Luke 12:1-12-If we are not careful, we allow the chapter break to stop the flow of thought that is present here. Notice…Jesus has just chastised the Pharisees for their wrong attitudes and actions. It is a very direct, intense time and the response of the Pharisees is extremely antagonistic. Verse one then says, “Under these circumstances…”. First of all, the circumstances that He is speaking of is what just happened in chapter 11. But second, Luke continues the sentence and says, “after so many had gathered together that they were stepping on one another…”. Here is the flip side. While the Pharisees were rejecting Jesus, the common people were flocking to Him in great numbers. Jesus now warns the disciples about the Pharisees…that they are going to seek to discredit and destroy them, in the same way that they are seeking to do to Him. Eventually, the disciples will become the object of their wrath. His purpose is to strengthen the disciples for this coming assault so that they will remain faithful when it comes. In particular, He speaks to them about their heart, their intentions for what they do. Don’t be like the Pharisees, who are hypocrites…because they say they believe one thing, and then do another. This is “leaven”, sin. He tells them that one day everything will be revealed, and that it is more important to be concerned about what God thinks, that what man thinks. Even the most minute of details will be known by God (:2-3). When that time of persecution arrives, remember, it is more important to honor God, than man…because while men may be able to affect your physical, temporal life (even end it), God is control of your spiritual, eternal life (:4-5). Don’t allow the difficulties to make you think that God is not aware of what is happening. He knows every single matter in your life (:6-7). Let the fact that if you “confess” to men that you belong to Jesus…one day, Jesus is going to “confess” to His Father that you belong to Him…be a source of confidence and faithfulness. But also, be forewarned, that if you “deny” belonging to Him before men (refuse, reject), He will “deny” that you belong to Him, before the Father (:8-9). The phrase “blasphemes the Holy Spirit” speaks of attributing the work of Jesus to Satan, an absolute, final, and total denial of the saving grace of God (for an explanation, cf. January 16, Matthew 12:31-33). When you are persecuted, at that very moment, God will give you the words to speak.
Luke 12:13-34-In response to a request by someone in the crowd, Jesus teaches the principle for determining the true values of life.
Jesus first issues a warning (:15a). Summary: We should live with a cautious fear. The word “beware” comes from a root word that literally means to stare at something, to carefully observe it. In the form that it is used in this passage it means to see something with an understanding of its true nature, to perceive and know what it actually is, and not just what it appears to be. The concern that Jesus is going to address here is not just a matter of having possessions, or even desiring good things in life. The concern is greed. Notice that Jesus says that greed can be hard to detect…because it comes in many different varieties, “every form of greed”. We must be diligent in our efforts to carefully discern the true values of all that we deal with in life because there is so much as stake.
The word “greed” (NASV) is translated by Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words as “covet”. It is a harsh word with dark, sinister overtones.
Covet, Covetous, Covetousness:
“covetousness,” lit., “a desire to have more” (pleon, “more,” echo, “to have”), always in a bad sense, is used in a general way in Mar 7:22 (plural, lit., “covetings,” i.e., various ways in which “covetousness” shows itself); Rom 1:29; Eph 5:3; 1Th 2:5. Elsewhere it is used,
(a) of material possessions, Luk 12:15; 2Pe 2:3; 2Cr 9:5 (RV, “extortion”), lit., “as (a matter of) extortion” i.e., a gift which betrays the giver’s unwillingness to bestow what is due;
(b) of sensuality, Eph 4:19, “greediness;” Col 3:5 (where it is called “idolatry”); 2Pe 2:14 (AV, “covetous practices”).See EXTORTION.
Note: Cp. the corresponding verb pleonekteo, “to gain, take advantage of, wrong.” See ADVANTAGE, DEFRAUD, GAIN, B, Note (2), WRONG.
Jesus then states the principle (:15). Summary: We should live with the right focus. “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions”. You may have an abundance of worldly goods, but not possess what is necessary for true life…the treasures of Heaven. The problem with greed is not that you have possessions, but that the possessions have you. They control you because you cannot get enough…you always have to have more. Jesus begins this teaching and ends this teaching with a statement of the principle. He ends by saying, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Next, Jesus illustrates this principle with a parable (:16-21). Summary: We should live in light of the future. It is a parable about greed commonly referred to as the Parable of the Rich Man…”So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (:21). This man was so consumed with making the provisions of his earthly life (food, clothes, etc.), that he had given no thought to making provision for his eternal life. In verse 17, Jesus said, “the man began reasoning to himself”. In other words, he gave no attention to what God had to say…only what he thought. Notice the number of times the personal pronouns “I” and “my” are used in verses 18-19. Being “rich toward God” means that you treasure His kingdom more than this life and world…verses 31-34 are a summary of this teaching. This man had incorrectly estimated the capability of his possessions. He thought that they could guarantee a long and happy life. However, while they had the potential to add a certain quality to his life, they had no potential to affect the quantity of his life (:20,25,28).
Jesus demonstrates the principle by showing God’s provision for things of far less value to Him, than men (:22-28). Summary: We should live as an act of faith. He tells them that they have become infatuated by things of far less value…things that God will provide in their necessary degree. In essence, our worry over and pursuit of the things of this world, reveal not only our lack of understanding of what is of true value, but also our lack of faith in God. We are acting like the “nations of the world” (lost people), not those who call God their Father.
Jesus then explains the principle (:29-34). Summary: We should live as with a loving Father. Notice the words “anxious” (:23,25,26), “seek, eagerly seek” (:29,30), “worrying” (:29), and “afraid” (:32) in relation to the efforts to obtain for the things of this world…as opposed to having faith (:28) in God’s provision and to “seek” (:31) these things. If it isn’t enough that we worry that we won’t have what we think that we need for life; but, when we once begin to accumulate those things, we are then worried that we are going to lose them. We then go into overdrive in order to gain more and protect what we have gained. The achievements of life become more important than the attainment of life. Two keys: One, have faith in God’s loving provision for the things that we need in this life. It is not that we shouldn’t be aware of the need, or that we do nothing to meet the need. But, we don’t allow these things to dominate and become the priority of our lives. Our loving Father is fully aware of these needs and we must learn to trust in Him and to access His provision (:29-30). And two, seek the true treasures of God’s kingdom (:31-34). These are the treasures that will last forever (:33). What we value and treasure most in life…will determine the course of our life.
Prayer: Lord, show me what You value, that I may value it, too. It isn’t that food and clothing are bad…it’s just that I should not be anxious or worried about them. Help me to see them as the by-product of Your kingdom, not as the kingdom, itself. And don’t let me deceive myself.