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Skip Heitzig - Luke 19

Skip Heitzig - Luke 19
Skip Heitzig - Luke 19
TOPICS: The Bible from 30.000 Feet, Gospel of Luke, Bible Study, Passover

Lord, even as we approach a meal, and we always want to say thank you, Lord, for this food and bless our bodies with this meal, we pray that as we open up your Word. I think of the words of the prophet who said, "Your words were found, and I did eat them, and they were to me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart." As we partake of a spiritual meal, I pray that we would learn, be informed, we would be inspired, we would be encouraged, we would be convicted by your Spirit, and motivated to put into practice those lessons that we will read and unpack, in Jesus' name, amen.

We are now entering into the final week of Jesus' life on earth. All of the years so far that he has spent in his life have been moving toward this grand finale, the final week of Jesus on the earth, beginning here in the city of Jericho and moving toward Jerusalem. Jericho is below sea level; Jerusalem is above sea level. It's a steep climb. Jesus and his gang, his disciples want to get to Bethany, the outskirts of Jerusalem, before the Sabbath and spend the Sabbath with their friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. And then after that Jesus will present himself in the city of Jerusalem. And, Lord willing, we'll get to it tonight. It's in chapter 19. But just so you know that the authors of the New Testament also understood that Jesus' final week and final days and final hours were the most important part of his entire life.

One has only to look at how many chapters are devoted to what sections of Jesus' own life. In other words, in the New Testament gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, four books, there are only four chapters that cover the first thirty years of Jesus' life. We don't know much about his upbringing. There's just a snippet here and there as genealogy is given, a few aspects about his early childhood, but only four chapters to cover thirty years of his life. Whereas the same gospel records give us eighty-five chapters that deal with the last three and a half years of his life, his public ministry. Amazing difference, isn't it? Of those eighty-five chapters, twenty-nine cover only the final week of Jesus on the earth, and thirteen of those chapters deal with the final twenty-four hour period.

So all of them understood that the grand finale of Jesus' life wasn't his teachings, wasn't his miracles, wasn't his fine example as a human being, it was his death on the cross. He was marching toward Jerusalem for that final sacrifice. He's still in Jericho and he's on his way. Verse 1, "Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho." I was right across the valley from Jericho a couple weeks ago. I could see it right in front of me. I was on the Jordanian side of the Jordan River and I could look across and see Jericho. Now Jericho, I mentioned, is below sea level, and in ancient times it was like, well, it was like the Palm Springs of the ancient world, or the Las Vegas, if you will. Did you know that Josephus called Jericho the "fattest city in the land"?

And what he meant by that isn't the people were obese in that town, but it was just a wealthy, prosperous, fat town, like a fat stock of grain that would be growing. And even that word has come back today. You know, things are P-H-A-T, "It's phat, man. It's so cool, phat." Well, Jericho was phat and it was like the, it was like the prosperous Las Vegas of the ancient world. And there was a tax collector, which is interesting, because if I think of Las Vegas, I think of how it started with the Mafia. And then I read Zacchaeus and I think, "You know, it kind of fits." He was like the ancient Mafia. You know, very wealthy, kind of ruled through government agencies, and managed wealth really in an irresponsible and, though legal by the Roman government standards, unethical manner.

So, "Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus... and he was rich." I was struck by this. In the last chapter a rich young ruler comes up to Jesus, remember that? "Good master, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?" Jesus told him, you know the conversation, it says, "He went away sorrowful, because he was rich." And Jesus then said, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven." The disciples said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus said, "With God all things are possible." So, the rich young ruler and the statement of Jesus, it's difficult. Now Jesus shows it's difficult but not impossible.

