Luke 12:13-34 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Parable of the Rich Fool
Comments for Study 24

Luke 12:13-34
Memory Verse: 50


I. A Rich Fool (13-21)

Jesus' Late-Ministry Travels

>1. What event motivated Jesus to tell this parable?

* Luke 12:13 "Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

* Luke is the only one to record this event. Luke records many events unique to his gospel, starting in Luke 9:51 (or Luke 10:1) and continues to Luke 18:14 (i.e., the sending of the seventy-two in Luke 10:1-23, a unique visit to Martha and Mary's house in Luke 10:38-42, ten healed of leprosy in Luke 17:11-19). Much in these eight plus chapters are parables unique to Luke's gospel. (See a chart comparing Jesus' parables by using the link above.) Luke 18:15, Matthew 19:13, and Mark 10:13 record the same event, people bringing little children to Jesus. The events only recorded in Luke's mid-chapters seems to document events that happened during Jesus' trip to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication (winter) as John 10:22 records. Jesus was crucified during the Feast of Passover (spring). If these facts are true then its possible that Luke 17:11 or possibly Luke 18:31 documents the start of Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem. (See chart to the right.)

* "Someone in the crowd" -The disciples couldn't name him indicating that they never saw him again. The man didn't stick around. He had little or no desire to be a disciples. He saw Jesus as an important man, one who could make a legal decision that others would recognize.

* The man interrupted Jesus. Jesus was teaching his disciples serious topics when this man interrupted.

* "Teacher" -Jewish teachers are called Rabbis. A Biblical Rabbi made decisions that would be considered legal in any court. Religious and civil law were not seen as separate as they are today.

* Deuteronomy 21:16-17 gave the father directions to give the first born a double portion. Perhaps this man wanted to change that law, or perhaps the older brother didn't give him anything yet.

* How many go to Jesus expecting something with no desire to follow him? Why do you pray? What do you pray about? Do you see God as a gift giver, a Santa Claus who comes, gives gifts, and then leaves you alone?

>Why did Jesus refuse to be involved in the fight of this family over property?

* Luke 12:14 "Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"

* Jesus was not part of the judicial system. He had no inclinations to wanting to be in it either. Jesus took the authority given to him by God. (Hebrews 5:5) Jesus did not accept authority given to him by anyone including this man.

* Jesus' words didn't mean that Jesus didn't care about the man nor about justice. His question was meant to help the man examine himself, what he was asking and why. God instituted a court system in Israel to decide such things. Jesus was pointing the man to go there to get an answer. I've worked with people who when they get answers they don't like try going from one person to another until they get the answer they want. It seems this man was like this. Of course there are times that the powers that be are corrupt or just don't care for people. This might be the case with this man. Still, Jesus didn't give the man an answer he wanted or expected.

* Jesus resisted the temptation to get more than what God had provided and instituted. If he would have fallen to this temptation many people would have come to him for legal decisions and others would have seen him as the human Messiah they wanted. These would have hindered his salvation work.

* The sinful nature wants to take what God has not given. The sinful nature seeks praise of men instead of praise from God.(1 Thessalonians 2:6)

* The Anabaptists and others have incorrectly taken from this that no one has a right to make civil legal decisions or take a public office. Jesus was not saying this is for everyone. Rather Jesus did not make the decision because it was not for him to make at that time.

>As Christians, what lessons can we learn from verses 13-15?

* Luke 12:15 "Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

* This man's brother was greedy. Jesus did not directly get involved with civilian affairs because his kingdom is spiritual. He always seems to convert a civilian affair into a spiritual lesson. (2 Timothy 2:4) We can assume that this man's brother was probably there. Jesus was teaching the two brothers as well as his disciples.

* After rejecting the man's request Jesus addresses the subject of greed. This man's brother didn't give him his share of inheritance because of greed.

* "Watch out! Be on your guard" -Jesus is speaking to his disciples. Jesus disciples can be tempted. They can succumb to the seductions of the world. To "watch out" means to constantly check our heart. We need to guard our mind and heart. When Eve saw that "the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it." (Genesis 3:6)

* "all kinds of greed" -Many types of greed exist. Greed's action is coveting. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth. Greed says I don't trust God and/or if I have more I will be happy and satisfied. (Colossians 3:5)

* "a man's life does not consist of the abundance" -By abundance Jesus was saying a large amount of items. He states that our life isn't about owning a lot. Life isn't made up of owning things.

