Luke 12

Introduction

‘Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’ Luke 12:1

Warnings And Encouragements

Many thousands had gathered together, so many they were trampling on one another and it’s at this point that Jesus warns His disciples to be on their guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, Matthew 15:12-20 / Matthew 16:6.

It is the nature of yeast to spread throughout the bread, and so, it would be with the teachings and influence of the Pharisees whose hearts were far from God, Matthew 15:1-9 / Mark 7:1-9.

Their hypocrisy was that they didn’t preach ‘justice, mercy and faith,’ Matthew 23:23. On the outside, they appeared to be righteous because of their ‘religious’ behaviour, but inwardly their hearts were full of hypocrisy.

‘There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’ Luke 12:2-3

Jesus tells them not to be on their guards against them, Luke 12:2-9 / Romans 8:31 / Romans 8:37 / Philippians 4:13, because everything, whether concealed or hidden will be openly revealed.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This meant that the persecution and opposition of the Pharisees would not succeed in hiding the truth but would result in its being published. Persecution actually provided them, as always, the following benefits for the thing, doctrine, or person persecuted. 1. it intensifies the zeal of the persecuted party, 2. arouses sympathy for the underdog, 3. If intense enough, multiplies centres of dissemination for the hated truth. All these results were clearly observable in the history of the early church.’

Jesus tells them that whatever He had taught His disciples in the dark, that is, privately, they must speak in the daylight, whatever He taught them when He whispered teachings in their ear, that is, quietly, they are to proclaim from the rooftops, that is, openly and boldly, Acts 5:20 / Romans 1:16 / Romans 16:25.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.’ Luke 12:4-5

They are not to be afraid of anyone who can kill the body but can’t kill the soul, Luke 12:4 / 1 Peter 3:14. If they have to fear anyone, it is God Himself, Isaiah 8:13 / Luke 12:5 / Hebrews 10:31, because He is the only one who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 25:41 / 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Luke 12:6-7

Here we read that Jesus was the first person to introduce, the boy one, get one free slogan concerning the sparrows. The point is that even though many people look at sparrows and think they are worthless, God notices them and He cares for them.

Just as He knows the sparrows, He certainly knows us all on a personal level, even to the point of knowing how much hair we have on our heads. We shouldn’t worry because mankind is worth far more than the sparrows, that is, God will certainly take care of us if He takes care of the sparrows, Matthew 6:25-30 / Romans 8:31-39.

‘I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.’ Luke 12:8-9

These statements are made when He was advising the twelve before sending them to preach throughout the land of Israel where they would experience some hostility, but He predicts much greater hostility which came after the ascension, Matthew 10:5-42.

Jesus plainly tells us that we must acknowledge Jesus before others, and by doing so, He will acknowledge us before the Father, Matthew 16:17-18 / Romans 10:9-10 / Revelation 20:15 / Revelation 21:27. There is also a warning involved if we disown Jesus, He will disown us before the Father, Luke 9:26 / John 12:42 / 2 Timothy 2:12.

‘And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.’ Luke 12:10

I don’t need to tell you that these are some of the most serious words that ever came from the lips of Jesus Christ, Matthew 12:31-32.

In fact, the more you study this passage, the more terrible it reveals itself to be. It seems that Jesus is indicating a position into which if a man enters his case has become hopeless.

He says, ‘It is possible for us to adopt an attitude that makes it impossible for even God to forgive us.’ And for that very reason whenever we read this passage, either in the Gospel of Matthew or in the other Gospels, we ought to be very careful how we treat it. There are 2 possibilities with this passage. There are 2 ways of dealing with it.

1. There is the possibility of reading into the words, something that isn’t really there, and making it say something that even Jesus never meant them to say. And

2. It is possible to water it down so much, that you deprive them entirely of its meaning and its terribleness.

So why is this particular sin unforgivable? And why should a sin be unforgivable? Is it because God will not forgive it? Surely that can’t be the answer.

Surely God hasn’t marked out one particular sin as being so hideous and wicked, so terrible and grievous that He says, ‘No’. ‘Murder, I’ll forgive that, lying, I’ll forgive that, immorality, I’ll even forgive that, blasphemy against Jesus, yes I’ll forgive that, I forgave Paul for doing that, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, No I draw the line there.’