Because here you see another rich man who will and does enter the kingdom of heaven by his faith in Jesus. So I love the juxtaposition of these stories. "And he [Zacchaeus] sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature." He was a short little man. I don't know how tall. However, I've been in that land thirty-six times. I have seen the digs, the archaeological digs from Herod the Great to homes of the average people. One source declares that just judging from the average entranceway into a home two thousand years ago in Israel, that the average man, the average man two thousand years ago was five foot tall. Now, if that's the average height, and you're dealing with a guy who "was of short stature," diffi, I'm six-five, so it's just really difficult for me to,

I don't know, maybe he was like, "Here, ladies and gentlemen, this is my friend Zacchaeus. Okay, Zacchaeus, run along now. Hide in my pocket. I'll catch up with you later." We don't know, but he was a short little guy and he wanted to see Jesus, so he comes up with a clever idea. "He ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore to see him, for he was going to pass that way." A sycamore tree, you still see them in Jericho. It's a beefy, hardy kind of a tree with low-lying, low-spreading branches that you can climb and your weight can be suspended on the branch, no problem. So he's up a tree. He's hanging out. He's waiting for Jesus to come by. "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, make haste,'" or hurry up, "'come down, for today I must stay at your house.'"

Okay, let's just review what we know about tax collectors, because by now you're an expert. You've gone through this material so many times with me. But here's what's interesting: the word "Zacchaeus," you know what it means? Pure, innocent, righteous. That's what his name meant: righteous one, pure one, innocent one. And yet he was a tax collector, which means everybody else in town did not see him as righteous, as pure, and as innocent, anything but that. Two thousand years ago in Judea tax collectors were named among thieves, murderers, tax collectors, same group. Because do you remember that tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Roman government? So they were seen as a traitor anyway, and they took money from their own people to pay the Roman government.

The way you became a tax collector, and did you notice, he "was a chief tax collector"? So he ruled a region. He was wealthy. He was in charge of the collection of taxes from that entire lower desert area down and around Jericho and the Jordan River. The way you became a tax collector is you were sold, usually to the highest bidder, a franchise, the ability to collect taxes. Nobody knew what the tax structure was. The Roman government simply said to the tax collector, "You have to raise this much money from this district for us. Whatever you can make above and beyond that, you can pocket." So, you can see that such a position would lend itself to a great deal of abuse. That's why they were so hated. One writer said, "I have never seen a monument ever erected to an honest tax collector."

They were barred from synagogue worship. They were regarded as the scum of the earth. Now, none of us like to pay taxes. And I know it's tax season, so you're all like in a flurry over this issue. It's like, "Oh, man, I'm preparing them right now. This government's gouging me." What we pay is nothing in comparison still to countries around the world and their tax structure, but nothing in comparison to ancient Rome. It cost a lot of money to fund the Roman Empire machine. First of all, there was something called a poll tax. This was a tax for every human being simply to breathe Roman air. If you were alive and you were a male age fourteen to sixty-five, or a female age twelve to sixty-five, you had to pay the poll tax just to be alive. Are you breathing? Then you pay the tax.

Beyond the poll tax there was an income tax. On top of that a flat 10 percent tax went to the government. On top of that were import taxes, if you got any goods from somewhere else. On top of that were road taxes, harbor taxes. If you were a fisherman, like in Galilee or the Mediterranean, you paid a fish tax. You were taxed per net and per single fish. I don't know, maybe they wanted to charge you per scale, but they couldn't do that. But, anyway, on a scale of one to ten, it was exorbitant. Okay, only a few of you got that, very good. There was the ground tax. One-tenth of all the grain, one-fifth of all the wine went to the Roman government. There was a cart tax. You were charged if you had a cart and you would roll it down the street and sell something off of it.

You were charged for every single wheel you had on your cart. So if you have a four-wheel cart, it's just not good economy. Go get a wheelbarrow, you'll save yourself a boatload of money. So the tax collector, the chief tax collector was the guy who controlled all of this and simply paid what was required to the Roman government. So we're dealing with a short little man who was very, very hated. And he ran, and he got up in that tree. Now, let me just tell you what strikes me about Zacchaeus. First of all, he's very courageous. You say, "Courageous"? Yeah. A short little tax collector running through a crowd of people that he takes money from, who hate his guts, I think that takes courage. Think of every single person who would recognize him. They would want to kick him as he goes by. I would.

