received, and from whence he is expected again: the end of his going there is,
to receive for himself a kingdom: by which is intended, not the kingdom of nature and providence; for that he had, and did not receive from another; it was his of right, and by nature; nor the kingdom of grace, set up in the hearts of his people, and which was already within many of them; nor the kingdom of glory, prepared for them from the foundation of the world; though into this he entered at his ascension, and took possession of it for himself and them: but a more visible display of his mediatorial kingdom, he received from his Father; and which, upon his ascension, became more manifest, by the dispossessing of Satan, and casting him out of the Gentile world; by converting large numbers of his people, both among Jews and Gentiles; and by ruling in their hearts, subduing their enemies, and protecting and defending them; and by thus reigning till he has gathered them all in, either in Judea, or in the whole world, and then he will come again:
and return; either to destroy the Jews; the doing of which fully proved he had received his kingdom, was vested with power and authority, and was made, or declared Lord and Christ; or at the end of the world, to judge both quick and dead: and this is said, to show that his personal glorious kingdom on earth, or his kingdom in its greatest glory here, will not be till he comes a second time; and to engage diligence in his servants in the mean while; and to keep up the faith, hope, and expectation of his coming again.
and delivered them ten pounds; every one a pound: the "Maneh", or pound of the Hebrews, if of gold, which contained an hundred drachmas, was of the value of our money, "seventy five pounds"; if of silver, the old "Maneh", or pound, which contained sixty shekels, Ezekiel 45:12 amounted to "seven pounds ten shillings"; but the "Maneh", or pound, mentioned in the Misna (k), and which was in use in our Lord's time, contained an hundred pence, and was of the value of our money, "three pounds two shillings and six pence": and by these pounds are designed, not special grace; for they intend not any thing wrought in these servants, but something delivered to them, and what might be taken away again, which cannot be said of special grace; and besides, it is certain, that one of these servants that had the pound, was destitute of that: but gifts are meant, and these not merely natural, or the gifts of providence, as health, riches, wisdom, &c. nor only the outward means of grace, as the word and ordinances, but ministerial gifts, which are the greatest in the church, and are therefore signified by pounds; and are what may be improved or neglected, and be lost or taken away; and for which those that have them, are accountable: but though each of these servants are represented, as having every man a pound delivered to him, this must not be understood, as if the gifts of ministers were equal and alike, any more than the inequality of their rewards proves degrees in glory; for which sometimes this parable is produced:
and said unto him, occupy; negotiate, or trade, that is, with the pounds; make use of the ministerial gifts, exercise them, lay them out, and trade with them: the ministry is a trade and merchandise, to be carried on, not in the name of the ministers of Christ, nor on their own stock, nor for themselves, but for Christ, and for the good of souls; which shows, that they must not be slothful, but laborious and diligent:
till I:come: which suggests the certainty of Christ's coming, the continuance of the Gospel ministry to that time; and that there is no rest nor ease for Christ's ministers, but a continued series of labour and service, until then; when, for their encouragement, they shall receive their reward.
(k) Peah, c. 8. sect. 5. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
and sent a message after him; this seems to have respect to their outrage against the disciples of Christ, after his ascension; when they not only mocked them, as on the day of Pentecost, but laid hold on them, and put them in hold, even in the common prison, and persecuted them from place to place; and so virtually,
saying, we will not have this man to reign over us: they would neither receive his Gospel, nor submit to his ordinances; but put them away from them, and judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life: and this is the language of every graceless soul; and is to be observed in their opposition to, and neglect of the truths of Christ, and his divine institutions; which are a yoke they do not care to take upon them, though so mild and easy, and are cords which they cast away from them.