Does God behave like that? Of course, not. That’s an impossible theory, to suggest that there is one sin that God will not forgive is utterly out of the keeping of all that you know about the character of God.

Because time and time again God has shown us, pleading with men. ‘Repent then, why will you die.’ We are shown a God whose deepest longing is for men to turn to God and be forgiven, Isaiah 1:18 / 2 Peter 3:9.

The next question usually asked concerning this sin is whether or not it is still possible to commit it today? Opinions on this question certainly vary, and scholars seem to be divided in their positions. The evidence, however, seems to point toward the idea that this sin cannot be committed today.

1. The circumstances under which the sin is described cannot prevail today, because the age of miracles has ceased, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. No one today will have the opportunity to witness Jesus performing miracles in person. 2 Corinthians 5:16.

2. There is no other mention of the sin in any Biblical passage written after the resurrection of Christ.

None of the inspired New Testament writers refers to the sin in any epistle or the Book of Acts, and none offers warnings to new converts about avoiding the sin post-Pentecost.

In conclusion, ‘blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ is the only ‘unforgivable sin’ mentioned in the Bible, and it is mentioned in the context of the Pharisees accusing Jesus of being possessed by the devil.

The context indicates that it was a specific sin, and not a series of forgivable sins, or an attitude of persistent unbelief. After the resurrection, no inspired writer mentions the sin, and no warnings against it were recorded.

There is no concrete evidence that it can be committed today. The fact that it’s not mentioned after the resurrection, lends itself to the idea that it cannot still be committed.

The indication from passages such as 1 John 1:7 / 1 John 1:9 is that ‘all unrighteousness’ that a person could commit today can be forgiven by the blood of Jesus.

‘When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:11-12

Jesus now begins to inform His disciples of the upcoming persecution they are likely to receive, Matthew 10:17-20. They need to be on their guard because they will be handed over to local councils and flogged in the synagogues, Matthew 23:34 / Acts 5:18 / Acts 5:40 / Acts 9:16 / Acts 12:1 / Acts 22:19 / Acts 26:11. They will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and the Gentiles, Acts 5:18 / Acts 12:1.

This will happen because they follow Christ and when they get arrested, they aren’t to worry about what to say or how to speak because the Holy Spirit Himself will speak through them, Mark 13:11 / Luke 12:11-12 / Luke 21:14-15 / John 14:26 / John 16:13-14 / Acts 4:8 / Acts 13:9.

The Parable Of The Rich Fool

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:13-15

Have you ever been having a conversation with someone when someone else jumps in and totally changes the subject? That’s what this guy does.

Jesus had been speaking about vital truths, of divine providence. He had been speaking about vital truths of confession. He had been speaking about the Holy Spirit and while Jesus was talking with His disciples this man speaks up and jumps in with a question.

Now, what does this tell us about the man? Well, this tells us that he wasn’t interested in spiritual things, his whole heart and life were absorbed in his present life.

And so Jesus said to this individual, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Jesus bluntly refused to answer this man’s blunt question. Jesus didn’t want anything to do with a quarrel over family property.

The Jewish Law was specific enough about this kind of thing, Deuteronomy 21:15-21. The Law said that the firstborn son was to receive a double portion, two-thirds. of the inheritance and the remainder was to be divided among the other sons, this Law left no room for debate.

Now this man who spoke to Jesus obviously must have been the younger brother. And so he comes along and speaks to Jesus to try and get Him to go on his side in order to get an equal share of the inheritance. In other words, he knew the Law but he wanted more than his rightful share.

And what follows is one of the most severe warnings in the Bible against covetousness, Luke 12:15. And this warning covers any and all forms of covetousness. But what is covetousness? It’s not simply a desire for property.

For example, a person can have an excessive and unrestrained desire for food, someone might say that they are hungry for food. Just as some people are hungry for food some other people may be hungry for gain.

