Luke 12v13-59


DAY 1

Luke 12v13-59

 

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

14 Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

16 And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”

18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

20 ‘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?”

21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

 

‘Life does not consist in an abundance possessions.” 

We know that’s true, but all too often we live like our joy does depend on the number of our possessions. We live in the future – “life will be better when …. When I’m financially secure, when I get that dream house in the right suburb, when I finish my degree, when I make enough to retire.”

John Lennon once wisely said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

[John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy"]

“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

A man has died and hasn’t left a will, and under Jewish law, the oldest son was the one who got the distribution of the assets all organised.  It seems that this bloke’s older brother is dragging the chain.  Notice he doesn’t say, “Rabbi, my brother and I are fighting, can you help us sort it out? It’s getting messy and I don’t want us to wreck our relationship.  Can you help us get some reconciliation going?”  No!  he says, “Jesus, give my brother a kick up the pants.  He’s in the wrong.”

“Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”   A more literal translation would be, “A person’s life does not consist in the surplus of their possessions.”  Then Jesus tells a parable about surplus or abundance.


Notice two things: firstly, the man is already rich, even before he gets his bumper crop.

Secondly, Jesus says the ground produced the crop. The rich man didn’t earn the bumper crop. He didn’t work any harder to earn it, it was a gift from God.  The man speaks of MY crops, MY barns, MY surplus grain, Myself. He is so ME focussed.


He doesn’t think, “I have more than I need.  I’ll give it all to compassion.” Or “I’ll send some off to support Gospel work in Indonesian” or even, “I’ll give 20% of it to my church so that more people who live around me can hear the gospel and become rich towards God.”

No!  He is going to spend it on himself.

And before we criticise him, we need to take the log out of our own eye.  When we get a windfall what do we do? A pay rise, an inheritance, a profit when we sell our house, a bigger than normal share dividend, a big tax return, a win of some sort – anything that suddenly gives surplus. They are to be enjoyed, but they are from God as well. We ought to be thinking about giving a substantial proportion to the needy and for gospel outreach. But like this bloke in the parable, we might upgrade instead – the house the car the holiday. Do we just buy the bigger and better version of the thing that we already have?

“And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  

Isn’t that the dream; to have enough to retire and enjoy life?  This is a good as it gets for this bloke, and it’s as good as it gets for many Australians today.  It’s the great Aussie dream!  Early retirement. 

This man discovers that, like his crops, his life is on loan from God as well, and now God demands an accounting.  Every breath we breathe is a gift from God. Notice that it’s not wrong to have wealth, but we need to be rich towards God first and foremost. The problem with wealth is that it can get in the way – it’s a counterfeit security. This parable is not primarily about how Christians ought to be generous but about the things that get in the way of people becoming Christians. However there is a warning to us as well about the things that motivate us in life. 

 

PRAYER

Jehovah Jireh, great provider, give me the right attitude towards things and wealth. Amen

 

 

DAY 2

Luke 12v13-59

 

22 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. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 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! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 ‘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. 28 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! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 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. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

The issue for the rich man was about where he put his confidence. He put his security in his possessions. He foolishly thinks that if he has enough stuff, it will ease his anxiety about the future; it will be buffer against what the world might do to him. Now that in itself is not foolish: some money in the bank, qualifications that you can rely on, some investment for the future – all those things are not wrong in themselves, but if we think they will protect us, if we use them to ease our anxiety about life – that is being foolish!!!!  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  I never took much notice of the share market until I retired and had to depend on my super, and now I keep an eye on it. While ever it’s healthy I feel at ease! How foolish of me! My peace is not to be found in my possessions, but in my God. Stuff does not protect us. Qualifications don’t protect us. If we depend on those things, we will never be safe.

Our security needs to come from somewhere other than things and money. 

In verses 22-26 Jesus gives two reasons why we need not be anxious:

Firstly, he says God loves you and cares about you. Do you believe that?  If you really believe that you will be able to calm your anxiety. Recently I was feeling anxious about a particular issue.  You know how it is, it gnaws away at you and your mind keeps going back there like your tongue keeps worry at a painful tooth. In my Bible reading I’d been reading a psalm a day for weeks and on this particular day it was psalm 130.  Listen to what it says

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; 
 2 Lord, hear my voice. 
Let your ears be attentive
   to my cry for mercy.

That was me. I read on.

5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, 
   and in his word I put my hope. 
6 I wait for the Lord
   more than watchmen wait for the morning, 
   more than watchmen wait for the morning.

 7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, 
   for with the LORD is unfailing love
   and with him is full redemption. 

