Summary: The teaching of Jesus is not complicated. Love God and love others. We do this by serving people and sharing the Good News of Jesus with them. And Obey God. We do this by submitting to the authority of Jesus through prayer and living out His Will, His purpose and priorities.
Last week we discussed that the core of Jesus teaching is this truth, He must be at the center of all we do and think. Last Sunday we discussed the priorities of Jesus. His two priorities are to love God and others and to obey God. These are His priorities so they must be the priorities of those who follow Him. We love God and others by serving and blessing people so that we can share the good news of Jesus. We obey God by practicing submission to the authority of Jesus through prayer. We want to be involved in what God is doing around us. We don't ask God to involve Himself in our lives, we ask God to be involved in His.
This parable of Jesus, as all His stories do, encourage those "with ears to hear" to listen to His simple and reproducible truth. Jesus is the center of all we do and think.
If you want to understand the teaching of Jesus then always read His words through His priorities. So, let's read the parable we're looking at today and notice where the priorities of Jesus are reinforced.
Jesus shares this parable. “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Did the rich man in this story love God and others and did He obey God? The man Jesus describes in this parable is selfish and self-centered. He was more concerned with his retirement than he was with blessing others. This rich man did not care for the needs of the poor around him. He didn't love others. He also wasn't obedient to God, because according to the religious law in the day of Jesus tithing 10 percent to the temple was demanded. But this man didn't share his riches with God and he didn't share his riches with others; because he didn't share the priorities of Jesus. So Jesus concludes a person is a fool to work for riches and retirement instead of a rich relationship with God.
Jesus is passionate about His priorities. You can tell how much he cares about loving God and others and obeying God by the words He chooses in His stories.
Let's take a look at a couple of sentences from this parable that helps us understand how serious Jesus is about loving God and others and obeying God.
"You fool! You will die this very night."
This seems harsh. The guy was selfish. He was self-centered, but, isn't God full of grace and mercy? The Bible says, "God is love." Why would Jesus tell a story in which Love kills a guy for being selfish?
First, this is a story. This is not a real event. Jesus consistently used passionate words as a method to grab his audience's attention and try to make them understand His truth. Jesus isn't going to execute someone for being selfish, otherwise, we would all be dead. Because we all act out in selfish ways sometimes. Can you see the passion in His words, though? Jesus is pleading with us to live out His priorities. Love God and love others and obey God. This is the only way to live. Jesus is the center of all we do and think.
Second, Jesus teaches us that we die to self as the beginning of a life with Him. He said that if you want to be a follower you must deny yourself and pick up a cross. Paul explains this concept further several times in his letters, here's one example, "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."
The teaching of Jesus is simple and reproducible. What Jesus taught everyone can understand and repeat. Love God and others and obey God. This isn't difficult to understand. This is a simple truth and it's simple to repeat. Our goal as followers is to go to heaven and take as many others with us as we can. We want to share the Good News of Jesus. The Good News of Jesus is simple to share. Jesus teaches us that we die to ourselves so that we can be born again to live with Him. The rich man in this story chose to ignore the simple commands of God. He didn't die to himself, he lived for himself. How about you? Who are you living for today? Is Jesus is the center of all you do and think?