Click here to join the effort!
Warning Against Hypocrisy
We do not know whether the very hostile attacks on the Lord attracted the thousands or whether it was on another occasion. In any case, Luke connects to the speech the Lord has just made against the Pharisees and lawyers by stating that “under these circumstances … thousands of people had gathered together“. By this connection He wants to show the link between what the Lord has said to the religious leaders and what He now has to say to His disciples.
The people in the crowd were stepping on one another. Everyone wants to be as close to Him as possible so that they don’t miss any of His words. Fortunately that this doesn’t work that way anymore. Whoever wants to hear Him can read His Word. This can be done in peace and quiet, without having to push others from their place.
The Lord addresses the Word to His disciples. The word “first [of all]” indicates that the teaching that follows has the highest priority. After having focused the spotlight of truth on the religious leaders in the previous section, He now focuses that same light on His disciples and the way they have to go. They will have to give their testimony in the midst of hypocrisy and opposition, whereby they may know they may rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
In order to give their testimony, the Lord warns them first of all of what is so characteristic of the Pharisees: hypocrisy. Even the true disciple is in danger of keeping up a certain appearance, of wanting to appear something he is not. The disciple may also be inclined to external piety as the hallmark of true piety in order to obtain honor from people. Hypocrisy is acting differently than you really are. The word ‘hypocrite’ used to be used for an actor, who also plays someone else.
There is another aspect added with the Pharisees, and that is that they misrepresent themselves in order to gain respect among people. Hypocrisy originates from a life lived before the eyes of men and not before the eyes of God.
The Lord compares hypocrisy to leaven. Leaven is always a picture of evil, and that in a form that is also dangerous for others. Leaven is an active evil that can infect others. It is a bloating, the appearance of being bigger and more devout than in reality. This is exactly what characterizes the Pharisees and for which the Lord warns His disciples, for they and we are in danger to behave in the same way.
As an extra warning, He adds that it makes no sense to degenerate to hypocrisy and covering or hiding things. There will certainly come a moment when what they have wanted to keep covered, will be discovered and will be revealed. What is hidden, what no one should know, will come to everyone’s knowledge. This concerns both the attitude and actions (Luke 12:2) of the disciple and the words he speaks (Luke 12:3).
The disciples must count on the fact that nothing of what they have said will remain in the darkness. It will be fully exposed. The hidden thoughts behind the words they have spoken will come to light. What they have just whispered to someone in the ear, in an inner room without anyone else being able to hear it, will be spoken loudly and clearly for each ear. This will happen before the judgment seat of Christ, where we will all be revealed (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Lord wants His disciples to speak clear language, without hidden meanings.
The Father’s Care
Disciples tend to hypocrite when they are under pressure (cf. Galatians 2:11-1 Chronicles :). How often do we do or do not do something out of fear of what others will say about it? The second for which the Lord therefore warns is fear of man (Proverbs 29:25). He tells them that they will be persecuted and rejected by these hypocrites. If we do not join them, if we do not behave like a hypocrite, we are not loved. We will have to fear for our lives. Yet the Lord says that we should not be afraid of them. They can kill the body, but they cannot reach the true life. After all, we do not stand before people, but before God. He points this out in the following verses.
How wonderful that He precedes this second warning with the wonderful form of address “My friends”. This must have been a great encouragement for His disciples and it may be for us. In the power of His friendship we can go through the world. He calls us His friends because He treats us with complete confidentiality. Nothing is hidden with Him, nothing mysterious, He doesn’t hold back nothing from us, but shares everything with us (John 15:15). Then we will also be completely transparent to Him and not hide anything.
Instead of being afraid of people, we should fear God. People can only kill the body. Then it is over with the exercise of their terror. God, however, can not only kill the body, but also has authority to cast into hell. The Lord wants to impress upon them and us that God is holy and all-knowing, a God Whom you cannot deceive, Who looks through all hypocrisy. God has the authority to cast unbelievers into hell. If disciples keep that to mind, they will have awe of that God and be careful not to deceive Him and men by hypocrisy.
There is also another side of God and that is His caring love. God pays attention to the smallest birds which, even in trade, barely make any money. Each of these animals, which are insignificant to humans, is a continuous object of God’s care. He continues to take care of them, for each sparrow individually, no matter how often they are traded and change hands.
