This chapter sort of picks up where the last chapter left off. Remember that chapter 18 ended with Jesus healing a blind man (go back right quick and read the end of yesterday’s summary). Notice how this chapter begins- Jesus sits down to dinner with Zacchaeus- a tax collector. We already know enough about tax collectors to know that they were not highly regarded people back in those days: they were cheats and dishonest and they sided with the Roman authorities to fleece their own people. Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree (he’s ripe for the picking- Zacchaeus is a “piece of fruit” ready to be harvested by the Lord… watch this…). He then tells him that he wants to dine at his home. He sits down with this lowliest of sinners, to dinner, an intimate act- in others words, Jesus forgives Zacchaeus. He is picked from the tree, he is ripe, ready to harvested: notice what Jesus says to Zacchaeus and then notice what Zacchaeus says to Jesus. If this ain’t real conversion, I don’t know what is.
Following we have a long parable about the 10 pounds, also known as the 10 talents (vv. 11-27). Talents were a unit of currency- a pretty significant amount. This parable continues to carry the theme of God’s characteristics when it comes to Judgment Day and it sort of balances out the lavish mercy and forgiveness that was bestowed on Zacchaeus. This parable highlights God’s justice- to each what he deserves- this is the essence of Christian justice.
Then we have Jesus entering into Jerusalem on what we now celebrate of Palm Sunday (vv. 28-40). With Jesus’s entry, he marks one week until Passover. Today is Sunday, by Friday he will be dead. The symbolism is huge here: from the donkey, to the robe, the palm branches and the “Hosanna” shouted by the people. Taken together they all signify that the people really did think Jesus was their Messiah, the one they were waiting for. It’s interesting how much would change in five days. In fives days the Pharisees, Scribes and Sadducees would betray Jesus and convince their own people that Jesus was no less than a charlatan. (I recommend Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, Volume 2, for a detailed explanation of the symbolism contained in these verses. It’s quite beautiful.
The chapter closes with Jesus weeping over his lost sheep- literally. And then the famous cleansing of the temple that really begins the conniving of the Pharisees against Jesus. This is it- the point of no return.
Point for Prayer
“Resolute Jesus, from the time you completed your Galilean ministry you never were distracted from your resolve to go to Jerusalem and there into the paschal mystery which saved me. Fill me heart with this kind of faith determination so that my witness to love and forgiveness may never falter. Let my heart’s resolve be such that my mind will always follow its goals of faith”(171).