About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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This Section - Chapter 12

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ch. 12:1-12  ch. 12:13-21    ch. 12:22-34

ch. 12:35-43   ch. 12:49-53   ch. 12:54-58 

Warnings And Encouragements (ch. 12:1 - 12)

Jesus left the house of the Pharisee and found himself in a very large crowd of a few thousand people. It seems that the crowds are getting larger, and Jesus is getting bolder in the things He says.

Jesus turned to His disciples and began to warn them about the Pharisees. I am sure that the discussion of the last chapter is clearly on His mind and now He felt it necessary to speak to His disciples about the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership.

Jesus compared hypocrisy to yeast. When one bakes bread, he puts yeast in the mixture. The yeast thoroughly penetrates the doough and when in the baking process causes the bread to rise. Hypocrisy is like the yeast. It penetrates all aspect of a personís life making the person feel more superior than others, when in fact just the opposite is true. .

As I concluded in the last chapter, hypocrisy is one of the things that frustrates Jesus the most, if not the number one thing. Jesus was less harsh towards out and out sinners than He was with the religious leaders of the day.

In verse 2 Jesus said that "there is nothing concealed that will not be revealedÖ" I believe there will come a day, on the Day of Judgement, when everything a person has done will be clearly seen for all to see. This includes very thoughts and motivations of oneís heart. Every back room political deal will be made known to all. Every hateful and lustful thought will be clearly seen by all. The depravity of man will be clearly seen and understood on that day. Only Jesus and our trust in Him will save us from Godís wrath.

In verse 4 Jesus told His disciples not to fear those who are able to kill your body. This was indeed a warning of things to come. Some of those very men and women were to be killed by the authorities. But Jesus said not to fear these men. They can only kill you. Thatís it. They canít kill your soul, only your earthly body. Once again, as we see so often, we see how Jesus views death. Death is permanent to man, especially the unsaved man. To God, death means very little, only a transformation from one form of existence to another.

Jesus proceeded to tell His disciples there is only one person to fear and that person is the one who can throw you into hell. That person is obviously God Himself. We are to reverence and even fear God for His great power and authority.

In verses 5 through 8 Jesus explained that sparrows are sold for 2 pennies. "but not one of them are forgotten by God". He also said that every hair on your head is numbered. You can see that God is very detailed, probably more detailed than most of us would like. Every hair of our head is numbered. That means that this number is constantly changing, especially if you are a man over 50 years old.

Also God is concerned about the little birds that are sold for pennies. God is concerned with the details of life, even the life of birds. If this is the case, we need not worry. We may be killed by our enemies, but our Father in Heaven will look after us.

This also tells me that God is concerned with animals, and with the environment. It also tells me that we are worth more than animals. Still, if God is concerned about animals, so should we be.

From fear, Jesus moved His words to confession and denial in verses 8 and following. Jesus stated that whoever acknowledges me before men" will be acknowledged before the angels. What does this mean? If we fear God, and not man, we will not be afraid to acknowledge to anyone that we are a follower of Jesus. It also means that it should be natural for us to speak of Jesus in daily conversation without fear. This is simply letting others know why you live the way you do. You are good because you belong to Jesus.

If we donít verbalize why we live as we do then no one will know our life is a product of our trust in Jesus. This acknowledgement does not have to be forceful or pushy. It should just come out of our lips naturally.

On the other hand Jesus stated that if you deny Him before others, then He will deny us. What does this mean? As a young person, this verse always scared me. I knew that I was not acknowledging Jesus in my life to others as I should. Did that mean I would end up in hell? That was my fear. This fear was based on guilt. I did not understand that my salvation did not depend on things I did or didnít do. Yet as I grow as a Christian my acknowledgement of Him in my life became clearer to others. Denying Jesus publicly is not the same as not acknowledging Him. Denying Him publicly is telling people you have nothing to do with Him. In fact you would be denying the faith, and when denies having faith, they loose their salvation.

