121-113 Luke Chapter 12
Courageous Confession 1-12
Those who are hypocrites try to hide the truth by pretending to be something they are not. Jesus charged the Pharisees with hypocrisy because they tried to hide what they really were behind masks of outward religious practices. Jesus warned the disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy? Was Jesus warning the disciples of against the danger of their opposition or was He warning them against becoming a hypocrite? In the former Jesus would be warning the disciples that the Pharisees would be those who tried to silence the truth by persecuting the believers. If the latter, then Jesus was warning against the danger of religious pretense.
The day will come when all truth will be revealed. Some believe this verse means that eventually all will face judgment and the truth will be made known. Others believe that these verses mean the need for courageous proclamation of the truth in the face of persecution. (Matthew 10:26-27)
The warning that Jesus is giving the disciples is that they will be tempted to hide the truth about themselves and what they believe. This too is a form of hypocrisy because it tries to hide the truth. The truth will come out and all believers should speak the truth.
The disciple of Jesus will be persecuted and they may be tempted to fear their persecutors. Why would we fear them when all they can do is kill us? Rather fear God. People have all kinds of fears. The Scripture consistently teaches that we have only one fear that is justified. If people fear God, then they have no need to fear anything else.
Jesus did not mean a cringing fear. Jesus’ emphasis is a trust in God who cares for us. If God is aware of a tiny sparrow, how much more is He aware of us?
Christians must be on guard against denying Jesus. Many times a Christian is tempted to fail to confess Christ. We are always to profess Him by our words and deeds. Denial is not an unforgivable sin as Jesus can and does forgive those who repent of this sin. Consider Peter as an example who denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed.
Jesus tells us here of a sin that is unforgivable. The person who stands persistently in rejecting the light and truth is in danger of becoming hardened that he attributes the work of the spirit to Satan. It is more than a personal affront to Jesus. The heart becomes so hardened against every attempt of God’s Spirit to bring in mercy, grace, and truth. Only those who refuse to accept forgiveness are unforgivable.
When a believer goes on trial for his faith in Jesus he need not worry about what he is to say. In times like these the Spirit will make us equal to the task. Some people quote there are those who quote this Scripture to justify their failure to prepare for preaching or teaching opportunities. This not only makes a lie of God’s Word and promise, it is a poor excuse for laziness and ignorance.
The man wanted Jesus to cause his brother to divide the family inheritance. Jesus refused to be the judge over a family dispute over an inheritance. This does not mean that the man had an unimportant case against his brother. Jesus pointed to a more important issue than the inheritance itself. Jesus’ attention focused on the moral issue in the dispute. Jesus spoke to the man about covetousness. Covetousness is a combination of greed and envy. It is a never ending desire to have more of something and is usually something that someone else has.
Jesus brought out a very relevant point in verse 15 that is a hidden truth from the people of this world. Jesus attacked a basic premise of the philosophy that many in this world have. People believe that the good life is guaranteed by the amount of possessions they have. Jesus is warning the man and those who were listening that wealth does not bring the good life. Jesus knows that the covetousness people have is a never ending thirst that will destroy what makes life worth living. Having right relationships and an inner peace are of greater value than an abundance of possessions.
The Rich Fool 16-21
Jesus brings His point to light by telling a parable. There was a farmer who had an abundance of possessions, but he missed the good life. We are to believe that the farmer was an honest hardworking man. These are commendable qualities. What was the problem that caused the farmer to miss the good life? It was his assumption that abundant possessions produced an abundant life. But his life was filled by seeking more and more possession.
One night he made his plans for a pleasant retirement. But, that night he died. His preoccupation of gathering possessions had robbed him of life. While he had life he spent all his time gathering and made no provision for death and judgment.
He had lived as an immortal god who had no need for the true and living God. The farmer had spent all his time gathering more and more to gain the possessions that slipped from his grasp when his heart stopped beating. One night he spoke of “my crops” “my barns” and “my goods.” After that night all his possessions were no longer his.
Do Not Be Anxious 22-31
Whether one is poor or rich the preoccupation of obtaining possessions can rob a person of their life. We have looked at covetousness in the previous verses and learned that covetousness can preoccupy us. In these verses we learn of another form of preoccupation, that of anxiety. Covetousness is the desire for more and more and never getting enough. Anxiety is the crippling fear that there may not be enough. For the poor, anxiety is focused on having enough for survival. For the others anxiety is the concern they have to maintain a standard of living.
Jesus is now warning against anxiety that people have for food and clothing. Earlier we learned that life does not consist of abundant possessions and now we are to see that life does not consist of food and clothing. Food and clothing are the most basic of possessions.
Anxiety, like covetousness, robs one of life. Anxiety cannot add any time to one’s life. And studies have shown that anxiety actually shortens one’s life. Another thing that anxiety does is that it shows a lack of faith in God. It is the way that unbelieving pagans respond to life. Being anxious is not the way a person of faith in the Lord God should be.
Jesus here give the antidote to worldly anxiety. The real life is knowing and serving God. God feeds the birds and He clothes the flowers of the field. Surely God can be trusted to care for those who are in His Kingdom.
This passage is not a denial that believers should work and make their plans for the future. We find a thin line between planning for the future and being anxious about the outcome. Seeking the Kingdom of God gives one the proper perspective. People of the faith do what they can and leave the outcome to God.
Jesus opens this passage with a beautiful word of assurance. God is the shepherd of the flock and He is our Heavenly Father. His desire is to give us the Kingdom. Those who seek His Kingdom are sure to find it. Finding the Kingdom is where you will find life and true riches.
