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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Luke 12

 

 

Verses 1-32

The teaching of our Lord, in this chapter, has very much to do with Christianity in connection with this present life, and its cares and troubles. God has nowhere promised us exemption from affliction and trial. Indeed, it has been said, with much truth, that the Old Testament promise was one of prosperity, but that the New Testament promise is one of tribulation. You may rest assured that, if it had been best for us to be taken away to heaven directly we were converted, the Lord would have done it, and that, as he has not done so, there are wise reasons why he keeps his people here for a while. The gold must go through the fire ere it has its place in the king’s crown, and the wheat must be exposed to the winnowing fan ere it can be taken into the heavenly garner.

Luke 12:1. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy, however, of a kind that was calculated to spread, like leaven. If you know that a man is a hypocrite, you do not feel inclined to imitate him; but the Pharisees were such well-made hypocrites, — such excellent counterfeits, — that many people were tempted to imitate them. Our Lord teaches us, however, that it is no use being a hypocrite, —

Luke 12:2. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.

For many a day, the hypocrite’s true character may not be discovered but there is a day coming that will reveal all secrets; and woe unto the man whose sin is laid bare in that day!

Luke 12:3. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

It would be well if we all lived in such a fashion that we should not be ashamed to have everything we did placarded on the very sky. I have heard of one who said that he would like to have a window in his heart, so that everybody might see what was going on. I think that, if I had such a window in my heart, I should like to have shutters to it; and I question whether any man really could wish to have his heart open to the gaze of all mankind. But, at least, let our lives be such that we should not be ashamed for the universal eye to be fixed upon them. If thou art ashamed to have any one of thine actions known, be ashamed to do it. If thou wouldst be ashamed to hear again what thou was about to say, do not say it. Check thy tongue; be cautious and careful. Live ever as one who realizes God’s omniscience. While one of the ancient orators was speaking, on one occasion, all his hearers went away with the exception of Plato; but he continued to speak as eloquently as ever, for he said that Plato was a sufficient audience for any man. So, if there be no one but the eye of God looking upon thee, be just as careful as if thou were in the street, surrounded by thy fellow-creatures; nay, be more careful because thou art in the presence of thy Creator.

Luke 12:4-5. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

And how brave we shall be if we fear God! It is well put in that psalm which we sometimes sing, — “Fear him, ye saints, and you will then Have nothing else to fear.” This great filial fear will chase out all the little, mean, graven fears, for he who, in the scriptural sense, fears God, can never be a coward in dealing with men.

Luke 12:6-7. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God ? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

God does not forget the sparrows, but he regards you with far greater interest and care, for he counts the very hairs of your head. He not only knows that there is such a person, but he knows the minutest details of your life and being. It is always a great comfort to remember that our Heavenly Father knows us. A dying man, who had been for many years a believer, had a minister at his bedside who said to him, “Don’t you know Jesus?” “Yes, Sir,” he replied, “I do, but the ground of my comfort is that he knows me.” And, surely, there is a great force in that truth. Your Heavenly Father knows you so completely that he has counted the hairs of your head: “Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

Luke 12:8-9. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

What courage this ought to give us! In company where the very name of Christ is kicked about like a football, — where everything is respected except true religion, — it is not always an easy thing to come forward, and say, “I also am his disciple.” But if you will do this, you have Christ’s pledge that he will own you before the angels of God. If you do not do so, but practically deny him by a shameful silence, you may reasonably expect that he also will deny you before the angels.

Luke 12:10. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

This is one of the very difficult texts of Holy Scripture. We are told, in 1 John 5:16, thatthere is a sin unto death,” and I would have you very chary of ever daring to trifle with the Spirit of God, since sin against him is guarded with such special warnings. The flaming sword of divine vengeance seems to hang before the very name of the Holy Ghost; so, whatever you do, never trench upon his royal dignity, or blaspheme him in heart or by lip.

