Summary: Jesus clearly exhorted His disciples to be ready for His coming. Are you ready? Really?
Alistair Begg recalls a news story he heard while living in England about a Liverpool couple who had their car stolen from in front of their home one night. Several days later they woke in the morning to find their car, cleaned, full of gas and sitting back in front of the house. There was a note on the front seat, containing an apology for whatever inconvenience they may have experienced, and two theatre tickets.
So the couple used the tickets. And while they were at the play, the guy burglarized their house.
Begg used the story for the same purpose I repeat it; to make the simple point that if the couple had been just a little suspicious about the unusual circumstances and perhaps thought it through more, they may have skipped the play and been ready for the intruder.
There is no shortage in the Scriptures of warnings to be watchful, alert, ready. These are always directed at God’s people. The people of the world have nothing to be watchful for. The warnings to them are of quite a different type, and the tone offers nothing of a desirable nature at all if they refuse to take heed.
But here in Luke 12 Jesus is speaking to His disciples and He has some very enlightening but also sobering matters to address with them.
Putting our text verses in the context of the moment, we look back and observe that Jesus has just told the parable of the wealthy landowner who thought he had it made because his barns were full. The man thinks he has all he needs for years to come, so he is now free to kick back and enjoy it all in ease. Little does he know that by morning he’s going to be dead.
Jesus has been telling this parable in the presence of a very large crowd of people. Verse one of chapter 12 says thousands. It says they were stepping on each other. But notice His comments are nevertheless directed to His disciples. Luke tells us that in verse one and again in verse 22.
He finishes the parable then once again says directly to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you…” For what reason? So they won’t end up like the fool with the full barns.
He laid up treasure for himself on earth but was not rich toward God.
Now we are not to derive from this that there is something wrong with having wealth or worldly goods. Lloyd Ogilvie pointed out that we in the church have historically been critical of successful people, condemning prosperity all year, and yet “…go to the prosperous at stewardship time to collect the results of their industry”. “AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GOD” – Regal Books 1979
Ogilvie’s point was that having wealth in itself is not bad. In fact, when a person is wealthy in this world, their duty to God is to first acknowledge that what they have comes from Him, and secondly to use it with Godly wisdom and charity.
The main point Jesus is making to them is that the man’s attentions were so riveted on his material goods and the here and now that he gave no thought for God and wasn’t ready for eternity.
So in verse 22 when He tells them (and us) “…do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on”
He wasn’t telling them it’s wrong to plan for yourself or to pursue your basic needs in an honest manner.
He also wasn’t saying this just to give them comfort and assurance that their needs would be met.
If you put this parable and these admonitions from Jesus all in context with the rest of the chapter you will see that although we do derive these other messages from this dialogue of His, the pressing and urgent message we need to get through our heads is, remember your priorities!
If our focus is so intent on acquisition and accumulation of worldly goods and comforts as though we cannot depend upon God, they will be such a distraction to us that we will forget God and not be ready for eternity.
Then He goes on to give them some examples from their world around them that should serve to be daily reminders of God’s goodness and provision. The birds. The lilies. The very grass. He takes care of all these things, and aren’t we worth infinitely more to Him than those things that whither and go back to the earth?
Of course. Thus, the admonition to keep our attentions fixed on the things that are eternal and stored up for us in the Kingdom of Heaven, because our hearts, that is, our desires and our delights and our attentions will be fixed on wherever our treasure is. Either on a passing world or an eternal home.