"Little short tax collector gouging me every year." No wonder it says he was running. The second thing that strikes me about him is he's childlike. Government officials don't run and they don't climb trees. Just doesn't fit the decorum and it was atypical. It was not typical to see a government official of, representing the Roman government in any capacity to run. So, he's sort of like a curious kid running down the street, like, "Hey, there's a parade. I want to see." Climbs up in a tree to see. So I'm struck by that. I see those as positives. I think he's very, very curious. He wanted to see who Jesus was. "Jesus came to the place, looked up, and saw him." And for no apparent reason Jesus just stopped there and sees this guy. There's no indication that Zacchaeus said, "Hey, Jesus, stop right there. Let me get a selfie with you, or let me interview you or..."

He didn't call attention to himself. He was just hanging out there and Jesus stopped and looked up and knew his name. "Zacchaeus, hurry up, come down, for today I need to stay at your house." This is the only time in Scripture that we ever hear of Jesus inviting himself over to somebody's house, and for a meal, it seems like, presumably. It's in a part of the day where he's going to go have a meal. He will. You'll see that. But I like his style. I like the fact that Jesus invited himself over to people's homes for a meal. And what it reminds me of is Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will open the door, I will come in and sup with him," have a meal with him, which speaks of intimate, close fellowship and relationship, "and he with me." So Jesus does that here with Zacchaeus.

"And so he made haste, came down, and received him joyfully." This was the best meal Zacchaeus would ever have. First of all, how fun would it be to make something for Jesus? But whatever he fed Jesus, and probably bread was included in the menu, he was face to face with the Bread of Life who would remove any hunger from his life. He received Jesus joyfully. "And when they saw it, they all complained, saying, 'He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.'" This falls right into line with Jesus Loves People. Here's Jesus loving a tax collector, hanging out with an IRS agent. Who does that? Jesus does that. Jesus loves all people. They would never do that, as I explained to you. Jesus would. And it says "they." Who are "they"? Well, "they" are the crowd that we just read about.

They are townspeople, and probably interspersed in the townspeople crowd are some Pharisees as well. But here's something to make a note of: whenever you attempt to do something for God, you, whenever you endeavor to do a work that would please the Lord, let me just warn you, there will always be someone who will misunderstand, or who will malign you, or criticize you, or write a note in the agape box, or put your name on a blog. And I gotta tell you, you gotta come to a place where you don't care about that. Jesus didn't care about it. He said, "So what?" The Bible says in Proverbs, "The fear of man brings a snare." And I wonder how many things have we failed to do for God, or how many times have we failed to speak for the Lord because we were afraid of what people would think if we did it or said it.

It's always going to happen. Unbelievers and, sadly, believers will join in crowd and say these kinds of things. "Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord, I give'", now he's rich, "'I give half my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold,'" four times. Now he did not say this to earn salvation. This is simply a statement that demonstrated salvation. Here's a man who has met Jesus, and whatever ensued in that conversation, receiving the Lord joyfully, he's a changed man. It says in James, "Faith without works is", what?, "dead." Here's a man who has some kind of faith in Jesus, who is willing to demonstrate it by his work. Here's what's interesting: according to the law of Moses, paying fourfold was overkill.

This is how it worked according to the Old Testament law: if you had stolen something, if you voluntarily confessed and you said, "I just want, I just can't bear the shame anymore and the guilt. I ripped that dude off." Well, you would then have to pay it back and add 20 percent, one-fifth, and go to the tabernacle and make a trespass offering, and you're done. Just add 20 percent. Restore what was taken, add 20 percent. If you had stolen something and you could not restore it, so let's say you took an animal and you killed it or it died. Then, and only then, would you pay four times the amount to the original owner. If you were caught with whatever you had stolen, like that animal, but it was still alive, then you would have to pay double back.

So the fact that Zacchaeus said, "I'm going to pay four times what I've stolen," is the admission that "I have ruined people's lives, and I've been a rip-off, and I will pay the stiffest penalty according to the law of Moses." "Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he is also a son of Abraham." In other words, here's a, he's a Jewish man who believes in me, and that constitutes salvation. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." It's one the best texts in the all of the New Testament. It's one of the grandest verses in the Bible. It's one that you should have marked. It's one that you should have memorized. "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." Now, allow me this: in a spiritual sense, before God, we are all short of stature.