Luke 12:11. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, —

That is to say, the persecutors, — “when they bring you there, to be tried for your lives, as many have been in past ages, and some still are,”

Luke 12:11-12. Take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

I have often been amazed and delighted with the remarkable answers which were given to bishops and priests by poor humble men and women who were on trial for their lives. Perhaps you remember that Anne Askew was asked, in order to entangle her in her speech, “What would become of a mouse if it ate the bread of the holy sacrament? “She said that was too deep a question for a poor woman like her to answer, and she begged the learned bishop on the bench to tell her what would become of the mouse; to which his lordship answered that it would be damned. Now, what reply could be given to that but the one Anne Askew gave, “Alack, poor mouse!” I do not know that anything better could have been said; and, on other occasions, there have been answers which have been deeply theological, and there have been some which have been wisely evasive and, also some full of weight, and others full of grace and truth, for the Holy Ghost has helped his saints, in time of persecution, to answer well those who have accused them.

Luke 12:13-17. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

There were empty cupboards in the houses of the poor, and there were hungry children to be filled; so this man need not have lacked room where he could bestow his fruits.

Luke 12:18-20. And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I, will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, —

Which was the last thing he thought, he imagined that he was a very wise man: “But God said unto him, Thou fool,” —

Luke 12:20-21. This night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Here our Saviour shows us the frail nature of the tenure upon which we hold all earthly goods, and how it is not worth while to make these the chief things of our life; for, while they may leave us, we are quite sure by-and- by, to have to leave them.

Luke 12:22. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought —

No undue, anxious thought, for such is the meaning of the word used here:

“Take no thought” —

Luke 12:22-30. For your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn, and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the like how they grow: they toil not, they spin not, and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

So that, with the knowledge of his guarantees to you that you shall always have enough, what need have you to be careworn and anxious? I have often looked at birds in a cage, and thought of the happiness and carelessness of heart which they seem to exhibit; and yet, if you were to forget to give them water, or if you were to fail to give them seed, how soon they would die! Perhaps the little creature has not enough to last it more than one day, but it goes on singing its tune, and leaves; all anxiety about the morrow to those whose business it is to care for it. You would be ashamed to let your bird starve; and will your Heavenly Father let you, who are not his birds, but his children, starve? Oh, no! “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.”

Luke 12:31-32. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

He does not give you all that you would like to have, but he is going “to give you the kingdom.” He gives the lesser gifts to others, but be is saving up the kingdom for you. Luther once said, “All the empires of the earth are only so much meal for God’s swine; but the treasure is for his children. They may have less meal, but they shall have the eternal kingdom.” Oh, how blessed are we if, by faith, we know that this is true concerning us: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”!


Verses 1-44

In this chapter, our Saviour dispels the fears of his disciples concerning temporal things, and especially their fear of persecution and their fear of want.

Luke 12:1-2. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid; that shall not be known.

What, therefore, can be the use of hypocrisy? Hypocrisy leads a man to pretend to be what he is not. His only hope lies in not being discovered; but, as Christ declares that “there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known;” hypocrisy becomes insanity as well as iniquity. Therefore, keep clear of it in every shape and form.

Luke 12:3-5. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

There is nothing, comparatively, to fear in death considered by itself. If that were the end of man, he need have little or no fear even of God himself. But inasmuch as after death, there is another state which is everlasting and unchangeable, there is grave cause for the ungodly to fear him who, “after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell.”

Luke 12:6-7. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

So particular is the care of divine providence.

Luke 12:7. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

And if he counts the sparrows, and cares for them, he certainly will not forget you.

Luke 12:8-9. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: but he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

Mind what you are at, then, you who never confess Christ before men; because, according to the connection of this passage, you are set down as having denied him. Christ first speaks of those who confess him, and then of those who do not confess him, and he describes them as virtually denying him. On another occasion, Christ said, “he that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Examine that attitude of yours, which you suppose to be neutral, and see how Christ regards it, and then ask yourself whether you can be satisfied to remain in it any longer.

