Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Kind Of Reception Does Jesus Have In Your Life? Considering The Different Receptions Of Jesus In Luke 19

Luke 19:1-6 "He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. 3 Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.


Whenever we reach the 19th chapter of Luke's Gospel, we are getting ready to enter into what will be the final week of Jesus' life before His crucifixion. It is in this chapter that we find Luke portraying what New Testament Scholar Robert L. Thomas calls in his book: "Charts of the Gospels and the Life of Christ": "The Formal Presentation of Christ to Israel and the Resulting Conflict." My interest in this particular post is to consider the various receptions of Jesus we find in Luke 19. Luke 19 is not only a significant chapter for transitioning us from Jesus' public ministry to what will be the week leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, but the chapter also contains the key verse to Luke: Luke 19:10. In Luke 19:10 we are reminded of why Jesus came: "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

As Jesus presents Himself formally as King and Messiah to the nation of Israel, we find a major thread running through Luke 19: receptivity. I get this notion from the words we read concerning Zaccheus the Tax-collector's response to Jesus in Luke 19:5-6 "When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.

This idea of "reception" or "response" is repeated again and again throughout the chapter. What Luke 19 has to say regarding the ultimate responses to Jesus' formal presentation of Himself as King and Messiah not only speaks about the spiritual condition of the eharts of first century Israel - but more so the spiritual heart condition of 21st century men and women in the church. To help us walk through this chapter, I will give some headings centered around the following question: What kind of reception does Jesus have in your life?

1. A Real, Glad Reception of the Person of Christ. Luke 19:1-10

Zaccheus was not interested merely in what Jesus could offer. Zaccheus was willing to give up all he had and more to have the Master in His home and in His life. Luke 19 definitely begins with the kind of reception we all ought to have. This kind of reception also indicates a true heart change in Zaccheus life, leading to the life-change he intended to pursue as He followed Jesus. Zaccheus typifies the glad reception of the Person of Christ.

2. A reluctant reception of the authority of Christ. Luke 19:11-27

Space does not permit a whole lot of analysis of this parable told by Jesus. In most parables, one overarching point is being conveyed by Jesus to the audience that was listening to him. One detail sticks out in Luke 19:14 that suggests the overall attitude Jesus perceived from many of the people to whom he spoke. Luke 19:14 reads - "But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’" Jesus used this statement to get his audience's attention, since it referred to a recent historical event contemporary to their time. 1 What makes Jesus' parable so powerful is that the emotional responses of the people to a former ruler in their day mirrors what would be the deep-seeded attitudes they either had or would have towards Jesus. In short, we see an attitude of reluctance being exposed by Jesus with regards to his listeners. As he closes out the parable, we read its main point in Luke 19:26 "I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away."

3. A Rushed Reception of the Perceived Benefits of Christ. Luke 19:28-44

We have seen thus far a glad reception by Zaccheus and the exposure of a reluctant reception of Jesus concerning the nation as a whole. Now we are introduced to the seen of what many have called Jesus so-called "triumphal entry". On the surface, this familiar seen does indeed appear triumphal. Churches today celebrate Palm Sunday to commemorate this event in Jesus' ministry whereby He formally presents Himself to Israel. Further examination of the motives of most in that seen however will reveal that their zeal for Jesus was more so over perceived benefits. John 12:9,17-18 gives us the parallel account of Jesus entry into Jerusalem, which per John's record, occurred on the heels of the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. Many of the zealous people in the crowd were attracted to Jesus for His wonder-working power. With the combined political and mis-placed ideas the people had about what Messiah should be in contrast to what Biblical prophecy and Christ Himself had taught, we can say that the triumphal entry represents a rushed reception.2 

This certainly reminds us of people, even today, who make an emotional response to the Gospel and yet such responses are unaccompied by true, saving faith. People will profess Jesus with their lips with perceived expectations about what Jesus can do for them. In short, many people want the benefits without the benefactor. 

4. A religiously cold reception of Christ. Luke 19:39-44

So what was the fall-out resulting from Jesus' entry into Jerusalem? The Pharisees told Jesus to silence His followers. Jesus' response? Luke 19:40-42 states -  But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” 41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes." Jesus then follows-up with a prediction of what would be the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. We then see Jesus' further response to the spiritual decline he witnessed by the way he cast out the money changers in Luke 19:45-47. The coldness of reception undoubtedly brought much sorrow to Jesus. Nevertheless, such a sequence of events was ordained by the Father in preparation for the giving of the Son by the end of the week in His crucifixion. 

Closing thoughts and applications
So as we close out this post today, my question to you, the reader, is this: what kind of reception does Jesus have in your life? Are you like Zaccheus, possessing a real, glad reception? Are you like the people in Jesus' parable, reluctant to have Jesus' authority? Are you like the crowds, who wanted benefits but not the benefactor? Are you like the Pharisees, who were cold and ritualistic towards Jesus? I'm sure that many Christians can say they have had seasons where these attitudes can creep in. 

What ought our response be? Certainly, Zaccheus sets the example before us: we ought to always be gladly receiving Jesus. I would secondly suggest we adopt the posture of some of the people at the end of Luke 19:48, namely, "for all the people were hanging on His every word". When you and I hang onto every word of Jesus and align our hearts to gladly receive Him like Zaccheus, we will come to enjoy Jesus for Who He is, as well as what He is able to do in our lives. 


1. Jesus' listeners would had recognized an allusion to a recent event in their day that involved a former ruler over the province of Judea: Herod Archaleus, who was treacherous and was eventually banished by Caesar himself for his ill treatment of the Jews. The Jews of course had come to resent Archaeleus for his heavy-handed treatment of them. Needless to say, when Archaeleus was banished, the Jews - in no uncertain terms - expressed their contempt and in no wise wanted Archaelus to rule over them any longer (this summarizes the account found in Josephus' Antiquities of Jews, Books 17 and 18).  

2. Many of the people laying palm branches at Jesus' feet thought Jesus was coming to deliver them from Rome's Tyranny.  The Palm branch was a universal symbol of victory and celebration in the ancient world. Among many of the Jews, the palm branch connected back to an earlier time when a group of Jews called the Maccabees, led by their leader - Judas Maccabeus, withstood the evil forces of the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes in 168-165 b.c. In much of the Jewish literature outside the Old Testament (for example the Jewish Apocryphal book, 1 Maccabees), we read the entire account of these Maccabean wars, and how such wars informed the Jews perceptions of what they thought Messiah ought to be. 

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