None of us can measure up to the standard of God. So in a spiritual sense, we're all, we're all short people. We're all short of stature. Romans 3, "All of sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." And so the story of Zacchaeus is precious. Here's a man curious, driven to see Jesus. Jesus stops, invites himself over, knocks at the door, comes in. Shares this time with the Lord. Jesus says salvation has come to his house. "Now as they heard these things", "they," the crowd, the townspeople. That's the "they" just like the previous "they." "As they heard these things, he spoke another parable, because he was near Jerusalem and because they thought the kingdom of God would appear immediately." I'll refresh your memory. You know that a large group of Jewish people expected that when the Messiah came, that's when the fireworks happen, right?

That's when the kingdom will be set up, then and there. They were looking for the kingdom now. They wanted, if Jesus was the Messiah, Rome to be overthrown, so "We don't have this nincompoop like Zacchaeus taking our money, and we'll have a messianic kingdom. Israel will be at the top, the top dog, ruling and reigning with the Messiah." So they expected with great anticipation, that's what the Messiah is going to do, bring in the kingdom. Jesus knew that, so he wants to clarify that ain't gonna happen. "I'm going to Jerusalem, but that's not going to happen. When I go to Jerusalem, the King is going to be killed. I'm coming to Jerusalem, but it won't be till my second coming that I'm going to rule and reign."

Now watch this parable. "Therefore he said: 'A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, "Do business till I come." But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." So it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, "Master, your mina has earned ten minas. "'" Okay, now let me just explain a few things here. A "mina" is one-sixtieth (one over six-zero as the equation), one-sixtieth of a talent.

This represented about three days' wages for a common worker. So a lump sum of money was given for them to invest. Here's a man who has to go into a far country to receive a kingdom and come back. Okay, here, this is something fascinating. This is the only parable we know of where Jesus based the parable on an actual historical event. And everybody listening to this in Jericho or on the way to Jerusalem understood this. Here's the historical background. Who ruled the world at that time? The Roman government. It was the Roman Empire. They ruled that whole part of the world. So because they were the overlords of all of the different nations around, no one could rule provincially from area to area unless they received permission by the Roman government. They had to receive the kingdom.

So, Herod the Great, who is dead by now. He died in 4 BC. When Herod the Great died, he gave three of his sons the rulership of his kingdom: Herod Antipas, up in Galilee; Herod Philip, further up north; and Herod Archelaus, down in Judea. He gave his kingdom to those three sons. However, they all had to go to Rome and stand before Caesar Augustus and receive that kingdom in order to reign. So, down in Judea, Herod Archelaus went to Rome to stand before Augustus and receive his kingdom. However, the people of Judea sent a delegation of fifty men to protest before Caesar Augustus saying, "We don't want this man to reign over us. We hate him. We don't want him as our king." Caesar Augustus gave him the kingdom anyway, the inheritance of the kingdom, but he failed to give him the designation of being a king.

So the citizens hated Archelaus. And when Jesus gave the parable, every single brain listening to this would, "I know what he's talking about," because it was in their recent history. Now, there's ten people that are given money to invest. We only have the history, the account of three of them. Verse 16, "Then came the first, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned ten minas.'" "I've invested. You have more than you gave me." "And he said to him, 'Well done good and faithful servant, or good servant, because you were faithful in very little, have authority over ten cities.'" It's the principle of the law of stewardship: "If I can trust you with a little bit, I can trust you with a lot." "And the second came, saying, 'Master, your mina has earned five minas.' Likewise he said to him, 'You also be over five cities.'"

Okay, so these stewards, these servants all had the same amount, same amount of money to invest. They could do whatever they want with it. They could do nothing with it. They could do a lot with it. One gained more than the other, but both of these two servants gained. Here's what I believe it's speaking аbout: all of us have been given the same treasure of the gospel. Second Corinthians 4, Paul said, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." He's given us a treasure, and with the treasure of the good news of Jesus, like Slavé was sharing, just "For God so loved the world." Getting the gospel out to people. Letting people know they can get to heaven.

