Summary: Jesus gets tough on hypocrisy and worldly desires. All that stands in the way of the kingdom of God must go!
Does Jesus ever say things that make you mad? Sometimes when we get close to someone and there are disagreements, we get mad at each other. Does that ever happen in your family? Some things have to be said and done even when it makes for an angry response. Jesus knew when to be soft and when to be as hard as nails. When it came to things that stood in the way of the kingdom of God or things that violated the cause of heaven, Jesus rose up and went to war. Here in chapter 12 he prepared his disciples for that same warfare.
One of the most helpful things for understanding what Jesus said in his teachings is to discover the context in which he said them. The Gospel accounts don’t just give us a collection of doctrinal statements that we memorize and obey. We have a story of the life and times in which Jesus spoke, a living word. There were a few times of relative peace. Today’s lesson from Luke 12 was not taken from one of those peaceful times. In fact, Jesus has entered into a kind of war that he knows full well is going to culminate in his own death on the cross.
When Jesus says, 4 "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” He is not speaking from an armchair as a philosopher looking at life with cool detachment. Jesus speaks in the acute awareness of what is happening all around him and what is going to come in his own life. He knows his days are numbered and he even knows the number. He also knows who those are who will finally arrest him and put him to death. But Jesus has a heavenly head on his shoulders. He’s got a priority system that provides him with ability to look past unimportant things and focus on what counts in the midst of confusing emotions and activities.
Would you like to be like that today? I know I would! Emotions and distractions of this world are all around us begging for attention.
In today’s lesson Luke records Jesus’ teaching that reveal some of that priority system. Jesus wants us to have heavenly heads on our shoulders too. In his message we hear his passionate instruction. Jesus is no cool detached and distant philosopher doling out deep mysteries. He’s as real and contemporary as today’s newspaper. Jesus is fully aware of all that is happening in his life and he understands what happens in ours. But while Jesus is fully connected with life on earth, he is also connected with what is happening in his heavenly Father’s heart. He never loses touch with either connection. You can know that when you hear the words of Jesus Christ, you are hearing words that echo here on earth but have their origin in the halls of heaven.
Look at the list that Jesus addresses: hypocrisy, fear, confession, the Holy Spirit’s dignity and help, greed about too much, worry about not enough, readiness for Christ’s return, division that faith in him causes, even in a family, and reading the signs of the times.