After a couple of minutes, I realised that God was on my case. I needed to put my hope in the LORD. What was I anxious about? Was God not capable of handling it?  Of course, he was! Does he not care about me? Of course, he does! Was I going to trust him? That was the issue. I had to talk to myself rather than let myself talk to me. I had to stop my fears and worries talking to me and take control and tell my soul the truth about God and me. We listen to our hearts too often.  We need to do a bit a stern talking to our hearts at times. 

 

The second reason Jesus gives for not being anxious is in verse 25. Worrying doesn’t do anything – not anything helpful anyway.  It’s a total waste of time and energy.

 

Sometimes anxiety can get such a hold on us that it starts to do things to us physically and we need medication and professional help. There is nothing wrong with that.  Thank God for the medical profession. Thank God for medication used well. One person described it to me as being in deep hole that she couldn’t get out of by herself, but that medication helped her out of the hole so that she could start thinking clearly again and start to deal with her anxiety. 

But better not to get to that point if we can help it. 

God loves us – we are far more valuable to him than the lilies in all their glory.  We are far more valuable than the birds that he feeds daily. Notice in verse 24 that the birds don’t need to store grain in barns, unlike the rich farmer. 

Whatever he allows to come our way he is in control of. Where is the point of being anxious?  Are you generous with your surplus – when you get more than you need? You will never be generous if you don’t trust God to look after your needs. And if you don’t trust God in those practical ways, your life will be anxious, and empty. And you will miss out.  You will miss out on the glorious adventure of seeing God meet your needs in amazing ways. You will miss out on a peace beyond understanding. You may miss out on God altogether.

Why not step out in faith? Be generous with your surplus.

Talk to your heat about its anxiety.

Don’t set your hearts on what will not last and will not give you security.

Depend on God with all your heart.

 

PRAYER

Lord God, I can be anxious and upset about so many things, but only one is needed. Help me, by your Spirit, to put my complete trust in you. Amen

 

 

 

 

DAY 3

Luke 12v13-59

35 ‘Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 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. 37 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 make them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or towards daybreak. 39 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. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’

 

At this point Jesus is talking to his disciples. This is an extraordinary parable, akin to the parable of the Prodigal Son in the way it presents a picture of God that turns our conceptions on their head.

“Be dressed and ready for service.” In his book, “The Gift”, John Piper tells of the story of Moby Dick, and particularly of the harpooner in the front of the small boat going after the whale. The other sailors are rowing with all their might, but the harpooner stands ready and waiting in the front with harpoon poised for the strike. He does nothing but wait expectantly, because if he is to carry out his task well, he needs to be ready. That is the picture here. In our culture of rushing around and crazy busyness, even in our churches, it’s a strange thing to be told to wait and be ready - to serve out of stillness. Again, Peterson talks of our relationship with God being like walking into a meeting late and catching up with what has been going on in our absence. God is at world in the world and in people’s lives and part of our task as his servants is to find out what he’s been doing and then get on board. Too much or our lives is spent asking God to get on board with what we’re doing rather than waiting on him to see what he’s doing that we can get involved with. These servants are not just ready to let their master into the house, they are dressed and ready to serve. 

Have you noticed the strange details in this parable? Firstly, the master knocks on the door [v 36]! It seems strange that he knocks on the door of his own house. Is it that this is a particularly respectful master? The servants have been waiting expectantly for him, and they would have even if he’d come in the early hours of the morning. This is not a case of “when the master’s away the servants play.” 

Secondly, he has returned from a wedding feast. He has been eating and drinking to his fill. His servants will not have had food ready for him, so when he feeds them, he either prepares the food himself or he has brought food back with him from the wedding. This is an incredible inversion, and so counter-cultural! Can you imagine the discomfort of the servants? They are good servants, so they know their place. There would have been protests from them. The master changes clothes and haves his servants recline at table, and he waits on them. Like so many of Jesus’ parables this one is memorable because of its shock factor. A man would serve his guests but never his slaves. The master is not just concerned for the welfare of his servants, but, like the father of the prodigal son, he throws his dignity to the wind. Imagine if word of this midnight meal got out! The master’s friends would complain that the whole fabric of society is being torn apart. 

The parable is about the return of the Lord Jesus on the last day. The servants who are ready are those who are Jesus’ disciples. They are the faithful ones. This is not a parable about levels of faithfulness in Jesus’ followers, but about the reward for all Jesus’ people at his return. It is a warning to enter into faith and stay there. The Lord will come back and he will honour us on that day. It is the most amazing truth of the good news. The Prince of Peace will lift us the place of honour. He has in fact already done that but it will be manifest upon his return. He will get changed and serve us! It is hard to fathom such love. All he requires is our faithfulness. We are poor, pitiable, weak, and yet friends of Jesus!

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, what a privilege to have you lift me the place of honour. I don’t deserve it, but I really appreciate it. Amen

 

 

 

DAY 4

Luke 12v13-59

 

41 Peter asked, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?’

42 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? 43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 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. 46 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.

