The majority of this chapter is spoken to the disciples albeit that the words are spoken in the presence of a great crowd. The crowd also ask questions of their own. It is as if the disciples are in the world and given instructions on how not to be sucked in by its system. This is one of the most practical of any chapter to be found anywhere in scripture and it mainly concerns the individuals soul relationship with his/her God. This applies to unbeliever and to believer alike. There is no instruction given to asceticism and isolation from the world but to live in it to Gods praise and glory. Warnings are given. The word beware is used on a couple of occasions). Note that the chapter starts and ends with hypocrisy.
He addressed the disciples:
Beware of hypocrisy
Be not afraid of the life takers but fear Him
Fear not in general
Confess me before men
Take no thought what to say before the powers that be
He addressed the question asked by a member of the crowd:
Beware of laying up treasure for oneself
He addressed the disciples:
Take no thought for food and clothes
Fear not, little flock
Go in for investment in the bank of heaven
He addressed Peter in particular:
He addressed the crowd:
Everything in this chapter is to do with the return of the Lord Jesus (see verse 37 - 40, verse 43 and even the last section). It may be that the person is not alive when the lord comes but that life comes to an end either by those who kill the body verse 4, or the Lord requiring a soul. Whatever the circumstances the message is clear be ye also ready.
Verses 1-12 Beware of pseudo-spirituality
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. 2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. 8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. 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. 11 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: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
As our passage begins under these circumstances we need a brief recap of some incidents from chapter 11:
Under these circumstances, with so many thousands of people who had gathered together and were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Crowds love a good old ding-dong but sadly this is not the right attitude for being open to spiritual teaching. Jesus warned His disciples about the Pharisees. They were present to hear the warning given to the disciples and there was no hasty escape as the crowds were so great that they trod one upon the other. Leaven is the yeast in the flour which makes the bread rise. Leaven is useful when baking, but not as a character trait. It pictures the self pride which wells up and puffs up, and causes or even is sin. Hypocrisy is play acting, pretending to be something that you are not; looking good on the outside while being vile inside. What about our religion does it succumb to these traits? What about us?
The housetops were flat so that anything proclaimed from the housetop would be heard near and far. Those plots that the Pharisees were hatching in secret God saw them then and will reveal them at the Great White Throne. What about the things you say in secret? What about the things you do would you like them to be proclaimed openly? God is determined to bring things to light so that we must be beware of acting in a way that does not display our true character. We must think about what we say in secret (presumably to another who shares the secret) as well for there is coming a day when what is said will receive a wider audience. These words were spoken to disciples for there was and still is relevance as far as disciples are concerned but Pharisees were present and they were made to feel uncomfortable by His words. In this sense it was a two edged sword.
In verses 4 and 5 the Lord Jesus was still speaking to disciples (notice the use of the term my friends) only now the subject was not things being brought to light but walking in the light. What would happen to such? There would be those who wanted to do these disciples harm and even take their lives. The servant is not greater than the Master. What He felt by way of rejection they should expect to feel the same and, as He had told them of His impending death, they should expect the same. They were not to fear such men. They were not to fear the devil even though that is not the subject matter here. They were to fear the one who had the authority to cast into hell and Him alone.
Then again they were not to fear anything or anybody. Five sparrows for two farthings. The sparrows were, no doubt, sold for two for a farthing. Matthew 10.29 says, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. They were so cheap as to be offered in pairs for an insignificant coin, but God notes the fall of every one. Should a person buy two lots of two sparrows then they enjoyed an extra sparrow for free. The point is that the sparrow was virtually worthless. If God cares for such then He cares for each of His own. It is not merely a case of noting the disciples as they fell to the ground but more than that. It is not that he notes but that He cares. It is for us to trust Him and His care of us. God does not say that He counts the sparrows feathers but He does say that the hairs of our head are numbered such is His knowledge of us (though that is not the real purpose of His statement here there is a gospel application in this phrase) and His interest in us as believers. He counts us as being of greater value than sparrows. We do well not to be afraid and yet fear is something that the best of mankind has had to contend with. Here was one who told them not to fear for He committed Himself to the one who judges righteously and trusted Him implicitly.