* Greed is companied with placing earthly things over heavenly things like love, faith, and hope. Greed deprives a man of praying and listening to Jesus as this man and perhaps more specifically his brother shows.

* Greed is never quenched or satisfied with obtaining, but it is often disappointed by acquisitions.

* Jesus does not condemn owning things. A man I know who teaches the Bible told me that owning a home was not Biblical. Jesus is condoning greed, not owning things. God does give gifts to his people that are both spiritual and physical. (1 Timothy 6:17) God gave Israel the promised land and each family had a portion of land.

>2. What happy problem did the rich man in the parable have?

* Luke 12:16-17 "And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'"

* "parable" -A parable is a simple story taken from everyday life to illustrate a moral, ethical, or religious truth. Jesus taught many parables. (Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35; Luke 8:10)

* This parable is unique to Luke's gospel.

* "The ground" -Jesus did not say God perhaps indicating the man's mindset. God is the controller of everything including the ground's productivity.

* "a certain rich man" -Jesus is talking about a rich man, not a common man or a poor man. Being rich he had enough. Yet he obviously desired more and thus was greedy.

* "a good crop" -This can be other things besides produce from the land.

* "no place to store" -A problem to owning a lot is to find a place to put it that will not allow it to rot nor be stolen. Maintaining is often harder than obtaining.

* "I" -The man used I a lot in this parable. God is never mentioned.

>How did he decide to solve the problem?

* Luke 12:18-19 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."'

* He worried about this as with everything else. Seeing everything as one's own leads to worry. Knowing everything is God's leads to realizing that we are only care takers.

* Job was rich. When he lost everything he confessed, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes. Praise be to the name of the Lord."

* "tear down my barns and build bigger ones" -The Israelites were given land that was passed down from generation to generation. Land was seldom bought and sold. The man could not buy new land to build new buildings. He had to use the area he had been given and expect no more.

* We don't have to be rich to be greedy. Coveting is guilty before we acquire or if we never acquire.

>3. What was his belief about life security?

* If he had a lot of earthly stuff he though his life would be easy and care free.

* "take it easy" -He had worked hard to get what he had. He did not steal nor cheat. He was an honest hard working man. A real respectable citizen. He believed he deserved to get what he had. He believed in his abilities to build up for himself. Now he believed he was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

* "be merry" -Working hard to build up is often not merry work.

* I've often wondered what he should have done with his new crops. This is not the point this Jesus' parable. The point is his greed lead him to foolish conclusions about how he had acquired and what he did with what he had acquired. However, the instructions that follow this parable helps me learn what he should have done.

>Why was he a fool?

* Luke 12:20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'"

* He was pleasure seeking.

* He was selfish. He though the whole world revolved around him.

* He forgot about God. God gave him everything even a strong will to work hard, an enterprising mind, and good health to complete a task.

>4. Why can't material things solve one's life security problem?

* Luke 12:21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

* "This is how it will be with anyone" -God made us to live forever. Physical death is not the end.

* "things" - Not just money.

* "who stores up things for himself" -Selfish acquisition.

* Material things are not permanent. The rich are selfish. They fear they will never have enough to feel secure. Hughes was the richest man in the world. A reporter asked him, "How much more will be enough?" His reply was, "Just a little bit more." He died a hermit in his riches always afraid people would take his money and possessions.

* Owning material things are false hopes because their satisfaction is only short term and incomplete.

* God graciously provides for his people. However, from time to time God may hold back his provisions as a test (Judges 3:1-2) or the devil destroys our possesions as in Job's case (Job 1:6-19). So at any given time we may have plenty or even more than enough, while at other times we may be in need of provisions (Philippians 4:10-13). Abraham, though much of his accounts recorded in the Bible had more than enough expended much to save Lot (Genesis 13:17-24). David too when he was king had more than enough. Yet there were times in David's life when he was in want asking for provisions from priests (1 Samuel 21:2-3) and when he lived in caves (1 Samuel 22:1). God's prophets and the Lord's disciples are often recorded as in need of provisions. The Lord sent Elijah cake via an angel and he too slept in a cave (1 Kings 18:3-9), and the disciples ate grain meant for the poor as they walked down the road. (Luke 2:23)

>What is real life security?