47 ‘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. 48 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.

 

The previous parable applies to all people, and urges the need for faith, in readiness for the last day. This next parable, in answer to Peter’s question, seems to be directed towards them as those chosen to lead the new church in the light of a long period of time between his resurrection and his second coming. They are the managers. Of course, the requirements for leaders is the same for all of God’s people, but those with special responsibility have an elevated level of expectation placed upon them. It might seem that the parable is a little too strong in its description of the wicked manager however, to our shame, the history of the church has shown that Jesus’ parable was not over-stating the dangers. As if history was not bad enough, we have the findings of the Royal commission into child abuse showing how some who have been given leadership in the Christian church have far surpassed the evil behaviour described in the parable. The parable tells us that justice is coming. The master will not put up with such behaviour indefinitely. 

It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus’ ascension, and many have seen that as evidence that Jesus is not coming back, but this parable is a warning that it might indeed be a long time between his two appearings.  

The parable also hints that there might be levels of reward in heaven. How does that work? If heaven is perfect how can some people miss out on some blessings? We don’t know for sure, but there is an example from the life of Paul. He was completely satisfied with his lot in life. “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Phil 1:21] He a had been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” [Eph 1:3].  Yet he did not have many of the blessings of life that others got. We will be completely satisfied with whatever level of reward we get. Maybe we have differing spiritual “lung capacities” that means some of us have a greater capacity to accept blessings than others. What will fill you may be too much for me to handle and appreciate. It’s all conjecture. What we do know is clear from the previous parable – we will be honoured by the Lord himself! It can’t get any better than that!

We want to be ready for Jesus’ return. Are you waiting with eager expectation, not in a way that makes this life appear drab, but in a way that adds more life and light to this life? He could return at any time [v 46]. What does being ready look like? It looks like faithfulness, not necessarily success. Faith produces fruit. We are called to be fruitful [a life of good works – Eph 28-10], but that has more to do with who we are as believers than what we accomplish. The good manager in this parable is a man of godly character. Some of us accomplish more than others, but that is not the measure of faithfulness. 

 

PRAYER

Lord make me faithful. Help me to live a life worthy of the blessings you give me. Amen

 

 

 

DAY 5

Luke 12v13-59

 

49 ‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 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.’

54 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. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is. 56 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?

57 ‘Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 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. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.’

 

“I have come to bring fire on the earth.” That is not what you expect Jesus to say. He keeps surprising us. Fire can represent a number of things but in the context it would seem best to see it as a purification, however this is bound up with judgment as well [John 9:39]. The result of the “fire” will be division, even to the closest of family relationships. Jesus longs for it to start [v 49]. The Baptist tells us in Luke 3:16&17, that Jesus will baptise with the Holy spirit and with fire. The fire is the fire of judgment. His “baptism” is most likely a figurative way of describing his coming suffering that would overwhelm him, like the waters of baptism. He cannot get on with his mission of our purification until he has been put to death in our place. As we saw yesterday, he desires to honour an elevate us, but that is totally dependent on his purifying work on the cross. 

He has come to bring division [v 51]. He says elsewhere that he has come to seek and to save the lost [Luke 19:10], but the two are inextricably entwined. If we are by nature enemies of God, then those who put their faith in Jesus have switched camps. We are now on the other team. Our allegiance is to the Lord Jesus, the one hated, despised or ignored by those who don’t know him. That is always a present reality of faith – we are not of this world anymore. We are strangers and aliens. The believer, or the church for that matter, that looks too hard for acceptance by the culture has forgotten that though we are to love those outside the kingdom, they are the enemies of our beloved Lord Jesus. We cannot be joined too closely with them [2 Cor 6:14]. They, at the very least, don’t understand our new devotion that pushes them down the totem pole. And the lack of faith in those we love distances them from us to one degree or another. We love the Lord and they live as his enemies. Even if it does not lead to hostility there is a separation.  On the other hand, there is nothing more wonderful than a beloved family member coming to the Lord.

Jesus is preparing for a climactic event, one that will divide people into two groups, one that will form the pinch point of history, and people are happily going on about the mundane things of life. They pay far more attention to interpreting the signs of the weather but fail to bother about interpreting the spiritual signs of the age [v 54-56]. The day of judgement is coming and they are unprepared. That is the point of the illustration about going to court [v 57-59]. Much better to sort out your differences before you get before the judge, or you may have to face judgment. It’s a warning to get our relationship with God sorted out before the final judgement. The fire has been kindled, the purification given, people need to make sure they are in the right camp. 

We need to ask, “am I too closely aligned with the culture around me?” at the same time asking, “Do I love well the people around me?”

 

PRAYER

God of all mankind, help me to love those who don’t know you, while being wise about my involvement.  Amen

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