Warnings And Encouragements (ch. 12:1 -
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
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
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
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
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 -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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