Now we come to a very hard verse to figure out, or at least many have thought it hard to figure out. Simply stated, Jesus said that anyone speaking a word against (which is blasphemy) Jesus can be forgiven for that sin. But if you speak a word of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, that can never be forgiven. Thus the term "unpardonable sin" has been coined for this particular sin.

As I was growing up one of the most frequently asked questions was, "what is the unpardonable sin". We seldom got an answer. We were often told that weíd talk about that later. So I thought the unpardonable sin had to do with sex and adultery. No one wanted to talk about that in Sunday School. No one wanted to talk about the unpardonable sin either. So I thought they must be the same.

Yet the unpardonable sin has nothing to do with sex. Jesus has just spoken about confessing Him and denying Him. In my thinking "blasphemous" words against the Holy Spirit are words of denial, that is to say, saying "no" to the Holy Spiritís call on your life.

We know that all sins are forgivable, except for one sin and that is the sin of unbelief, or saying no to the Holy Spirit when He comes knocking on the door of your heart. If that sin was forgivable, then everyone would be forgiven, and salvation would not be a matter of trusting and saying "yes" to the Spiritís call. Forgiving unbelief, or out and out denial of Jesus cannot be forgiven.

I donít believe that if someone denies the gifts of the Spirit, or even attributes a gift to satan, as some do with tongues, is the unpardonable sin.

The last paragraph in this section at first look seems to be unrelated, but really it isnít. Jesus told his disciples that when they are brought before the authorities and are accused falsely , "donít worry about what you should say", because at that time the Holy Spirit will give you the words that need to be said. The connection with the previous thought is this. If you acknowledge Jesus, and you don't deny the Spirit, the Holy Spirit will be in your life giving you the words that need to be said.

The Parable Of The Rich Fool (ch. 12:13 - 21)

During this time when Jesus was teaching, a man interrupted him and asked Him to settle an inheritance dispute that he had with his brother. Jewish rabies and lawyers had civil authority to handle such affairs, but it is clear that Jesus had no civil authority to legally solve this dispute. I suppose Jesus could have given this man some free advise but He did not want to get involved.

In verse 14 Jesus answered by saying, "man, who appointed me a judgeÖ" To me the use of the word "man" suggests a little indignation on the part of Jesus. This type of thing was not part of Jesusí mission. He had no inclination to even attempt to solve this manís problem.

This is interesting to me. This tells me that Jesus, while on earth, did not attempt to help and solve every problem that faced Him. Anything outside of the scope of His ministry was an elective. He was not mandated to solve every dispute and problem that confronted Him.

Then Jesus turned from speaking to this man and told the crowd "to be on guard against all kinds of greed". It is quite possible that Jesus saw the intent of this manís desire to have Jesus settle his dispute with his brother. Greed could have easily been the manís motivation for asking Jesus for help. So Jesus uses this as a springboard to speak on the topic of greediness.

Jesus continued by saying, "a manís life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions". This may be a hard teaching for North Americans today. We are so materially driven. We tend to look up to the rich and prosperous. We put them on a higher level in our social status. We often judge a man by his appearance, how he is dressed, and what he looks like. Yet none of these things mattered to Jesus. He did not judge a person by his appearance and by his material possessions.

In verse 16 and following Jesus told the crowd a story. There was this very rich man who had such a great harvest of crops that he had no where to put all of the harvest. So he tore down his barns and built bigger barns to hold all of his crops. This made him even more wealthier and also gave him sufficient funds to live for many years, so he decided to take it easy and live the fun life of eating and drinking and enjoying himself.

Jesus ended the story by saying that God called this man a fool for his selfish indulgence. God told that man that his life would now be demanded of him. That is to say, God told this man that He was calling him out of this world in death. It is interesting to note that God can demand a life from someone.

This man himself was probably demanding in his luxurious lifestyle. He was probably arrogant and flaunted his riches, resulting in God demanding his very life from this man.

In verse 21 God told the man, "then you will get what you have prepared for yourself". All along the man thought the accumulation of his possessions was preparing himself for his future, his retirement. Yet Godís understanding of the future goes far beyond manís understanding of the future. Man thinks in terms of this life. God thinks in terms of eternity. Therefore this man laid up nothing for eternity. He did nothing to help him after his death. He got what He deserved. He did not prepare for life after death.

