Today’s Reading: Luke 12:1-2, 22-59 and 13:1-5; Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:31-35
At this point, the crowds following Jesus were huge! Luke described the crowd as thousands of people milling around and stepping on each other. Picture the chaos of the Taste of Chicago or the crowds that gather when someone famous comes to town. In the middle of this large crowd, Jesus turned to his disciples and began to teach them. I wonder how caught off guard they were. Here they were surrounded by the masses, who were all there to hear from Jesus, and he was taking the time to huddle up with them and teach them.
Jesus knew something they did not know. He knew their time together was drawing to an end. He knew the plot against his life was building strength and he knew what was coming. But his disciples were not ready. There were things he needed to say – things they needed to hear – and he was not going to wait another minute to tell them.
Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. What they are planning and what they are whispering in dark corners will soon be revealed for all to see. Do not be afraid of them. Fear only God, who holds your future in His hands. Do not be afraid and do not worry.
“What is the price of five sparrows – two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” – Luke 12:6-7
Jesus knew those who were plotting to kill and destroy would turn their focus on his disciples after he was gone. They would not be content with killing Jesus, they would keep targeting their envy until all Jesus’ followers stopped speaking of him. He did not say to his disciples “if”, he said “when”. And he said – Do not worry. Do not be afraid.
“And WHEN you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said…” – Luke 12:11-12
“That is why I tell you NOT TO WORRY about everyday life – whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body is more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
“Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you EVERYTHING you need.
So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
“Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” – Luke 12:22-34
Jesus wanted them to understand that he was leaving them and they would need to be responsible servants while he was gone. He was leaving them behind with a job to do. It would not be easy but he wanted them to understand his instructions and be prepared for what was ahead. He was moving their focus from the kingdoms of the world to the Kingdom of God.
“…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” – Luke 12:48b
Just as Jesus was warning of the crisis that was ahead, news came that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices in the Temple. This did not happen because the worshippers were sinners or deserved death. No, we are all in need of repentance and persecution can happen to any of us.
These verses remind me of the recent tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina, when a young man opened fire in a small group Bible study, killing nine people. It is in moments like this that we need to remember Jesus’ advice to his disciples. It is in the midst of the chaos and crowd that we need to HUDDLE UP and listen carefully to what Jesus is saying:
Do not fear what people can do to you, fear only God.
Do not worry about your everyday needs, but focus on God and His Kingdom.
Do not be confident in what this world has to offer and store up earthly treasures, but understand they can all be gone in a moment.
Pray God will give you a heart that desires the treasures of Heaven.
Until Christ returns, be a faithful servant and carry out the work He has given.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” – Luke 12:31