These disciples were to trust the Lord Jesus. It was confession of Christ that was important. Their confession was to overcome their concern. They were not to fear anyone apart from God. When it came to the crunch they were not to deny but to confess. The word to the disciples is put in a general way as the Saviour said, Whosoever shall confess. No doubt any Pharisees who remained noted this. The statement is abundantly clear. The one who confesses the Lord Jesus before men will be confessed before the angels of God but the one who denies Him before men will be denied before the angels of God. Surely this is a habitual confession and a habitual denial for Peter was one who knew what it was to deny Him before men and yet he was used of God to confess Him before men in such spectacular ways as recorded for our enjoyment and benefit in the book of Acts.
Then the Saviour made a remarkable statement to His disciples that has been the subject of much debate over the years. By everyone here is meant those who refuse to accept the Lord Jesus. He was present among them and they rejected Him. He was here as God manifest in the flesh but men refused Him. Perhaps they looked for glory but this was hidden in order that His grace might be manifest. Those of His day could be forgiven for speaking a word against Him as the Son of man (the title that is used here is important for it refers to and emphasizes the Lord Jesus in His humiliation) but soon the Lord Jesus would be gone and the disciples were to confess an absent Christ, who by then would have died, risen again and gone above, in the power and energy of the Spirit. There would be no person seen on whom the people could vent their anger. Reject the Spirit of Gods testimony through the disciples and there would no forgiveness. God the Father had spoken in the OT. The Lord Jesus had come and He said these words, But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. John 5.17. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. John 15.22-24. If the people rejected the Father and the Son there was only one witness left and that was the Spirit. The nation of Israel had a chance to accept the Spirits testimony through the apostles and the mighty acts that they did by way of attestation to the message that the Saviour brought but they rejected him and so God came in judgment in AD 70. The fact that there was a period of forty years or so between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem is testament to Gods grace.
The disciples were not going to be received in any way different from the way that the Lord Jesus had been received. They would be rejected. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. John 15.20 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. John 16.2 When this happened (it was going to happen but had not taken place at that time as their anger and frustration was expressed against the Lord Jesus) they were to take comfort and strength from His words. They would be witnesses at a time when there would no forgiveness. When they were to be brought before the synagogues (religious authority) and the rulers and the authorities (civil authority), they were not to worry about how or what they were to speak in their defense, or what they were to say for the Holy Spirit was to teach them in that very hour what they were to say. The Holy Spirit, against whom any blasphemy spoken would not be forgiven, would be their help and, in effect, speak on their behalf. If they were rejected, and they would be, they were to take comfort in the fact that the Lord Jesus had been persecuted before them and had forgiven them but that they would be rejecting the final person of the Godheads testimony to this nation and for that there could be no forgiveness.
Verses 13-21 Beware of materialism
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 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. 16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 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. 19 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. 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? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Another thing of which we are to be wary is materialism/covetousness (see verse 14). Here was a man from the crowd who evidently had something on his mind. No doubt he felt that he had a right to some part of the inheritance that his brother had received. It would have been the right thing to do to share the inheritance even though the money was no doubt only left to his brother. The mans plea is for the Saviour to speak to his brother. Perhaps he felt that the Saviour stood for justice and so He did. Perhaps he felt the Saviour had the right to judge. Certainly He would have judged correctly and fairly but the answer to him is clear and unequivocal. I am not a judge. The Saviour had read this mans heart aright but, in this instance, the words that were spoken were not just for him but for all around. The Saviour used the question to deal with a very important principle. We get so upset when one person has and we dont have. We get very upset when one person gets promoted and we do not. Let it go for a mans life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he owns. By the way the Lord Jesus did not say that life does not consist of the things that he owns and neither did He say that a mans like does not consist only of the things that he owns. It is not for us to leave out words or include those that are not there.
With increased wages comes increased responsibility such that the things that belong to God become neglected. We do not need an abundance of things. Sometimes, like this rich man, we own our business and this takes so much time as the business is established that we run the risk of leaving no time for our God. Said the Lord Jesus, Beware and guard against covetousness. It will destroy us. Had there been no love for money then there would have been no angst and there would have been no need to judge. Folks have rightly said, Where there is a will there is a relative. These things can cause so much upset and affect relationships to such an extent that folks never recover from the breakdown that has taken place.