having received the kingdom; not only having been set down at the right hand of God, and crowned with glory and honour, and received gifts for men, which he bestowed on them; and which proved him to be Lord and Christ; all which was done at his ascension, after which his kingdom came, or he returned in power and glory, to take vengeance on the Jews; but also having received the kingdom of glory for all his saints, and particularly having received the kingdom of priests, or all the elect of God, these being all called by grace, and gathered to him, as they will every one of them before his second coming; when this kingdom will be delivered to the Father complete and perfect; and this will a reckoning time, as follows:
then he commanded those servants to be called, to whom he had given the money. The servants are the ministers of the word, who must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; and give an account of themselves to God, the Judge of all; and of their gifts and talents, and ministrations, and the souls under their care: the persons who are "commanded" to call them are the angels, and who shall be employed in gathering all the elect together; the thing that will be inquired about, and must be accounted for, is the "money" given them; that is, the Gospel they are intrusted with, and the gifts to preach it bestowed on them: the end of this summons is,
that he might know how much every man had gained by trading; not but that Christ, who is the omniscient God, the searcher of the heart, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of it, knows full well the use that is made of every man's gift, and the benefits and advantages arising from it, both for his own glory, and the good of souls; but these summons will be given, this account taken, and inquiry made, that these things which are known to him, might be made manifest to all, and every man have praise of God; whose will it is that he should have it, and sloth and negligence be justly punished.
saying, Lord; acknowledging the sovereignty and dominion of Christ over them, owning they were accountable to him, and that he had a right to inquire, what use they had made of their gifts, and what advantages these had produced;
thy pound hath gained ten pounds; it had been increased tenfold; or it has turned to a tenfold account, in the conversion of sinners, in the edification of the saints, and in the advancement of the kingdom, and interest of Christ. This servant owns, that the gifts he had were Christ's; he calls them, "thy pound"; and therefore did not glory in them as his own attainments, or, as if he had received them not; and ascribes the great increase, not to himself, but to the pound itself; to the gifts of Christ, as they were his, and as used by his grace and strength, and as blessed, and owned by him, to these purposes.
because thou hast been faithful in a very little; had preached the pure Gospel of Christ, and the whole of it, and sought not to please men, but the Lord only; not his own glory, but Christ's; abode by him and his interest, notwithstanding all reproaches and persecutions, and so acted a faithful part to Christ: "in a very little"; not that the Gospel is in itself little, or of small account; it is a treasure in earthen vessels; and contains the unsearchable riches of Christ: nor are gifts to preach it little things; they are instances of rich and amazing grace; but they are little, or, rather, the use and exercise of them are little, in comparison of the glory and happiness such faithful servants shall enjoy: from whence it appears, that since there is no proportion between what they do, and what they shall have, that therefore it is not of merit but of grace; and which is expressed in the following clause:
have thou authority over ten cities; which is to be understood, not in a literal sense, as if the apostles should have the jurisdiction over so many cities, or churches in so many cities among the Gentiles, after the destruction of Jerusalem, which were planted by their means and ministry; for nothing of this kind appears in the word of God: and much less after the second coming of Christ, shall faithful ministers of the word have power over so many cities, literally taken; for both in the kingdom state and in the ultimate glory, there will be but one beloved city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem: nor is any thing in particular, in a metaphorical sense, intended; only, in general, that the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of it, will be given unto them; and they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years; and shall also have a crown of glory, life, and righteousness bestowed on them, and shall sit on the throne with Christ; and besides all this, the persons they have been instrumental to, will be their joy, and crown of rejoicing. A learned writer (l) explains these ten cities, by the ten horns of the dragon, and beast in Revelation 12:3 by which are meant ten kings, or kingdoms, Revelation 17:12. These indeed will be overcome by Christ, and they that are with him, and will hate the Romish antichrist, and destroy him; so that, it seems, there will be revolutions in these kingdoms; and large conversions to the faith of Christ, which seems to be what this writer means by authority over them.
(l) Teelmanni Specimen Explic. Parabol. p. 51.
saying, Lord; acknowledging also the power and authority of Christ over him:
thy pound hath gained five pounds; is increased fivefold, or is turned to a fivefold account, to the interest of Christ, and good of immortal souls: the usefulness of the ministers of the Gospel is not alike; as they have gifts different one from another, so their improvements are different, and their labours, though faithful, do not turn to the same account,
be thou over five cities; which does not denote any inequality of glory in Christ's ministers, who will all shine as the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever; at least, there will be no inequality in the ultimate state of happiness, when all the saints shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, whatever there may be in the kingdom state, or in Christ's personal reign with his saints on earth. The above learned writer would have this passage compared with Isaiah 19:18.