* "is not rich toward God" -How can we be rich toward God? We can store up things for life after death. None of them are physical things. Paul told the Corinthians, "Now these three things survive; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

* Real life security is found only in God. Jesus instructs us to be rich towards God.

* Having a good loving relationship with God. Having God in heart, mind, and soul. (Revelation 3:17-19)

* The Bible repeats many times that the greatest commands are to love God with all our mind, heart and soul; and to love our neighbor as ourself.

* What do you value? What do you work hard at? What is important to you? How do you spend your time, energy, and money?

* Greed can never have enough and worry says I don't have enough.

* Seek God's kingdom with confidence in his love.

* God wants to give his kingdom to us.

II. Do Not Worry (22-34)

>5. What basic things do most people including disciples worry about?

* Luke 12:22 "Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear."

* "Then Jesus said to his disciples" -Jesus now addresses those who decided to follow him. They believed in him and they wanted to learn from him. We should not tell someone who doesn't have faith in God to not worry. This would be like telling someone who doesn't know how to swim to not be concerned about being in deep water.

* Matthew 6:25-34, part of the Sermon on the Mount contain the same content as what Luke records here.

* "disciples" -The most common word used in the New Testament to describe what people now refer to when they call them self a "Christian".

* "do not worry" -Worry means to feel uneasy or concerned about something. It is to be anxious, distressed, or troubled so as to pursue even in the face of difficulty or hardship. When we worry about something we are fixated on it, our thoughts and actions always gravitate to it.

* "about your life, what you will eat" -That which sustains the physical body.

* "about your body, what you will wear" -That which we use to adorn ourself and what other people see.

* Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 "What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless."

>In what respect are these things necessary to physical life?

* We have a physical body and are social beings.

* There is nothing wrong with planning and being responsible with what God has given us even though our labor. Jesus didn't say we weren't to eat and to walk around naked. Having a job and using some of the money to supply ourselves and our family with food and clothes is good and right. But Jesus warns us that greed and covetousness comes from worrying instead of living by faith that God will provide for us, most of time through word. God after all did give Adam and Eve responsibilities (jobs). They were to take care of the garden and increase in number.

* God told Adam and Eve to eat from the food that they were to harvest and cultivate from within the garden. He gave then easy work, but work none the less. After they sinned they were still to work, even though that work would be harder than before they sinned. (Genesis 3:16-19)

>6. What does Jesus mean when he says that life is more important that food and the body more important than clothes?

* Luke 12:23 "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes."

* We have more than a physical life. We have spiritual life when we have a loving relationship with Jesus. All humans are made to have a physical and spiritual life.

* Jesus said, "I am the life." Jesus is our life. He is the most important thing we are to seek. He wants and desires a life eternally with him. We should have the same desire and want. Seeking God and his kingdom is to be our life's priority. We can trust him to take care of us.

* Life is so much more than obtaining material possessions.


>7. What is the example of the ravens?

* Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!"

* God feeds ravens as he does all animals. Yes animals do die, some from lack of food. Yet God knows their needs. He has their life planned out. Though mankind has made life hard for animals, God still provides for them. Even though most do no planning for their future food needs, they still are able to eat.

* The point is not that they are born, eat, and die. Rather, the point is that they do not worry.

>What should we learn from them?

* Luke 12:25-26 "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?"

* We shouldn't worry about clothes to wear and food to eat. God will provide all things for us. Worrying does no good.

* We should trust God who provides.

>What is accomplished by worrying?

* Worrying creates ulcers, anxiety, and headaches. We were not made to worry. Worrying negatively affects the physical body.

* Worry robs us of precious time. Worry robs us of enjoying the moment. Worrying waists time that can never be regained. When I worry I don't take time to see the beauty around me, enjoy those I love, and do constructive and good things.