In other words, some people have a selfish ambition to want more and more. And that’s because there are people who will never be satisfied with what they have. And anyone who desires anything in that way is a perfect example of what covetousness is, it’s an excessive desire for gain.

And so after warning against covetousness, Jesus states the reason for the warning, Luke 12:15. The NEB version says, “Even when a man has more than enough, his wealth does not give him life.”

What’s Jesus saying? He’s saying that life is more than things. He’s saying that the success of a person’s work cannot be measured in terms of what he has been able to accumulate.

And if your still confused about what Jesus means, it’s now that He shares ‘The parable of the rich fool’ to illustrate the meaning.

“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

Every day of our lives we see evidence of covetousness all around us. And while adultery, drunkenness and dishonesty are still frowned upon, covetousness rides right through society and is pretty much ignored. Even among self-professed Christians, it is so widespread that it is scarcely recognised for what it is.

And what is it? It’s a deadly sin. A worldly atmosphere so threatens the church that its very life is threatened. Individual members are in such hot pursuit of their own interests that they have found very little time and energy left for the Lord. We really need to listen to what Jesus is teaching us here today.

Here was a man who in the world’s eyes was a great success, yet God called him a fool. But why? What was wrong with his life? How did he miss the way? How did he act like a fool?

Well, this man was a fool because of the important things he forgot, he forgot 5 things.

1. He forgot other people.

He thought of no one except himself. This is the first thing that leaps out at you when you read the parable. 6 times he uses the word “I” in the parable, 5 times he uses the word “My” in the parable. This man was all about self, everything he did, he did for himself.

And other people never even entered his mind, not once did he remember those people who worked for him, Luke 13:17. Think about it, maybe the farmer across the field was saying to himself, “What can I do, for I don’t have any bread to feed my children.” And if he didn’t have enough barns, there were other places he could have put it.

You might ask where, where could he have put it? He could have placed it in the hands of orphans and widows, Luke 12:33-34 / James 1:27. That’s where he could have put his crops. He could have put it at the feet of the homeless, he could have put it in the houses of the widows, or he could have put it in the mouths of the orphans and infants.

But Oh no this rich fool didn’t think about those barns, all he could think about was his own little world where there was no room for no one except himself.

2. He forgot that man is more than what he owns.

He looked at life in terms of the physical things only. And it’s here that he makes a tragic mistake like much of the world makes today. He didn’t distinguish between what a man has and what a man is.

It’s not always easy to make a definite distinction because many of you who have been brought up in the church still counts a person fortunate if he enjoys a long run of prosperity, Mark 10:23 / 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

In other words, a person’s life is not the same as his business. You see it’s more important to be rich in good deeds than it is just to be rich in goods, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

3. He forgot the source of real happiness.

He had a false conception of life and so because of that, he had a false conception of happiness. He thought he could be happy by indulging himself, Ecclesiastes 2:3-10.

Happiness is not found in things, money can buy a lot of things but it can’t buy a sense of usefulness. It can’t buy a clear conscience, it can’t buy a mind content with God and man, Ecclesiastes 2:11. These are the real riches and without them, no one can be really happy.

4. His biggest blunder was, that he forgot God.

He didn’t take God into account at all. There was nothing wrong with him wanting to tear down his barns and build bigger ones because as we know a good farmer must have foresight.

But his fatal mistake was that in all of his well-laid plans, he didn’t spare one thought for God. And this is a common downfall for many Christians.

Whatever our long-range plans may be, we need to remember that our biggest factor of all is God, James 4:13-15. And if we ever leave God out of our plans then you can be sure that our plans will end in ruin.

5. He forgot about death.

He thought he was going to live a long life, Luke 12:19, and yet God says to him “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.” Luke 12:20.

He only had one more day left to live and in so many ways we deceive ourselves constantly by thinking that we too have got plenty of time to live.

We put off until tomorrow and the truth of the matter is that we don’t even know if there will be a tomorrow. Satan doesn’t say to us, ‘you will not die’ but he does say to us is, ‘you will not die soon,’ Psalm 90:9-10. At the height of this man’s prosperity and self-satisfaction, God appeared to the rich man and required his life.