Luke 12:10. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

What is the sin against the Holy Ghost? We do not know, and I think it is a great mercy that we do not know. I will tell you one reason why I think it is a great mercy, and that is, because the devil is continually tempting poor distracted souls to commit that sin. I have, within the past week, seen several persons who have been frequently tempted to commit it; only, happily, they did not know what the sin against the Holy Ghost was; and, therefore, they could not persuade themselves into the belief that they had committed it. I have seen many people who have told me that they have committed the unpardonable sin, and I have asked them to sit down, and tell me what that sin was; for if they could do so, I should find out something that I did not know. In every instance, I have very soon been able to say to them, “Though I do not know what the unpardonable sin is, I am quite certain that what you mention is not that sin, for such sin as yours has frequently been forgiven.” It is a blessing that we are left in the dark concerning that matter; only as I have often said to you, do not presume upon your ignorance. This warning is something like the notice you see put up on certain great men’s estates, “Man-traps and spring guns set here.” If you go round the mansion, and say to the owner, “If you please, sir, will you tell me where the man-traps and spring guns are?” he will say, “No; why should you want to know where they are? You keep from trespassing, and then it will not matter to you where they are.” That very indistinctness about the warning is a part of the preventive power which surrounds it. You have no right to go trespassing there at all, so keep away from the place; and you are not told what the unpardonable sin is, though there is a sin which is unto death; and there is a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven.

Luke 12:11-12. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

He has often done this. If you will read, in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, the answers given even by unlearned, illiterate men and women, who were taken quite at unawares, and assailed by subtle questions, you will see that they often answered in a remarkably wise way. They could not have answered better if the questions had been before them for months. They frequently burned their cunning adversaries by their wisdom and sometimes by their wit, for the Holy Ghost taught them in the same hour what they ought to speak.

Luke 12:13. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

He rudely broke in upon Christ’s discourse when he was preaching upon these important matters, because he wanted the Saviour to act the part of a judge in his dispute with his brother.

Luke 12:14. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you.

Some present-day minister, if this request had been made to him, would probably have said, “Well, I may save some litigation, perhaps, if I attend to this matter.” As a general rule, brother, you had better mind your own business. Your Master, who was far wiser than you are, would not entangle himself with the affairs of this life; and, usually, true wisdom suggests that we also should keep ourselves apart from them.

Luke 12:15-17. And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

This was his dialogue within himself. He might have answered at once, “As I have more than I can use, I will give some away to the poor; why should I want to lay up my fruits, to let them get moldy and corrupt? There are many poor people starving at my very gates; I will let them share in what God has so bountifully given to me.” This might have been his answer to the question, “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits ?” His reply, however, was a very different one.

Luke 12:18-19. And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, —

It is “my” all through, — my fruits, my barns, my goods. The man was eaten up with selfishness, and did not recognize the fact of his stewardship. He did not know that even his own soul did not belong to him; he thought it did: “I will say to my soul,” —

Luke 12:19-20. Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

“Thou fool.” That is God’s opinion of the man who means to build bigger barns in order that he may himself enjoy what is about to be taken away from him. He was a fool to be laying up in store for others to scatter. Many a miser’s heirs have lived to ridicule him. He was the rake that gathered up a heap of gold, and they are the shovel and fork that scatter it. They drink the old man’s health, and are much obliged to him for stinting himself that they may drink so deeply.

Luke 12:21-22. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought —

It really means, “Make it not a matter of anxious care. Take no inordinate thought” —

Luke 12:22-23. For your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Everybody admits the truth of this saying of the Saviour, though all do not see everything that is involved in it. Therefore, as the soul is more important than all else, look well to your soul, look more to your life than to your meat.

Luke 12:24. Consider the ravens:

It is quite possible that some of them were flying overhead just at that time, and that Christ pointed to them, and said, “Consider the ravens;” —

Luke 12:24-25. For they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?

“You cannot lengthen your body;” or perhaps the Saviour meant, “You cannot lengthen out your life.”

Luke 12:26. If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least,

It really is a matter of very slight consequence whether you are a little shorter or taller.

Luke 12:26-29. Why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

Full of carking care and wearing anxiety about little things; or, indeed, about anything.

Luke 12:30. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

Therefore he would have you so live — industriously, prudently, thriftily, — that you shall get these things, and shall not waste them when you have them; but he would not have you live in an anxious, worrying, depressed spirit, as if you had no God, no Heavenly Father, no all-sufficient Friend; and as if there were no all-wise providence, and you were left to drift about uncared for and alone. It is not so. O thou God of the lilies and God of the ravens, thou wilt be the God of thy people too!

Luke 12:31-32. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

He may not give you much here; but, in due time, he will give you the kingdom. He may give to worldlings more of these secondary things —these husks, these mere illusions, these mirages of the desert — than he gives to you; but for you there is prepared a city that hath foundations, and a kingdom that shall never pass away. Therefore patiently wait until the appointed time; and fear not; “for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:33-34. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which was not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

It is not only important to lay up that which can truly be called treasure, but also to lay it up in the right place: “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” Such treasure as that will not harm us if we set our heart upon it, and, by-and-by, in God’s good time, we and our treasure shall both be in heaven.

