Preparing for Palm Sunday: “Making an Big Entrance” – Luke 19:1-27

jesus and zaccheusOn Palm Sunday each year, we recall how Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on a young donkey as people cut down palm branches (that acted like a symbol of the revolt against Roman occupation) and tossed them at His feet in the pathway. The Galilean friends that were excited to see Jesus were, in effect, proclaiming Him as their upstart king, in violation of Roman authority. It was a grand entrance! It seems like every great movie about Jesus included that scene somewhere in the film, as though Jesus made such a grand entrance many times and people saw the Holy One and bowed low in adoration or danced in celebration.

The truth is, it happened only once, and the Palm Sunday scene was entirely deceptive compared to the total picture of what was happening beneath the surface. The superficial atmosphere may have been jubilant, but the crowd was restless and divided. They hated the Romans. They didn’t trust the Temple leadership to really look out for them and they hoped that Jesus would shake things up a bit. They didn’t like Herod Antipas from Galilee (visiting in the city that week) and they wished his whole family line would just abdicate, flee or die off quickly. They were deeply disgusted by the presence of Pontius Pilate and wanted him to head back to Rome, and perhaps sink in an unforeseen storm on the way. They weren’t sure if God had left them – because though they had a grand temple, pig eating pagan Gentiles still ran their daily affairs as the people of God. They weren’t even sure about Jesus because His words on the hillsides didn’t follow a party line and seemed to upset some of them at virtually every outing. The big entrance of Jesus is well known, but the surface scene isn’t the whole story.

I spotted an interesting clip from Reader’s Digest I want to share with you.

Psychologists say most people form impressions of others within the first four minutes of meeting them, and 80 percent of those first impressions are based on nonverbal behavior. Making a dignified entrance at an event might just be more important than the conversations you have later. When you make your entrance, the best way to draw attention to yourself in a tasteful way is being attractive, charming, witty, and memorable, says Liz Scofield, an etiquette teacher at Lehigh University. To turn heads and leave good impressions, pay attention to:

• Your walk. As you enter, walk with confidence, but not arrogance. Keep your head up, your shoulders back and down, and smile. No swaggering!
• Your clothes. Your clothes should be stunning without being over the top — fashionable without revealing too much skin.
• Your placement. When you first pass through the door, pause, step to the right, and survey the crowd. People watch the front door, so you’ll be in plain view.
• Your sociability. Do not make a beeline for safety nets such as the bar, food, or people you already know. Instead, move from group to group and introduce yourself. If you are confident and friendly, people will naturally be attracted to you.

I found the article interesting because it suggested that a man or woman should focus intently on themselves as they entered, and prods them to enter with a certain calculated self-orientation. Even their friendliness was directed toward what they would eventually receive – standing in the eyes of others. Our world looks at life through one lens – “How can I get what I want for myself?” In this case, the impression making entrance was for the purpose of gaining people’s trust, and thereby increasing your popularity. Yet, a careful look at our Savior pushes our eyes in a different direction than that of the world. Jesus taught us to have a different focus: one on the needs of the others. Let’s say it this way:

Key Principle: Jesus entered a scene with a focus on those in need, and taught us to do the same.

The “run up” stories to Palm Sunday are a good place to see this truth. For instance, a story where that was made obvious in His entrance encounter to Jericho in the weeks leading up to Palm Sunday…The account is found in Luke 19, and it is a well-known story. Zaccheus, the “wee little man” was sitting in a tree as Jesus entered. For some background, let’s make sure we understand the context of the story in the Gospel of Luke.