A ticket has been provided for them. It is our privilege to spread that news to tell as many people as possible, to multiply the inheritance, or to multiply what he has entrusted us with, so that more and more and more enter the kingdom of heaven. Somebody once said, "The most selfish thing you can do is to be content to be go heaven alone." "Well, I'm going to heaven," "I hope my life is blessed," and "I'm a happy person." But I want to bring other people with me. So, follow me. How many apostles were they following Jesus? There were twelve. But in the upper room, eventually it was tenfold, ten times that. It was 120 gathered in the upper room, and then Jesus ascended into heaven. And then by the end of Acts, chapter 2, three thousand souls were added. By Acts, chapter 4, another five thousand souls were added.

And eventually, one of the leaders said to the church, "You have", get this, "filled Jerusalem with your doctrine." What a compliment. I wish they could say, "You have filled Albuquerque with your doctrine." Amen! So from twelve to one hundred twenty, to three thousand more, to five thousand more, to filling the town, that's good stewardship. You take the treasure of the gospel and you get it out to as many people as possible. And what is the reward? What is the reward for being a faithful servant? More work. Anybody who's a manager understands what I'm talking about. When you have somebody working for you, and whatever they touch, it just turns to gold. They attack it with a vengeance. "I'm going to work on this. I'm going to do it."

And pretty soon you want to give more to them, and more to them, and more to them. It's like, "They're going to get it done. They're going to make it happen." And so for us in the kingdom, we're going to have the privilege in the kingdom age of serving alongside the Lord in a-in a capacity that is a reward for us based upon what we have done with what we have been entrusted with here and now. Verse 20, "Then another came, saying, 'Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man.'" "You're just serious and kind of grumpy." "'You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.'

"And he said to him, 'Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?' And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.' (But they said to him, 'Master, he has ten minas.') 'For I said to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and for him who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.'" "I want to give it to somebody who's going to use it. I want to give that inheritance, that treasure to somebody who will use it." It's sad what this servant said about his master. He really didn't know his master.

It said that he "feared" him. He was afraid of him. This isn't like the healthy fear of the Lord. This is sort of like a slavish fear rather than a loving faith. Now, there is a healthy fear of the Lord. And if you've ever had that phrase, but you don't know what it is, the Bible says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And "the fear of the Lord" in the Bible isn't like, "I'm crouching before the mighty Oz who's going to kill me"; but rather the biblical fear of the Lord is a reverential awe that leads to a humble submission to a loving God, a referential awe that leads to a humble submission to a loving God. That's a healthy fear of the Lord. But it's sad that some believers don't have a healthy fear of the Lord. They're just afraid of God, instead of, "Oh, Lord, I have such an awe, a reverence for you. I love you so much."

A child has a healthy fear of parents. If it's a healthy relationship, there's a respect built in, but it's based on love. And that's the idea of a healthy fear of the Lord. A. W. Tozer once said, "Nothing twists and deforms our soul like a low concept of God." That's why we believe in teaching the Bible and teaching theological principles from the Scripture verse by verse, chapter by chapter, because I have found that a great number of Christians are biblically illiterate. They're just biblically illiterate. They just don't know the basic principles of the faith. And so you can never grow beyond your concept of God. If you have a low concept of God, you're going be, you're going to be a bottom feeder. If you have a high concept of God, you're going to soar with the eagles.

Look how he closes it. Verse 27, "But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me." Now, who are the enemies? The enemies are the citizens. Can I have you compare two verses? Verse 14, "But his citizens hated him"; verse 27, "Bring here those enemies of mine." The citizens had become his enemies. Now in this parable, this is where this crowd, this group, these people antagonistic toward Jesus, expecting, "If he's the Messiah I want to see the kingdom now," This is where that crowd fits in. They really are his enemies. Because, yep, Jesus will go to Jerusalem and the crowds will be, "Hosanna! This is the Messiah! Bless the Lord!" all that stuff. A few days later many of that same crowd will be shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

They're a fickle crowd. According to John, chapter 19, they will say, "We have no king but Caesar!" When Pilate brings Jesus out and said, "Behold your King! Shall I crucify the King of the Jews?" "We have no king but Caesar." In other words, like the words of the parable, "We will not have this man to reign over us." And this is their fate: "Bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me the reign over them, and slay them before me." Now when will this happen? It will happen, it will happen in a literal historical sense about forty years after this, 70 AD. Jerusalem will be plundered. Judea will be plundered. The Romans will annihilate these people. But more of that later. Something else I want you to see before we move on, and I know I have to move on quickly.