saying, Lord; owning also the lordship and dominion of Christ, as all will confess at the last day, even those who have no interest in him, and cannot call him their Lord;
behold, here is thy pound; he owns his gifts were the Lord's, and that he had received them from him, and now returns them:
which I have kept; he had kept that which was committed to him, and that even till his Lord came; he had not lost it, though it was not increased, or was of any advantage to Christ, or the souls of men, it being neglected by him; for it was
laid up in a napkin: the Greek word, here used for a napkin, is adopted by the Jews into their language, and is used for a veil and for a linen cloth: this puts me in mind of what the Jews call, "possession by a napkin", or linen cloth: their custom is this; when they buy, or sell any thing, to use a piece of cloth they call "sudar", the word in the text, which the contractors lay hold upon, whereby they ratify and confirm the bargain (m): but this man made no use of his "sudar", or napkin, in buying and selling; he traded not at all; he wrapped up his money in it, and both lay useless; his gift lay dormant and unexercised, which was given him to profit withal.
(m) Elias in Tisbbi in voce
because thou art an austere man; cruel and uncompassionate to his servants, and hard to be pleased; than which nothing is more false, since it is evident, that Christ is compassionate both to the bodies and souls of men; is a merciful high priest, and is one that has compassion on the ignorant, and them that are out of the way, and cannot but be touched with the feeling of his people's infirmities; and is mild and gentle in his whole deportment, and in all his administrations:
thou takest up that thou layest not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow; suggesting, that he was covetous of that which did not belong to him, and withheld what was due to his servants, and rigorously exacted service that could not be performed; a most iniquitous charge, since none so liberal as he, giving gifts, grace and glory, freely; imposing no grievous commands on men; his yoke being easy, and his burden light; never sending a man to a warfare at his own charge; but always giving grace and strength proportionable to the service he calls to, and rewarding his servants in a most bountiful manner, infinitely beyond their deserts.
out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant; as he might be justly called: he was not only a wicked man, as all men are, even enemies by wicked works, and lie in wickedness; and a wicked professor of religion, as there be some; but a wicked minister, and that not on account of his bad principles, and sinful life and conversation, but for his sloth and negligence, and the wrong thoughts he entertained of, and the false charges he brought against Christ; and Christ turns his own argument upon him, and by his own words condemns him:
thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow; not allowing this, but supposing it was as he said; then Christ argues as follows, for his conviction.
that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? not that Christ approves of usury in an unlawful way, by extortion, but reproves hereby the sloth of this man, and exposes his folly and wickedness upon his own principles.
take from him the pound; which shows, that it was not special grace, for that is a good part that shall never be taken away, but gifts which may be taken away from men, or they from them:
and give it to him that hath ten pounds; not that, strictly speaking, the gifts of some men are taken from them and bestowed on others; but the design of the expression is to show, that to diligent and laborious ministers, there is an increase of gifts; their knowledge enlarges, and their light shines more and more to the perfect day, and they become more useful; and they appear brighter, and more illustrious, through the sloth of others, or when compared with indolent, negligent, and useless ministers.
Lord, he hath ten pounds; which they say either through envy, at his superior gifts, and usefulness; for it is generally the lot of the most eminent and useful servants of Christ to be envied by others; or in surprise, as wondering at the conduct of Christ in giving more to such, who had so much already. The Ethiopic version reads the words by way of interrogation, "hath he not ten pounds?" is not that enough? why should he have more? This verse is left out in Beza's most ancient copy. However, it is rightly put into a parenthesis in our version; for the following verse is strictly connected with Luke 19:24 and contains a reason of what is there ordered.
that unto every one that hath, shall be given; greater and larger gifts, fitting him for greater usefulness: he that has gifts, and makes use of them, increases in them; they enlarge with their use, and become brighter, and he more useful. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "and he shall abound, or shall have abundance", as in Matthew 25:29
and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him: that is, that which he seemed to have, or thought he had, as in Luke 8:18 for from him that has really nothing, nothing can be taken away: though the sense may be, that he that does not use the talent, or exercise the gift bestowed on him, but lays it up in a napkin, which is all one as if he had it not, even the gift itself shall be taken away from him; and as others receive no benefit by it, he shall receive no honour from it; See Gill on Matthew 13:12 and See Gill on Matthew 25:29.
which would not that I should reign over them; see Luke 19:14
bring hither, and slay them before me; which had its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, when multitudes of them were slain with the sword, both with their own, and with their enemies; and to this the parable has a special respect, and of which Christ more largely discourses in this chapter; see Luke 19:41 though it is true of all natural men, that they are enemies to Christ; and so of all negligent and slothful professors, and ministers of the word, who, when Christ shall come a second time, of which his coming to destroy the Jewish nation was an emblem and pledge, will be punished with everlasting destruction by him; and then all other enemies will be slain and destroyed, sin, Satan, the world, and death: of the first of these the Jews say (n),
"in the time to come the holy, blessed God, will bring forth the evil imagination (or corruption of nature), "and slay it before" the righteous, and the wicked.''