Here the Lord encourages them by pointing out the care of His Father. The hairs of their heads are not only counted, they are even numbered. This means that each separate hair has God’s attention. If God cares so much for us, would we be afraid of people? The value of a disciple goes beyond that of many sparrows.
The Lord has another great encouragement not to be afraid of men, but on the contrary to confess Him boldly before hostile people. This encouragement is that in that case He, as the Son of Man, as the One to whom the Father has submitted all things, will confess us before the angels of God. He will appreciate every word we say in His favor. The Son of Man will tell the angels that we belong to Him and that we are true witnesses of Him. He will tell the angels that we are His, and that we are worthy of Him.
Angels do immediately what God says. They are out to serve God’s interests. They also have great interest in everything that is done on earth for or against the Lord Jesus. They will be amazed to wonder why He causes His witnesses to suffer so much. Then He will tell them that His disciples undergo the same that He also underwent.
However, if we deny Him before men, if we deny that we belong to Him, this will also be communicated to the angels of God. Angels are powerful beings. With them there is no fear of people. If they see that people deny the Lord Jesus, they will not understand. He will tell them that these people do not belong to Him either.
It is not about cases like Peter, who stumbled. He denied the Lord, but did so in weakness and not in rebellion, even though he did it three consecutive times. His deep repentance shows that it was a stumbling and not a hostile attitude towards his Lord.
In His great grace Christ forgives every man who has spoken a word against Him. A man may have expressed the meanest things and most slanderous language against Him and acted in the most rebellious spirit, but when he comes to repentance, it will be forgiven. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is a good example of this (1 Timothy 1:13). Who has spoken more against Him than he? He is an impressive proof and witness of forgiveness. So will it be with the people when they repent of their rebellion and rejection of Christ.
But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not receive forgiveness. That is the fate of “this generation”. ‘This generation’ has the Son of Man among them. Everything He does is through the Holy Spirit, but they attribute what He does to the ruler of the demons, to satan (Luke 11:15). Such an accusation is the culmination and low point of a series of rejections that has taken on ever stronger forms.
Their hatred against Him and their absolute unwillingness to believe cannot be clearer and more definitive than by denying the Holy Spirit. Anyone who attributes to satan the Lord’s many and always undeniable miracles is guilty of the sin that will not be forgiven. This generation, which is the generation in the midst of which the Lord Jesus is, and which has seen everything with its own eyes and heard it with its own ears, will show the undeniable proof of their hardening. They will do so if they reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit in Stephen after the ascension of the Lord (Acts 7:51).
The Lord doesn’t beat about the bush that His disciples will be persecuted. He encourages them not to worry about what to answer to the questions they are asked. And when they ask themselves whether they should say something, they also need not to worry about what they should say. They can count on the help of the Holy Spirit.
Here we find the third Person of the Deity Who helps us as disciples. We have seen the friendship of the Lord Jesus (Luke 12:4), the care of the Father (Luke 12:7) and now the teaching of the Spirit, and we have also seen the reward in Luke 12:8. Everything serves to our encouragement.
Be on Your Guard Against Greed
Someone in the crowd interjects the Lord with a question about an inheritance to be divided, of which he wants to have his share. Here another danger is seen. The previous section deals with the danger of persecution by legalists. Now we face the danger of money-seeking, materialism, which falls under the heading of greed.
While the Lord speaks serious words about the teachings of the Pharisees and the committing of an unforgivable sin and persecution of His disciples, one thinks that there are more important things, such as dividing an inheritance. The man thus has the idea that this Man can settle a dispute with his brother about an inheritance to be divided. It is actually not even a request, but more a command. His brother has run away with the inheritance and he is left behind with empty hands. With all he has heard of this Man, it seems to him the appropriate Person to act as a mediator in this dispute.
He recognizes Him as His Superior by addressing Him as “Teacher”. The Lord addresses the questioner with “man”, in which a serious reproach resounds, in the sense of: “Man, are you bothering Me with this? You have no idea what you are talking about.” He asks the man how he can come to the conclusion that He would be a judge or arbitrator [divider, Darby Translation]. Who appointed Him to this end? In any case God has not.
Surely He is Judge and Divider, but not now. If He had now come as a Judge and acted as such, no one could have existed for Him. Also the time of dividing had not come. He did not come for earthly purposes, but for heavenly purposes. If He had been accepted by men, yes, He would undoubtedly have divided inheritances here below. But as it is now, He is not judge or divider about the people or their affairs here below.
