Lesson 78: Jesus Taught the Multitude and the Disciples

Luke 12:1-48

A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 78. Welcome! This lesson is a continuation and we'll start our reading at the beginning of Luke ch. 12. While you're finding that; I might say that this is more of the teaching that Jesus gave from place to place, probably on that tour over central Judea. And although there was a tremendously large crowd on this occasion; Jesus taught by directing his remarks to his disciples and especially to his apostles. Thus, the crowd was taught in an observational way. Let's read Luke 12:1-12. Beginning in Luke 12:1. "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumberable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore, whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." The way this passage starts off in v.1, seems to connect the occasion to what happened in the Pharisees house up in ch. 11. But, we have no other hint of the place or occasion. There was a tremendous crowd and I said at the beginning; Jesus seemed to direct his remarks to his apostles and disciples and thus teach the crowd in an indirect way. Jesus' first instruction to them was, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." You will remember Jesus made this statement to his apostles once before, i.e. the leaven of the Pharisees, back in Matt. 16:6 and they thought that Jesus was criticizing them for not bringing enough bread. So, here Jesus explained for the crowd's benefit that when he spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees, he was talking about their hypocrisy; including those woes that Jesus went over in Luke ch. 11. Undoubtedly some Pharisees were standing right there. In v.3-4, Jesus said that the apostles and disciples were to speak out in the weeks and months to come. They were not to be silenced by the persecution that come. I'm told that many of the houses at that time had flat tops and it was common for speakers to speak from a house top. The coming months were going to be a fearful time for the disciples. But they were to be brave and not let men silence them. They were not to fear being killed for their speaking out. And that was the worst thing men could do to them. But, if they did not obey God and were lost; there was much more to fear, hell itself. V.6-7 was assurance that God would not forget their acts of obedience. Sparrows were sold for practically nothing yet they did not escape the attention of God. A hair of the head had no value, economically, yet God was aware of any change. Thus, they could be assured God would be aware of any trials and ordeals they might be called upon to endure. They would be under God's special care and providence. The message in v.8-12 was that their actions and their words and their confessions or denials would shape their destiny spiritually.

V.13 thru v.21 is usually know as the parable of the rich fool. Let's read that parable. Begining in Luke 12:13. Are you ready? "And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them. Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou has many goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Beware of covetousness! Some one in the crowd requested Jesus to assist him in getting his brother to rightly divide their inheritance. What was the problem? Some one wanted it divided and someone didn't. Why? Covetouness, obviously. How did Jesus respond to that request? "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" Jesus laid down the general laws of justice; but, Jesus does not enforce those laws until the judgment day. Remember, the Christian system is NOT a national system like the Mosaic system. The system is dependent upon the entity of love. Jesus did not come as a judge or divider or enforcer. And/of course every follower of Jesus, the citizens of his kingdom, are to follow Jesus example in that respect. We are not to be judges, divider or enforcers. It's hard to get some members of the church to see that point. Especially, when that telephone call comes and says preacher go over and tell my husband he's not treating me right; or tell him to send my support check; or tell him or her to do thus and so. Well, of course, we should accommodate our brothers or sisters any time we can; but, we do not have the right to be dividers, or judges, or enforcers. If one cannot be persuaded by love; then let the state take care of it. God has ordained civil government in the Christian age. Read Rom. ch. 13! Civil government is there called "the higher powers." But, the basic cause of all such disputes is covetousness on the part of SOME BODY. Thus, as God's children, if we are not covetous and we teach the world to operate by love and NOT covetousness; then all such disputes would be eliminated. But, covetousness is like humility; its elusive to our thinking. It's easy to see it in the other person; but its hard to spot in ourselves. Thus, Jesus said (v.15), "Take heed, and beware of covetousness..." It's a part of our life that constantly needs examination and scrutiny. Goods and possessions are NOT a part of one's life. Possessions do not preserve life, lengthen life or shorten life. Goods and possessions are separate and apart from life. Run that through your compute a time or two. If you disagree, look at Jesus next statement in v.15, "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.11 It's easy to forget that. So, that's the reason Jesus gave the parable of the rich fool. There seems to be a natural tendency when we are prosperous to go for more. The more we get the more we want. But, we can't take it with us. The average stomach holds about a quart; so, you can't eat more than that, three or four times a day. We only wear one shirt at a time. So, Paul told Timothy, "having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." (I Tim. 6:8). One of the symptoms of the rich fool was that the had "I" trouble. He said "I" about six times in that short speech, "I do...I have...I will..(and) I bestow". Eat, drink and be merry; that was not the philosophy of the Good Samaritan. This parable is so simple, surely you don't need my help in explaining it.

