Summary: Jesus told a story in Luke’s Gospel to teach us to balance the temporary with the eternal.
Opening Statement: There are many literary forms used in the Bible. There is poetry, proverb, legal document, dramatic narrative, hymn, sermon, theological treatise, personal letter, and apocalyptic vision. And sprinkled into all of these genres are figures of speech and word pictures that highlight what is being said. The form that a writer or speaker chooses to use in order to communicate his or her message indicates it’s meaning or how it should be treated or interpreted.
Review: We launched into a miniseries a month ago that deals with Jesus’ use of parables or stories. Jesus’ stories usually had one main idea.
Clarification: Some of the parables were true stories taken from daily life. They are told as fact in the present tense. We’ve seen seed growing, yeast at work in dough, children playing, sheep grazing, and we all know what it’s like to lose something. Jesus told true stories about these things. Some of the parables were story parables. These stories, which may or may not have actually happened (the historicity is not important), are meant to convey a significant truth. Jesus made up some of these stories and used them as illustrations. Then there are example stories. They give us examples to either follow or avoid. They focus on the character and conduct of the individual.
Observation: While these stories teach us many good and wholesome things (as we will learn together), the parables do two other things that are easily overlooked.
First, the stories of Jesus indicate that He was fully acquainted with human life in its many experiences.
Second, Jesus’ stories reveal His heart. They tell His autobiography and the autobiography of God. Do you want to know how God feels about people being a good neighbor, read the story of the Good Samaritan. Do you want to know how God feels when someone who is lost finally finds home again? Read the story of the Prodigal Son. Do you want to know how Jesus feels about people obeying His teachings? Read the story of the house built on the rock or sand? Do you want to know how to approach God in prayer for salvation? Read the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
Title: We’ll continue today by looking at The Rich Fool – Balancing the Temporal with the Eternal
Proposition: Jesus told a story in Luke’s Gospel to teach us to balance the temporary with the eternal.
Text: Luke 12:16-21
Recitation: 12:16 He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, 12:17 so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 12:18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 12:19 And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”’ 12:20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 12:21 So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.” The Message: Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, “Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’” “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods – who gets it?’ “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
Key Word: A single character in this story will be our main sermon point today because he represents the struggle to balance the temporary side of life with the eternal side of life.
Background: The incident that provoked this teaching was a disagreement over an inheritance. An unknown man in the crowd wanted Jesus to make his brother divide some inherited property fairly. It is never spoken, but the man must have felt that he didn’t get enough. I’m sure he wasn’t asking Jesus to make his brother take more money. I suspect that greed was tearing the man’s family apart. He was so focused on getting his fair share that he disregarded what it was doing to his own flesh and blood.
Jesus refused to be involved in the arbitration and instead, told a story, which is our focus today. A wealthy farmer had an exceptional summer, because at harvest time he gathered a bumper crop. The first century world did not have certificates of deposit or stock certificates. Their wealth was measured in grain, garments, land and gold. This man had an abundance of grain. What happened after this small introduction is quite literary and deeply spiritual. Jesus used what is known in literary circles as a soliloquy: a dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character reveals his or her thoughts when alone or unaware of the presence of other characters. So these are not things that this particular businessman was saying out loud to others. These were his deep, inner thoughts that Jesus lets us listen in on.