The Lord is not going to give rules for the dividing of earthly possessions, but uses the question to reveal the deeper cause of them: greed. He addresses the questioner personally. He knows that the question comes from greed, from wanting more than one possesses. The division of inheritances only reveals what is in the hearts. People in such situations are ruled by the fear that others will leave with something valuable that they have overlooked and that they come off second-best.
Greed is wanting to have more than is enough to live from. It is idolatry (Colossians 3:5-Joshua :), for it repels God and the Lord Jesus from the heart and plunges life into destruction. The Lord also points out that life is not one’s possession. People are not aware of that. You can still have so many possessions and have them at will, one’s life is a gift from God.
Parable of the Rich Fool
The Lord considers this such an important subject that He wants to give clear teaching about it through a parable. The danger of greed is clearly portrayed here. He presents a person who is already very rich. And that wealth is increasing all the time. His land always was very productive.
By the way, for a real Jew, this is a proof of God’s favor because of his faithfulness to God’s law. For it says that God connects His blessing to faithfulness to His law (Deuteronomy 28:1-Joshua :). Because of the unfaithfulness of God’s people, however, God no longer acts on the basis of the law with His people. Then it may happen that the faithful person suffers and that the unfaithful person receives blessing. That was the struggle of Asaf who also noticed that (Psalms 73:2-2 Kings :). Asaf also got to know the solution of this problem. He learned this solution by entering into God’s sanctuary and from there looking at the end of the wicked (Psalms 73:16-Proverbs :). The Lord Jesus also refers to this end in this parable.
There is extraordinary selfishness and folly in what people call wise policy and insight. This is because they take themselves as the source of wisdom. The man reasoned to himself, he does not consult with God. Everything revolves around himself and his own thoughts. This sounds through in his entire consultation. It is always ‘I’ll do this’ and ‘I’ll do that’. This kind of consultation fits well with people who only live for this life. He wants to gather everything for himself, but he neglects to think of God’s riches. This makes his foolishness.
Because he speaks only of “I”, he also speaks of “my barns … my grain and my goods”. Everything is “my”. He will do it all. This complete disregard the awareness of being a dependent human being is called by James “boast in your arrogance “ (James 4:13-Nehemiah :). The rich fool is full of greed. He believes that all his goods will enable him to complete his program, a program of taking ease, eating, drinking and being merry. This is what the man of the world in general is looking for: richly ease, richly food and drink and richly joys and delights. He has no eye for the future outside this world. The life of this world is everything to him.
It is not the case that the rich fool makes improper use of what he possesses according to human standards. He does not live immorally, but all his actions go no further than satisfying his desire for ever greater abundance. The rich owner repeatedly breaks down his barns and builds larger ones, with the intention of securing all his fruits and expanding his possessions. His thoughts are exclusively and only focused on the present life which, he believes, will always continue like this. Many Christians are unfortunately the same. They build houses and collect supplies of money and pretend they will live here for a thousand years.
Then suddenly a voice sounds to him in the middle of the night. What was he busy with then? He spent the last night of his life thinking up great plans for a future he would never see. He resembles Belshazzar who also spent the last night of his life with great parties (Daniel 5:1-Numbers :; Daniel 5:30).
So many people resemble him for whom life is one big party, while the day or the night comes that this life is suddenly cut off. God addresses him according to what he is, “fool”, and pronounces His judgment. He has not taken God into account and he has certainly not taken into account that God could draw a line through all his calculations.
And what does the judgment consist of? God does not take away his wealth. He could have done that, but He does not. The fool first spoke of his possessions, and second of his soul. God speaks first of the soul of the fool and then of his possessions. God demands his soul, for in His “hand is the soul of every living thing“ (Job 12:9-2 Samuel :; Daniel 5:23). The fool did not think of the fear mentioned in Luke 12:5.
God takes away his soul and asks the question: “And [now] who will own what you have prepared?” No answer to that question is given. That answer we must give because that question that comes to us as well. The fool had degraded his soul to nothing but slavery of the body, instead of controlling the body, so that the body would be the servant of the soul and God the Master of both.
To gather treasures for ourselves is the forced labor of one’s own self and of the unbelief that forms reserves. It is living in the dream of being able to enjoy it for a long time to come, a dream that is broken off by the Lord suddenly.