(n) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1.
he went before; his disciples: he was the foremost of them in the journey; he proceeded at the head of them, with great cheerfulness and eagerness:
ascending up to Jerusalem; through the lower lands of Judea, to the city of Jerusalem, which was built on higher ground; where he was to eat his last passover, and suffer, and die, in the room, and stead, of his people; and this shows how willing, and greatly desirous he was to finish the work of redemption he came about.
to Bethphage and Bethany; two tracts of land which reached from Mount Olivet to Jerusalem; so that when he was there, he was nigh unto the city:
at the mount, called the Mount of Olives; or "Elaion", as the Ethiopic version, which retains the Greek word for it; and which has its name from the great number of olive trees that grew upon it:
he sent two of his disciples; their names are not mentioned by any of the evangelists, but it is very probable they were Peter and John; of the places here mentioned; See Gill on Matthew 21:1.
in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied: in Matthew 21:2 it is said, an ass, and a colt with her; which agrees with the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 and which, no doubt, was matter of fact: nor does Mark and Luke contradict it, though they do not express it:
whereon yet never man sat, loose him, and bring him hither; for it seems that Christ stayed at the above place, until the disciples went and fetched it.
thus shall ye say unto him, because the Lord hath need of him. The Syriac and Persic versions read "our Lord", yours, and ours; probably the owners of the colt might be such as knew the Lord Jesus Christ, and by this way of speaking of him, knew, at once, who was meant, and so made no scruple of sending him, as Christ told them they would not, and so they found it; See Gill on Matthew 21:3 and See Gill on Mark 9:3
and found, even as he had said unto them. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, and so some copies, add, "the colt standing"; that is, in the place, and manner which he had described to them; See Gill on Mark 9:4.
the owners thereof said unto them, why loose ye the colt? Mark takes notice of this, but does not tell us who they were, only that they were persons that stood there; but this evangelist informs us who they were: and it seems by this, that there were more owners of the colt than one, which might have made the taking away of the colt the more difficult; since, though one might agree to it, another might not; but Christ, who is God, and has the hearts of all men in his hands, could, as he did, dispose the minds of these men to let the colt go freely, and quietly, with his disciples; See Gill on Mark 11:5.
and they cast their garments upon the colt; that is, the disciples, who brought him to Jesus; the Persic version here, as in Matthew 21:7 renders it very wrongly, "Jesus put his own garment on its back, and sat on it"; it follows,
and they set Jesus thereon; in order to ride upon him, as he did to Jerusalem.
they spread their clothes in the way; not the disciples, for they had put their garments upon the colt; but the multitude, which either came with him from Jericho, and other parts, or that met him from Jerusalem, or both; see Matthew 21:8 and so the Persic version here; "men put off their clothes and cast them in the way, that he might pass over then"; See Gill on Matthew 21:8.
even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives; being come to the foot of that mount, which lay to the east of Jerusalem, and was about five furlongs from it, or a little more than half a mile (o):
the whole multitude of the disciples: not only the twelve, but the large company that followed Christ out of Galilee, and were joined by more in Judea, as they came along, some going before him, and others behind him. The Arabic and Persic versions divide these words, and read, "the multitude, and the disciples"; not only the apostles, but the whole body of the people that were with Christ:
began to rejoice, and praise God, with a loud voice, for all the mighty works that they had seen; calling to mind the many miracles he had wrought in Galilee, at Cana, Capernaum, and other places, and now, as he passed through Judea, particularly about Jericho, where he had restored sight to two or three blind men; and especially the miracle he had lately wrought at Bethany, in raising Lazarus from the dead; from all which they might strongly conclude, that he must be the Messiah; and being filled with joy and gladness, at the remembrance of these things, and with thankfulness to God, that he had raised up the glorious Saviour and Redeemer, they lifted up their voices together, and exerted them to the uttermost, and made the air ring with their shouts, and acclamations of praise to God, on this occasion.