This section is closed by Jesusí words, "this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God". It is thus clear that the accumulation of things is only temporal and self serving. God would rather have us store up things for the next life. These things would include good works that we do in service for Jesus.

Do Not Worry (ch. 12:22 - 34)

In verse 22 Jesus told His disciples "not to worry about their life", especially in the area of eating and clothing. The reason why He says such a thing is because "life is more important than food and clothing".

In reality, food and clothing are very important to our lives. Without food we die. Without clothing we could perish in the cold of winter. What Jesus has done here is taken the two most important aspects of life and told us that there is actually something more important.

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about the two most important things we need to survive. Does that mean we should take no effort to feed and clothes ourselves? Would it please Jesus if we went around naked in the summer since we shouldnít be concerned about clothing ourselves? No, I donít think that Jesus is saying that.

It is clear that Jesus Himself ate and wore clothes, so He expects us to do the same. He also expects us to do what is necessary to provide food and clothing for ourselves. He told some of his disciples to go ahead of him to Jerusalem to find a place to eat the last supper. Even Jesus made sure that there was food on the table for that meal.

The emphasis is on not worrying. If we truly trust Jesus, He will look after us. He will provide the basic needs of life, food and clothing.

In verse 24 Jesus said to "consider the ravens". These birds donít, or actually canít grow crops for themselves to eat but God looks after them. Surely we are more important than birds, Jesus said. If God can look after birds, He will look after us.

Jesus continued by saying "who of you can add a single hour to your life by worrying. Since you cannot do this very little thing, why worry about the rest". Worrying canít add an hour to our lives. Jesus said this was an easy thing. Well, maybe easy for Him, but not for us.

Worrying cannot produce anything constructive, and usually has the opposite results. Worry usually detracts us from doing the things we need to do in order to feed and clothes ourselves.

These words remind me of the prayer Jesus taught His disciples in the last chapter. He said, "give us this day our daily bread". As I said in the last chapter, Jesus asked for todayís bread, and trusted God for tomorrowís bread. Yet our society is somewhat different than the society back then. Today is much more reliant on tomorrow in our world We have house payments for example that last 25 years. We do need to concern ourselves about such things. Yet there should always be the element of trusting Jesus in all we do, while planning our future.

There is another thing to think about when speaking of these things. Some donít worry because they have no concern about the future. They live for today, and let the future worry about itself. Some of these people overspend today, leaving themselves short in the future. I donít think that Jesus is obligated in helping us financially if we donít look after the finances we presently have.

In verse 27 Jesus said that God looks after the lilies of the fields and clothes them in their splendor. Once again, if He looks after plants in the field, He will surely look after those who trust Him with their lives.

In verse 28 Jesus said, "O you of little faith". The two points that Jesus is making here is, "donít worry", but "trust Him instead". Worry and trust are opposites. Yet when we find ourselves in between worry and trust, it is a hard place to be in. You fluctuate between the two. This is often a struggle. These are the times you come to Jesus over and over again and ask Him for the grace to get you through. These arenít necessarily easy times, but they are opportunities to allow Jesus to have more access in your life. Human nature is to run from these situations. And for some, they run from Jesus as well, because they cannot take the pressure of being on the borderline of faith and worry.

In verse 30 Jesus said that the "pagans run after these things". These are descriptive words. The pagan world around us does "run" after these things and more. They busy themselves with all sorts of activity, leaving important spiritual matters for another time.

For Christians we need to seek the Kingdom of God first in our lives as Jesus proceeded to say. Our Heavenly Father knows what we really need, and He will take care of that if we let Him. Our job is to focus on the Kingdom of God. So you might say, to the degree in which we focus on the things of the Kingdom, will be the degree our Father will be able to help us. If we focus on a pagan lifestyle life, then we cannot expect our Father in Heaven to look after us. He looks after those who live for His Kingdom.

Jesus goes as far as to say that we should sell what we have and give to the poor. This kind of thing will lay up for us treasure in Heaven where moths canít get to it, where robbers canít rob it.

