A Critical Study of Questions Regarding Luke 19:28-44

A Critical Study of Questions Regarding Luke 19:28-44

  1. Compare Luke 19:28-44 with the parallel versions in Matthew and Mark, using the Gospel Parallels.  List significant differences between Luke and the other two Gospels.  (By significant I mean that there is not just a variation in wording but a significant detail or segment has been added or omitted.)
  • Luke writes that Jesus directed His disciples to a colt.  Mark agrees, but Matthew adds that a donkey will be found tied with the colt.
  • Luke’s omits Matthew’s reference (Mt 21:5) to Isaiah 62:11 & Zechariah 9:9.
  • Luke’s account has the disciples placing Jesus on the colt.  Matthew and Mark indicate that Jesus set Himself upon it.
  • Luke does not make reference to branches being cut down and spread in Jesus’ path.  Both Matthew and Mark note this.
  • In Gospel Parallels Luke records that people spread their cloaks on the road (vs. 36).  The NIV agrees with this rendering.  The NASB, however, records that they spread their cloaks – the antecedent of they being the disciples.
  • Luke records that the “multitude of disciples” praised God as Jesus made His way into Jerusalem.  Matthew describes those praising as “the crowds.”
  • While all three Gospels record the people singing a portion of Psalm 118, Luke inserts another stanza (Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven), which is reminiscent of that which the angels said to the shepherds when announcing Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:14).
  • Luke does not record those praising as using the word Hosanna – as do Matt. & Mark.
  • Luke 19: 39-44 is without parallel in Matthew and Mark.
  1. What is the significance of Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem in this way (rather than just casually walking in)?

 Prior to the Triumphal Entry, the Gospel accounts record Jesus as having visited Jerusalem several times.  After the Triumphal Entry, He is known to have made several more trips into the city.  There is no evidence to suggest that on any of these other occasions Jesus entered Jerusalem in the same manner, or with the same pomp and fanfare as described in Luke 19.  Therefore, it is clear that this entry into Jerusalem is distinct, and that there must be significance to it.

Many modern dispensationalists hold that Jesus offered Himself to the Jews as a political king in Luke 19, and was ready to establish a political reign in Israel.  This understanding teaches that the Jews rejected Jesus’ offer, but that it will be offered to them again after what is commonly known as the Second Coming.  This student does not accept this interpretation because it does not seem consistent with scripture.  Based on an understanding of all the Gospel accounts, it appears that the Jews were indeed willing to accept Jesus as a political king.  Their rejection of Him was based on the fact that Jesus never made that kind of an offer to them.

So, why did He enter Jerusalem like He did?  Throughout the Synoptic Gospels Jesus is often recorded as warning His disciples and others not to talk about the miracles they had seen or participated in, or of the revelation that they had received that He was the Messiah.  (See Mt. 8:4, 16:20, 17:9, Mrk 7:36, 8:26, 8:30, 9:9, Lk 5:14, 8:56, 9:21.)  When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach on their own, we have no record of Him telling them to proclaim that He was the Messiah.  Rather, they were only to preach that the Kingdom of God was near (see Mt 10:7, Lk. 9:2, 10:9).

Obviously a different scene is depicted in Luke 19 as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  On that occasion, His disciples were boldly proclaiming that He was the Messiah.  When Jesus was challenged by the religious leaders about their celebration He refused to silence them.  He even added that if they were quieted, the rocks would cry out.  Clearly, the significance of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on this occasion was to reveal Himself as a king.  This is supported by the disciple’s reference to the Messianic prophecy found in Zechariah 9:9.

  1. This scene is a turning point in Luke’s story of Jesus, and it repeats and develops themes found elsewhere in the Gospel of Luke. 

Throughout Luke’s account of Jesus ministry, the kingdom of God plays a central theme. Early in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is identified as a king (Lk 1:32-33).  Jesus’ preaching ministry was once summed up by Luke as “preach[ing] the kingdom of God” (Lk 4:43).  And when Jesus allowed His disciples to preach, He charged them with a single message: proclaim that the kingdom of God is near (Lk 10:9).  Jesus’ teaching was often directed towards the understanding of this kingdom (e.g. Lk 6:20, 9:11, 11:20, 13:18-21, 17:20).

In spite of this obvious focus on the kingdom of God, Jesus did not prematurely proclaim Himself as king.  He warned His disciples not to proclaim that fact (Lk 9:21), and quieted unclean spirits from making the information public (Lk 4:35).  He even skirted the religious leader’s very direct questions about the kingdom (Lk 17:20-21).

The turning point of Luke 19 is that Jesus finally revealed Himself to Israel as her King.  He allowed His disciples to proclaim it, and when finally pressed by His enemies, He admitted to it in no uncertain terms (Lk 22:70).

  1. Verse 38 is based on an Old Testament quotation.  Indicate where the Old Testament verse is found.  Also, what does “Hosanna” mean?  (Not found in Luke but present in Matthew and Mark.)

Verse 38 contains a reference to Psalm 118:26.