First, based solely on the internal evidence, the Gospel of Luke is anonymous, because it doesn’t have any overt claim of the writer. Our understanding that Luke the physician (Col. 4:14) was the writer comes from the early Church fathers. Interestingly enough, he was both Paul’s traveling companion in the first century, and apparently also the author of a companion work we call The Book of Acts. Between Luke and Acts (the two longest NT books) they make up 28% of the New Testament–more than that written by either Paul or John. Another interesting truth is that Luke appeared to be a Gentile, making his writing strange compared to the other New Testament writings

Luke wrote, not as a first hand observer of the events in the Gospel, but rather as a compiler of material (Luke 1:1-4) apparently based on interviews and listening carefully to preaching of the Apostles. Where Luke authored the material is not revealed in the book. Some have suggested that Luke collected his material while he was with Paul during his two-year, Caesarean imprisonment (“we” in Acts 27:1), and then wrote Luke shortly afterward (in Caesarea or Rome or even both); while this is possible, it is difficult to substantiate. The work was written for a man named Theophilus (Lk. 1:3; Acts 1:1) who may have been Luke’s literary patron or Paul’s advocate in Rome. It is also possible that he was a Gentile (from his name and title “most excellent” [κράτιστε ] normally referring to a Roman or rank and position). The KEY VERSE of the book is found in the account we want to study in this lesson: Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke seemed concerned with the mission of Jesus and how each part of the work reflected Jesus’ progress toward that mission.

Luke arranged the material in his Gospel three parts – Preministry, Popular Ministry and Parting Ministry:

Chapters 1-3 are all about the “Pre-ministry” narratives. There are seven prophetic fulfillments presented and resolved in Jesus’ arrival. In Luke’s account, Jesus was the long-promised Messiah of Israel with a mission that extended into saving the Gentiles as well.

The second part of the Gospel reflected what scholars call the “Popular” (or Galilee crowd) ministry, which can be found in chapters 4:1-9:56. That section is often broken into two parts:

• The Early Galilean Ministry where Jesus focused on showing His identity to the crowd and seven conflicts He faced as He made Himself known. His earliest public ministry directed demons to clear out of His way. At the same time, disciples needed to listen to His directions, and Israel’s leaders needed to hear from God’s heart about what was important to the Holy One! (4:1-6:11).

• The Discipleship Ministry of Jesus (found in Luke 6:12-9:56) was more focused on what the disciples learned from Jesus. They needed to see a Gentile who understood faith, a hopeless woman who needed help, a powerful God in their boat, a bleeding woman who knew faith, and how to see a crowd with Jesus’ eyes. The story was about people on the fringe and how needy people will find help in Jesus no matter what their background.

At the end of chapter nine, the third stage of the book can be called the “Parting Ministry” of Jesus, presented in two segments – preparation in Perea and Passion in Jerusalem:

• Luke 9:57-19:27 offers twenty-two stories strung together which include seven events and eight teaching segments as Jesus spent His last six months getting the disciples ready for the Passion in Jerusalem. In the great preparation narrative unique to Luke’s record, the writer organized some remarkable events – but the clear focus was upon the teachings of Jesus as He got the disciples ready for His departure from them.

• Luke 19:28 to 24:53 (the rest of the book) offers the final segment of the Gospel, in which Luke made clear that Jesus challenged the leaders of the Temple openly, but not the Romans at all. He evaded trap after trap – but in the end was arrested, passed over in a mock trial and handed over to the Roman appeasers. His death was brutal, but His resurrection was powerful – and His ascension beautiful.

A Closer Look at Luke 19

Luke 19 is set at the end of the six-month long “Perean ministry” (named after the place in which He was preaching all winter of His last year before the Cross). Jesus was preparing the disciples for His departure, as the Passover of His death was approaching. Luke 19 offers two stories to the modern reader:

• Story #1: Zaccheus’ homes stay where the rescue announcement is made clear (19:1-10) along with a parable Jesus told in that context (19:11-27).

• Story #2: The story of Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey into the Temple (19:28-48). The Palm Sunday account is layered in three small stories that all blend together: 1) Jesus reasoning with leaders about His rescue. 2) Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. 3) Jesus cleaning up the Temple’s corruption.