The Saviour then spoke a parable, not about wanting to receive something for which the man had not worked, but about working hard to gain wealth and then the attitude that went with this. In other words the parable was about dangers of owning things however they were obtained. Luke uses the word parable more than other gospel writer which is surprising when we consider the constant use of the word in Matthew 13 (seven times one of them in the plural; there are only three other times in Matthew when the word is used). Luke uses the word 16 times. The man in the parable was not a figment of the Saviours imagination. The ground of a certain rich man. His name was not important for it was a principle that was being taught but to know that the man existed was important as this was a story from everyday life which had a deep meaning. To devise a story, to tell of a fictional character would not have been in anyones interests.
The man was rich. How he came by his riches we do not know but we assume that it was through hard work. This surly was not an inheritance or if so the man had not squandered what he had been given. There is nothing wrong and everything right with hard work. For whatever reason it may have been good husbandry, it may have been a good year the man had a delightful problem. The mans solution to a wonderful problem was to pull down his existing barns and build bigger ones. When there is a bumper harvest there must be a place to store the fruits. The food must not be left to the elements and go to waste. There was an alternative. He could have given some of it away. None of that is raised here.
The man reasoned with himself and then said to his soul. Whatever he said to his soul he left out the fact that God could require it at any time. We do not know when we will draw our last breath. This man was prepared for many years of living it up but he had not reasoned and reckoned upon God taking his breath away. We must include this matter in our calculations. We must be prepared should this day on earth be our last. Dont leave God out of the equation. He was going to take his ease, to eat, to drink and to be merry and there was no thought of God. Life is more than the things that we own. There is a great eternity to face. It is not only about keeping body and soul together but about keeping body, soul and spirit together.
The man thought that everything that he owned for was for his own enjoyment but what happens should we die? Who gets the goods when we no longer have need of them? Had he factored in this matter? Have we? We all have acquired things since we have been born into this world. We came in with nothing and everything that we have acquired and own gets left to another but to whom? To family? To friends? To unbelievers? Have we thought about it? Do we want to think about it? We must do so. It is not fair that we leave our wives in a position that, through neglect of writing a will, she struggles with even remaining in the family home should I be the first to go. Life is fragile. We do not know what a day may bring forth and we must be prepared for eternity but we must be prepared as far as the things that we have amassed to ourselves are concerned as well.
The overall message of this section is summarised in the final verse. If all that we do is invest in earthly banks then we are by no means rich toward God. The best investment that anyone can make is in the bank of heaven drawing on the chequebook of faith by which to live our lives.
Verses 22-40 Beware of fear and negligence
22 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. 23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
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? 25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
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. 28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 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. 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. 38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 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. 40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
This section highlights the dangers of fear and negligence. There are a number of delightful phrases that we use to pull ourselves up when materialism has taken control. It is no wonder that we take phrases from this section for here were words spoken to the Lords disciples so that, surely, they apply to us as Christians today. These things are intensely practical.
1. Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat The phrase taking thought or in this case taking no thought is found three times in the first part of this section (see verses 25 and 26). The same word, merimnao, is used. It means to be anxious, to have a distracting care. Is the Bible saying that I should give no consideration to how I am going to get food on the table? Not at all. In fact, the Bible urges us to be careful in planning our lives and to save for the future. It says, The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going. (Proverbs 14:15). The Lord Jesus wasnt telling us not to plan ahead. Instead, He was telling us not to worry about the things of this life and become preoccupied with them. We are to put Christ first instead of things first and learn to trust God for our daily needs. Is this possible? Yes! When we come to Christ, we become His children, and we are never outside of His care. Once we understand how much He loves us, our worries will begin to fade. Verse 32 says, Fear not (that is telling us not to worry), little flock (that is saying, I care)
2. Neither for the body what ye shall put on again the Saviour addressed all the disciples. Dont be anxious for the body what ye shall put on. Body image becomes a big thing the more we get away from the Lord. That is not to say that we are not to take care of our bodies. We are not to be reckless in this respect. That is not to say that we take no care in our appearance. That would be equally wrong. The subject here is not no care but overmuch care.
3. The life is more than meat, and the body more than raiment The Lord Jesus has recently made it clear that a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth. No He makes it clear to His own that life is more than food and garments. Looking good (and do not get this wrong we do not have to go out our way to look bad) is not the same as being good.