Luke 12:35-37. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

This always seems to me to be one of the most remarkable of our Lord’s utterances while he was here upon the earth. His whole life was one of condescension, which was never more clearly manifested than it was when he, the Lord and Master of all, took the position of servant of all, and washed his disciples’ feet; yet he here tells us that, if he finds us watching when he comes again, he will once more take his place as our servitor.

Luke 12:38-44. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all! And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.


Verses 13-44

Luke 12:13-14. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me, And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

Our Lord was a Judge and a Divider, but his sphere of action was spiritual; he did not interfere in the personal disputes of those who gathered round him.

Luke 12:15. And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Christ took advantage of this man’s request, and made it the text for a sermon against covetousness.

Luke 12:16-19. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow alt my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Notice how fond the rich man was of the little pronouns “I” and “my.” He lived only for himself, and was an embodiment of that covetousness which our Lord abhorred and denounced. What a vivid contrast there is between what the man said to himself and the Lord’s message to him!

Luke 12:20. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

This may also be said to any one of you; where would you be if the Lord did say to you, “This night thy soul shall he required of thee”?

Luke 12:21-23. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Do not spend your care on the lower things; care most for that which is most worth caring for ¾more for the body than for raiment, more for life than for meat, and consequently, more for the immortal spirit than for aught besides, and more for God even than for your own soul. Let your cares be rated according to their objects; to set a caring, anxious care upon the lesser things, will be folly indeed.

Luke 12:24. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?

It seems, then, that those that are fed by God are much better fed than those that are fed by men. The ravens know no care whatever, for God cares for them; and, if we could ever bring our hearts into such a condition that we felt that everything to do with us was in God’s hand, we should enter into a blessed, hallowed freedom from care in which we should find a sweet repose of spirit.

“Beneath the spreading heavens,

No creature but is fed;

And He who feeds the ravens,

Will give his children bread.”

Luke 12:25-26. And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

It would be a very small matter to you if you were a foot taller, or if you were a foot shorter. It is not that the making of yourself a cubit taller or shorter would be a small thing to do, but it is a small thing in its result; it is an inconsiderable matter whether a man is tall or short. If ye, then, be not able even to reduce your stature, or to increase it, take no anxious thought about other things.

Luke 12:27. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

So that God cares not only for things that have necessities, as ravens have, but for things that have luxuries, as lilies have. When God does anything, he does it well. He is a grand Housekeeper; he does not measure out so many ounces of bread per diem, as if we were in a workhouse, but “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The lilies might do as well without their golden hues, they might ripen their seed without the lengthened stems that lift them where they can be observed; but God takes more care of them even than Solomon did of himself, for “Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Now, dear children of God, if you trust your Heavenly Father, he will see that you have no cause for care. If you trust him with your souls, he will not give you a bare salvation, but a rich robe of righteousness to cover all your nakedness. When he does any work, he does it after a better fashion than the wisest of men could do it; and nature herself, working as she does for the lilies, is only God working in another way. But when God himself, without the intervention of the laws of nature, works in the kingdom of his grace, he does it perfectly; he does it gloriously.

Luke 12:28. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cost into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Your life is not like that of the grass, or the flower of the field, that fades on a summer’s day. God will take care of you, and the everlasting things shall have from him a care even greater than he gives to the temporal. Yet how much God really does for flowers ¾flowers that only open their cups in the morning, and shut them in death at night! How much of skill and wisdom there is even about them! Shall there not be greater skill and wisdom employed upon you who, when you have once begun to bloom in the light of God, shall go on blooming, and flowering, and shedding your perfume throughout the endless ages?

Luke 12:29-30. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things in the nations of the world seek after and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

For you, the immortal, the twice-born, the very body-guard of Christ, to live for such things as the men of the world live for, is to degrade the peerage of heaven, to bring those who are of the blood royal of the skies down to a gross pursuit. No; let your whole thought, and heart, and life, be spent for something higher and better than these things; and leave the lower cares with your Father.