(o) Joseph. Antiqu l. 20. c. 6.
that cometh in the name of the Lord; See Gill on Matthew 21:9.
peace in heaven; all heavenly peace and prosperity attend him; or let peace be made with God in heaven, by the Prince of Peace on earth, for sinful men:
and glory in the highest; glory be given to God for peace, life, and salvation by his son; and that in the highest heavens, by the angels there, as well as by men on earth, and in the highest notes and strains.
said unto him, master, rebuke thy disciples: not being able to bear such high encomiums of Jesus, and such open and public declarations of his being the Messiah; and would insinuate, that it was blasphemy in them to say what they did, and pride and vanity in him to allow of it; and that the consequence might be sedition, and tumult; and therefore it became him to check such a disorderly, noisy, evil, and dangerous practice.
that if these should hold their peace; be silent, and not sing the praises of God, and ascribe glory to him, and profess the Messiah, and make this public acknowledgment of him:
the stones would immediately cry out; either against them, or in a declaration of the Messiah: by which expression our Lord means, that it was impossible it should be otherwise; it would be intolerable if it was not; and rather than it should not be, God, who is able out of stones to raise up children to Abraham, would make the stones speak, or turn stones into men, who should rise up and praise the Lord, and confess the Messiah; hereby commending his disciples, and tacitly reflecting upon the Pharisees, for their stupidity; and also giving a hint of the conversion of the Gentiles, who might be compared to stones, especially in the opinion of the Jews.
and wept over it; touched with a tender concern for it, his natural passions moved, and tears fell plentifully from his eyes. This must be understood of Christ merely as man, and is a proof of the truth of his human nature, which had all the natural properties, and even the infirmities of it; and as affected with the temporal ruin of Jerusalem, and as concerned for its temporal welfare; and is not to be improved either against his proper deity, or the doctrines of distinguishing grace, relating to the spiritual and eternal salvation of God's elect; things that are foreign from the sense of this passage: some ancient Christians, and orthodox too, thinking that this was not so agreeable to Christ, but reflected some weakness and dishonour upon him, expunged this clause concerning his weeping; but we have another instance besides this; see John 11:35 and even the Jews themselves cannot think this to be unsuitable to the Messiah, when they represent the Shekinah, and God himself weeping over the destruction of the temple (p); and it is particularly (q) said by them of the Messiah, that he shall weep over the wicked among the Jews, according to Isaiah 53:5 and they encourage persons to mourn over Jerusalem: they say (r) whoever does any business on the ninth of Ab, (the day that city was destroyed,) and does not mourn over Jerusalem, shall not see its joy; but whoever does mourn over it, shall see its joy, according to Isaiah 66:10 (s).
(p) Zohar in Gen. fol. 114. 4. & in Exod. fol. 76. 1. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 3. 2. Prafat Echa Rabbati, fol. 89. 4. (q) Zohar in Exod. fol. 85. 2.((r) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 30. 2.((s) T. Bab Bathra, fol. 60. 2. & Caphtor, fol. 118. 2.
at least in this thy day; the day of thy visitation, the last day thou art to have, though it is so late:
the things which belong unto thy peace; meaning, not peace with God, and the things belonging, or conducing to that, which are not men's works of righteousness, nor tears of repentance, nor even faith itself, but the obedience and righteousness, the blood, sacrifice and death of Christ; nor spiritual peace, or internal peace of conscience, which comes in a Gospel way, through believing, in a course of obedience, and all from Christ, the peacemaker, and peace giver; nor eternal peace hereafter, which the grace of God gives a meetness for, and the righteousness of Christ a right unto; the knowledge of all which is not natural to men, or to be obtained of themselves, but is the gift of God's grace, and the operation of his Spirit: but supposing such a peace, and such things relating to it, were intended, nothing more can be inferred from hence, than that if the Jews had known these things, they had been happy; and since they had the means of knowing them, they were, of all men, inexcusable; and that Christ, as man, and one of their nation, and as a minister of the circumcision, had a passionate concern for their welfare: but not that these Jews, or any men, can of themselves, and without the unfrustrable grace of God working upon their hearts, and enlightening their understanding, know these things; or that Christ acted any insincere part in wishing for these things for them, as man, and a minister of the word, when he knew, as God, it was not consistent with the will of God that they should have them; since Christ, as man, sometimes earnestly prayed for that, which he, as God, knew could not be, as in the case of his own sufferings and death; nor is this irreconcilable to his dying intentionally only for those who are actually saved: but after all, these words are, only spoken of Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of that city, and not of all mankind, and regard only their temporal peace and welfare, whose destruction Christ knew was near at hand; and of which he afterwards speaks in the following verses:
but now they are hid from thine eyes; their eyes were blinded; they were given up to a judicial blindness, and hardness of heart; a spirit of slumber and stupidity had seized them; they could not discern the signs of the times and so disbelieved Jesus as the Messiah, and rejected him as such; whom, had they received only in a notional way, though they had not believed in him spiritually, to the saving of their souls, they would have been secured from outward calamities, and would have enjoyed peace and prosperity, and the things belonging to it our Lord speaks of. Christ alludes to the name of Jerusalem, which signifies the vision of peace; or they shall see peace; but her name and case now did not agree. His wish is the same the Psalmist encourages in Psalm 122:6 which, in the Septuagint version, is rendered, "pray for the things" that belong "to the peace Jerusalem".
