The Kingdom of God in Luke (Part 5)


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The King Enters Jerusalem and Weeps

After the Parable of the Pounds (Minas) Luke records three related episodes: The Triumphal Entry (Lk. 19:28-40), Jesus Weeping over Jerusalem (Lk. 19:41-44), and the Temple Cleansing (Lk. 19:45-48).

Jesus sends some disciples to get a colt for Him to ride upon (Matthew notes that a donkey was brought too – Matt. 21:7). In this fascinating little tale Jesus knows beforehand what they will find and how to answer those who question them. It is the answer that interests us:

“[I]f anyone asks you, ‘Why are you loosing it?’ thus you shall say to him, ‘Because the Lord has need of it.’” (Luke 19:31)

Jesus specifically refers to Himself as ho kyrios (“the Lord”). Without going to the lengths of demonstrating it, I feel secure in the belief that He was not using the term in the sense of “Master” but as a self-reference to His divinity. This both suits Luke’s employment of the term1, the kingly setting of the pericope, and the circumstantial setting of the action. Then Luke says that a multitude of disciples proclaimed His entrance into the city. Matthew has “a very great multitude” (Matt. 21:8). This may mean that along with the many followers of Jesus were others who got caught up in the scene. What is certain is the very clear cries of the crowd:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38)

The disciples of Jesus were shouting out a familiar line from Psalm 118:26. Only instead of saying “Blessed is he” they proclaim, “Blessed is the king.” Only Luke notes this, which fits his emphasis, although he does not include the reference to the King of Zechariah 9:9. But he adds the refrain that instantly reminds the reader of the angelic choir at the announcement of the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14. Hence, though the other evangelists highlight the Davidic connection of the scene2, Luke chooses to return to what was heralded by the angels on high. This creates a somber preface to his unique recording of Jesus weeping over the city that should have welcomed Him.

The emotion that must have well-up inside Jesus must have been overwhelming.3 Hence the term for weeping (klaio) means strong crying.4 God has chosen Jerusalem to put His name there (see 1 Kings 11:13, 32, 36; Psa. 132:13-14), but Jerusalem has chosen to refuse God! It is hard to face rejection. It is crushing to know the reason for your rejection is hatred. But we must add to this the Lord’s knowledge of the cost to the people of that rejection (Lk. 19:43-44). Christ arrives as the true son of David; as the rightful heir, but He is discarded; at least for now.

What is meant by the words “this your day” in verse 42? I think it unlikely that Luke is referring to the specific day of Messiah’s arrival as indicated by Daniel’s sixty-ninth week (Dan. 9:25). The book of Daniel is not pinpointing a specific day, although the prophecy is about Jesus. I believe Marshall is right to interpret the force of the saying as “If only you knew now”, etc.).5 It has therefore the same meaning as “the time of your visitation” (Lk. 19:44).

When Jesus goes into the Temple He enters as “Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25), and as the “Branch” who will be both King and Priest (cf. Zech. 6:12-13); but not in this Temple. This Temple has forgotten how to worship God, but God has not overlooked how He ought to be worshipped. Jesus’ overthrowing of the tables serves as a graphic reminder of the Creator and Savior’s opinion of sullied worship.6 God’s Creation Project will never be successful if left to human devices.

The Parable of the Vineyard

Bock refers to this parable as “one of Luke’s most comprehensive parables – and an extremely significant one.”7 The waves of servants who are sent by the owner of the vineyard (God the Father)8 are the prophets (Lk. 20:10-12). The reason for sending the servants is that “they [the tenants] might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard” (Lk. 20:10). Nothing should be read into this motive9 as it is simply used by the Lord to get to the point; which is the knowing rejection of the Son. Verse 14 is where this is brought out.

