Summary: Man thinks of worldly riches but God thinks of heavenly riches.
Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (v. 13).
People were always following Jesus; perhaps out of curiosity, perhaps they really believed in what he said, perhaps they were looking for a miracle or healing to take place, or for other reasons.
At this particular time, verse 1 says than “an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another”.
One man in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (v.13).
Scripture does not tell us if this was all money that was involved or if the inheritance consisted of land, buildings, or even some type of business.
Also, Scripture does not tell us if one brother was trying to take advantage of the other.
We do not know if the brothers had a close relationship with one another or whether the relationship was distant.
I’m sure you have heard of families that had nothing to do with each until someone died. At that time people seemed to come out of the woodwork in hopes that something of value might be waiting for them. Today, will specify how an estate is to be divided in the event of death. In the absence of a will, state laws govern how the estate will be divided.
In the Torah, the Old Testament Law provides guidelines for the distribution of an inheritance.
Also, Rabbis were required to interpret how this law applied in a given circumstance. Let’s look at what the Old Testament tells us.
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 states: “If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.”
This law points out how destructive life can be by having more than one wife. The law prevented men from choosing which eldest from which wife to leave the greatest inheritance. The first born son is first regardless of which wife conceived and gave birth. It makes no difference whether the wife was the favorite or more loved wife.
It may be that this man was the younger brother, although Scripture does not say, and he could not bear the thought that his older brother would be getting a double share of the inheritance.
Perhaps the older brother had no thought of giving the younger brother any more than was due him.
Maybe the one brother thought the other brother had done him wrong and the man’s only recourse was to appeal to Jesus to settle the question. Scripture, again, does not tell us this.
Perhaps the one brother thought Jesus would step in and change the Old Testament Law and divide the inheritance evenly.
Maybe the man in the crowd was a son from one of the father’s other wives.
Our text does not tell us if this was a situation as describes in Deuteronomy 21.
Jesus’ mission was not to make sure men received worldly or material possessions, but his mission was to save the souls of men.
That mission has not changed. Jesus died to pay our sin debt that we might believe in him, trust in him, and accept him as our personal Lord and Savior. By doing this our soul will be saved and will spend eternity with him in his kingdom.
Jesus responded to the man with these words: “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’ (v.15)
Jesus was not about to step in and settle a civil suit.
Old Testament Law already specified what was to take place in such a matter.
This was an earthly matter, an earthly request and there were man made laws to take care of such matters. Civil matters are left in the hands of worldly people.
If this had been a heavenly inheritance, Jesus would have offered his assistance without hesitation. In settling a heavenly issue, Jesus knew where his authority originated. He could tell people who gave him his authority. The kingdom of Jesus is a spiritual kingdom.
Jesus knew that men were greedy and they would do whatever they could to gain worldly possessions.
Jesus was more concerned about moral issues than earthly issues. He was not interested in material issues and was not in the business of gaining money, land, or any other material possession for men.