Sunday

31 July 2022

Luke 12:13-21

'So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.' (v. 21)

Psalm 49:1-12

Background

Jesus is interrupted. This probably seems strange to us as we seldom interrupt preachers! What may appear more bizarre is the nature of this interruption – the person in the crowd is asking Jesus to intervene in his family’s financial matters. However, there was a tradition of rabbis being expected to interpret the application of the Torah in specific instances and to arbitrate in disputes and we can assume this is why the man interrupts.

Jesus’ response is to tell the parable of the Rich Fool in which he paints the picture of a rich man blessed by the land he owns. This makes the rich man happy and content, as he believes that he has more than enough to look after himself, and so declares "I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry" (v. 19). Jesus does not hold back in the story as God intervenes and calls the rich man a fool. There is little doubt that Jesus tells this parable to illustrate the point that the man who interrupted him is more interested in material things – money and wealth – than in Jesus’ teaching, and he is a fool to be so concerned about wealth.

Yet, what does it say to us? Some may argue that the man was not a fool to store up wealth as security, but sensible in looking after himself. When we look at the world we see great inequality, poverty and destitution. Figures from 2020 show this quite starkly; the richest 1% pocketed over 20% of world income (Source: World Inequality Lab, World Inequality Report, 2022) and the richest 1% own 46% of the world’s wealth (Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook, 2021). We see the sort of inequality that exists when people build 'bigger barns' for their own personal wealth and there is not an equal sharing of what the earth affords.

 

To Ponder:

  • Jesus uses the phrase ‘rich toward God’ (v. 21). What might that look like in your life, your church and your community?
  • This week's Bible notes come from the Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT). One of our hopes –  Six hopes for society – is for a just economy that enables the flourishing of all life. How can the Church challenge a society where the richest 1% own 46% of the wealth?
  • How can all of life flourish rather than a few?

 Prayer

Gracious God, you created this world out of your abundance and in your generosity gave us a place within it. Help us to be content with being rich in God and share what you have given us to ensure that all have enough. Amen.


Bible notes author

The Revd David Hardman

David Hardman is a presbyter and the Methodist Team Leader of the Joint Public Issues Team.

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