While in Jericho Jesus told a story about a king going on a journey. The following day, he rode as a king into Jerusalem. Luke has cleverly woven these stories in his gospel to complement each other and to open our eyes to see the wonder of who Jesus is.
While in Jericho Jesus encountered two men who have become familiar characters to us: Bartimaeus who couldn’t see Jesus because he was blind, and Zacchaeus who couldn’t see Jesus because he was short and the crowd blocked his view. Both made an effort to meet Jesus. Bartimaeus did so by calling out and refusing to be quiet. Zacchaeus did so by putting his dignity to one side and climbing a tree. Jesus made time for them both because his mission was to “… seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) I encourage you to take hold of this thought, treasure it and take it to heart. Jesus’ opponents tried to sully his reputation by calling him a friend of sinners. What they considered controversial, Jesus’ attitude towards sinners, is good news for us. Everyone who has come to the foot of the cross is heartily glad Jesus is the friend of sinners, and that he came to seek and save the lost.
The parable of the minas reveals the generosity of the coming king. Before going on a journey, the king entrusted servants with funds which were the equivalent of three months wages and asked them to put it to work. When the king returned, he called on the servants to give an account of what they had done with the investment. Two had been faithful, doing what was asked and gaining a return on the investment. With great generosity the king then put the faithful servants in charge of cities in his kingdom. In a sense, the king had invested in these servants and found them trustworthy, However, one servant who considered the king to be a hard man, had been unfaithful, hidden the funds rather than investing them. He had nothing to show for the trust the king had placed in him. What he had was taken from him.
Palm Sunday tells the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem as a King of Peace and being welcomed by the crowds who put palm branches along his path as a welcome mat. We read of the joyful songs and the cries of Hosanna, “‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’” (Luke 19:38)
Jesus truly deserved this adulation, because he was the messiah, God’s anointed King. However, Jerusalem was not his final destination, rather he was on a journey to a far country. Jesus’ purpose was not to have his authority recognised by Roman or Jewish leaders, but to achieve the will of God and through his death and resurrection to travel to that far off country to receive the throne from his heavenly father.
Before ascending to heaven, going to the far country, the risen Jesus, like the king in the parable, gave his disciples a gift and a commission. The gift was the Holy Spirit who would come to them on the day of Pentecost. The mission was to go and make disciples, so many more people could be saved and join the ranks of his faithful servants.
What difference does this make to us? Jesus responds to those like Bartimaeus who call on him and is found by those like Zacchaeus who seek him. Both of these men were among the lost who Jesus came to seek and save. Their lives were changed by Jesus. In my youth there was a bumper sticker which read, Jesus invested his life in you – Are you showing any interest yet? The interest Jesus seeks from the investment of his life is for each of us to receive spiritual sight to believe and respond to his offer of forgiveness. As we await the return of Jesus, we should make wise use of the gifts he has given us.
Rev John Malcolm