Both stories are essentially about the same thing: Entrance and Acceptance, celebration and rejection. They are tales that remind us of who and what we should focus on when entering a scene. Remember the key principle?

Jesus entered a scene with a focus on those in need, and called us to do the same.

When Jesus came into Jericho, most of the people in the scene didn’t see what Jesus saw. The other, perhaps even sadder truth is that many followers of Jesus today STILL don’t focus on what Jesus told us to see when we enter a scene. Drop your eyes into the story as Luke told it…

The Contrasted Reception (Luke 19:1-10):

This is the story of a man, Luke said, who had a deep sense of need and inadequacy, and he wanted to see if Jesus could help him… As we pick up Luke’s account, the narrative opened…

Luke 19:1 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.

Reception by Zaccheus

Don’t skip past the detail of the man who sought Jesus. The Master was about to make an entrance to Jericho, and into the life of a needy man. Who was that man?

• First, the man’s name was Zaccheus, a form of the word “zacchai” (a family or clan name in Neh. 7:14) which meant “pure” or “innocent” – but it appears by the details of his repentance that he felt quite guilty about his dealings with people.

• Second, as with many men, we are introduced to his occupation as part of his identity. Men often equate “what they do” with “who they are,” though that is not how God measures a man. Zaccheus was a tax collector, a Roman collaborator by any simple definition. We should expect that he was treated as any collaborator of an unpopular tyrant was in history. Add to that, he was the “face” of the Empire in taxation, and that was the subject of an ongoing upheaval. When Quirinius was governor over Syria in 6 CE, the tax revolt created the Zealot party which smoldered for a generation and erupted into a key component of the revolt against Rome some sixty years later. He represented the establishment when anti-establishment was in vogue because of growing rage in the populace.

• Third, Luke 19:2 ends by making the point that he was materially wealthy. He had the means to get what the world offered, but he was still unfulfilled by it, and found himself tree climbing to get a glimpse of someone from Whom he could receive help. For a wealthy man to scurry up a tree in such an undignified manor, he must have felt a sense of desperation.

• The fourth detail about Zaccheus concerned his stature. He was short… really short. What he needed to see Jesus, he didn’t have- that was stature. He couldn’t count on people in the local crowd letting him through to see Jesus. He knew he needed something, but couldn’t find help among local fellows and sought the help of a tree. What did he climb? In order to see Jesus, he climbed a sykomōraía (from sýkon, “fig” and moron, “mulberry”) sometimes translated a “white mulberry” tree. In order to know what specific genus of tree the Greek word lent reference to, our best source from antiquity is the Geoponica, a collection of ancient wisdom on plants and animals collected from the time of the New Testament through the tenth century CE in Constantinople. We have a fragment of the work that includes excerpts from Pliny the Elder, the Carthaginian agronomist Mago, and even some hints of the works passing under the name of the Persian prophet Zoroaster collected in the compendium by the tenth century. The Greek manuscript fragments are extremely complex and not fully understood, but other Syriac, Pahlavi, Arabic and Armenian translations attest to its worldwide distribution. Based on that source, a Hebrew botanical writer from Neot Kedumim (Nogah Hareuveni) identified the tree as the Hebrew “Shikma” – a tree which is called the “reconciliation tree” (perhaps because of the binding nature of the reduced sap). It is interesting to note the tree Zaccheus climbed may have been called the “reconciliation tree” in his own local vocabulary, and reconciliation (both financially and spiritually) was what the man was seeking.

• The fifth detail about Zaccheus is that he was a planner. He noted where Jesus was “going to pass by” and accessed a tree along the pathway before Jesus showed up.

Zaccheus was a guilt-ridden, unfulfilled, unpopular, tiny man who knew he needed to see a change in his life.