I believe that you and I are living between verse 14 of this parable and verse 15. Verse 14, "His citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We will not have this man reign over us'", now add two thousand years, and verse 15, "And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom." One day Jesus will return, kingdom in hand, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But we're living in that grace period of two thousand years now. We're in between these two verses. "When he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. And it came to pass, when he drew near to Bethphage", it's the hardest town to pronounce. You think Albuquerque is bad? " Bethphage" means the house of figs. About two miles from Jerusalem, right up on the Mount of Olives, just on the other side of it.

Okay, so let's say you and I were standing right now on the Temple Mount. You're worshiping in the temple. Across the valley from you, you can see a little hill. They called it a mount, but to us it's a hill. And that hill is the Mount of Olives. And beyond that toward the east is Jericho. So they have come up from Jericho. They've come up to that little hill, the Mount of Olives, looking over at you and me standing in the temple looking over at them. In between that mountain and where you and I are standing is a little valley called the Kidron Valley. On that Mount of Olives are two little towns just on the other side toward the east, toward Jericho: Bethphage, "house of figs" it means; and Bethany. Bethany is where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived and where Jesus spent a lot of time hanging out.

So Jesus comes there, "On the mountain called Olivet. And he sent two of his disciples, saying, 'Go into the village opposite you, where as you enter you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Loose it and bring it here.'" Matthew tells us it's the colt of a donkey with its mother. "'And if anyone asks you, "Why are you loosing it?" thus you shall say to him, "Because the Lord has need of it." So those who were sent went their way and found it just as he said to them. But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt? "'" And they're probably thinking, "Uh-oh." And they said, "The Lord has need of him." And it worked. They brought the colt to Jesus. Boy, wouldn't this come in handy if you could do this with, well, you need a new car.

And you're on the lot and you look at it and go, "That'll-that'll work." And you just hop in and the dealer goes, "What are you doing?" And you could just say, "Well, the Lord needs it." "Okay, no problem. Here's the keys. Take it. It's yours." Okay, it's an unusual story, 'cause Jesus is telling all of the details in advance. But the disciples by now have learned not to argue with Jesus when he gives commands that seem really weird like this. I mean, if I said, "Okay, so go downtown, you're going to find a donkey." "What?" "Yeah, and then this is gonna..." It's just an odd thing, but the disciples have learned, don't question Jesus. For example, one time Jesus said, "Hey, out your boat into the deep." And Peter goes, "I've been fishing all night, didn't catch anything." "Just do it. Humor me. Throw-throw the nets over."

And they caught a huge catch of fish. On another occasion Jesus tells Peter, "Go down to the sea, go catch a fish. The first fish that you catch, open its mouth, and you'll find a coin. And it'll be exactly enough money to pay the taxes." Again, that would come in very handy this time of the year. And it worked. It happened. So they've learned, "You know, when Jesus gives us these weird commands to do something, just go do it." And so they did it and they brought Jesus this young donkey. Said, "'The Lord has need of him.' So they brought him to Jesus. And they threw their own clothes on the colt, and they set Jesus on him." Jesus on a donkey, doesn't sound very impressive, but you need to know that it was a symbol of royalty.

First Kings, chapter 1, King Solomon sat on the donkey of King David when he was anointed as the king over all of Israel. So to be presented on a donkey was meant a king is being anointed, or a king is coming in a time of peace. And it fulfilled a prophecy, did it not? Zechariah chapter 9 verse 9, "Behold, Israel, your king comes to you; lowly and having salvation, on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey," Zechariah chapter 9 verse 9. This should have tipped them all off, not ticked them off. It did that. It should have tipped them off, like, "Wow, he's fulfilling the prophecy." I think they were getting the idea. "And as he went, many spread their clothes on the road," a symbol of receiving royalty. "Then, as he was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives", now he's coming toward us. We're up on the temple, right?