How much did he leave? He left it all. No wonder he’s a fool. He spent his whole life striving for the things he had to leave behind. He neglected the true values of life that he could have taken with him, Matthew 6:19-21.

Many people may have a good title while they are here on earth, whether it be the Queen, the Prime Minister, whether it is Lord such and such or the Mayor of London. But when they get to heaven, they have no permanent lease or title.

We know the story about the rich man and Lazarus. The story is about a rich guy who lived in a great big mansion and outside near the gate was a beggar named Lazarus. And for years he begged at his gates but the rich man did nothing about it.

Now he wasn’t unkind to the guy, he never had him thrown in prison or moved away. But one night his soul slipped out from him and all his wealth, all his ease and all his self-indulgences were gone.

Why was the rich man condemned? The rich man lost his chance, Lazarus was right there in front of him and yet he did nothing about it, Matthew 25:41-46. The rich fool in the parable forgot about many things and Satan whispered in his ear, ‘these are not important’.

Do Not Worry

‘Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.’ Luke 12:22-31

Is worry a problem in our life? Jesus taught about worrying and offers some practical suggestions for overcoming it, Matthew 6:25-34.

There are many enemies of the mind, but worry may be the most destructive. Some have compared worry to a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but does not get you anywhere! Worry has also been likened to an old man with a bent head, carrying a load of feathers that he thinks are led.

Worrying is a serious problem in the 21st century. If we allow it, worry can destroy us by slowly taking over our minds and bodies! People worry about most anything and everything.

For instance, people worry about things that have already happened. Such is pointless since the past cannot be changed. One should learn from the past, seek forgiveness on God’s terms when sin has been committed, and move on, that’s what the apostle Paul did, Philippians 3:13.

People also worry about things that will inevitably happen. Many fear growing older or dying, but again, such is futile. Rather than worrying about these matters, it would be better to simply prepare for them to the best of our ability. We must remember that death is not the end, Hebrews 9:27, and that there are blessings to be had in old age, 2 Corinthians 4:16.

Additionally, people worry about things that will never happen. Mark Twain once said, ‘I have worried over a great many things in life, the most of which never happened’. The fact that most of our fears will never come to pass should help us understand the futility of worrying.

Finally, people worry about things that God has already taken care of. In Mark 16:3, the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body early Sunday morning expressed concern over who would move the stone away from the tomb. As it turned out, God had already taken care of the matter.

Jesus’ use of the word ‘therefore’ indicates that He is concluding His thoughts in Matthew 6:19-24, namely, that we must live for God and not for the world.

We must trust God and not physical riches. When Jesus stated, ‘do not worry about your life,’ He wasn’t making a suggestion, He was giving a command that we ought to obey.

The word ‘worry’ is used repeatedly in this context, and if God is truly our Master, then there is no need to have anxiety or doubt regarding anything, God will take care of us, Romans 8:28.

The worrier doubts and is double-minded, such a person is unstable and lacking in faith, James 1:6-8. Such a person fails to realise the benefits and peace of mind that come from relying upon God and not upon physical riches or ourselves, Philippians 4:6-7.

If we are spiritually perceptive, we will realise that life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. After all, earthly riches can provide food and clothing, but only God can give life and a body. Since God is the giver of both life and body, certainly He is capable of sustaining the one and covering the other.

Jesus strengthens His argument by referring to the ‘ravens’. They never plant, they never harvest, and they never stockpile for later. They don’t ‘treasure’ earthly things as man does, yet God takes care of them and provides for all their needs! Surely, He will do the same for us since we are ‘of more value than they’.

We are of more value than the birds and other animals because we are made in God’s image and because of our potential to serve. Jesus wants us to trust in God’s providence. God will feed us before He feeds His birds!

Worrying is useless and nothing productive is accomplished by it. Our height isn’t increased by anxiety, and certainly, our life span isn’t lengthened.

Worrying never solved a problem or made anyone feel better. Worrying has never been prescribed as a solution to a problem! Imagine a doctor recommending worrying to solve our ulcer!

Imagine a preacher rebuking us for neglecting to engage in our daily worrying. Imagine a teacher urging their students to go home and worry about the test.

