Jesus is the Son of Man
Earthly Worries produce Anxiety
All right! Let’s go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 12.
As we continue through our Journey through Luke’s Gospel, we are seeing Jesus continue to teach and train his disciples, preparing them for ministry after he leaves. He is traveling to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission, his ministry and then he will leave them to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
In this section we are looking at and have been looking Jesus has a bigger theme that transcends the individual sections that our Bible is broken up into. Jesus is making sure that his disciples and followers are focused on eternity.
This life will pass, this body will decay, this world will burn up and be recreated. IT is all temporary. Eternity is forever. Jesus challenges and asks the question, which one will you focus on? The earthly physical, or the eternal? The one who has some authority, a little authority here on earth? Or the one who has full, eternal authority?
Jesus is going to continue that emphasis in the passage we are looking at this morning. WE are going to read Luke chapter 12, verses 13-34, a bit of a longer passage. Ill be reading, as always, out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your preferred translation and follow along, reading for yourself the word of God.
The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to record the Words of Jesus, writing:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[c] 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,[d] yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
May God Bless the Reading of His Word.
Jesus was a great teacher. He was able to continue to make his points even when people interrupted and tried to change the subject or even redirect the subject to their benefit. We see this often in the Gospels. Jesus is talking and teaching, and some guy, often a scribe or a pharisee, though unidentified this time, interrupts to talk about their own thing. Jesus takes that, usually doesn’t answer the question, or at least not what the person interrupted wanted him to answer, and Jesus then uses it to continue making his points, usually regarding the Kingdom of God.
That’s what happens here as Jesus is teaching and talking and this guy comes up and wants Jesus to arbitrate in a dispute between two brothers. This guy recognized Jesus as a type of Authority. He saw Jesus as a good teacher who had wisdom. He saw a man that people listened to. He saw that Jesus could speak into the lives of people who were there listening. And He recognized Jesus as a rabbi. One of the issues is that he recognizes Jesus as an authority only in the categories of life where he wants Jesus to be an authority.
Rabbis were given authority in the books of Moses to settle disputes of inheritance. This wasn’t necessarily uncommon. A few issues are here though. Jesus was not an official, trained rabbi. And it appears that this was not a legitimate dispute. It seems this was purely covetousness, greed on the part of the brother asking for Jesus to judge in his favor.
Jesus, for his part, knew why this guy was appealing to him, including his view of him as a Rabbi. But Jesus knew what his mission was. He knew why he was here on Earth. Jesus knew that he was not here to settle our disputes with each other, though his teachings and the Bible will help us if we have a dispute.
His purpose instead was to save sinners, not to settle disputes. We will see coming up later in this chapter that he says he does not bring peace, but division. Now, that’s one of the most important verses to make sure we know the context for, but my point is that Jesus was not here to settle all of our arguments. He is not here to focus on earthly material possessions, but on the eternal Kingdom of God.
And Jesus says to this guy, essentially, “You’re not making me The authority over all your life, why should I play the authority over this one little section? Jesus was refusing to play the arbitrator, refusing to be the judge over the brother’s dispute.
Warren Weirsbe sums up: Jesus refused to get involved. Why? Because he knew that no answer would solve the real problem, which was covetousness in the hearts of the two brothers.”
Jesus showed that this guy was putting earthly material goods higher than God. This was a direct violation of Exodus 20:17, Thou shall not covet. RC Sproul shows why coveting is that serious. He writes: Have you ever wondered why God in his infinite wisdom included a law against coveting in his top 10 commandments? Perhaps God knows something about what leads to stealing, about what leads to jealousy, about what leads to murder and to war. Covetousness is the cause of a persons wanting for himself what God in his beneficence has graciously bestowed upon someone else. The sin of covetousness reveals something about the darkest part of our fallen humanity.”
Despite what our culture, our society and our own selfish human nature try to instill in us, coveting is not a lesser sin. It leads us into so many other sins in addition to itself.
Jesus saw that the greatest need in these two brothers, arguing over their inheritance was not conflict resolution, but was a true heart change. It is that heart change that will ensure the focus of this man will change from this life, these earthly goods, onto the eternal, heavenly focus.
To emphasis his point, Jesus tells the crowd a parable called the Rich young Fool. In this parable, the rich man’s fields and crops started producing even more abundantly. So much so that the man had nowhere to store his goods.
He was spending all his time and focus trying to hoard these new possessions. Storing and acquiring more goods and building more storage to accommodate said belongings.
Now, I think all of us in this room would agree that the man was entitled to the profits and abundance of what was produced by what he owned. I don’t think there is anything in scripture that disagrees with that. But there is a bigger point that Jesus is making here. This man gives no thought to his neighbor and helping those who had less, and he gave no thought to thanking God for the abundance or to give to God in worship.
The man cared nothing other than continuing to accumulate more goods until he had enough. He was the epitome of the new version of the same old American Dream. Eat, Drink, Be Merry for tomorrow we may die. He thought about nobody else other than himself. Many commentaries point out the that even the language is filled with selfishness. One of them points out that: The language in verses 17-19 reveals an ingrained selfishness. In the Greek the personal pronoun “my” occurs 4 times and the “I” 8 times.
This man was of course under no obligation to give away all his belongings, sell everything and give it all away, but as Jesus is making clear, he was under the obligation to be thankful to God and to give with a generous heart. Paul writes 2 Corinthians 8:15: As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
We also see that these possessions do nothing to help our soul and eternal destination. Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
This man thought he had it all. He was focused on getting enough and living the good life. Comfort and security are among the biggest idols of today. And they are so tempting because we convince ourselves that they are Gods highest calling for ourselves. This man was ready to retire and trust in his riches to take care of him.