He was locally snubbed in spite of his wealth, which was rightly perceived to have come from corruption. He wanted a change in his life… The story continues and details the reception of Jesus by this needy man:

Luke 19:5 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. 7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Jesus came into Jericho with a plan to rescue a hurt and drifting man. Zaccheus was sinking in trouble, and he knew it. Note the way he received Jesus:

• When Jesus called up to him, he hurried out of the tree and “gladly” received Him. He ignored the grumbling of neighbors and got his house ready.

• As the meal progressed, two confessions seemed to have flowed from his heart. The first seemed to be the extravagance of his lifestyle compared to his neighbors – for which he exclaimed his need to give to the poor half of all that he had. The second weight on his heart was the apparent sin of his ill-gotten gain that weighed on his heart, which led him to confess his wrong and promise to right any fraud by the proper repayment of the Torah. The law required exactly what he promised:

Exodus 22:1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.”

Zaccheus didn’t decide what he needed to do by himself. He openly committed to obey the known Word of God as written concerning the sin of his life.

The Crowd’s Reception

The story of the reception of Jesus by Zaccheus was one of a man who knew his wrong, and when confronted with Jesus – he surrendered to God’s Word and repented of his lifestyle. This was a stirring story of conviction that set up Palm Sunday. Yet, it was not the complete picture of the scene as described by Luke. Zaccheus found forgiveness, but the crowd of Jericho found complaint. Go back and look at the detail of what they did…

Luke 19:7 When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”… [After the repentance of Zaccheus Jesus responded…] 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

The crowd’s issue was that Jesus was interested to rest and lodge with a man who was a cheat and a collaborator. His wealth was obvious and his reputation was well-established. Yet, the crowd overlooked the hunger of the man to be made right before God. They didn’t notice his tree climbing and didn’t ask what led him to take such a measure. Isn’t that the way we become in our judgmental state? We see the wrongs performed by another, but we easily rebuff their attempts to find meaning and correct behaviors. We let them be what they are instead of seeking a way to help them become what they wish they could become.

Jesus saw Zaccheus as short and needy, not rich and fulfilled. He looked past the decoration of his life with things, and saw in his heart a bankruptcy. He called Zaccheus one of the very “lost” people to whom He came to offer rescue. When Zaccheus took God’s Word to heart – he was “saved” from his lost state. When he was willing to change his life to conform to the will of God that he had been resisting, he was restored as an obedient “son of Abraham”.

That isn’t what everyone wanted, however. The crowd was content to judge Zaccheus. They saw his villa and his clothing. They heard of his reputation as a Roman collaborator, a cheat, and a calloused man. That is all they needed to decide what his end should be. They didn’t offer him a way to Jesus – they blocked him out. They honestly didn’t care if he found Jesus. Their prejudice and anger dictated their response – not the need of a man who was holding on to a tree branch. They were content to let him live and die the man they knew he was – one undeserving of the love and forgiveness of God.

Jesus used this man’s life to announce His whole program and purpose – invading the sin-sick life of the desperate in order to RESCUE THEM. The Savior said THAT was His mission – and He signaled that as the mission God gave those of us who willingly follow Him. We are called to a “ministry of reconciliation” – connecting God to people. We need to remember we are called to seek and bring to the Savior those who need Him. We seek

• Not GOOD people, but people who are drowning in their cheating lifestyles.

• Not HAPPY people, but those who feel inadequate and have been ostracized by their neighbors.

• Not EASY people, but the marginalized, the unloved, the difficult.

We are called to love those our Savior would love.

We are called to see those who are reaching out to have their broken and emptied hearts filled. We are called to draw them into the Savior when they show the faintest sign they want the help Jesus offers.

In the process of reaching them, we must recognize that some will resist us, because they resist HIM doing for them what they still believe they can do for themselves. They will retreat quickly back into the lie that they are already adequate – or they can find a way on their own. At the same time, some of those around us may scratch their heads when they watch us invest such time and trouble in such LOSERS. They won’t recognize what we are doing as valuable, because it won’t be as flashy as what the world seeks to do in reaching the successful and drawing in the beautiful. Years ago I wrote something I want to share with you once again:

• Ours is a quiet and subtle revolution. It is found in the faithful love of a husband and wife desperately praying over their children that they may raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord in the midst of a rebellious generation.