4. Consider the ravens they cannot build up a pension pot. They do not sow or reap. They are not the rich man that I told you about. They have no barn or storehouse. They cannot prepare for a rainy day and yet God feeds them. God cares for them and God provides for them. We are better than the fowls. The word there can be considered to mean differ but has been used in verse 7 as value so that we must be consistent. By how much are we of more value than the fowls? Of course we look different but in terms of being cared for then we have the same caring God and the one who cares for the birds of the air, be they sparrow (v7) or raven (here), cares as much or more for me.
Said the robin to the sparrow,
I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.
Said the sparrow to the robin,
Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.
5. And which of you with taking thought. We can think as much as we like. Remember that the word means to be anxious. An anxious mind is an ineffective one. We can worry as much as energy allows but we will never add one inch to our height by doing such things. It is an impossibility. We waste so much energy on worry. We could be so much effective for our God and in His service were it not for worry. We are not saying that it is wrong to have a care about the things of God but it is when we allow our care to become a worry that we overstep the mark. If we are unable to control that which is least then why do we get anxious for the rest? Are there any more ways that the Saviour can say, Dont worry.
6. Consider the lilies how they grow; they toil not, they spin not the Saviour continued with something else to consider. It is not now the birds of the air but the lilies (of the field it is Matthew who adds the bit about the field). They do not labour. They do not get weary in labour. They do not spin in order to clothe themselves, in order to adorn themselves and yet they have far more glory than Solomon ever enjoyed. Solomons glory was an acquired glory. The lilies have an intrinsic glory.
7. If God so clothe the grass God looks after the grass. It gets fed with enough water and nutrients to keep it growing in the areas where it does grow. God clothes it in the same way as He clothes the lilies. If we are going to fret about our appearance (that is not to say that we become eccentric and dress like cocktails) we, in effect, deny the opportunity for the faith that we claim to possess to be operational. We have no need to do this sort of thing. When we do these sorts of things we behave as those who have little faith. When we behave this way we behave as the world and forget that our Father has promised to care for us. It is an insult to Him and His care of us. He knows that we have need of food and drink and clothes. We need to be walking as men and women of faith.
8. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you God wants us to go in for His things. In Matthew 6.33 there is the insertion of the word first so seek ye first the kingdom of God but here it is omitted and rather is inserted. It is not a matter of seeking the kingdom of God above other things here but seeking the kingdom of God instead of these things. Go in for His things as our raison d'etre and everything else will fall into place. The big challenge here is, Do we believe what the Lord Jesus just here?
9. Fear not, little flock This is the crux of the matter. We are not to fear in the sense of worry. We are to remember that we are His flock and any good shepherd will care for his flock. We could trace the word fear throughout the scriptures but there are over 700 references when words like afraid and terrified, for example, are included. This is a massive subject and not one that should be treated merely theologically. Fear is a powerful emotion that is often uncontrollable. We deal with very practical issues when we speak on this subject. The theologian may well challenge the over 700 references statement by rightly pointing out that sometimes the word fear refers to reverential fear but that leaves an incredible amount of scripture that deals with the subject. The scripture does not mention the word love and its associated words as much. Fear is an emotion that has troubled mankind ever since he was formed. Indeed life would teach us that that it is a rare thing for a man or woman to be fearless. In some ways it is a natural thing to be afraid. There is a certain level of fear that is needed for survival otherwise we would all be walking out in front of motor cars and our lives would soon come to an end. Fear only becomes a real problem when it overtakes us to the degree that we become either inefficient or incapacitated. Fear is capable of doing this. We talk of fear paralysis. Fear can be crippling. People become incapacitated by fear in some cases. We waste a lot of energy through fear and by doing so become inefficient.
The compiler of these notes once heard that there are 365 mentions of fear not in the scriptures one instruction for each day of the year. So he went looking to find all these promises and he was not sure that he found one third of that figure. That is not to say that we need God to repeat Himself over and over. To say it once is good enough but God does say this phrase on many occasions. Starting at Genesis 15 and the first verse and right through to the end of the Bible there is hardly a book where this phrase is not used by God. Why should that be? Because He knows we get afraid. It is not that God repeats Himself because of mans stubbornness. God is not as callous as some Christians. He knows our frame and He remembers that we are but dust. Sometimes we are afraid that we are too young. Sometimes we are afraid of getting old. Sometimes our fears are completely irrational. Yet God whispers in our ear, Fear not. Sometimes our fears are rational but what will we really lose in our day and age and in this country? Our livelihood? Remember that God spoke those words at times to men and women whose lives were at stake. Will we lose face? This is just an embarrassment thing (and that may be linked to pride). The men and women in the scriptures had more than just face to lose.