Is Jesus suggesting that we sell everything and become poor ourselves? If so, then those who we have given to will have much, and they in turn would have to sell everything and become poor again and give back to us, making us rich. Then the cycle would have to continue.

I think the point Jesus is making here is that we should not overly concern ourselves with material things. We should think of the poor and not merely accumulate for our own happiness. It is better to give than to receive. If we live this way, Jesus will look after us.

In verse 34 Jesus closed this section by saying "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". Jesus wants our hearts. He wants Himself to be the treasure of our hearts. He is saying, if your material things are the closest things to your heart, then He is not where He should be in your life.

The proverb says, "guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life". The things that are most meaningful, and most important to us, are matters of the heart. We need to guard our hearts, and not give it over to material things that donít last, or are not good for our lives An example of an issue of the heart is finding a marriage partner. Marriage is an important issue of the heart and needs serious consideration in light of the Kingdom of God.

Watchfulness (ch. 12:35 - 48)

In this section Jesus told the story of a master of a household who went to a wedding. The servants in the house didnít know when the master would return. They had two choices to make since the master was not at home. Either they could slack off and sit around, or else they could work hard and do what needed to be done, even though their master was not their watching over them.

Jesus told those listening to him in verse 35 to "be dressed and ready for service Ö. like men waiting for their master to returnÖ" We see a couple of things here. Jesus wants us to be serving Him as if His return is in the next minute. He doesnít want us to slack off, thinking that He hasnít come back yet, and may not come back in a long time.

Another point to be made here is that we are to "wait" for Jesus - not sit and wait, but work and wait. There have been some that have suggested that we shouldnít wait or anticipate His return. They say that overly anticipating Jesusí return is distracting us from the work at hand. But Jesus doesnít say this. He says that while we work hard in His service, we should be waiting for His return.

In verses 38 and 39 Jesus used another analogy about a thief coming into a house to rob those who live in it. If the owner of the house had known when the thief was going to rob his house, he would have been prepared and the robber would not have succeeded. Once again, the idea is being ready, watching, understanding the signs of the times so when Jesus returns, we will be ready for Him.

So there is nothing wrong with us watching and looking at the signs of the times. The important thing is to serve Jesus as we watch.

In verse 41 Peter asked Jesus an interesting question. Peter wondered if Jesus was saying these things to him and the other apostles, or was He speaking to people in general. Jesus could have answered Peter with a simple answer, saying, these words are for you, not everyone. Jesus didnít say that, although this is the answer to Peter Ďs question.

Jesus answered the question by telling another story. The master of a house leaves, but before he leaves he puts someone in charge of looking after the servants so things will get done while he is away. Once again, the person in charge of the servants has a choice. As in the last story, the person in charge could slack off and hope the master wouldnít be back for a long time, or he could keep things going as they should, making sure the servants did their work and got properly rewarded for the work they did.

In this story Jesus said that some masters choose to eat, drink and be merry, beating the servants into submission, acting like big shots. Then one day the master will return and see how those put in charge of His affairs are acting. He is not very happy at what he sees.

It is very interesting to see the masterís reaction. Jesus said that the master "will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers" These are drastic words. Jesus is not talking to people in general. He is speaking about men who He assigns to look after His servants, His people. These were the Jewish leaders. They also can be church leaders today. Those who choose not to look after His people in the way He expects "will be cut to pieces". They will be assigned the same fate as unbelievers. These words should be taken very seriously for those who have been chosen to lead the people of God here on earth.

Over the centuries there have been many Christian leaders who have in fact forsaken the faith and have not led Godís people in the way in which Jesus wanted. These men will be judged accordingly and be thrown into hell with the unbelievers. Jesus is talking to leadership here, not the ordinary person.

In verse 47 Jesus continued on the same vain of thinking. He said that these bad leaders will be beaten. Of course this is symbolically speaking of the judgement they will face.

