Summary: In answering the young man's question concerning his inheritance Jesus focuses on two deep truths: 1. Who we are is more important that what we possess 2. We are to worship the Creator and not the Creation
Title: Just Thinking Like Jesus
Proposition: In answering the young man's question concerning his inheritance Jesus focuses on two deep truths: 1. Who we are is more important that what we possess 2. We are to worship the Creator and not the Creation
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
Our passage this morning focuses on a conversation that occurres between Jesus and a young man who is up in arms about his inheritance. From what Luke shares we can quickly surmise that there must have been some heated disagreement concerning the distribution of some money/possessions going on between two certain brothers after the death of their parents (verse 13).
It is safe to assume that the man who is asking Jesus the question felt like he was being taken advantage. He believed that his brother was taking more than he was allowed or else the young man wanted Jesus to step in and change the current inheritance rules towards his favor. In either case it appears that the younger brother was unhappy with the whole situation and felt like he was being cheated by his sibling.
As Americans, we live in a secular society in which disagreements and situations like this are usually handled by lawyers, courts and judges. For example, if you have a disagreement concerning a matter over an estate or probate and you feel like you are being cheated then you are encouraged to retain the services of a Probate Litigation Lawyer. Then, if your lawyer or legal team cannot settle the matter in a reasonable fashion, the matter then goes to a court of law where a judge and/or juror will finally decide the case.
However, in Jesus' time, at least among the more orthodox Jews, it was believed that such cases should be settled by the members of the Jewish clergy. Ancient Israel had been founded on the principles of a theocratic government. That means that they had a "form of government in which God (or other deity) is recognized as the king or supreme ruler, and his/her laws are taken as the law book of the kingdom." Ancient Jews believed that the LORD and His Laws should form as the foundation of God's People. We see those laws spelled out in various areas of the Torah2. The Levites, priests and later on the rabbis were seen as God's agents on earth. If one had a problem or an issue they did not go to a secular lawyer, court or judge, instead, they would either go to the Temple or they would consult a renowned Levite, priest or rabbi. Whatever these religious men would say would hold more power and authority than any secular lawyer, judge or court.
Today, we see this type of theocratic government still being used in places like the Holy See of Rome, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Tibet. While there are secular laws in each place, Holy Law is seen to supersede secular law. The greatest example of a theocratic government of course is seen in Iran (ancient Persia) where the highest political and religious ruler is the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei. The Ayatollah's interpretation of Sharia Law (law according to Allah) triumph's any secular law. The Ayatollah is seen as Allah's representative here on earth and his word is final.
We know from reading the Old Testament that there were some regulations already in place that controlled such cases as this young man brought to Jesus (Numbers 27:1-11; Deut. 21:15-17). This was not the first time family members had hassled over some furniture and some dishes. However, it seems that this particular man was hoping that Jesus would use his rabbinical authority to either challenge those rules or supersede them with his own ruling. He was appealing to Jesus in his capacity as a rabbi to end the dispute and settle the difference between him and his brother. He was hoping that Jesus would of course rule in his favor and in the end he would end up with more bits and pieces.
I believed Jesus surprised him with his attitude. Jesus declined the invitation to be a referee. Jesus did not want to get into a hassle involving the distribution of furniture, dishes, silverware, house, land and money. Jesus refused to be drawn into choosing sides especially when he began to smell the aroma of covetousness, greed and materialism.
It is here that we get to the heart of our passage. Before Jesus shares with us the parable of the Rich Fool, he makes a blanket statement that everyone hearing him and reading this story later was suppose to hear and heed. Jesus issues a stern warning not to allow covetousness, materialism and greed to come in and destroy their lives. He tells everyone that they must "be on guard" when it comes to the constant temptation of covetousness, materialism and greed. Unchecked these three things will destroy our lives, our relationship with others and most importantly our relationship with the LORD God Almighty. They have the ability to cast our souls in Hell. In the young man's case we just read about those three things were already destroying the relationship between him and his brother.