Luke 12

#Lu 12:1| LII. CONCERNING HYPOCRISY, WORLDLY ANXIETY, WATCHFULNESS, AND HIS APPROACHING PASSION. (Galilee.) #Lu 12:1-59| In the meantime. That is, while these things were occurring in the Pharisee's house. When the many thousands of the multitude were gathered together, insomuch that they trod one upon another. In their eagerness to get near enough to Jesus to see and hear. He began to say unto his disciples first of all. That is, as the first or most appropriate lesson. Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. This admonition is the key to the understanding of the principal part of the sermon which follows. The spirit of Phariseeism was one which sought the honor of men, and feared men rather than God. It was a spirit which yielded to public opinion, and, though seemingly very religious, was really devoid of all true loyalty to God. There were trials and persecutions ahead of Christ's followers in which no Pharisaic spirit could survive. The spirit of hypocrisy works in two ways: it causes the bad man to hide his badness for fear of the good man, and the good man to hide his goodness for fear of the bad man. It is this latter operation against which Jesus warns, and the folly of which he shows. (TFG 316-317) #Lu 12:3| Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Many fearing the storm of persecution which was soon to come upon the disciples would attempt to conceal their faith, but the attempt would be vain, for one could not even trust his own family (#Lu 12:51-53|) to keep silent about what was said even in the inner chambers of the home. Bold speech would be best. The flat tops of Eastern houses were places from whence public proclamations were made. (TFG 317) #Lu 12:4| Be not afraid of them that kill the body. It would be a time of fear, but the fear of God must dominate the fear of man. (See TFG "#Lu 1:30|".) (TFG 317) #Lu 12:5| But I will warn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. The fear of God should cause them to speak out, though the fear of man bade them be silent (#Ac 4:18-21|). (TFG 317) #Lu 12:6| Are not five sparrows sold for two pence? The Roman as here rendered "penny," was worth about four-fifths of a cent. Two sparrows were sold for a penny (#Mt 10:29|). For two pennies, an extra one was thrown into the bargain, yet even it, so valueless, was not forgotten of God. (TFG 317) #Lu 12:7| But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not: ye are of more value than many sparrows. These words assured them that whatever they might be called upon to undergo they would be at all times the objects of God's special care and providence. (Also see TFG "Lu 1:30".) (TFG 317) #Lu 12:8,9| Every one who shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. These words were intended to strengthen those who loved honor or feared disgrace. (TFG 317-318) #Lu 12:9| But he that denieth me in the presence of men shall be denied in the presence of the angels of God. If the disgrace of being cast out of the synagogue tempted them to deny Christ, or the honors given by their fellow-men seemed too precious to be sanctified for Christ's sake, they were to remember that the confession or denial of Jesus involved eternal honor or disgrace in the presence of the angelic host. (TFG 318) #Lu 12:10| And every one who shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven. Persecution would urge them to blasphemy (#Ac 26:11|). In his hour of trial a disciple must remember the tender compassion of the Master against whom he is urged to speak, and the extreme danger of passing beyond the line of forgiveness in his blasphemy. For blasphemy against the Holy Spirit see TFG "Mt 12:32". (TFG 318 #Lu 12:11,12| Before the synagogues. See TFG "#Mr 1:39|". For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say. The captive disciple planning his defense would be tempted to attempt hypocritical concealment or dissimulation. To prevent this, Jesus admonishes his hearers to rely upon the Holy Spirit for their utterance at such times. How fully such reliance was honored is shown in the apology of Stephen before the Sanhedrin (#Ac 7:2-53|), in Peter's defense before the tribunal (#Ac 4:8-20|), and in Paul's justifications of his course, both before Felix (#Ac 24:10-21|) and Agrippa (#Ac 26:1-29|). See also #Mt 10:19 Mr 13:11|. (TFG 318) #Lu 12:13| And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. Some one in the multitude, seeing the authority and justice of Jesus, thought it would be wise to appeal to him to assist him in getting his brother to rightly divide the inheritance. (TFG 318) #Lu 12:14| Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? Jesus laid down the general laws of justice and generosity, but he did not enforce these laws by any other power than love (#Joh 14:15|). If love toward Jesus did not move this brother to rightly divide the inheritance, the injured party must look to the state and not to Jesus for assistance. (TFG 318) #Lu 12:15| Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness. Jesus made the incident the text for an admonition. Covetousness made one brother say, "Divide," and the other one say, "No, I will not"; so Jesus warned against covetousness. For a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. A man's goods are no part of his life, and so they can not preserve it. It is lengthened or shortened, blessed or cursed, at the decree of God. Covetousness is an inordinate desire for earthly possession. Though all ages have committed it, it is the besetting sin of our time. A clear view of the limitations of the power of property quenches covetousness; and Jesus gives such a view in the following parable. (TFG 319) #Lu 12:16| The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. This man's sin was not theft or extortion. His wealth came to him honestly