• It is found in the careful instruction of the holy Words of God, quietly taught in a class of small boys and girls that cannot yet be trusted with sharp scissors and paste.

• It is found on the lips of old grey-haired men and women, who no longer capture the heart of Hollywood or Vogue magazine – but their quiet testimony offers enduring wisdom and truth yielded from a life given in surrender to the Savior.

• When fear and anger prevail in our streets, our message of rescue will SEEM weak. It will not be violent and it will not be swift. It will require love and patience, hope and endurance. It will require the application of God’s dramatic display of love in our Savior, shined through cracked clay pots from the lives of flawed men and women. That profound message of God’s love will transform, because it is powerful, not because WE are. The Gospel will not be silenced, nor will it be defeated.

The message that transformed the heart of a drowning, short, inadequate tax collection cheater two thousand years ago will transform the heart of a Muslim that does not find peace in a world view that competes for domination by aggression – but cannot be trusted to offer the truth. The message that filled the empty heart of an outcast in Jericho will still powerfully lift the discarded and worthless feeling divorced woman that has been left cast aside for a younger and more energetic woman. They are all around us and they are drowning… Oh that we could just look in the tree and see them!

The Reception Explained (Luke 19:11-27):

Jesus went on and told them a story. It was directed at a crowd that didn’t like what He was doing – but I would guess God is pretty used to that. If left to the crowd, I suspect many of the rejected of this world would remain alone – and some of us would think they deserved to be forsaken by God. It would serve our prejudice and our sense of justice well, but they would be left out. Here is what Jesus said:

Luke 19:11 While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.

The purpose of the story preceded the telling of it. Luke made it clear that Jesus was saying what He said because there was about to be a SEVERE DELAY in the National Rescue plan to His people. Israel wasn’t ready. The disciples weren’t ready. Their hearts were still rock hard. God promised a New Covenant. He promised to bring the people back from the captors and after a while change their hearts. He promised that the Jewish people would one day experience a complete surrender… but it wasn’t going to happen on this particular Passover in spite of the fact that many thought it would. In fact, the delay was going to be significant – but purposeful. His delay of ascending David’s throne offered a Gentile like me salvation today. I was not part of His people then – but the Gospel made it possible that I am of HIS PEOPLE today.

The Disciples thought the Kingdom would come that week, because they didn’t see past themselves. They didn’t see the lost around them. Whole earthly kingdoms and nation states had no relation to God. Was God to ignore the millions of Chinese of the Han Dynasty for the sake of the immediate accession of Jesus to the throne of fewer than a million Jews? God’s math, and God’s view was quite different than theirs – and I am very glad – glad beyond words – that God saw it differently.

Luke 19:12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. 13 “And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ 14 “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ 15 “When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. 16 “The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 “The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 “And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ 20 “Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; 21 for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ 22 “He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? 23 ‘Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ 24 “Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ 25 “And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ 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. 27 “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”

Parables are sometimes hard to grasp. You have to be especially careful to keep the details out of the main idea, so that only the details that are relevant to the story define the message of the story. They take work, but, like a really good novel, they are worth it. The beauty and richness is lost on a fast food generation – but if you slowly savor it – you will feel the power in the story. Let’s take it apart.

There are two layers to the story.

The first layer is a story about an absentee district ruler that left on a journey to a far country that was under his possession and eventually returned (19:12). The people he was to claim rule over rejected his claim to rule, and sent a request the Senate after his visit to have another ruler over them (19:14) – so he was feeling the weight of rejection that was apparently based on his interaction with them. He felt pressured by enemies, and in the end – when it was determined that his rule would not be withdrawn by those above him – he ordered that his enemies be dragged in and killed right in front of his face (19:27).