The man who asked the Lord to judge in a case of dividing an inheritance is silent. The Lord has not yet finished speaking. He adds to the parable of the rich fool an intrusive warning or, perhaps better, a great encouragement for His disciples.
With the words “for this reason” He clearly connects to the parable. Whoever is rich in God does not have to worry about earthly things. Life and the body are earthly realities that need maintenance and care, but they need not be objects of excessive care. Disciples are under God’s constant care. Someone to whom the kingdom is promised (Luke 12:32), which means whoever is truly rich in God, need not be greedy or even worried. Our degree of worry depends on the degree of our faith in God.
The Lord gives some examples that they can see in nature. Let them watch the birds in the air and the flowers in the field. The example of the ravens contains a disapproval to be concerned about our food. The lilies say the same with regard to our clothes. As a reason for not being worried, the Lord gives that it is not food and clothing that are the most important things of human existence, but his life and his body.
He points His disciples to the ravens. Do they not notice that God’s condescending care extends even to unclean birds like a raven (Psalms 147:9)? These birds do not have the habit, like the rich fool, of sowing and reaping and of creating storerooms or barns for the harvest. God feeds them, He makes sure they get food from the large garden of His creation. He prepares it for them. Those birds have to search for it themselves, they have to work to get it. The fact is that God has it prepared for them and that they don’t have to do anything about it on that side. Once they have found it, God can even use them to feed His servants (1 Kings 17:6).
Would God care less for His children than for the birds? In addition, being worried does not add anything to life expectancy or lifespan (cf. Psalms 39:5). There is therefore no point in worrying because that simply does not help in any way to improve the quality or quantity of life.
The Lord calls adding to the life’s span “a very little thing“ a person can do and says that he is not even capable of doing so. This is because man’s life is completely in God’s hand. He determines the size, the length, of it. That is why people should not worry about the rest either, because that is useless effort.
In questions and worries about food supply, the Lord has said that His disciples should pay attention to how the ravens get their food. Then they see how these birds always get their food from God without taking any care. That they don’t have to worry about their clothes either, they can learn from the lilies. With what great beauty God has clothed these flowers. Even Solomon could not match that in all his glory. And what material value do lilies have? They are like grass. Today it is still on the field, but tomorrow it will be used as fuel for the oven.
If God cares so much for what has such a short existence, will He not care much more for His children? The Lord addresses His disciples at this point as “men of little faith”. This is significant. He knows us through and through and knows how much we worry about our clothes. For us, this is not even about the necessary covering against the cold, but much more about what we look like, whether it looks nice. Not that what we look like, may not play a role, but the wardrobes show that we are afraid that we do not have something suitable for every occasion.
The Gladness of the Father
The Lord is concerned that we should not restlessly seek food or drink as if life were made up of them. We do not need keep worrying about that. We can really trust the Father to take care of it. When we worry about food, drinks and clothing, we are nothing better than the world, which is only concerned about them. The disciple, on the other hand, may live in the awareness: “your Father knows”.
Things are needed in the earthly realm, but there are two things the Father gives us. First of all, He gives us what we need every day. He knows about those things. Yet these are not the main gifts. These are the additional gifts. He “adds” them to us. To what? To what He will give us in the second place according to His good pleasure [Darby Translation], namely the kingdom.
The fact that He wants to give us the kingdom does not mean that we can sit with our arms crossed. We are called to seek for it, just like the ravens for whom the food is ready, but they have to seek for it. We must seek for it because the kingdom is not yet public. It is not in the things of this life, but in spiritual realities sought by those who are under God’s authority. To seek his kingdom means to acknowledge and live by His authority over all things in our lives.
The Lord knows that the kingdom He calls upon to seek it, is a kingdom to be sought in faith. It is not (yet) public. What is public, is a kingdom ruled by satan, from which they have to expect great resistance, hostility and persecution in their seeking for the kingdom of God. But they do not have to fear a lack of earthly needs.
The Lord encourages His defenseless, little flock of sheep, all of whom are equally dear to Him and His Father, by reminding them of the Father’s good pleasure in giving them the kingdom. He does not promise them a place in the kingdom, but He promises them the kingdom itself. They receive a portion with the Lord Jesus. They get it because they have appreciated the things His heart goes out to. They will get it from the Father because He desires to give it to them.
