Summary: Disciple needed to learn the lesson that life is more important than material things. They must learn not to be diverted from their commitment to Jesus by greed for wealth & material possessions. True riches & satisfaction come only from God.
LUKE 12: [13-] 16-21. [PARABLES IN LUKE]
A FOOL AND HIS RICHES
[1 Timothy 6:6–10]
AMERICA has been assured by its political leaders that ours is the highest standard of living in the World. We have the most wealth that men have ever known. Everywhere there are supermarkets overflowing with food and other items. Everywhere are huge stores crammed with merchandise of all kinds surrounded by expansive parking lots. We have superhighways clogged with expensive vehicles to transport us. Where there is navigable water we find large marinas filled with luxurious boats of all types. We are told that we have more TVs, more cell phones, more computers, more elevators, more air conditioning, more private and commercial planes that any people on earth.
Into such a civilization the Son of God comes to speak ancient words of eternal wisdom. “A man’s life does consist in the abundance of his possessions” (12:15). Jesus’ statement was prompted by a dispute between brothers over an inheritance. The desire for money was creating a huge problem for this family. So Jesus’ points out that life does not consist in having many possessions.
Greed constitutes a great obstacle to spiritual growth [Bock, Darrell. The IVP NT Com. Luke. Inter Varsity Press, Dover Grove, IL. p. 224]. Covetousness puts spiritual blinders on people causing them to see only “stuff.” The disciples needed to learn the lesson that life is more important than material things. Jesus’ disciples therefore must learn not to be diverted from their commitment to Jesus by greed for wealth and material possessions (CIT).
We must avoid the tyranny of things, for what people own will not supply true peace and joy. True riches and satisfaction come only from God.
I. STUFF DEMANDED 13-15.
II. STUFF DEPOSITED / RECEIVED, 16-19.
III. STUFF’S DISPOSAL, 20-21.
In the middle of Jesus’ teachings about life in the kingdom, someone interrupts in verse 13 with a request to settle a family dispute and divide an inheritance. “Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
A disgruntled attendee in the crowd appeals to Jesus as the teacher, since he wanted Jesus to instruct his brother to divide up the inheritance which was due him in an equitable way. [Likely the reference is to the double-portion allotted to the firstborn son.] Apparently the regulations for inheritance cases (Num. 27:1-11; Deut. 21:15-17) were not being followed, in the opinion of the younger brother, who must wait on the older to share the family wealth. [These matters were often settled in the synagogue.]
In verse 14 we find that Jesus, the great reconciler of people, would not take up his case. “But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
Although ministry can all too often become mired in an attempt to right perceived wrongs, Jesus wisely said, “This is not My area of concern.” Jesus mission was too urgent, too important to be diverted to issues other men could settle. Jesus came to reconcile us to God and to each other, and not to reapportion wealth[, nor to reinforce our own views of justice].
Jesus’ purpose was not to make bad men good or good men better. His purpose was to make dead men live, to see people born again and brought into the kingdom. Jesus was out to heal relationships between God and people, only then could they heal relationships between each other.
Countless times we think that if we only had more money we could prevent problems from coming our way. We think money would not only allow us to enjoy a better life, but that it would allow us to enjoy life better. The sooner we get over the illusion that more stuff means a better life the better off we will be. Then we can pursue true treasure, a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus.
Jesus uses this opportunity to teach us in verse 15 that possessions do not give life its meaning. Desiring possessions can become a tyrant in our life filling us greed. “Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Jesus uses this interruption as an opportunity to teach His disciples where the focus should be as He warns them and us of the deceitfulness of riches. In a world as affluent as ours where everyone seem to be seeking more and more temporary and fleeting stuff the warning against greed has never been more needed. The Bible calls this pursuit of stuff greed.
What is greed or covetousness? Simply wanting more when we already have enough. Jesus said it is a sin of which we must be so careful. Not only is it one of the Ten Commandments, it is the root of all evil. [The Greek word for covetous in 2 Timothy 3:2 is the same as “love of money (1 Tim. 6:10.] Jesus then tells a parable to explain why we need to guard against all kinds of greed [apparently there are many types of insatiable desires].