So, let's read some more. Luke 12:22-34. Got your eye on it? Let's read, beginning in v.22. "And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sent nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven,how much more will he clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will you heart be also."
I think you recognize the content in this section is very much like the last part of Matt, ch. 6, in the sermon on the mount. So, it adds up to Jesus teaching the same thing to different people at a different place and a different time. Most of this we will pass over quickly, as we spent a good bit of time on these thoughts when we covered the sermon on the mount. The inner man principle we discovered in the sermon on the mount runs criss -cross through all this. Our first priority is to serve God. This doesn't mean that it is wrong to have reserves of food or a good wardrobe. The point is simply, don't be anxious about these things. Don't worry about these things. They are not first priority. Serving God and eternal salvation is first priority. Most of us have trouble keeping it on the front burner. Notice the "Consider" statements: consider the ravens, that old big bird most people call the blade crow (v.24). Consider the lilies (v.27). Have confidence in God! God feeds the crows and takes care of the lilies. God will care for us. Now, that doesn't mean that we don't have to work at it. But, above 90% of the things that people worry about, or get anxious about never happen any way. You can't make your self taller by thinking about it (v.25). You can't add a minute to your life by thinking about it; so, why worry your, self to death about lesser property. Spend your time thinking where it counts on priority number one. Treasures in heaven fail not, v.33. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (v.34). So, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."(v.32). That emphasizes how relatively small the band of Christ's disciples are and the tenderness with which He looks upon them. Then Jesus switched the thought to watchfulness.
Let's read v.35-40. Are you ready? Beginning in Luke 12:35. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him inmediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the good man of the house had know what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." To be a servant of Christ; one must be watchful and stay prepared. Jesus illustrates this by more than one figure. Take a look at: "Let your loins be girded about..." At the time of Jesus their dress was most commonly in the style of what we would call a long flowing robe. If one needed to run or move fast; it was necessary to lift the bottom of the robe and belt it around the waist. So, if one's loins was girded about, his clothing was tied up and tucked in so that where he was ready to go. Thus, spiritually speaking, disciples of Jesus are to have their loins girded about, i.e. always dressed spiritually for the work. They are to keep their light burning (v.35). "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching." The Lord will take care of that servant or disciple. The illustration in v.38 alludes to guard duty; like a security guard or a soldier. The guard must be alert all the time to prevent suffering damages. The conclusion is in v.40, "Be ye...ready!" "the Son of man cometh at an hour-when ye think not." A spiritual message!

Peter interrupted Jesus at that point and wanted to know  who this applied to. Let's read that, Luke 12:41-48. Are you ready? Beginning in v.41. "Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken: the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him asunder, and will appoint him his ixurtion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have committed much, of Him they will ask the more." Peter's answer is in v.43 which is a repeat of v.37. Also Jesus taught degrees of punishment and degrees of reward in v.47-48. Look at it close, "that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes," i.e. shall receive sever punishment. On the other hand, i.e. the contrast is in v.48, "he that knew not" even though he committed many things, he "shall be beaten with few stripes." I don't understand how this will be; but, the text definitely teaches degrees of punishment based upon our knowledge and upon or obedience. We'll begin with v.49 in our next lesson. Have a good day.

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