as a blessing from God. (TFG 319) #Lu 12:17| What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? His words betray his sin--his covetousness. (TFG 319) #Lu 12:18,19| And he said, This will I do, etc. It is a short speech, but it reveals character. The man's selfishness is shown in that he uses the pronoun "I" six times, and says nothing of anyone else. His covetous love of possessions is shown by the word "my," which he uses five times. Compare his words with those of Nabal at #1Sa 25:11|. In his speech to his soul he asserts his trust that his "abundance" is a guarantee of "many years" of happy life; but it did not guarantee one day. The Eastern barn is a pit or dry cistern built underground with an opening at the top. These the man proposed to enlarge by pulling down the walls or sides and extending them. (TFG 319) #Lu 12:19| Soul, thou hast much goods. See #Pr 1:32|. (TFG 319) #Lu 12:20| But God said unto him. God may be represented as saying what he does. Thou foolish one. His folly was shown in several ways: 1. He hoarded his goods instead of using them for his fellow-men; 2. Ownership of goods deceived him into thinking that he owned time also; 3. He thought to satisfy the hunger of the soul with the food of the body; 4. in commanding his soul in such a way as to show that he forgot that God could command it also. This night is thy soul required of thee. The man said "many years" (#Lu 12:19|), but God said "this night." And the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? Death generally scatters possessions broadcast (#Ps 39:6 Ec 2:18,19|). For an echo of these words see #Jas 4:13-15|. (TFG 320) #Lu 12:21| So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. To be rich in character is to be rich toward God. But we may be rich towards him by making him the repository of our hopes and expectations. (TFG 320) #Lu 12:22-31| And he said unto his disciples. This passage #Lu 12:22-31| (excepting #Lu 12:26|) will be found almost verbatim at #Mt 6:25-33|. Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. See TFG "#Mt 6:25|". (TFG 321) #Lu 12:23| For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment. See #Mt 6:25|. #Lu 12:24| Consider the ravens, etc. See TFG "#Mt 6:26|". #Lu 12:25| And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? See TFG "#Mt 6:27|". #Lu 12:26| If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest? If you can not add one little moment to your life, why should you be anxious about the smaller concerns of property? (TFG 320) #Lu 12:27| Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin. See TFG "#Mt 6:28|". Even Solomon in all his glory. See #So 3:6-11|. Was not arrayed like one of these. See TFG "#Mt 6:29|". (TFG 320) #Lu 12:28| The grass in the field, etc. See TFG "#Mt 6:30|". #Lu 12:29| And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. See TFG "#Mt 6:31|". #Lu 12:30| For all these things do the nations of the world seek after, etc. See TFG "#Mt 6:32|". #Lu 12:31| Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. See TFG "#Mt 6:33|". #Lu 12:32| Fear not. See TFG "#Lu 1:30|". Little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. The original for the words "little flock" is a double diminutive, indicating at once the extreme smallness of the band of disciples, and also the tenderness of the Master for them. They are exhorted to remember that they are the heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and that their treasures are there. (TFG 321) #Lu 12:33| Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old. They are told to sell their possessions and give, because their official position in the kingdom at that time required it. Compare #1Co 7:36|. Purses were bound to the girdles, so that if a hole wore in them, their contents were lost. A treasure in the heavens that faileth not. See TFG "#Mt 6:20|". Where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. See TFG "#Mt 6:19|". (TFG 321) #Lu 12:34| For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. See TFG "#Mt 6:21|". Having discussed the folly of amassing and trusting in earthly riches, and the wisdom of trusting in God, and amassing heavenly riches, Jesus passes to a new theme; namely: a watchful service and its rewards. He may have been led into this theme by some interruption, such as that given at #Lu 12:13| or that at #Lu 12:41|, or it may have been suggested to him by his own words about the little flock and the kingdom. The kingdom was not to come in a day, and the little flock must watch patiently and serve faithfully before his coming (#Lu 19:11-13|). (TFG 321) #Lu 12:35| Let your loins be girded about. The long Oriental robe had to be lifted up and girded at the waist before the feet could step quickly (#1Ki 18:46|). And your lamps burning. This was needful; for Oriental weddings take place at night. (TFG 321) #Lu 12:36| When he cometh and knocketh, they may straightway open unto him. Thus honoring him by a speedy welcome. (TFG 322) #Lu 12:37| He shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them. The apostles had a foretaste of this honor on the evening of the last Passover (#Joh 13:4,5|). (TFG 322) #Lu 12:38| And if he shall come in the second watch, and if in the third. Originally the Jews had three watches (#La 2:19 Jud 7:19 1Sa 11:11|); but, following the Romans, they now had four watches. The second and third watches lasted from 9 P.M. to 3 A.M. The first watch is not mentioned because the marriage took place in it, and the fourth is not mentioned because in the latter part of it the day dawns and the virtue of watching was over (#Lu 13:35|). (TFG 322) #Lu 12:39| If the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched, and not have left his house to be broken through. Jesus here illustrates watchfulness by a second figure. To some the coming of Jesus will be