Summary: We must have an understanding of who owns what when it comes to stewardship. this is the first in a four part series on stewardship
PLAY DVD OF APOLLO 13, CLIP 1. Houston we have a problem, Have you ever noticed how problems shape our lives. While we may pray for a problem free life, the truth of the matter is problems have a way of defining us. John Maxwell said, “Problems are predictors” – you can predict what type of person you are by the way you handle your problems. When it comes to problems some people are like tea pots, they scream when they get in hot water. While others are like a coffee pots, when the water gets hot they release a pleasing aroma and bring forth a refreshing beverage.
Now while people react differently to problems, HERE IS THE TRUTH – We all have problems.
When the Apollo 13 crew discovered their problem in space they and mission control realized they were in trouble and they moved into action.
Problems are not reserved simply for space flight, when you study the life of Jesus; you discover his ministry was interrupted several times by problems.
The physical needs of many
Pharisees question his message
Disciples get caught up in who is the greatest
All were problems
A common problem Jesus had was the interruptions in his teaching. Yet Jesus turned the interruption into a teachable moment.
NOTE OUR TEXT THIS MORNING – Luke 12:13-15
A Unique Problem
Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
In the previous section of scripture, Jesus is challenging his listeners to place their trust in him. He encourages them by telling them God is aware of the life of a sparrow, one of the smallest of birds and God is aware of the sparrow and you are more valuable than a sparrow and God is aware of your needs as well.
It is at that point he is interrupted
Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." The interruption is actually a request. A death has happened in a family and this death has led to a dispute about the inheritance. And this unnamed man is asking for Jesus to be the judge –of who gets what.
This inheritance has brought about a problem.
While this man’s experience of death I’m sure was painful, it brought about a delicate issue, the issue of inheritance. In our culture we try to avoid such conflicts, we make out wills, planning that the money and property goes to the right people. We may also make our lists: going from room to room, putting names on specific lamps or pictures as to who gets what from each of the rooms in the house. For example, mothers go through the whole house, marking the names of specific children and grandchildren on specific items. We make our wills and we make our lists. We don’t want any conflicts or confusions. Death brings out enough tension as it is, so we plan for who gets what hoping to avoid the tension.
In the Culture of the New Testament, the thought of wills was non- existent, most people had very few possessions to pass on to their family and those who were people of means had laws that governed the distribution of the assets. A quick look at this text tells us this was a family of means there were some assets to be divided and this was causing tension in the family. We see the tension when we see the simple line, “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Draw some conclusions from this problem.
Jewish law dictated that the oldest boy received a double portion of the inheritance, and the other brother a single portion. So, reading between the lines, the oldest boy got two thirds; the youngest got one third. The younger got half as much as the older. Maybe there is jealousy, resentment by the younger brother.
There is another problem, with the older brother was in control of the situation. The older brother is resistant to dividing the inheritance at this time. Maybe the size of the inheritance is great and greed has slipped in to the older brother’s life; maybe the older brother is afraid his younger brother will take the inheritance and waste it. Whatever the reason, the older brother is resistant to dividing the inheritance.
The younger brother goes to Jesus, hoping will intervene. Maybe he will tell his older brother to divide the inheritance immediately; maybe Jesus will override the Jewish law and tell the older brother to giving a 50/50 split to the younger brother.