Luke 12:31-32. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

When Abraham had many sons, he gave to each one of them a portion and sent them away; but Isaac had the family heritage. It is the same with you. The Lord may give to others more than he bestows upon you in this life, but for you he reserves the kingdom. Are you not content with that, whatever else your Father gives you or withholds from you?

Luke 12:33. Sell that ye have, and give alms;

That is to say, do not merely give a little, which you can readily spare; but sometimes even pinch yourselves to relieve the poor.

Luke 12:33-34. Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

You are sure to live for that which is the choicest object of your love. Whatever you think to be first, will be first; and what you love in your heart, you will be sure to follow in your life.

Luke 12:35-36. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Many people are thinking just now of Christ’s first advent, but this passage bids us watch for his glorious second coming.

Luke 12:37. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

I never read this verse without wondering at the marvelous condescension of our Lord. Even in the day of his appearing in glory, his thoughts will be more about his people than about himself: “He shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”

Luke 12:33. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.

We cannot tell when he will come, but “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching.”

Luke 12:39-44. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broke through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say onto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

Wonderful words! We cannot at present tell all that they mean; but, by God’s grace, may they be fulfilled to us when our Lord comes to take us to himself!


Verses 13-48

Luke 12:13-14. And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

Our Lord kept to his proper business, which was the preaching of the gospel and the healing of the sick. We find, in these days, that the minister of the gospel is asked to do almost everything. He must be a politician; he must be a social reformer; he must be I know not what. For my part, I often feel as if I could answer, “Who made me to do anything of the kind? If I can preach the gospel, I shall have done well if I do that to the glory of God, and to the salvation of men. Surely there are enough people to be judges and dividers, there are quite sufficient politicians to attend to politics, and plenty of men who feel themselves qualified to direct social reforms. Some of us may be spared to attend to spiritual affairs.”

Luke 12:15. And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Jesus gave his hearers a good moral and spiritual lesson from the occurrence which they had witnessed, and then passed on to speak of the matter which always occupied his thoughts.

Luke 12:16-17. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth, plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

He did not enquire, “Where can I find a needy case in which I may use my superfluity for charity?” Oh, no! “How can I hoard it? How can I keep it all to myself?” This was a selfish, worldly man.

Luke 12:18-20. And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine case, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool,

Other men said of him, “This is a wise man; he minds the main chance; he is a fellow plentifully endowed with good sense and prudence;” but God said unto him, “Thou fool, “

Luke 12:20. This night thy soul shall be required of thee:

I should like you to set that up as the counter picture to the one that we had this morning, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” That was said by Christ to the penitent thief, but to this impenitent rich man, God said, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

Luke 12:20-21. Then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

“He that layeth up treasure for himself.” That was the chief point of this man’s wrong-doing, his selfishness. His charity began at home, and ended there; he lived only for himself.

Luke 12:22-23. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

Have no anxious, carking care. Do not be looking after the inferior things, and neglecting your soul. Take care of your soul; your body will take care of itself better than your soul can. The raiment for the body will come in due time; but the clothing for the soul is the all-important matter. Therefore, see to that.

Luke 12:24-27. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

The lilies simply stand still in the sunlight, and silently say to us, “See how beautiful are the thoughts of God.” If we could just drink in God’s love, and then, almost without speech, show it in our lives, how we should glorify his name!

Luke 12:28. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith!

But you have some faith, else the Saviour would not have said to you, “O ye of little faith!” The man who has no faith may well go on fretting, toiling, spinning; but he that hath faith, as he goes forth to his daily labour, looks beyond that to the God of providence, and thus God keeps him without care, and provides for him.

Luke 12:29-30. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

He knows that you must go and work for these things; but he would not have you fret and fume about them. “Your Father knows.” He will provide. It is enough for him to know his children’s wants, and he will be sure to provide for them.

Luke 12:31. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Thrown in as a kind of make-weight. You get the spiritual, and then the common blessings of life shall be added unto you.

Luke 12:32. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

That is your share. Others may have inferior joys; but you are to have the kingdom. The Lord could not give you more than that; and he will not give you less.

Luke 12:33. Sell that ye have, and give alms;

Do not merely give away what you can spare; but even pinch yourself sometimes, and sell what you can that you may have the more to give.

Luke 12:33. Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

Put some of your estate where it cannot be lost. Take care that you invest some of it for God’s poor, and God’s work, where the interest will be sure, and the investment will be safe.