like that of a master whom they have served more or less faithfully. To others his coming will seem like that of a plunderer who comes in suddenly and deprives them of all they have. The Oriental houses were mostly made of mud or sun-dried bricks. Hence it was so easy to dig a hole in the wall than that the thief preferred to enter that way rather than to break open the door. (TFG 322) #Lu 12:40| Be ye also ready: for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh. These words of warning confront every generation. (TFG 322) #Lu 12:41| And Peter said, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all? Peter wished to know if the exhortation to watchfulness applied merely to the apostles or to all who heard. (TFG 322) #Lu 12:42| Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall set over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? The answer of Jesus shows that he especially addressed the disciples, for a steward is distinct from the household. On him the whole burden and care of the domestic establishment rested. Thus Jesus showed that he meant the disciples, yet did not exclude any who heard from profiting by his discourse. Fidelity is the first requisite in a steward, and wisdom is the second. All Christians are stewards; preachers, elders, Sunday-school teachers, etc., are stewards of place and office. Rich men, fathers, etc., are stewards of influence and possessions. (TFG 323) #Lu 12:44| He will set him over all that he hath. As Pharaoh exalted Joseph (#Ge 39:4 41:39-41|). (TFG 323) #Lu 12:46| And shall cut him asunder. Cutting asunder was a punishment prevalent among ancient nations (#2Sa 12:31 Da 2:5 Heb 11:37|). The definite punishment is part of the drapery of the parable, and does not necessarily indicate the exact nature of the punishment which will be inflicted upon the wicked. (TFG 323) #Lu 12:48| And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more. The greater the powers and opportunities entrusted to us, the larger the service which the Lord requires of us. Ignorance does not entirely excuse, for we are stewards, and it is the steward's duty to know his master's will. There is a guilt of ignorance as well as of transgression. The parable pointed to those who listened with delight to Jesus, but were careless about knowing his meaning. With #Lu 12:49|, Jesus passes on to set forth the severe tests to which the fidelity and vigilance of his disciples would be subjected in the times upon which they were about to enter. (TFG 323-324) #Lu 12:49| I came to cast fire. A firebrand. Upon the earth; and what do I desire, if it is already kindled? The object of Christ's coming was to rouse men to spiritual conflict, to kindle a fire in the public mind which would purify the better part and destroy the worse. But the burning of this fire would excite men and stir up their passions and cause division and discord. The opposition of the Pharisees showed that this fire was already kindled. What therefore was left for Jesus to desire? His work as a teacher was practically accomplished. But there remained for him yet his duty as priest to offer himself as a sacrifice for the world's sin. To this work, therefore, he glances briefly forward. (TFG 324) #Lu 12:50| But I have a baptism to be baptized with. A flood of suffering; that is, the agony of the cross. And how am I straitened. Distressed, perplexed. Till it be accomplished! The language here is broken, indicating the strong emotion of him who spoke it. (TFG 324) #Lu 12:51-53| Think ye that I am come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division. Jesus here shows the hard plight of the disciple. If he were the young son he would find his father against him, and if he were the aged father he would be persecuted by the boy whom he had raised. Jesus came to conquer a peace by overcoming evil with good; a conflict in which the good must always suffer. His warfare was not, as the people supposed, a struggle against the heathen, but against the evil within them and around them. So long as evil abounded, these unhappy divisions would last. (TFG 324) #Lu 12:54| When ye see a cloud rising in the west. The Mediterranean Sea lay in that quarter, and rains came from thence. (TFG 325) #Lu 12:55| And when ye see a south wind blowing. The south winds of Palestine blew from the equator, crossed the intervening deserts and wildernesses, and were distressingly hot. (TFG 325) #Lu 12:56| But how is it that ye know not how to interpret this time? That is, this period which began with the ministry of John the Baptist. They could at once read the signs of nature so as to declare what kind of storm was coming (#Lu 12:54,55|). But with the political storm arising out of conflict with Rome impending over them, and with the spiritual storm which the teaching of Christ was bringing upon them, about to burst, they stood still in ignorant indifference, and made no provision for the times of trouble. (TFG 325) #Lu 12:57| And why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? They had the warnings of both John and Jesus about matters and conditions which were so plain that they should have been able to see them without any warning whatever. (TFG 325) #Lu 12:58,59| For as thou art going with thine adversary before the magistrate, etc. For notes on this passage see TFG "Mt 5:25", see TFG "Mt 5:26". The passage here is an appeal to the people to avert the coming disasters. The Jewish rulers looked upon Jesus as their adversary. Accepting their valuation of him, Jesus counseled them to come to terms with him before it is too late. (TFG 325) #Lu 12:59| Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the very last mite. See TFG "#Mt 5:26|". A mite (lepton) was their smallest coin, being worth about two mills. (TFG 325)
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