Summary: In Luke 12:13-32 Jesus uses an interruption as an opportunity to talk about greed, how material possessions do not bring happiness, and that when we live within the Kingdom of God, right here and right now, we can relax in the knowledge that God is in con
BY: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
A young man and an older man were having a conversation about the future.
The young man said, “I’m gonna learn a trade.”
“And then?” asked the older man.
“I’ll set up my business.”
“I’ll make my fortune.”
“I suppose I will grow old and retire and live on my money.”
“Well, I suppose that someday I will die.”
“And then?” came the last stabbing question.
Kind of bleak, isn’t it?
Could even be sort of scary and cause a bit of anxiety to rise up within us.
Is that all this life is about?
Or is it about a whole lot more?
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Our modern world seems to be built on anxiety.
We see it on the faces of people hurrying to work…
…cutting one another off in traffic…
…tying their tie in the rear-view mirror or fixing their hair.
We see it even more as people travel home, tired but without having solved life’s problems.
Faces are weary, puzzled, living the unanswerable question as to what it all means.
We often thrive on setting higher and higher goals for ourselves, and each other, and then we worry all day and all year about whether we will reach them.
If we do reach them, we will set new ones.
If we don’t, we will feel as if we’ve failed.
Is this really how we are supposed to live?
Our Scripture passage indicates that these problems are nothing new.
Many of Jesus’ listeners only had enough to live on, and there was always the very real possibility that, one day, they wouldn’t have even that!
Most of them would maybe have one extra piece of clothing, but not more.
As with many of us, one disaster—the family breadwinner being sick or injured, for example—could mean instant destitution.
Talk about a recipe for anxiety and unhappiness!!!
And, boy, we sure do know now that anxiety itself can be a killer!
Stress and worry can cause disease, or contribute to it—producing the “wonderful cycle” of us worrying about worrying.
But, as with much of what Jesus says, His teaching goes right to the heart of the way we are.
It sure makes good sense at every level, but it also goes much deeper…
…all the way to the very center of our world!
At the beginning of our passage, it has been speculated that Jesus is teaching the people to rely on the Holy Spirit in times of distress…
…and then He is interrupted.
A man in the crowd blurts out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
It was a common practice to take unsettled disputes to respected rabbis, and Jesus must have had that reputation at that time.
More than likely, the man was not destitute.
His father had passed away and left his money to the older brother.
The younger brother, who interrupts Jesus, probably farms a few acres of land on the outskirts of town.
By the standards of the time, he’s comfortable.
He is not, however, satisfied.
He wants half of that inheritance that was left to his brother.
Jesus, though, wisely refuses to step into the middle of this family feud: “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?...
…Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a [person’s] life does not consist in the abundance of his [or her] possessions.”
Greed can be a horrible thing, really.
I mean, when is enough finally enough?
Greed can steal our very lives, our very souls!
And fights over family inheritances?
How many brothers and sisters no longer even speak to one another because of such things?
I mean, is it really worth it?
So, Jesus uses this interruption as an opportunity to talk about greed, how material possessions do not bring happiness, and that when we live within the Kingdom of God, right here and right now, we can relax in the knowledge that God is in control!!!
Jesus launches into a parable.
“The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.
He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’”
Now keep in mind, that this land produced a whole lot of crops long before our modern technology kicked in.
There was no genetic engineering, no pesticides, no additives…just good old natural fertilizer.
And the rich man just happened to own this really awesome land.