We're looking over the Kidron Valley, and he's coming down the slope making his way toward us on the temple. "As he was drawing near, the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for the mighty works they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King who come in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'" It's Passover. Jerusalem is packed. How packed? Well, what happens to Albuquerque in October? Gets packed, the Balloon Fiesta. Hard to find a hotel room. Hard to find a rental car. The thing gets packed. According to Flavius Josephus the Jewish historian, on one Passover around this time 256,000 lambs were slaughtered for Passover meals. The Jewish minimum was one lamb per ten people.

So you can imagine a couple million people crowded into a town that normally had two, three hundred thousand people. It was just insane. People just sleeping everywhere, out under trees, and trying to find as much hospitality and shelter as they could. Jesus comes in on a donkey. In the Jewish calendar the day he entered Jerusalem is the tenth day of the month of Nisan. You go, "Nisan? Isn't that the car maker?" Well, before they made cars, they made months of the year. The ancient Jewish calendar, Nisan, on the tenth day of Nisan that was the day when everybody in Israel selected a lamb that they would sacrifice at Passover. They select it. "This is the one. This is the one that will be sacrificed."

So it's no coincidence that Jesus is being presented to the nation and allowing people to give him this public worship. By the way, it's the only time Jesus allowed this public recognition that he was the Messiah. Up until that point he said, "Don't tell anyone. Keep it quiet. Don't tell anybody. Keep it quiet." Now he says, "Tell everybody. Shout it out. Go get the donkey," (Zechariah 9:9). It's the tenth of Nisan when the nation picks the Lamb. "Behold! The Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world!" Now, that's the Jewish calendar. The calendar as we know it, it's April 6, 32 AD. April 6, 32 AD, corresponds to the tenth of Nisan during this period. So Jesus comes into the city. Watch what happened. "Some of the Pharisees called to him from the crowd, 'Teacher, rebuke your disciples.'"

Of course they would say this. What the disciples just said, what the crowd just said acknowledges that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Promised One. "But he answered and said to them, 'I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.'" It would have been the first rock concert in history, folks. I have a friend from years ago, and when I first went to Israel, and he knew that I was a poor surfer, single surfer. And I was looking for souvenirs. He says, "Just go to the Mount of Olives and pick up a rock." I go, "Really? That's it?" He goes, "Yeah, do it. And then just make a little plaque, put it on your desk, and just say, 'This is one of the stones that didn't cry out.' And just watch how many people ask you what that means. It'll be a great tool to share the gospel with them."

It's as if all of creation was groaning and travailing to be able to worship Jesus Christ. And Jesus says as much. "If they don't say anything, the landscape's going to talk, the rocks are going to cry out." "Now as he drew near the city, and he wept over it, he saw the city and he wept over it." It's the second time that we find Jesus weeping publicly. What was the first time? The funeral of Lazarus his friend. Shortest verse in the New Testament: "Jesus wept." But there the construction of the language and the context reveals that Jesus stood there weeping silently, tears filling his eye sockets, tears streaming down his cheeks as he looks at the tomb of Lazarus and he weeps. Here the word is different. It means to lament vociferously, loudly. Think Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations weeping over the city of Jerusalem.

And like him, he weeps. "Saying, 'If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another.'" We know that happened 70 AD. Don't have to rehearse that. But notice this: "Because you did not know the time of your visitation." A couple of words I don't want you to miss: "especially in this your day." You need to know what this "day" is all about, because this day is, and the other phrase, "the time of your visitation." A couple translations say, "the time of God coming to you or visiting you."

What is he referring to? What I believe he's referring to is the backbone of biblical prophecy, Daniel, chapter 9, the most unusual prophecy was given. And I used to pull this out and share this with unbelieving doctors and philosophers and all sorts of people, say, "Look at this prediction in the Bible." Because in Daniel 9, you still following me? Okay. We're almost done, don't worry. Daniel 9, a prophecy is given. It says, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city." And without going through all of that, since we've done it, it says, "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks."

