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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Luke 12

Verses 1-3

72. Beware of Pharisees and Sadducees (Matthew 16:1-40.16.12; Mark 8:11-41.8.21; Luke 12:1-42.12.3,Luke 12:54-42.12.56)

In spite of all that Jesus had done, the Pharisees and Sadducees still demanded he produce a special sign to satisfy them. Jesus refused. They could look at the sky and work out what the weather would be like, but when they looked at Jesus’ miracles they refused to believe what the miracles told them, namely, that Jesus was the Son of God. The only sign Jesus would give them would be his resurrection. Jonah came back to life after three days of apparent death, but Jesus would come back to life after three days of actual death. By this unmistakable sign the Father would prove to all that Jesus is his Son (Matthew 16:1-40.16.4; Luke 12:54-42.12.56).

Sin is compared to yeast, or leaven, in that it affects everything it touches. The Pharisees, the Sadducees and Herod were evil influences that spread through Israel as yeast spreads through a lump of dough. Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the yeast-like effect of these people. His probable meaning was that they were not to be influenced by the wrong teaching and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Sadducees or the ungodly ways of people like Herod (Matthew 16:5-40.16.6; Mark 8:14-41.8.15; Luke 12:1).

The apostles missed the meaning of Jesus’ illustration. They thought he wanted some bread (but not bread baked with certain types of yeast) and were worried that they did not have any. This showed that although they had twice seen him miraculously feed a large crowd, they still lacked the faith to believe he could provide for them. In addition they lacked spiritual understanding, and saw the meaning of Jesus’ illustration only after he explained it to them (Matthew 16:7-40.16.12; Mark 8:16-41.8.21; Luke 12:2-42.12.3).

Verses 4-21

63. Concern about safety and security (Luke 12:4-42.12.21)

Some teaching that Jesus gave to the twelve apostles is repeated in other parts of the Gospels. This may have been given to the followers of Jesus in general, particularly those instructions and warnings that concerned putting loyalty to Jesus before the desire for personal safety (Luke 12:4-42.12.12; see notes on Matthew 10:28-40.10.33 above).

On one occasion when a crowd was listening to such teaching from Jesus, there was one person who showed no understanding of what Jesus was saying. Contrary to Jesus’ teaching, personal safety and security were his main concern. He wanted Jesus to force his brother to give him a bigger share of an inheritance they had received. Jesus was not a rabbi who settled disputes about the law; he was a teacher from God and he was concerned about people’s greed (Luke 12:13-42.12.15). He therefore told the story of a rich but foolish farmer who thought only of his prosperity, security and comfort. Suddenly the farmer died. Not only was his wealth of no further use, but it had prevented him from obtaining true heavenly riches (Luke 12:16-42.12.21).

Verses 22-34

42. Concern about material things (Matthew 6:19-40.6.34; Luke 12:22-42.12.34)

People who come into the kingdom of God should not view the material things of earthly life as others view them. They should put God’s interests first and be generous in giving to others. Those who set their hearts on material things are being disloyal to God, and guarantee bitter disappointment for themselves in the end (Matthew 6:19-40.6.21).

To illustrate the results of right and wrong attitudes to material things, Jesus referred to a local belief about the results of good and bad eyesight. People believed that eyes were like windows that allowed light to enter the body and keep it in good health. Healthy eyes meant a healthy body (light); diseased eyes meant a diseased body (darkness). A healthy view of material things will result in a healthy spiritual life; but an unhealthy view will mean that the natural spiritual darkness already in the heart will become even darker (Matthew 6:22-40.6.23). A person can be a slave of only one master at a time. If people devote their attention to increasing their prosperity and comfort, they can no longer claim to be loyal to God (Matthew 6:24).

Others, however, get into bondage to material things not because they are greedy, but because they worry too much about having enough money to look after themselves. They should realize that if God gives life, he can also give what is necessary to maintain life (Matthew 6:25-40.6.27). If he cares for lesser things such as birds, flowers and grass, he can certainly care for his people. Believers should not be anxious concerning their material needs. Those who do not know God might be anxious, but believers should trust in God and put the interests of his kingdom first. They are under his rule and they should trust that as day to day difficulties arise, he will provide the answer (Matthew 6:28-40.6.34).

Verses 35-53

96. Be prepared at all times (Luke 12:35-42.12.53)

The followers of Jesus must always be ready for whatever circumstances they meet. They are likened to household servants waiting for their master to return home after a feast. Whether the master arrives home earlier or later than expected, he will be pleased if the servants are ready and waiting for him. Though they have merely done their duty, he may give them an unexpected reward by serving them a meal (Luke 12:35-42.12.38).

Another illustration of readiness concerns a householder who secures his house against burglary. Since he does not know when a burglar is likely to break in, he keeps the house secure constantly (Luke 12:39). Jesus used both illustrations to remind his followers to be ready always for ‘the coming of the Son of man’, whether in the coming crisis in Jerusalem or in the final crisis at the end of the age (Luke 12:40).

When Peter asked if the parable applied only to the apostles or to people in general, Jesus gave no direct answer but told another parable (Luke 12:41). The master of a household appointed one of his servants to the position of manager over all the other servants while he went away on a trip. He gave the manager-servant instructions concerning the running of the household, but when the master was away longer than expected, the man thought he could do as he liked. Suddenly the master returned and, on discovering what had happened, dealt severely with the manager-servant (Luke 12:42-42.12.46). All the servants guilty of wrongdoing were punished, but the one who had more detailed knowledge of his master’s will was punished more severely. Everyone is accountable to God, but God expects more of those who know more (Luke 12:47-42.12.48).

Jesus gave one more warning about the need to be prepared for the crisis ahead. He felt a mounting tension as he saw that the cross would mean fiery judgment for some, a baptism of suffering for himself, and conflict for those who are opposed by hostile relatives because of their loyalty to him (Luke 12:49-42.12.53).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Luke 12". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.