10. It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom God is not against us. He is on our side. God is for us and since He is for us who can be against us? Think of all that we will receive in the kingdom. Do we think of heaven in such a way? Do we, as Christians, really believe in eternity?
11. Sell that ye have, and give alms. The Saviour has already warned of the danger of laying up treasure for oneself (verse 21). He has already warned of the desire to have. Now He tells His own to sell what they have and to give. We have got to be a giving people and not a grabbing people. Our treasure is not to be laid up on earth as Christians but in heaven. If our treasure is on earth then our heart will be there. If our treasure is in heaven our earth will be in that place. Thieves have no entrance there. Our treasure is secure in heaven. Moths cant corrupt there in the same way as they can destroy things down here.
12. Let your loins be girded, your lights be burning and be like men that wait for their lord we are not to be negligent but to be prepared to work, to witness, to wait and to watch. If we are in such a condition then when the Lord returns we may be in just the right condition to meet Him. We are not to be so bowed down with this world that when we are taken there has to be so many changes in our lives. We should be in such a condition that the translation from earth to heaven should be with the minimum of change. We should be in such a condition of enjoying heaven, a treasure there, that when he comes and calls we ready for His appearing.
The whole of this section is summarised in the final verse be ye therefore ready also: for the son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. It is clear that His coming as the Son of man is not for the church but the principle still applies to Christians. We need to be ready.
Verses 41-53 Beware of complacency
41 Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? 42 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? 43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. 45 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; 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.
47 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. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall 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. 49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? 50 But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
This section is difficult to grasp. Peters question is highly relevant. Was this a word to disciples or was this a word for all? It was a word primarily for all those who were to look for the Saviours coming. That is the happy servant, the faithful and wise steward. This one has separated himself from the world. This one has not laid up treasure on the earth but has treasure interests in heaven.
There is, however, another kind of servant. He thinks that the Lord was delaying His coming and that he could behave just how he liked. He felt that he could behave despicably and violently towards his fellows. To think and act in this way was to think and act in a wrong way. This one was not belonging to the master. This was not a true servant. This ones portion would be the fate of the unbeliever. He may have had privileges in that he knew much of the master but he did not know that much that he believed that he was due to come soon. He spoke against the lord and acted against him too. Nominal Christianity is not Christianity and will result in the same judgment as those who have refused to believe.
There is a further kind of servant. This one was not prepared though he knew he had to be prepared. He had entangled himself with worldly things and did not walk by faith (verse 47). This one was to be beaten with many stripes and the one who knew not the lords will (through lack of teaching or whatever) was to be beaten with few stripes.
The interpretation of this is hard for we must consider many other passages of scripture that teach full salvation due to the work of the Lord Jesus upon the cross and loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ. The strict interpretation may be difficult but the principles are easy to grasp. The more light that I am given the more my responsibility to live according to that light. The more the truth entrusted to me the more I am to live in the good of that truth. There may not be stripes to contend with but there is a loss of reward if, having been given light and truth, I despise that gift and do nothing with it.
The Lord Jesus explained that He was coming back to this earth to judge (the fire see chapters 17 and 19 for how He explained what was to happen) but there the kindling was already in place. The people, by their rejection of Him, kindled the fire of judgment. They were, to use another analogy relating to cutting down, ripe for judgment by their attitude towards Him. Any judgment that was forthcoming was utterly deserved.
The Saviour had a baptism to be baptised with. This referred to His death (see Matthew 20 and Mark 10). The Lord was straitened until this was accomplished. He was pressed until He died. He could not come out in full blessing and full grace until He died. Men saw His love and grace during His life but it was not until He died that grace overflowed. It needed the death of the Lord Jesus for grace to abound.
The one who had come to send fire on the earth (that is to happen at a later date) asked the question whether or not they thought that He had come to give peace on earth. Of course He had with respect to believers as John 14 explains but the proclamation of this gospel message was to polarise people in the same way as people were polarised by His message when He preached. John 10.19, 9.16 and 7.43 There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. So there was a division among the people because of him. They were divided because of His words, His actions and just because He was who He was. His coming into this world and the subsequent preaching of His message meant that there would be a division amongst people between those who were saved and those who were not.