Because of the previous facts, He has mentioned, Jesus asks what good does it do to worry? We should put forth the effort to dress modestly, but there is no need to worry about attire. The lilies of the field are some of the most beautiful things on Earth, yet they do not worry or work at it, God ‘clothes’ them.

Now, if God clothes the lilies which neither labour nor spin and if He clothes them more beautifully than Solomon in all his glory, then, how much more will He clothe His people?

Worrying is unnecessary for the person who has faith that fully relies upon and trusts God! Who will deny that God has made the fields and flowers beautiful? If the Lord does that for something that will be burned up as fuel in an oven, will He not provide for His children’s needs even better?

Jesus begins summarising, stating that we ought not to worry about the necessities of life. God’s care for the flowers and birds should teach us to expect that He will show more interest in providing for those who have been fashioned for eternity. After all, God gave His Son for us, why would He withhold the necessities of life? Romans 8:31-32.

Worrying is unbecoming of true disciples. It’s perhaps to be expected that those who are not believers in God would have life’s necessities as their main interest, but Jesus tells His followers that they have a heavenly Father who will provide these things for them, and they are to trust Him to provide.

This is the case because He is both knowledgeable of our needs and able to supply them. Jesus also shows worry to be destructive. Worry robs us of our spiritual values and encourages us to focus on things in this world.

An example of this can be seen in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was more concerned about being a good host, rather than learning as a disciple, her worrying wasn’t good. Today, there are many who still allow worry to interfere with being the kind of disciples that God would have them to be.

Jesus said, ‘seek first the kingdom of God.’ Matthew 6:33. Literally, this means we are to ‘keep on seeking’. To seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness is to endeavour to live a godly, obedient life at any cost, a life that glorifies God in the church, Ephesians 3:21, which is His kingdom, Matthew 16:18-19.

To be worried about matters of life implies that we don’t trust God completely. If we don’t trust God fully, then our treasures are on the Earth and our master is money.

Such a person may be seeking the kingdom partially, but such is not sufficient. God doesn’t want to hold second or third place, or even lower, in our lives. He expects that we make Him our number one priority!

A beautiful truth from this verse can be stated as follows. If a person seeks only the material things of life, they will likely find them, but they cannot expect the spiritual. However, if a person seeks that which is spiritual, then they can expect both. That is a wonderful promise from God!

It should be noted that there is a big difference between worrying about the future and preparing for it to the best of our ability. All are to be good stewards of God’s entrusted blessings, but none should worry about tomorrow if they are doing their best to serve God faithfully today.

It’s foolish to attempt to anticipate tomorrow’s troubles today and to try to bear them today. As we noted earlier, much of our unhappiness arises from the dread of that which never comes to pass.

I find it interesting that the Greek word for ‘worry’ is the word, ‘merimnao’ which basically means distraction. Read through Mathew 6:25-34 again but instead of reading the word ‘worry’ replace it with the word ‘distraction’. When you do this, I believe this puts a whole new perspective on what Jesus is teaching us here.

He’s saying we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get distracted by the everyday needs of our lives, God will take care of them for us. He doesn’t want us to get distracted but He wants us to stay focused on serving God in His kingdom and continue to seek His righteousness. The same idea is found in 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’

The word, ‘anxiety’ is closely related to the word ‘worry’. Peter literally says, ‘cast all our distractions upon God, because God won’t be distracted from meeting your needs.’

‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ Luke 12:32-34

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Pharisees, like one of their number at a later date, were breathing out threatening’s and slaughter against the Lord, but Jesus calmly assured his chosen that, despite all that, the kingdom would indeed occur and that they should possess it. In Luke 12:31, the kingdom is to be sought, here it is to be given, but ‘both are possible since God gives men the possibility of seeking, and finding God’s gift’.’

A topical study of the Gospels reveals that Jesus spoke on the subject of money or materialism often. He evidently considered the love of money and material things to be a serious problem that needed to be addressed continually, 1 Timothy 6:10. We haven’t changed much in the last 2000 years, the problem remains today.