Jesus doesnít stop here. He said that certain servants or leaders, who do not do as they should, but do it unknowingly will be beaten as well, but less severely. Once again we see that God will judge people according to their knowledge. God is just in His judgement. Both Godís system of rewards, and judgements are in degrees, depending on our understanding. Jesus said, "from everyone who has been given much will be demandedÖ"

This may answer to a degree the often asked question, "what about the person who hasnít heard the gospelÖ"? They will be judgement justly and accordingly. We must understand that God is just and His judgement will be just.

Not Peace But Division (ch. 12:49 - 53)

In the following verses it is very clear to me that Jesusí thinking and feelings are becoming quite intense as his journey towards the cross get closer. You can see this in His reaction to the Pharisees and how he warns His disciples about them.

Now read His words in this section and see the intensity of them. Verse 49 says, "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 how distressed I am until it is completed."

Jesus clearly states that He is undergoing stress over the things that are happening to Him and will happen to Him. I doubt that we could understood what Jesus is going through at this time. No one in history has gone through what He went through.

He compared the cross to a baptism. When we think of water baptism, especially immersion, as the word implies, we think of being totally engulfed by water. At the cross Jesus was totally engulfed with our sin, with Godís judgement, with physical and spiritual pain, and with the forces of darkness. This indeed was a baptism for Him.

Jesus said that He came to bring "fire on earth". Fire is usually associated with judgement. The cross was an expression of Godís love, but it was also an expression of Godís wrath. The wrath of God was taken out on Jesus as He was killed on the cross. God in fact was judging mankind. What we do with the cross of Jesus will determine our eternal destiny. So in one since of the word, our judgment takes place on the cross. Yes, we will experience judgment at the end of this age, but it will be based on what we did with the cross.

Jesus wished that this judgment was already kindled. He wished that the time was closer so He could get this baptism over with, yet He still had time remaining until that time came.

In verse 51 and 52 Jesus said that He had not come to earth to bring peace. This is interesting because we often think of Jesus as being a peaceful man, one who brings peace to people. In one way He does. He can and will bring inner peace to people, but He doesnít necessarily bring peace between people. That will come later.

Jesus said that families would be divided because of Him. One would give his life to Jesus while others wouldnít. This would bring major division. How true this has been over the centuries. So when the world views Jesus as meek and mild mannered, we need to understand this is not an accurate portrayal of Jesus. Jesus was mild mannered and meek, and that doesnít mean weak. At the same time He also stood up for truth, even if that meant causing division, and getting people upset with Him.

Interpreting The Times (ch. 12:54 - 58)

In this section Jesus called the crowd hypocrites. He has called the Pharisees hypocrites, but now He has extended His remarks to the crowd in general. He told them that they know how to interpret the weather. He said that when the crowds saw a cloudy sky, they knew it would rain. Jesus canít understand why they canít interpret the signs of times as well as they interpret the weather.

In verse 57 Jesus said, "why donít you judge for yourself what is right"? He has just told the crowd that they did not know how to interpret what was taking place before their very eyes, and now He said that they need to start thinking about making a "right judgment". In Jesusí mind these people had the ability to do this.

Jesus gave an earthly analogy. He said if an adversary takes you to court, try to work things out before you get there. It is clear from the analogy that the adversary has creditable accusations against you. You should therefore try to reconcile with this person before you actually go before the judge, because if you donít the judge will throw you in prison until your sentence has been fulfilled.

Jesus is giving some good legal advise here, but I think there is a meaning behind His words in the context in which He said them. He is telling the crowd that they need to get right with Him. At this point He is definitely an adversary to much of the crowd. If they donít reconcile with Jesus now, time will run out and they will find themselves before the judge, which is God Himself. Then it will be too late and they will be put in prison, meaning hell.

Jesus ends this section by saying that theyíd "not get out until they paid the last penny". Catholics use these words to prove their thinking about purgatory. This might possibly be a natural conclusion to Jesusí words, but when taken in context with the rest of His words we should realize that hell is for eternity. You canít buy your way out of hell, or purgatory. Any earthly analogy always has its limits. They will always break down at some point, and therefore we need to be careful how far we take any analogies.

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