Now most scholars, Hebrew scholars and Christian scholars, believe that "seventy weeks" refers to seventy weeks of years, because in the original Hebrew its shavu'im shiv'im, seventy sevens are determined. And the Hebrew scholars and the Christian scholars say this refers to a period of seven years. So seven weeks is forty-nine years; sixty-two weeks is four hundred and thirty-four years. So seven, or forty-nine and four thirty-four, four hundred and eighty-three years are determined upon your people, your city. And "From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince," will be that amount of time: four hundred and eighty-three years; sixty-nine weeks of years. Okay?

Okay, so that prophecy in Daniel and what we just read in Luke got a guy, who was the head of Scotland Yard criminal division years ago, Sir Robert Anderson interested in Bible prophecy. He wrote a book, I have it at home, it's called The Coming Prince, where he mathematically, and the whole book you have to be into the research and the math, 'cause otherwise you'll just go, "Forget it, I can't read this thing." But it's a masterpiece. He was knighted for this book. He determined that he would calculate and find the time when there was an edict in history that Jerusalem should be reinhabited, rebuilt, and that was March 14, 445 BC, by Artaxerxes Longimanus. He found that date. We see some of that in the book of Nehemiah, the events that surround it.

So he found that date, that's the edict, when Jerusalem should be built, inhabited. And he said," Okay, so that means that I should be able to count four hundred and eighty-three years from March 14, 445 BC and come to the Messiah, because that's what it says in Daniel." So he calculated it, but he was ingenious enough to not use our Julian calendar, but the Babylonian calendar, which isn't based on three hundred and sixty-five days a year, but it's lunar, so it's based on three hundred and sixty days a year. He added leap years and, etcetera, etcetera. It's all in the book if you're interested. And he came up with an exact date. He said, "Four hundred and eighty-three years, according to the Babylonian calendar, is 173,880 days.

So, again," he says, "that means that if I count from March 14, 445 BC, 173,880 days, I should find some significant thing that happened." So he counted and from March 14, 445 BC, counting 173,880 days, he ended up on April 6, 32 AD. I just gave you that date. The tenth of Nisan, the day when Jesus said, "Go bring me that donkey. Now is the time to be publicly presented to the nation. If you would have only known this day, but you didn't know the time of your visitation." He held them accountable to be good students of prophetic Scripture and know the Messiah had come. That's why we ought to be Bible students. "Then he went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it, saying to them, 'It is written, "My house is a house of prayer," you have made it a "den of thieves. "'"

Actually quoting Jeremiah the prophet once again, the famous chapter 7 of Jeremiah, one of the temple sermons of the prophet. He's quoting that. "And as he was teaching daily in the temple. But the chief priests, the scribes, the leaders of the people sought to destroy him, and they were unable to do anything; for all the people were very attentive to him." We'll pick that up next time, 'cause it lends itself to the next chapter quite well. I've often thought about that donkey. Luckiest donkey in the world! Imagine his conversation with his buddies when he got back home. "Guess who I just carried? First time anybody road on my back," which, by the way, shows the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. I've always liked the writings of G. K. Chesterton. I commend them to you.

He wrote a little poem about "The Donkey," as if the donkey, knowing who he was amidst all the animals on earth, knew he was the luckiest donkey alive. If I can remember it, it goes something like this: "When fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon a thorn, some moment when the moon was blood then surely I was born. With monstrous head and sickening cry and ears like errant wings, the devils walking parody of all four-footed things. The tattered outlaw of the earth, of ancient crooked will; starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb, but I keep my secret still. Fools! For I also had my hour; one far fierce hour and sweet, when there were shouts about my ears and palms beneath my feet." I just love the way he captures that moment.

Think of it, a donkey, never anybody rode on that donkey and that he was perfectly pliable and submissive to Jesus. And think of that crowd not submitting themselves to the Lord. Isaiah said, "The donkey understands his master's command and his master's crib; but my people Israel, they don't know, they won't submit." The donkey, you call him a stubborn animal? Huh, more compliant than a lot of us.

Father, may we be as good as that donkey, submitted, surrendered to bearing the load that you put upon our back, being a good steward of what you've entrusted into our care, the glorious gospel, the treasure in clay pots, earthen vessels. May we gain more, five more, ten more, many more, and not keep it inside, but get it out. Thank you for our brother Slavé working in Macedonia and others with him. Strengthen them as we get your Word out to this world, in Jesus' name, amen.

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