Friday 28 June 2024

And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (v. 15)

Luke 12:13-21 Friday 28 June 2024

Psalm 3:1-6

Today’s passage needs to be read in the context in which it is placed. In these central chapters of the Luke’s Gospel, we read about Jesus teaching his disciples and engaging with the large crowds who have come to hear him (Luke 12:1). He has already responded to an anonymous comment from the crowd (Luke 11:27) and we now see him tackling another one. This time, someone seeks to engage Jesus’ help with a property dispute (v. 13). Like today, such matters could be complicated, especially when interpreting the rights of children under the Jewish law (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). The advice and support of influential teachers would often be sought in such matters. Jesus, however, declines to become involved.

Instead, Jesus speaks about the right attitude towards wealth and possessions. As so often in Luke’s Gospel, he does so by means of a parable. Parables in the gospels take many forms – sayings, riddles, stories, etc – and usually involve situations and individuals that would have been familiar to contemporaries. In this case, it features a successful farmer, who would normally be admired by Jesus’ hearers. The tale cautions about the proper response to such wealth, though, drawing on many themes familiar from the Old Testament, including the impermanence of earthly wealth (Psalm 49:16-20) and the ‘foolishness’ of rejecting God’s wisdom (Proverbs 1:22-33). Jesus warns that there is a careful line to be drawn between rightly enjoying the good things that God has given us (Ecclesiastes 8:15) and believing that security comes from possessions alone. Interestingly, this is the only parable in which God makes a direct appearance (v. 20), reminding the rich man that the ‘soul’ that he addresses actually belongs to God. Jesus continues uninterrupted to teach about wealth and money in the following verses (Luke 12:22-34).

To Ponder:

  • Is it possible to bring concerns and disputes to Jesus whose resolution actually belong elsewhere?
  • What do you think the wealthy farmer in today’s passage should have done when he discovered that he had no place to store his abundant harvest?
  • How do you tread the fine line between enjoying the blessings of the material world and keeping your eyes fixed on the eternal?

Previously published in 2018.

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