Here it is no longer about the things the Father knows we need for our life on earth, but about something He gives just because He wants to give it out of His good pleasure. These are things that are connected with heaven, with the glory of the Lord Jesus there. This promise is in the perspective of giving away our possessions. Besides being afraid of persecution, we can also be afraid of giving something away, because then we will have less or even nothing left for ourselves, we think. But if we are heirs to the eternal kingdom, why should we be afraid to give away some temporary possessions?
After hearing what should not characterize the disciples, we then hear what should characterize them. If the Lord has promised them the whole kingdom, it will have to determine their view of their present possessions. This also applies to us. He says that instead of collecting treasures on earth we should sell our possessions. The proceeds are not intended to be used to enjoy them for a while without worries, but to give away to those who have nothing.
We may well ask ourselves how we deal with our prosperity. Do we really think of others and give away in the awareness that we will receive the kingdom? Giving away is investing in another treasure, in the heavens. That treasure is perfectly safe for devaluation or theft. It is a treasure that cannot even be calculated, so unfailing. Giving away earthly possessions produces the true riches, being rich in God.
Whoever has God the Father and the Lord Jesus as his treasure possesses an unfailing treasure. ‘He is not a fool who gives what he can’t keep, to get what he can’t lose’ (Jim Elliot). Our heart is connected to what we really care about. If our treasure is our property, then the automatic consequence is that our heart goes out to it, as with the man who wanted his share of the inheritance and the rich fool who got more and more possessions. If our treasure is the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of God, the automatic consequence is that our hearts go out to it. Let’s live in faith, in the sure confidence that we have an enormous wealth that is not yet seen, but will soon be.
Waiting and Watching Slaves
Whoever has a treasure in heaven, knows that he himself is still on earth. He also knows that his time on earth has an end and that he may then take possession of his treasure in heaven. Whoever has a treasure in heaven, therefore expects the Lord. He is not surprised by His coming, but is ready for it.
That is why his loins are girded about. The girding of the loins meant that the long clothes were put on and tied around the loins, so that people could walk freely and quickly. The Israelites were given that command when they were about to leave Egypt (Exodus 12:11). The Lord Jesus uses this picture with a view to our departure out of the world. If our hearts are attached to the things of this life, we have not girded the loins.
Besides being ready to leave, the disciple also gives a clear testimony about where he lives for and what he looks forward to. His lamp burns brightly in a dark world where God is not taken into account. We also see this with the Israelites when the ninth plague, the darkness, comes over the land of Egypt (Exodus 10:23).
Believers give a clear testimony of their real interests. They don’t depend on the things of this life that they can leave behind at any moment, apart from the fact that he can lose all these things all of a sudden. At the same time they do not engage in world avoidance and testify in it of their expectation of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:8-2 Samuel :).
The Lord tells His disciples that they should be like men waiting for their lord. This means that these people are slaves. The disciples are the slaves and the Lord Jesus is their Lord. Waiting means: looking forward in expectation. The phrase “when He returns from the wedding” is not easy to explain. It may be that it is the wedding of the Lamb that took place in heaven (Revelation 19:7). It may also be about the Lord’s wedding with the earthly Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 3:11).
In any case, the Lord speaks to us as disciples whom He wants to enter into the kingdom to celebrate the wedding with Him. In view of the wedding, He urges us not to be tempted to seek the things of the world. When He comes, He expects disciples who have looked forward to Him and waited for Him.
He calls the slaves blessed, whom He will not only find waiting, but will also find watching. ‘Waiting’ is what we do in view of the Lord, ‘watching’ is what we do in view of the thief. Looking forward to the coming of the Lord should not make us careless, imprudent or naive for the presence of the enemy who wants to distract our eye from the Lord and cause us spiritual damage.
This attitude of waiting and watching is so valuable to the Lord that He personally will give those believers a place of rest and fellowship with Him and serve them Himself. He switches places with His own, just as the Samaritan stepped off the donkey to put the man who had fallen into the hands of robbers on it (Luke 10:34). They have served Him on the earth without being distracted by all prosperity; He will serve them in heaven. He will “gird” himself (cf. John 13:3-Deuteronomy :) in order to serve them unhindered and “come up“, which indicates intimacy and a confidential relationship. His service consists of making them increasingly familiar with the glories of His own Person.