But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.’ (Luke 20:14)

The truly astonishing words and works of Jesus, combined with His impeccable character, and John the Baptist’s testimony, gave more than sufficient proof of His true identity to anyone with a grasp of the Hebrew Scriptures. The fact that Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man” (especially in the latter half of this Gospel) only adds to the guilt of those who hated Him.10 This guilt is further intensified by the fact that the Jewish leaders were indeed plotting to kill Jesus, just as the parable indicates (Lk. 20:14 with 19:47).

The administering of justice upon the evil tenants in the parable only aggravated the “chief priests and scribes” because they already knew that Jesus had told the parable against them (Lk. 20:19). Hence, the quotation of Psalm 118:22 in Luke 20:17 indicates not only that the Christ was rejected because He didn’t match up to the religious leader’s faulty idea of a messianic Conqueror, but because they knew that Jesus was the Christ yet sought to kill Him anyway. The quotation is interesting in that light:

“The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.” (Luke 20:17)

The image is of builders looking at and then discarding a stone in their attempt to build something (i.e., a kingdom).11 Their attempt fails since God chooses the discarded stone not only to place in the new structure, but to use it as the very cornerstone of His project (another Kingdom). We may infer here that Jesus means that the messianic Kingdom and rule will come, but not before His own rejection by those who ought to have acknowledged Him as the Owner’s “son.”

This chapter includes another OT quotation which delves deeper into Jesus’ identity. In Luke 20:41-44 Jesus asks the religious leaders about king David:

And He said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said in the Book of Psalms:

‘The LORD said to my Lord,
Sit at My right hand

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ 

Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”

The quotation is from Psalm 110:1, a psalm which combines priesthood and crown (Psa. 110:1, 4). The crown is, of course, the crown of David. The priesthood is not the Levitical High Priest’s function under the Law, but is another non-Judaic office, related to Melchizedek (Gen. 14). There is a covenant with David that includes a “Son” who is higher than the founder of the dynasty; a greater descendant of David (Psa. 132:17-18), whom these teachers ought to have anticipated. Jesus was a great miracle worker and moral teacher who was being hailed as “the son of David” (Lk. 18:38-39) and “the King who comes in the name of the LORD” (Lk. 19:38). This exchange is similar to the earlier one concerning the ministry of John the Baptist (See Lk. 20:1-8). It fixes the guilt of the religious leaders by forcing them to take sides.


1 Luke uses the word “Lord” 77 times in his Gospel and always to refer to God or Jesus.

2 Matthew stresses David (Matt. 21:9), Mark the kingdom (Mk. 11:10), and John simply the King (Jn. 12:13).

3 There is a mix of emotions in this event. The people are yelling His praise, Jesus Himself is overcome, and the Pharisees, who only see Jesus as a “teacher” (didaskalos), confirm their rejection of Him by calling upon Him to stop what they think is blasphemy.

4 J. J. Van Oosterzee, The Gospel According to Luke, Lange’s Commentary, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, Vol. 8. 297, and, A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. II, “Luke,” 246.

5 I. Howard Marshall, Commentary on Luke, 718.

6 “Never could there be more plausible colours cast upon any act; the convenience, the necessity of provisions for the sacrifice: yet through all these do the fiery eyes of our Saviour see the foul covetousness of the priests, the fraud of the money-changers, the intolerable abuse of the temple. Common eyes may be cheated with easy pretexts; but he that looks through the heart at the face, justly answers our apologies with scourges.” – Joseph Hall, Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments, London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1868, (Bk. IV. XXV), 563.

7 Darrell L. Bock, Luke 9:51 – 24:53, 1591.

8 In the Parable of the Pounds it is the nobleman (Jesus) who takes a journey into a far country. In this parable it is the owner of the vineyard (God) who takes the journey. In the former the lesson is centered around the fact that Jesus actually does go away, whereas in this context the God the Father does not leave; His journeying is only for the sake of illustrating the coming of the son and His treatment.

9 The prophets were not “fruit-inspectors.”

10 See also the stunning passage in Luke 22:70.

11 It is not unusual to find the scholars failing to reconcile the various strands of God’s Word, putting cleverly devised but erroneous interpretations in their place.