Jesus points out that this man couldn’t take any of it with him. HE had sent his life trying to accumulate enough. Enough to enjoy the rest of life. And yet, when he does, his life was to end that very night. What benefit were those extra-large storehouses and what benefit was all the goods stored in them.
One commentator sees the language of this and says that the man’s loan of mortal existence was called due.
You know, one recent study suggests that Christians in America give an average of less than 4% of their income to Gospel work. And so, the question that Jesus makes us ponder, Are we being rich to God? Are we being generous and thankful? Or are we concerned with keeping and accumulating and getting our fair share?
Kent Hughes remarks on this passage and this may sound awful familiar to us today: The domestic concern that elicited the parable suggests a particular warning regarding an overweening demand to get “our fair share.” It is so much better to take less than our fair share or to give it away. Squabbling over an inheritance is not worth it. Many, in retrospect, would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to forgo the miseries that came as a result of insisting on their rightful portion. As Christians,
He says, we can and should avoid such deadly errors.
Jesus then moves on from the parable and the challenge and moves into a teaching monologue. The summation is, essentially that anxiety comes from concerns of worldly goods and not trusting that God himself will provide what is needed.
Corrie Ten Boom has said, Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.
George MacDonald once put it: No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrows burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.
Earthly, physical goods that rust and decay, these are not worth the effort and worry that most put into them. There is more to this life than the physical. We forget or discount the spiritual.
As a way to justify discounting the spiritual, some have a saying, you may have heard. They say that some are too heavenly minded to do earthly good. The truth is, in fact, the opposite. The more heavenly minded we are, the more earthly good we will do.
Don’t get me wrong, and more importantly, don’t get Jesus wrong and misunderstand what he is saying. Here and now do matter. We do need things in order to live and go through life. But here and now do not matter as much as the then and forever. And Jesus makes clear in this section that God loves us enough that he will make sure the bare necessities are covered.
He uses two examples, one for food and one for clothing. The Ravens and the lilies of the field do not work for their food and to be clothed in wonderful colors. They do not do good works in order to receive God’s blessings and Guess What? Neither do we!
We are more important to God the Father than ravens. We are more important to God the Father than lilies and the fields and grass.
When we worry and get anxious, then we don’t trust that our daily needs will be met. That’s when we get our selves in trouble. Worry and anxiety get in the way of us working for the kingdom of God. Instead, we have to work for ourselves and our needs before we can even consider working for what God wants.
That’s why Jesus says to seek first His Kingdom. Focus on the important, the everlasting, the Holy. Jesus says, focus on this and everything else will take care of itself.
As one commentator puts it: TO seek is to set your heart on something; to make it your main objective. What you seek is what you think about; it is what you pursue; it is what you live for.
seek his[e] kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Jesus speaks on these topics in a basically parallel passage in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6. There he adds a key word, Seek first the kingdom of God And His Righteousness.
Its interesting that every commentator I read on this passage pointed out that seeking the Kingdom of God was specifically an act of the already converted. Unbelievers cannot seek the Kingdom of God. But believers, followers of Christ, we can, and we should. For it is getting more and more of the Kingdom, getting closer and closer to Christ, seeking him more and more, this is how we are sanctified and transformed.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
The will of God is his Kingdom manifest.
Little Flock, Jesus says, do not fear. You already have the kingdom. It is Gods good pleasure and desire to give it to his children. RC Sproul says that since we already have the Kingdom of God, we should therefore concentrate our energies on the interests of the Kingdom.
We can’t do kingdom work until we have the kingdom. Now that we have the kingdom, go do kingdom work.
This is of course not laying down legal laws from God. At least not in the sense that every one of us are called to sell everything we own and hit the road with no possessions and no savings and that’s the only way to be holy and righteous.
That’s called poverty theology and it’s just as much a false gospel as the prosperity theology, or the Health and Wellness Gospel or Name it and claim it or whatever version of it you have heard.
The point that Jesus is making is twofold. Trust God. Trust that he loves and if he loves you, he will provide for you. Second, if we hold to that trust, our heart will show it by us being generous. I love how Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians , saying The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[d] will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Be generous. This is being rich to God. Hold your possessions with an open hand and an open heart. Be willing to give it up if and when you are called to. As Hope and I often say, “You can’t outgive God.”
For where your treasure, there your heart is also.
When our heart is on the Kingdom of God, we will not worry about the here and now. We will not focus on our worries and anxiety. Jesus wants us to have our priorities on the right things. When we focus on our anxiety and our worries, we take our focus off of God. We blow up our perception of what might happen into raging rivers and massive mountains.
I’m going to leave you with a story about Abraham Lincoln as recounted by Kent Hughes:
In his circuit riding days Lincoln and his companions, riding to the next session of court, had crossed many swollen rivers on one particular journey, but the formidable Fox River was still ahead of them. They said to one another, “IF these streams give us so much trouble, how shall we get over the Fox River?” When Darkness fell, they stopped for the night at a log tavern, where they fell in with the Methodist presiding elder of the district who rode through the country in all kinds of weather and knew all about the Fox River. They gathered about him and asked him about the present state of the river. “Oh, yes,” replied the circuit rider, “I know all about the Fox River. I have crossed it often and understand it well. But I have one fixed rule with regard to the Fox River—I never cross it till I reach it.”
Phillipians 4:6&7: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.