According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary, Hosanna is a word having its origins in a prayer for deliverance, and that it was “associated with Jewish hopes for deliverance by a political hero.”[i]  The Interpreters One-Volume Commentary defines the word as a prayer meaning “save us.”[ii]  William McDonald writes that it “originally meant save now,” but later became an expression of praise.[iii]  In any event it may easily have been understood as a prayer for salvation from the enemies of Israel – most likely proclaimed against Rome in Jesus’ time.

  1. In Luke’s version, are the people of Jerusalem welcoming Jesus?  Then explain what Jesus is saying about Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-44. 

According to Luke’s version, it is not the people of Jerusalem who are welcoming Jesus, but it is His disciples.

In verses 41-44 Jesus described a coming holocaust for the people of Israel.  This holocaust occurred in 70 A.D.  His reason for the coming disaster: they refused to acknowledge the time of their “visitation.”  In other words, they did not acknowledge the kingship of Jesus.

 -Consult several translations besides the NRSV in Gospel Parallels.  Are there significant differences that indicate problems in translating the Greek? 

Having compared the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ASV, HCSB, YLT, DARBY, WYC & ESV, this student has not found any significant differences in this passage.  The only exception would be a minor difference over the word often translated visitation (Lk 19:44).  This word (episcope in Greek) is translated inspection in the YLT, and God’s coming to you in the NIV.  In other passages of the New Testament it can be translated bishop.

– If there are similar statements about Jerusalem in Luke, indicate where they are and explain the similarities. 

There are several passages in Luke that this student believes are references to the destruction – or judgment – of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  Admittedly, not all scholars would agree.  In order of appearance, they are:

Luke 3:7: In this passage John the Baptist makes a reference to the “wrath to come.”  In the opinion of this student, he is referring to God’s coming judgment in 70 A.D. (Jesus usedwrath when describing the same judgment in Luke 21:23).

Luke 9:27: Jesus said that some of His disciples would not taste death until they saw “the kingdom of God.”  When exegeted by its parallel passages (Mt 16:28 & Mrk 9:1), this student is left with the opinion that Jesus is referring to the judgment against Israel.

Luke 11:26: It is this student’s opinion that the return of “seven other spirits more evil than itself” is an explanation of the indescribable horrors that took place in Jerusalem during its fall.  (See Josephus’s War of the Jews 6:3:4)

Luke 13:6-9: This parable of the fig tree may be a reference to Israel’s final opportunity to bear fruit before being “cut down” (judged).

Luke 19:27: In the parable of the minas, Jesus spoke of the nobleman who called for the slaying of his enemies, who did not want the nobleman to reign over them.  This student believes this is another reference to end of the Jewish age (70 A.D.)

Luke 20:16: The destruction of the vine growers may be a reference to the end of Judaism.

Luke 21:5-32: The focus of this discourse is the destruction of Jerusalem, and the end of the Jewish religious system.  Jerusalem’s destruction is depicted in verse 20.

Would you say that the author of Luke has a special concern with Jerusalem?  If so, why?

This student is presently persuaded that Luke’s gospel was written prior to the destruction in 70 A.D.  Therefore, the gospel writer may not have even completely understood the significance of Jesus’ prophecy, let alone insert an interest.  It is likely more accurate to say that Jesus had a special interest in Jerusalem, and that Luke was reiterating Jesus’ concern.

  1. Hermeneutics:
    1. Does Luke 19: 41-44 have a message for us, or does it only apply to a past situation?  If this passage has a message for us, briefly indicate how you would apply these words in a sermon.

Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem in this passage is understood as having been uttered and written before Jerusalem’s destruction.  It is possible, then, that the earliest readers of the passage could have read and understood Jesus’ words as describing something future for them.  However, all readers of Luke – since 70 A.D. – are reading of a situation that is now past.  The preterist view of this passage, however, does not restrict it from becoming fodder for a helpful sermon.

Possible sermon messages based on this passage:

  • God will judge those who reject the Lordship of Jesus
  • The Christian does not have any particular obligation to the nation Israel over all others
  • If God has ended the religious system of Israel, and has destroyed its temple, then the Christian should not be attempting to restore it (as some dispensationalists do)
  • That the fulfilled prophesies of the Bible speak of its inspiration
  • Of the fulfillment of Old & New Testament prophesies (see Duet. 28:58-65, Daniel 9:24-27, Ezek. 38:14-23 & Rev. 4-11)
    1. Could vv. 41-44 be used to support anti-Semitism?  Would that be right or wrong?  Why?

Certainly anyone can use about any passage to support any position that they have an allegiance to.  In this case, since Jesus is speaking of the condemnation of the Jewish religious system, one might conclude that Jesus was anti-Semitic.  However, a proper exegesis of the passage would indicate that that is not the case.  Israel was rejecting the Lordship of Jesus and therefore placing themselves in the crosshairs of God’s judgment.  The judgment, however, was not because they were Jewish.

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmaker, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.

[i] Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers

[ii] Charles M. Laymon, The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary On The Bible, Abingdon Press © 1971, pg. 635.

[iii] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, ©1990, pg. 97.