Verses 54-59 Beware of impending judgment
54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. 55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.
56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? 57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. 59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
Although this portion is only 6 verses, they do divide into 2 clear sections: The first is in verses 54-57:
The Lord in both sections is much more challenging and confrontational, than in the earlier part of the chapter. In the beginning of the chapter he is talking to an innumerable company of people, then He talked with His disciples, but in the closing section (v 54) He spoke again to the people. There has been a sense of judgment running through the chapter, but now He gave it a greater sense of urgency.
There are a number of quotations of commonly known secular sayings in scripture. Here is one but there are many others including those found in Luke 4.23 and 24, 13.32; Acts 17.28; I Corinthians 15.33 (from the Athenian writer Menander in one of his plays), Titus 1.10-13. He knew that they could predict the weather. By looking at the clouds coming in from the west (over the Mediterranean) they could say there was rain coming: while a southern wind (warmed by passing over the Sahara) indicated heat (not surprisingly). Both weather forecasts are grounded in sound science. The implication is that if the people can read the signs in nature, but they refuse to see the signs of the Lord being the Son of God, of His being the Messiah, His person, His work, His glory then they have missed out. He called them hypocrites translated meaning actors playing a feigned part. His forceful statement suggests that the people were not merely not seeing the signs of His person and work but that they were wilfully refusing to see them.
They were also not reading the signs of the spiritual storm that was shortly to burst upon the Saviour. Indeed the previous chapter closes with these words:-
11.53 And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:
11.54 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.
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.
Some had accused the Lord of having a devil and in Luke 11.15 the statement is made, But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.
V57, is not easy, the word right at the end is not so much in the context of right and wrong but rather right as in righteous or just. Its interesting that at the commencement of the Lords ministry in Lukes gospel we find in Luke 4.22, And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Josephs son?
The second section is in verses 58 & 59
58 When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
59 I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
The import of this section seems to be the Lord saying settle out of court. The illustration is of a person owing money to a second individual called by the Lord, an adversary, and they are on their way to the court to seek a ruling from a magistrate. The Lord indicates settle whilst you are on your way, for there is a real prospect that the judge will find against you, and you will be cast into prison until you have paid every last tiniest amount of the money owing (It is interesting how relevant the Lords word are to current arrangements. According to the most recently-available statistics, about 95 percent of pending lawsuits for personal injury claims end in a pre-trial settlement. This means that just one in 20, personal injury cases is ever resolved in a court of law by a judge or jury.)
So what is the Lord seeking to teach? There is coming a judgment day for all those who have not had their sins forgiven. Gods judgment is against sin. To pass out of this life into eternity is to leave it too late. There is no room for forgiveness at the Great White throne in Revelation. However whilst we still have life, and whilst it is still the Day of Grace, we can find forgiveness before God through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Gods justice is satisfied as Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures God has come out to the sinner in love and provided a means of escape from his judgment of sin. Earlier in Luke 7.39 to 50, the Lord had introduced interplay between a creditor, two debtors and the forgiveness of sins. Indeed following the story the Pharisees asked the question who is this that forgiveth sins also
Christ is not our advisory or legal opponent nor is He, in the strictest sense of the word, our adversary at this time; however the scriptures are quite clear that there is a case against us, because of our sin. Indeed John 3.18 & 19 make is quite clear that to reject God, or to ignore his call to settle means that there can only be one decision
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
It is mankinds best interests to settle with Him on His grounds while He is prepared to settle the matter before He turns into the judge that He will become and then there is no escape. Now He is in the way but leave it too late and the one who is in the way becomes the one who judges. To wait until we meet Him as judge is to be condemned. This can be contrasted with the position of the sinner who seeks forgiveness (who settles the matter) through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ John 5.24
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
There will be no judgment court, there will be no judgment, the saved sinner is living in the good of an eternal life.
Sadly we feel at Hurst that we have seen a number of our regular attendees pass from life into eternity without ever taking hold of Christ, without ever taking up his offer to settle out of court and without ever seeing the urgency to get right with God whilst it is still called today.
II Corinthians 6.2 For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)