In the first century, the idea of a secure bank was unknown, and the safest way to keep their money was to bury it. However, doing such would subject the money, which was composed of metal, to rust and corrosion.

They could choose to keep their treasure above ground but then took the risk of having it stolen by a thief breaking in. In actuality, the Greek words here literally indicate that the ‘thieves dig through.’

This statement is accurate since houses of that day were frequently made of loose stone or sun-dried bricks. It was easier for a thief to dig through the wall than attempt to break through a more secure door.

Thus, there really was no absolute way to protect their physical treasures. Any of them could be stolen, metal was subject to corrosion, and clothing could be destroyed by moths.

To ‘treasure’ something is to love that object more than anything else. To ‘treasure’ the things of this world are foolish because they are both uncertain and temporary.

Happiness may be found in such ‘treasures’ for a while, but not true, lasting joy. These verses don’t teach that it is sinful to be materially rich in the present world. To be rich is dangerous, but not sinful, Matthew 19:23-24.

However, this passage does teach that we must ‘possess’ whatever material goods we are blessed with and not vice versa. To possess a large amount of money or resources isn’t wrong, but to love those things and consider them to be a ‘treasure’ is to fall into Satan’s trap, 1 Timothy 6:7-10 / Luke 12:15 / Hebrews 13:5.

Anyone with such a mentality will hoard these possessions to harm others and himself. Instead, those who are rich should be careful to remember that they can only trust in God and not in themselves or their earthly treasure. Let them do much good with the things the Lord has entrusted them with, 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

Jesus makes a strong case for laying up treasure in heaven while exposing the folly of hoarding earthly treasure by contrasting the corrupting forces of this world with the security of heaven.

To practice righteousness to be seen by God and to bring glory to His name is to make a deposit in God’s heavenly ‘bank.’ There is great security in knowing that such treasures cannot be stolen or damaged. The riches of heaven are eternally secure for the person who continues to treasure them.

Boles, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This does not mean that a Christian should give up everything that he has to those who are not trying to serve God, neither does it mean that a Christian should give up what he has to those who are living lives of idleness and wickedness.’

Watchfulness

‘Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Luke 12:35-40

Jesus uses two images here, being dressed for action and keeping the lamps burning, Matthew 25:1-13. We are to be like people who are waiting for the master to come home from a wedding banquet so that we can open the door immediately when he comes.

Jesus describes his disciples as people who are prepared so that when the master comes, they are awake and ready. Notice that this preparation is not a one-off effort. The servant doesn’t get dressed for action and then falls asleep on the couch until the master returns.

Notice that Jesus says the servants that are found ready and awake are blessed. Why are they blessed? Jesus says that the master is going to dress himself for service and have the servants sit at the table. Then the master is going to come and serve the servants at the table.

The servants that are found ready, prepared, and awake are going to be given an amazing gift. We would think that the servants would serve the master at the table and the servants would be happy to do so.

However, notice the turn of the story, the servants are going to be told to sit at the table and the master is going to prepare himself to serve and will serve them. We know the master is going to bless us if we are ready for him.

It is not known when the master will return, he might come in the middle of the night, that is, the second watch or toward daybreak, that is the third watch.

Dummelow, in his commentary, says the following.

‘They are the second and third of the Roman four watches, representing the dead of night, and by metaphor, the unexpectedness of the Second Advent. The Jews reckoned only three-night watches.’

Jesus describes His return as the arrival of a thief and we must be ready. Jesus will fulfil these words by coming at an unexpected hour, 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Thieves don’t give signs, thieves don’t send cards saying, ‘hope you’re not home next Monday night, we’re hoping to drop by.’

The Lord has not left us ‘in the dark’ that He will appear suddenly, without warning. So, by always being prepared we will not be caught out, 1 Thessalonians 5:4. The Lord Jesus says, ‘I am definitely coming suddenly.’ Can we with confidence and with joy say, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’? Revelation 22:20.

‘Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or everyone?” The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ Luke 12:41-48

Peter appears to be curious and asks Jesus if the parable was for them or everyone. Jesus answered him by asking the question, ‘who then is the faithful and wise manager.’ In other words, what He’s about to say is telling us how to who that we are prepared for His return.