Seeking God’s Kingdom puts a proper perspective on possessions. People of the Kingdom are trusties and have the privilege of sharing the Kingdom with others. This is a wonderful contrast between the rich fool and a generous person. The fool tightly grasped for more and more and made them his own, giving no thought to God or others.
The ones who share with others are making an investment that time and circumstance cannot destroy. Their purses do not grow old or ware out. Theirs is the treasure that is beyond the hands of a thief. It is a crucial issue how people use their possessions, it is a moral and spiritual issue. The way that we use our possessions shows clearly where our real priorities and commitments lie.
Ready for the Master’s Coming 35-40
We are to have proper stewardship of our possessions but most of the rest of this chapter deals with our stewardship of our life and service. We are always to be ready for the Lord’s coming. He is coming and that is a true fact but the time of His coming is a mystery.
Jesus uses two analogies to illustrate the need for His followers to be ready for His coming. The first analogy are like the servants of a master who is away at a marriage feast. Since the servants do not know when he will return they must be always on the ready.
Girding ones loins meant to tuck their long robes into their belts so they could move quickly. The Jews divided the night into three watches. Jesus stresses that even if the master returned in the second or third watch they were to be ready.
It was customary that when the master returned that the servants would feed him. Jesus used the masters returning to demonstrate when He would return. He told His disciples that when He the Master returned that He would gird Himself and serve those who had waited faithfully for Him. His Kingdom would different from the kingdoms of the world. Humble service is the greater measure of success. (John 13:12-15)
Jesus’ second analogy concerns a homeowner who does not know when the thief will come. Jesus used this analogy only to show the uncertainty of the time of His coming.
Judgment According to Opportunity 41-48
Jesus left Peter’s question unanswered. Jesus asked a question of His own instead. The teaching on stewardship has special application to the disciples as well as others. But Jesus did not want to restrict the lesson to only them.
All during the verses 35-48 Jesus used the word servant. The only exception to this is in verse 42 where He used the word steward. Verses 42-48 give insight to the duties of the steward, the steward was a servant who was in charge of his master’s household. When the master was away the steward was expected to handle the household according to the master’s instructions. When the master returned the steward would be the one held accountable.
Verses 42-44 describe the faithful steward and his reward. His reward is a larger responsibility in the master’s service.
Verses 45-48 describe the unfaithful steward and his punishment. He had forgotten that he was the master’s servant and steward, and preceded to lord it over the other servants and to act in ways that was not becoming to the master. Christians can easily see that these verses apply especially to persons in positions of leadership.
Some commentaries distinguish between the punishment in verse 46 and the verses of 47-48. They see that the servant in verse 46 as so unfaithful that he was treated as not a servant at all. By contrast, the servants of verses 47-48 were punished, but they were still servants.
The contrast we see here is that the one servant knew the will of his master and was punished more severely than the others. Here we are being taught the principle of judgment according to opportunity.
Christ the Divider 49-53
When John the Baptist used similar words to what Jesus is saying here he used the word fire. Fire means judgment. What did Jesus mean?
Jesus had not come to judge as John had expected. Jesus had come on a mission of service and redemption. Jesus was seeing the outcome of His mission as one that would cause division and judgment. Jesus also knew that He would pass through a baptism of suffering, rejection, and death. The Old Testament speaks of passing through the fire of testing and the sea of troubles. (Psalm 66:12; Psalm 69:2-3; Isaiah 42:2) There must have been mixed feeling for Jesus about this. One the one hand, He wanted His mission to be successful, and on the other hand He was burdened with the thought of how His mission was to be accomplished.
Jesus had come to bring peace, but it was not the easy peace and prosperity anticipated by many of their messianic hopes. The cross was a crisis that Jesus had to face, His followers face the crisis of commitment on the way to the cross. Jesus faced rejection from the people He had come to save, and so it would involve misunderstanding and rejection for His followers. His ultimate intent was not to bring the kind of division of verses 51-53, but that kind of division was certain when some would choose to follow Christ and others to reject Him. This path that Jesus was on would set up strong conflicts, even in families.
The Urgency of Ultimate Issues
From Luke 12:54-13:35 are recorded incidents in which Jesus spoke primarily to persons other than His followers. Jesus was responsive to what some people or groups said. He responded to tragedy, (13:1) criticism of His action, (13:140 a question, (13:23) and a warning. (13:31)
The teachings of Jesus and His responses focus on the urgency of ultimate issues. Human tragedy and the need for repentance, (12:54-13:9) human need, (13:10-17) and entering the Kingdom. (13:18-30) All of these events happened on His last trip to Jerusalem and the fulfilment of His mission. This added to the sense of His urgency.
A Time for Decision 54-59
At this time Jesus was speaking primarily to the multitudes. These people had a lack of knowing what was going on around them. They could read the signs of nature but they could not read the signs of the times they were living in.
For these people was the most of opportunity. They were witnessing what the prophets of old had longed for. Why then could they not recognize this opportunity? Jesus uses of the word hypocrite may be that they were only pretending to be blind to the times. If they were blind it could only be because they refused to see.
By their rejection of Christ they set themselves on a path to inevitable judgment. Many of the people of that day were choosing a path that would ultimately led to war with Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem. The signs of the violent end were already clear to those who would see.
Jesus uses another analogy to show that it was not too late to change. The people still had enough moral sensitivity to know the right thing to do. They were as a guilty man about to be dragged into court by his accuser. He still had time to settle out of court but if he delayed much longer he would lose that opportunity. If he was taken to court, then he would be convicted and placed into prison. To the people Jesus was saying that there was still time for them to repent.