that thine enemies; the Romans, and such the Jews took them to be, and might easily understand who our Lord meant:
shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side: which was not only verified in the Roman armies closely besieging them; but particularly in this, as Josephus relates (t) that Titus built a wall about the city, of thirty nine furlongs long, and thirteen forts in it which reached ten furlongs, and all done in three days time; by which means they were pent up, starved, and famished, and reduced to inexpressible distress.
(t) De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 8.
and thy children within thee; that is, the inhabitants of the place should be slain with the sword of the enemy, and so fall to the ground, and lie upon it;
and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon anther; such a consummate, and entire desolation shall be made, as was foretold by Daniel, Daniel 9:27
because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation; in which the dayspring from on high had visited them with his personal presence, preaching among them, and working miracles; and yet they knew him not, but despised and rejected him; yea, after that they had put him to death, and he was risen again, he ordered his disciples to begin their ministry, and preach the Gospel, at Jerusalem; and they continued for some time only preaching to them, or at least rarely elsewhere, till they put away the Gospel from them. The time of the ministry of John the Baptist, of Christ, and his apostles in Judea, was the time of Jerusalem's visitation in a way of mercy; which not being taken notice of, and observed, brought another kind of visitation upon them, even in a way of wrath and vengeance. The Jews pretend to assign other causes of Jerusalem's destruction; but the true cause was their rejection of Jesus, as the Messiah.
"Says Abai, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because they profaned the sabbath, as it is said, Ezekiel 22:26 "and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths", &c. Says R. Abhu, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because they ceased reading the "Shema (hear, O Israel", &c.) morning and evening, as it is said, Isaiah 5:11 woe to them that rise up early", &c. Says Rab. Hamenuna, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because there ceased in it the children of the school of Rabban, (children were not put to school,) as it is said Jeremiah 6:11 "I will pour it out upon the children", &c. Says Ula, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because there was no shame among them, as it is said, Jeremiah 6:15 "were they ashamed", &c. Says R. Isaac, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because small and great were put upon a level, as it is said, Isaiah 24:2 "as with the people, so with the priest", &c. Says R. Amram, the son of R. Simeon bar Aba, R. Chanina said, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because they did not reprove one another, as it is said, Lamentations 1:6 "her princes are become like harts", &c. Says R. Judah, Jerusalem was not destroyed, but because they despised the disciples of the wise men, as it is said; 2 Chronicles 36:16 but they mocked the messengers of God", &c. (u).''
Thus they shifted off the true cause of their ruin, and ascribed it to other things.
(u) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 119. 2.
And began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; that traded in sheep, and oxen, and doves; see John 2:15. The Ethiopic version adds here, as there, "and overthrew, the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves".
my house is the house of prayer; built and devoted for that service:
but ye have made it a den of thieves; which clause is not written in the above prophecy, but are the words of Christ referring to Jeremiah 7:11. The Ethiopic version adds, "and robbers"; and the Persic version adds, "and a place of cut-purses"; See Gill on Matthew 21:13.
but the chief priests, and the Scribes, and the chief of the people; or "the elders of the people", as the Syriac version renders it; that is, the whole sanhedrim:
sought to destroy him; met and consulted together how to get him into their hands, and what charges to bring against him, in order to put him to death.