The Ministry Continues ~ Part 12
We continue our study of The Ministry Continues, beginning in Luke 12:13.
Foolish Rich Man
No passage could be more to the point for modern man than these verses about the nature, origin, and cure for greed.
13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Rabbi, tell my brother to share with me the property we inherited.” 14 But Yeshua answered him, “My friend, who appointed me judge or arbitrator over you?”
Rabbi, tell my brother… Traditionally, a Rabbi was not a clergyman but a teacher of Jewish values and customs. Consequently, an authoritative judge or arbitrator would decide points of law and ethics central to people’s lives. Yeshua rejects that role to probe the attitude motivating His questioner while implicitly rejecting his request
15 Then to the people he said, “Be careful to guard against all forms of greed, because even if someone is rich, his life does not consist in what he owns.” 16 And He gave them this illustration: “There was a man whose land was very productive. 17 He debated with himself, ‘What should I do? I haven’t enough room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and I’ll store all my wheat and other goods there. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, “You’re a lucky man! You have a big supply of goods laid up that will last many years. Start taking it easy! Eat! Drink! Enjoy yourself!” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night you will die! And the things you prepared—whose will they be?’ 21 That’s how it is with anyone who stores up wealth for himself without being rich toward God.” ~Luke 12:13-21
Yeshua addresses His remarks to the people. Apparently, Yeshua regards the questioner’s attitude as typical.
Trusting God’s Providence
Luke appropriately connects Yeshua’s parable about greed (vv. 13-21) with His teaching on anxiety over material provisions (vv. 22-34). The parable, it seems, is directed toward the rich, whereas this section addresses the impoverished. The point is that material possessions can overcome the faith of those who have much and those who have little – both types of people need to seek God and trust Him with the outcome.
22 To his talmidim Yeshua said, “Because of this I tell you, don’t worry about your life—what you will eat or drink; or about your body—what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. 24 Think about the ravens! They neither plant nor harvest, they have neither storerooms nor barns, yet God feeds them. You are worth much more than the birds!
To his talmidim, He goes into the matter more deeply, as was His practice (see Mattityahu 13:10-17). He identifies fear as the source of greed (v.22). One way to relieve anxiety over material matters is by seeking God’s Kingdom (v. 31) and its eternal riches. This is accomplished through doing tzedakah (literally, “doing righteousness,” but understood as “giving to charity”), that is, by not being selfish but sharing the wealth (v.33). Yeshua is not against having wealth but against making wealth the be-all and end-all of life (vv. 21, 31, 34).
25 Can any of you by worrying add an hour to his life? 26 If you can’t do a little thing like that, why worry about the rest? 27 Think about the wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread; yet, I tell you, not even Shlomo in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these. 28 If this is how God clothes grass, which is alive in the field today and thrown in the oven tomorrow, how much more will he clothe you! What little trust you have! 29 “In other words, don’t strive after what you will eat and what you will drink—don’t be anxious. 30 For all the pagan nations in the world set their hearts on these things. Your Father knows that you need them too. 31 Rather, seek his Kingdom; and these things will be given to you as well. 32 Have no fear, little flock, for your Father has resolved to give you the Kingdom! 33 Sell what you own and do tzedakah—make for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, riches in heaven that never fail, where no burglar comes near, where no moth destroys. 34 For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also. ~ Luke 12:22-34
In our next post, we will pick back up in Luke12:35.