Instead of directly answering Peter’s question, Jesus told another parable and asks, the question, ‘who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?’

Once again, the master is away from the house and appoints a manager to care for the needs of the household. If the manager did his work wisely and faithfully, the household would flourish and the manager would be richly rewarded by the master. He will even be promoted to serve in a higher capacity.

The faithful and wise servants are those who were watching for Jesus and received him when he came. Just as the master gives these servants all his possessions, Jesus conferred on them and us a kingdom and makes us co-heirs with him of all things, Luke 22:29 / Romans 8:17.

We show ourselves ready by being faithful to the Master’s will. Blessed is the servant who is doing what the master says to be doing. The master doesn’t want to arrive and find his servants sleeping. He wants to see them making preparations and we prepare ourselves by being faithful, Luke 18:8.

The second way we show our preparation is by not being lulled into laziness and resting. Notice what the unprepared servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming’. This is exactly what we do in our minds.

Jesus predicted this is what we would think. Jesus even predicted it was going to be a long time before He came back. It would be so long that the servants are going to start thinking that He is delayed. But if the master returns and finds that the manager was not faithful, he will be punished accordingly.

If the manager is arrogant and lazy, selfishly squanders the master’s resources in drunken indulgence, and abuses his servants, the master will cut him into pieces and put him with the unfaithful. The manager who is unfaithful to a lesser degree will receive a lesser punishment.

The problem with thinking that the master is delayed is that it leads to unfaithfulness. Notice what the servants do, they start beating the other servants, eat, drink, and get drunk. Basically, the servants start living how they want to live. Jesus predicts that we will become lazy servants, no longer serving him, but serving ourselves.

This is graphic language, the master will come and ‘cut the servant into pieces’. Except that we should not be too relieved because the punishment that awaits us is far worse, eternal torment and separation from God. We will be put with the unbelievers and unfaithful, Luke 12:46.

Jesus is clear in Matthew’s Gospel that the place reserved for the unbelievers and unfaithful is eternal punishment in hell, Matthew 5:29-30 / Matthew 25:31-46. It’s possible to be a servant of Jesus, but because we are not ready and prepared for His return, we will be cast with the unfaithful when He arrives.

The consequences of unfaithfulness will be perfectly fair and just. God will judge those who didn’t know or understand less strictly, but those who should know better will have to answer for it.

Boles, in his commentary, says the following concerning verses 47-48.

‘The punishment will be proportioned to the powers, gifts, opportunities, and knowledge of the offenders.’

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Jews never inflicted more than forty stripes for one offence, Deuteronomy 25:3. For smaller offences, they inflicted only four, five, six, etc., according to the nature of the crime. In allusion to this, our Lord says that he ‘that knew not’, that is, he who had comparatively little knowledge, would suffer a punishment proportionally light. He refers, doubtless, to those who have fewer opportunities, smaller gifts, or fewer teachers. They who have much committed to their disposal, as stewards, were given much, etc, Matthew 25:14-40.

Most commentators suggest that in this parable, the master represents Jesus, the manager represents the apostles or those who have leadership roles, and the household represents the church or Christians in general.

The master’s return represents Jesus’ Second Coming and the Final Judgment when everyone will stand before him and give an account of their life and faith. Those who are found faithful will be blessed and experience the full bounty of heaven!

Those who neglect following the will of the Lord will be disciplined. And those who know the Lord’s will and flat out reject it will be “cut into pieces and put with the unfaithful” which is a reference to eternal punishment in hell.

Not Peace But Division

‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:49-53

Jesus says He has come to bring fire on earth. Many different commentators have different views as to what the ‘fire’ is referring to, some suggest judgment, some suggest discord, some suggest Christian love and some suggest the Holy Spirit.

It’s also possible that the ‘fire’ refers to the Word of God, Jeremiah 23:29. The preaching of the Gospel certainly brought a lot of joy to some people but it also caused a lot of turmoil among people because many would reject the Gospel message, Acts 8:1-4 / 2 Corinthians 2:15-16.