Luke 12:34. For where your treasure is, there will your heart he also.

Make sure of that. Your heart will go after your treasure; and if none of your treasure has gone to heaven, none of your heart will go there.

Luke 12:35-36. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Our Lord constantly reminded his disciples that the time would come when he must leave them for a season; but he always kept before them the thought of his return, and bade them watch for him as those that wait for their lord.

Luke 12:37-39. Blessed are those Servants, whom the lord when he cometh, shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the good man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.

As he does not know when the thief will come, he is always watching.

Luke 12:40-41. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?

And the Lord told him that, while it was spoken to all, it had a very special bearing upon apostolic men, upon preachers of the gospel, ministers of Christ.

Luke 12:42-44. And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

Just as Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over all Egypt, so, when men have done well in the ministry of Christ, he will promote them, and they shall do still more for him.

Luke 12:45-46. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder.

This is a truly terrible expression. We are sometimes charged with using too strong expressions with regard to the wrath to come. It is quite impossible that we should do so, even if we tried, for the expressions of the Lord Jesus are more profoundly terrible than any which even mediaeval writers have ever been known to invent.

Luke 12:46. And will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

The worst portion that any man can get is with the unbelievers. Are there not some here who may, in this verse, see what a dark doom theirs will be if they are among those who are described as being out in sunder, and having their portion with the unbelievers?

Luke 12:47. And that servant, which knew his lords will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

So that there are different measures of responsibility; there are degrees in guilt, and degrees in punishment.

Luke 12:48. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall he beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

O my brethren! Let those of us who are privileged with the possession of the gospel, and privileged with any amount of ability to spread it, enquire whether we could give in a good account if the Lord were to come tonight, and summon us, as stewards, to give an account of our stewardship. God bless to us all the reading of his Word! Amen.


Verses 22-48

Luke 12:22-23. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.

If you are God’s servants, he will clothe you. There is no servitor of the Lord of hosts who will have to go without his livery, and not one who belongs to his vast household, even though he is but a menial in God’s kitchen, who will ever be permitted to starve.

Luke 12:24-26. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?

How little you can do for yourself after all! Therefore, leave the whole with God.

“Make you his service your delight,

He’ll make your wants his care.”

The best cure for the cares of this life is to care much to please God. If we loved him better, we should love the world far less, and be less troubled about our portion in it.

Luke 12:27-28. Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of those. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

What a title to address to us, — “O ye of little faith!” — but, depend upon it, we deserve it when we are full of anxious care. Much care argues little faith. When faith is strong, she casts all her care on him who careth for us. Oh, that we could but be rid of that which, after all, is not our business, and give our whole mind, and heart, and soul, to what is our business, namely, to please our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend!

Luke 12:29-30. And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all those things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

Is not that a sweet word? “Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” There used to be a hymn which was sung a good deal at revival meetings, it had a very sweet refrain, “This my Father knows.” If you cannot yourselves understand your ease, your Father knows all about it. If you cannot make other people comprehend it, yet your Father knows all that needs to be known. Whatever you really require, even for the present life, need not be any cause of anxiety to you, believers, for “your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.” There is no need, therefore, for you to seek “what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink.”

Luke 12:31-32. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all those things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

He gives others a good many things, but he will give you the kingdom. Just as Abraham gave portions to the sons of Keturah, and sent them away; but Isaac had the covenant blessing; so, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Luke 12:33. Sell that ye have, and give alms;

Not only give to the poor till you pinch yourself, but even pinch yourself to do it.

Luke 12:33-35. Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

Never be undressed, as it were, in a moral or spiritual sense: “Let your loins be girded about.” Never be in the dark spiritually. Keep in the light; let your lamp be ever burning. Not only walk in the light of God but let your light shine before men.

Luke 12:36. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.

Brethren, whatever theory we hold about the future, may God grant that it may never prevent our looking for the coming of Christ as an event which may happen at any moment, and being on the watch for it as a matter the date of which we do not know! The practical essence of all Scriptural teaching upon that subject is just this, “Ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding.”