His point in the first layer is clear: Reject the ruler and appeal his right to rule – and you will find yourself without recourse.

Set into that story was the second layer that began with his preparations for the journey, and ended with his return to his household. The ruler prepared for a journey by handing part of his wealth over to three slaves – each with a significant part of his wealth – and instructed them to conduct his business with them (19:13). (A mina was a measure of gold – a word that entered Greek and Latin from its Akkadian origin for a “weight”. In the first century, a mina was a unit of currency that amounted to about a fourth of the wages earned annually by an agricultural worker. Ten minas would have been worth two and one half years pay for a farm worker – a significant amount to invest in that time.) With ten minas at each servant’s disposal, the man left on his journey. On return, he asked for an accounting of the money invested (19:15).

The first servant invested the ten and gained ten more – a 100% investment increase. The second invested and got a 50% investment increase – adding five more to his original ten. The third came in with only the ten he was originally given, a 0% increase. The focus of this layer was primarily on HIM – because he didn’t trust the ruler (19:19). Look at the interaction between the ruler and the servant to see the servant’s position:

• He recognized the ten minas were his master’s property (19:20).
• He understood the task that was assigned to him (19:21).
• He feared the ruler, and knew the ruler to be a man that would keep track of the money (19:21).
• He didn’t trust the character of the ruler – and felt he gained in ways that were not to his liking (19:21).

The ruler was perturbed with the servant. He said: “Why didn’t you do it another way then? Why not put it in the bank and gain interest?” He stripped him of the minas and gave them to the one that did the most with them. The others in the room seemed to think this was foolish – after all the one with the ten had already ten more. The proverb offered to explain the scene was this:

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.”

Don’t bypass these words – they are the point of the lesson. Jesus said this:

A ruler offered every servant the same opportunity, but only the ones who trusted His character and obeyed His voice were worthy servants.

Jerusalem awaited their King, but didn’t listen to His Word, love His vision, care for His people or believe in His right to correct them. They wanted the glory of a kingdom, without showing honor to the King.

Just as they couldn’t see the truth about the struggles and pain of Zaccheus, so they couldn’t see the truth about themselves. They wanted a kingdom for THEMSELVES, the rest of the world be damned. That wasn’t what Jesus had in mind. He is Creator of all – and His love reached far past what they could understand.

Jesus entered a scene with a focus on those in need, and called us to do the same.

I guess the question as followers of the Savior is this: Do we see things as Jesus did? On his website, Steve Goodier wrote:

An ancient story tells of two great warriors, Cyrus and Cagular. Cyrus, of course, was the noted emperor of Persia and Cagular was a little-known chieftain who consistently repelled Cyrus’ attacks. Cagular’s troops tore the Persian army apart time and time again as they resisted Cyrus’ attempts to expand his southern border. Finally, Cyrus amassed his whole army, surrounded Cagular, cap­tured him, and brought him to the capitol for trial and execution. On the day of the trial, Cagular and his fam­ily were brought to the judgment chamber. The chieftain, six feet tall with the appearance of a no­bleman, faced the throne. Cyrus was duly impressed with Cagular. “What would you do should I spare your life?” the emperor asked. Your majesty,” replied the warrior, “If you spared my life, I would return home and remain your obedient servant as long as I live.” What would you do if I spared the life of your wife?” Cyrus questioned. “Your majesty, if you spared the life of my wife, I would die for you.” So moved was Cyrus by his answer that he freed Cagular and his wife and appointed the chieftain to govern the southern province. On the trip home, Cagular enthused to his wife, “Did you notice the marble entrance to the palace? Did you see the corridor to the throne room? Did you see the chair on which he sat? It was made of one lump of solid gold!” His wife appreciated her husband’s ex­cite­ment, but admitted, “I really didn’t notice any of that.” “Well,” Cagular asked in amazement, “What did you see?” She looked seriously into his eyes. “I be­held only the face of the man who said he would die for me.” (from