A field of lilies

>8. What lesson does Jesus teach from the lilies?

* Luke 12:27 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

* The basic nature that God gave lilies comes out of no effort or planning from the plant. The beauty that it has is naturally displayed. The beauty is not displayed all the time, but when it is displayed we are delighted.

* God has a plan for everyone that comes from his love and attention to detail. We can trust him.

* "lilies... grass" -Jesus is not referring to a specific flower, but any plant.

>What is the basic cause of worrying? (28)

* Luke 12:28-29 "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it."

* Even a little faith is akin to not worrying and knowing God will provide.

* So you may ask, "If God knows these things why doesn't everyone have the ability to eat whatever and whenever they want? And why doesn't everyone have the ability to dress as they please?" The point of Jesus' parable is not having everything we want all the time. Rather, it is trust God and don't worry. Adam and Eve could eat many foods just by picking them and they didn't have a need to wear clothes. Yet, they didn't trust God's love for them. This is the heart of sin, not trusting God. We all since then are tested on this very fact. When it looks like there is no hope do we still trust God?

* When the apostles were later jailed and threatened they displayed faith in God. They did not worry. Rather they praised and thanked God.

* Worry involves time, events yet to happen. What exactly can we control? If we can't control everything, then there will always be a reasons to worry. A worrier can plan all they able to. But they always know that something unexpected can happen. Taking God out of our reasoning and culture will lead to worry. Worry leads to sinning against others. Worry leads to selfish acts and terrible crimes. Worrying cannot meet any of our needs, certainly not the peace and rest that we seek to obtain through actions that come from worrying.

* "do not worry about it" -Jesus is commanding us.

Jesus Preaching to the Multitude -Dore

>9. What must God's children seek in contrast to the pagan world? (30-31)

* Luke 12:30-31 "For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."

* "pagan" -A general definition of pagan is a person whose religion does not include the one true God. The NIV, REB, and RSV sometimes use pagans as the translation of the Greek "ethnoi" (1 Cor. 5:1; 10:20), which is generally translated Gentiles (so KJV, NAS).

* "run" -Running implies exerting lots of energy to obtain as much as possible in as little time possible. They seek a fast return on as little investment as possible. They are constantly seeking to obtain more.

* "seek his kingdom" -Jesus is talking to his disciples who already have the kingdom. So what does he mean? We are to seek the spiritual benefits of God's kingdom rather than the material goods of this world. We are to have priority. We are to make Jesus the Lord of every aspect of our life; family, people, work, play, school, thought, actions, etc.

* "his kingdom" -God's kingdom includes faith, hope, and love. God's kingdom centers on God and his will. God's kingdom is where God is in control and all trust that control. Jesus' teaching centers on the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1; Mark 1:14-15) There are over one hundred references to the kingdom of God in the New Testament.

* Jesus spoke Aramaic; the Gospel writers translated Jesus' sermons and parables into Greek. Mark, Luke, and John translated Jesus' words as "kingdom of God." Matthew sometimes used this phrase too, but often he preferred to translate Jesus' Aramaic words as "kingdom of heaven." The two phrases mean exactly the same thing, because they are translations of the same Aramaic words of Jesus. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

>What assurance does Jesus give disciples?

* "your Father knows that you need them" -God promises us to meet all our needs not necessarily all our desires.

* "these things will be given to you as well" -The disciples were never financially and materially rich while they lived in this world. They owned little. (Acts 3:6) They knew hard times too. So did Jesus fail them? They never claimed he did. They trusted him with even their lives.

* God provides. They do not come about merely by our planning, skill, work, and effort.

>10. What is the most precious gift from the Father?

* Luke 12:32-34 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

* "give you the kingdom" -Put hope in God's promise to give his kingdom.

* Jesus is a ultimate example for us.

* "Do not be afraid" -Some of the disciples must have been worried about their future.

* "little flock" -This title is only recorded here in the New Testament. The Old Testament often portrayed God's people as his flock. (Psalm 77:20; Isaiah 40:11; Micah 4:8, 5:4)

>How can we claim this gift and be rich toward God?

* "Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out"

* "a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted"

* "where no thief comes near and no moth destroys"

* "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."


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