Luke 12:37. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

I will not attempt fully to explain this passage of Scripture in the few moments which I can give to it, but it is very wonderful. Our Lord has been here once, and girded himself to serve us; but is it not extraordinary that here is an intimation of a second girding of himself that he may serve us? Oh, how fond is Christ of being the servant of servants, ministering unto those who delight to minister unto him! What an honour does the Captain of our salvation put upon the meanest soldiers in this war when he declares that, if we be found faithful, he will gird himself, and come forth and serve us!

Luke 12:38-40. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the good-man of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Peradventure he will not come when the modern prophetic say that he will appear, but he will come when least of all he is expected. Therefore, expect the unexpected; look for your Lord to come when the many go to sleep. Perhaps, while yet I am speaking, ere this gathered assembly shall disperse, there may be heard the cry, “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.” Are our loins girded? Are our lamps burning? God bless his own truth to the effecting of both those ends!

Luke 12:41-43. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

Distributing the bread of life, giving milk to babes and meat to strong men; not behaving as if he were master, but acting only as a steward who serves out, not his own, but his master’s stores. Oh, that we who are ministers of Christ may be always doing this! So shall we obtain the blessing promised to “that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.”

Luke 12:44-45. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all the he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;

First, he becomes lordly, he acts as if he were master, beats his fellowservants, he is harsh and ungenerous, and assumes great dignity and gives himself airs. Let him mind what he is at, for his Master will come, and catch him usurping his place. The next danger is that he begins to enjoy himself, to be voluptuous, self-indulgent: “To eat and drink, and to be drunken.” He becomes intoxicated with pride, he is carried away with divers errors; in making much of himself he loses his head, and acts like a fool.

Luke 12:46. The Lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

Truly, our Lord uses very strong words; the Saviour is not one of your effeminate preachers like those of modern times, who seem as if the very word “hell” would burn their lips, and who will not warn men to flee from the wrath to come. It is an unkind and heartless want of humanity which prevents their being faithful to the souls of men. The great Lord, who is full of tenderness, does not hesitate to use the sternest figure, and the most terrible language, simply because he does not consult his own feelings but aims at the highest good of those with whom he deals. This is a terrible word for us if we are unfaithful at the last: “He will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” It is an awful thing that the unfaithful servant gets his portion with those who do not believe in Christ. The Lord preserve all of us from such a doom!

Luke 12:47-48. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with a few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Under the shadow of such solemn texts as these, let us draw near to God in earnest prayer.


Verses 35-48

Luke 12:35-37. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

This is a wonderful passage. Christ has already had one turn as a servitor. He was Master and Lord, yet he washed his disciples’ feet; but he says that, if we are watchful and faithful, if we truly serve him, the day shall come when, in all his robes of glory, he shall gird himself, and serve us.

Luke 12:38-40. And if he shalt come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

This is a warning to Christ’s own people; but it is still more a warning to those who do not know him. Suppose he were to come tonight; where would you be, you who have hitherto lived as if you were your own masters, and were by no means the servants of Christ? Take heed unto yourselves, for ye know not when your Lord shall come.

Luke 12:41-44. Then Peter said unto him Lord, speakest then this parable unto us, or even to all. And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

What rewards Christ has in store for his people. If we will but be his servants now, and the servants of our brethren, he will make us rulers over all that he has. I cannot attempt to explain all that these words mean, but I bless the Lord that they are absolutely true.

Luke 12:45-46. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shalt begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

Again let me say that I cannot attempt to explain all that these words mean; but, oh! what will be the horror, the terror, of the punishment which will fall upon the unfaithful steward, the minister who is untrue to his holy calling, the professor who says that he is a child of God, and a steward of Christ, and yet is unfaithful to his trust? I will read our Lord’s words again. You know how we are sometimes accused of saying things too dreadful about the wrath of God in the world to come; but, beloved, we never say anything dreadful enough. If you will carefully examine the Word of God, you will find there expressions such as even Dante or the mediaeval preachers, with all the horrors they depicted, never; surpassed. We cannot exaggerate the awful depth of meaning which we find in the words of the loving Christ himself; let me read this verse again: “The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”

Luke 12:47-48. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shalt be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Judge ye, then, brethren and sisters, how much of ability and talent your lord has entrusted to you, and be not content to have rendered him some service; but look for proportionate service, and humble yourselves in his presence if your service is not in proportion to the opportunities entrusted to you. Who among us can refrain from humbling himself before God when he thinks of this?

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Luke 12:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/luke-12.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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