The Lord points to the fact that His return may take a while. This is not because He forgets His own, but because He is long-suffering and does not want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). It’s not just about waiting and watching, but also about doing this with perseverance. If his return is delayed longer than we wish, we can shift our interests. If we do not do that, but continue to expect Him, despite the postponement, He calls us blessed. It is a question of constantly being attentive to what He has entrusted to us and not allowing to let that rob us by slacking our vigilance with the passage of time.
If the value of the treasure we have in heaven remains before our attention, if we keep thinking about the good pleasure of the Father, we will not be surprised by the thief. A thief does not sign up first. He always comes as unexpected as unwanted. Therefore the Lord says that we must always be ready. The coming of the Son of Man can happen just like that, and if we don’t look forward to it, it happens at an hour that we don’t expect.
The Faithful and the Unfaithful Slave
Peter has a question to the Lord. It is not clear to him for whom He says all these things. Is it only for them as His disciples, or does He speak to all who hear Him? The Lord does not answer Peter directly, but answers with a question. When He asks a question, it is always with the intention of thinking about it yourself. We cannot answer the question for others, we have to answer it ourselves.
The question is not to whom He does or does not speak, but that He addresses me. The question is whether I am a faithful and sensible steward of what He has entrusted me to serve others with. We have all received something from Him and each of us is steward of it (1 Peter 4:10). In that service we are dependent on Him because He only knows the right time to serve. He also knows with what to serve and what is appropriate for the person who is the object of our service.
Whoever in dependence serves the Lord in that way by serving others, He calls “blessed”. For the third time He calls someone “blessed”, now the active servant. So it’s not only about waiting (Luke 12:36) and watching (Luke 12:37), but also about being busy in the work that He has commanded us to do.
To that He also connects a reward, which is nothing less than putting him in charge of all his possessions. In Luke 12:37 He speaks of a reward in a general sense according to any kind of waiting and watching in view of His Person. The stewardship over His property (Luke 12:44) is a reward in a specific sense as a result of faithfulness in the work, whereby more is entrusted.
Serving is giving away, passing on, both spiritually and materially. Everything we have given away or passed on we have not lost, but it is an investment that generates a high return. The Lord rewards service we have done to others on earth by being put in charge of all His possessions. The richness of it cannot be described.
There is also another possibility. It may be that in the heart of the steward there is separation between him and his Lord. It will take him too long to wait. Slowly the coming of his Lord disappears from his mind. This is expressed in his attitude towards his fellow slaves. Instead of serving he starts reigning with an iron fist. Next it also goes wrong in his personal life. He will focus on the things that make up this life and of which the Lord has said that the nations seek for it (Luke 12:30). This slave merges into the world. He even gets drunk. He is no longer sober and no longer has a sound judgment about the value of life as God judges it.
People who do not look beyond this life are drunk with this life. However, the condition of this slave is much more serious than that of people of the world. This slave was first a confessor, someone who was in the company of Christians and took part in Christian activities. When the waiting for the Lord was going to take too long and the costs were too high, he went back to seeking his pleasure in the world. He has become an apostate, someone who has never had a life connection with Christ. Such a slave will be surprised by the coming of the Lord. He banned His coming completely from his thinking, which of course did not stop the coming itself.
The place assigned to that slave is in accordance with his half-hearted life. He has remained in the midst of the Christians and has claimed a position for himself and abused it. His confession was Christian, his actions were worldly. This half-heartedness is punished by cutting him in pieces. After this judgment, the Lord assigns his place with that of the unbelievers, for he falls into that category.
The judgment is based on the degree of responsibility. Someone who has confessed to know Christ and to live according to His will, but has given it his own interpretation, will receive many lashes. Someone who says he has read a lot in the Bible, but has distorted the truth of God’s Word, will receive many lashes. Someone who has not grown up with the Bible is less guilty, but guilty for what he knew and yet did not do. He will be beaten with few lashes.
Just as there is distinction in the reward, so there is also distinction in the severity of the punishment God imposes on (confessing) people. God acts according to the principle that much can be required of the one to whom much has been given. It works the same way in society. If an employer has invested a great deal in an employee, he can also expect a great performance from him. The same goes for what has been entrusted to someone to manage and deal with. When the owner comes to pick up his property, he expects to get more than he has given.