Notice that Jesus says He has a baptism to undergo, which is a clear reference to His upcoming suffering.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The path laid out for Jesus was extremely narrow and difficult. On the one hand, his was the task of convincing all men that he is King of kings and Lord of lords; and, on the other hand, this had to be done in such a manner as to frustrate Satan’s purpose of getting our Lord killed as a seditionist. The skill and genius by which Jesus negotiated this narrow path have ever been the marvel of all who contemplated them.’

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘How do I earnestly desire that it was passed! Since these sufferings ‘must’ be endured, how anxious am I that the time should come! Such were the feelings of the Redeemer in view of his approaching dying hour.’

It seems out of place to think that the Prince of Peace, was bringing a sword, Isaiah 9:6 / Ephesians 2:14. This sword, that is, the Gospel message would have a devastating effect on our close relationships with our family members, it will divide, Matthew 10:34-37.

A sword should be identified with Christ in any sense as a warning of the severity which is one characteristic of His glorious nature, Romans 11:22.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The sword of Christ is, 1. a sword of separation, 2. the word of God, Ephesians 6:17 / Hebrews 4:12, 3. the sword of civil authority, Romans 13:1-8, 4. the sword of judgment, Genesis 3:24, 5. the sword of correction, Revelation 2:16, and 6. the sword of victory, Revelation 19:13. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, was acquainted with that sword. ‘Yea, and a sword shall pierce thine own soul,’ Luke 2:55.’

It appears that even our own family members would struggle with us loving Jesus more than them and if we give into them and love them more, we won’t be counted worthy of Jesus, Genesis 29:31 / Matthew 10:34-37.

One who obeys Christ despite family or parental opposition feels the edge of that sword. A young woman who maintains her ideals and purity in an office where low standards prevail soon feels that sword in her heart. All who live for Christ and bleed inwardly when His name is profaned or His word denied have felt it.

These verses show us that lines of cleavage between Christ’s followers and the world cut sharply through the dearest and most intimate relationships on earth, Matthew 10:35. In every church, almost in every household, there are scars caused by this sword.

Jesus is talking about the indirect result of His work and that of His followers, Matthew 10:36. Anyone who promotes good and denounces bad will gain enemies and have problems. Sometimes this happens even within families.

The Gospel produces inner peace, peace with God, but the believer will experience resentment from the enemies of the Gospel even though the Gospel is good because they prefer evil.

So, the indirect result of the Lord’s good work is trouble from enemies of the Gospel even when they are members of one’s own family, the alternative is to not accept the truth. In such situations, the choice will be, to follow Jesus or give in to the family.

Interpreting The Times

‘He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” Luke 12:54-59

Jesus tries to reason with the crowds by speaking about the well-known fact, that they had the ability to give a forecast of weather conditions based upon the appearance of the skies and clouds, Matthew 16:2-4.

The crowd could easily look to the heavens and see the signs in the sky and make a determination as to what would happen with the weather.

Jesus challenged them to do the same thing in relation to the spiritual nature of the miracles He has performed and preaching He has taught.

If they can determine the outcome of weather by the signs they see, then why can’t they discern that Jesus is the Lord by the signs that He has performed? Hence why they were hypocrites, Matthew 15:1-9.

The implication here is that we have done something wrong, our adversary has a case against us, Matthew 5:25-26. In such circumstances, we should try to make friends quickly and defuse the situation by agreeing with them, we should try to be reconciled. Otherwise, we are likely to end up in prison and you will never get out!

God has a case against all of us because we are all sinners, Romans 3:23, we owe Him for our debt of sin. Jesus’ death on the cross is the only acceptable settlement.

God is offering to settle in full His claim with any sinner who will trust in Jesus Christ but if we don’t settle, there will be no escape on the day of judgment. We will never get out of hell because our debt is infinite since it is against an infinitely holy God.

Jesus’ meaning here is simple if we have the wrong God, which we all have, and don’t do everything, we can to reconcile with Him, we will be judged and punished, by God, Matthew 18:34.

We must pursue reconciliation, if not, we will get what we deserve! It was the time, therefore, that they should be seeking reconciliation with the Judge who was in their midst, John 12:48.

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