God treats every human being, and certainly the confessing Christian, as fully responsible. He is the Owner and has every right to require and ask back. On the day of judgment He will bring everything into judgment and judge righteously (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
Christ Is the Cause of Division
The purpose of His love was not to cast fire upon the earth, but it is the result of His presence. Where He is, He can only show man his own condition. Fire is always the symbol of Divine judgment. The Lord has come to save, but if one rejects Him, one in reality kindles a fire. His presence means judgment.
The fact that the Lord has come to cast fire upon the earth means that He has come to bring men to a decision. The fact that the fire has already been kindled – as it also can be translated – means that the decision has already been made because man rejects Him. It is a necessary result of His presence that puts everything in the true light. Yet He is still in grace among men and even now the gospel of grace is still preached. At the same time He casts fire where He comes, and it turns out that it is already kindled. The Lord speaks as it were of His amazement that it is so. He could have expected otherwise, but because of man’s persistent wickedness it is so and not the other way round.
The second part of Luke 12:49 in this translation means that the Lord is longingly awaiting the completion of His work on the cross. When the fire of God’s judgment has passed over Him there, the foundation has been laid for the complete fulfillment of all God’s plans and the establishment of the kingdom.
Then He speaks of His baptism. The baptism to which He refers is His immersion in the flood of suffering. He will be completely immersed in a sea of sorrow. He feels within Himself the pain of what will happen to Him from God’s side. He indicates this by saying: “How distressed I am.” He also sees on the end, on the “accomplishment” of that great and terrible work.
Meanwhile, His presence causes division and no peace. This seems to contradict the announcement of the angel at His birth (Luke 2:14). Surely He is come to bring peace, isn’t He? He certainly is , but now that He has come, the earth appears to reject that peace. He will one day return to bring peace, but that peace will not be on earth until He has cleansed the earth by judgment.
At this time, His presence divides people into two categories: for or against Him. This for or against Him brings separation between people who live in the same house. He gives peace in the hearts of everyone who accepts Him, and as a result hate in everyone who rejects Him. The unity is disturbed. The two groups “two” and “three” are diametrically opposed.
In addition to groups of two and three, individual people also face each other, who first lived in harmony with each other. There will be a separation between father and son when one of them accepts the Lord Jesus. There will also be a separation between a mother and her daughter and between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law. The Lord always mentions the relationship twice, one time putting one party first and the next time the other party first. It emphasizes the absolute break in relationships when one of both chooses for Him.
Analyze the Time
The time of a decisive choice for Him is pressing. He says that to the crowds by pointing to a weather forecast that they can all do in response to a phenomenon in nature. They know that a cloud they see appearing in the west means rain. Likewise, they know how to describe the blowing of a southern wind: a southern wind is the harbinger of heat.
The Lord applies this knowledge of weather to their spiritual discernment. He calls them hypocrites. They know how to analyze the outer things, but for their spiritual condition they keep their eyes closed. They know the laws of nature and apply them correctly, but they don’t think of the spiritual laws. They know that deviation from God makes judgment come upon them, but they are far from God and live their own lives. Then the judgment must come. They would have to know that from God’s Word. However, they do not recognize the time in which they live because they do not want to repent and lay their lives in the hand of God.
The Lord asks them why they do not judge for themselves what is right. Man is a responsible being and able to judge what is right. If he is honest then, he will come to the conclusion that he is not able to do justice and know himself guilty before God. Then he is where God wants him to be, and God can save him. The Lord always seeks the salvation of man in order to be able to show him mercy.
Attitude to the Counterparty
The crowd must realize that they have made God their adversary and that they are on their way to the judge with Him. Literally they did so when they brought the Lord Jesus before Pilate and asked for His condemnation.
They think they can bring God to justice. If they stand before the Judge, they will discover that it is exactly the other way around and that they are the defendants. It is now still time to change this situation. They can still get rid of their sins by confessing their sins. If they don’t, they will be thrown into prison.
That is how it went with the people. God has surrendered them to the nations. Their call “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25) is still being fulfilled to this day. But not forever. The punishment in prison will not be endless, for they will come out of their prison if they, that is to say, a remnant, confess their sins when they see Him Whom they have pierced (Zechariah 12:10-2 Chronicles :). If they have received double, they will be comforted (Isaiah 40:1-Exodus :).
They are now busy paying for their sins. They have stumbled, but have not fallen forever (Romans 11:11). When their time of suffering, the great tribulation, is over, God accepts them again (Romans 11:15).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany