We have been looking at the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-31. A man came to Jesus seeking his support. This man wanted his brother to give him his fair share of their inheritance, and he sought out Jesus’ advocacy for his claim. From an earthly perspective, this man was concerned about one of the most important issues in life–his financial security. His position in the community would no doubt be determined by securing what he believed to be his proper inheritance. There is, however a certain irony to this demand. The portion of Luke’s gospel where this is recorded is a section called the Travel Narrative, Luke 9:51-19:27. This narrative describes Christ’s final journey back to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. So, here is Jesus Christ, going to face the agony of having his Father’s wrath unleashed upon him so that he could secure an eternal, heavenly inheritance for his people–confronted by a man demanding earthly treasure. Is it any wonder that Jesus pointedly warns him that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions?
This man is desperate to acquire his inheritance. His worry and anxiety cause him to seek Jesus out before a crowd of thousands. He must have what is his; his wellbeing depends upon it! In the immediately preceding context, Jesus has just warned his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees–hypocrisy. While hypocrisy takes many forms, Luke chooses to highlight here the folly of valuing earthly treasure as highly as heavenly treasure. You will recall that in Luke 16:13-15, Jesus describes the Pharisees’ infatuation with money and wealth:
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.
This man in the crowd was justifying himself before man. He was not concerned with loving God and his neighbor, or in this case, his brother. He was concerned with getting what was his.
After telling the Parable of the Rich Fool, Christ turns to his disciples to make sure they get the point. Read Luke 12:22-31:
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. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 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! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
The scene is dramatic. Thousands are there, waiting to hear the next words that Jesus would speak. It is clear that the man from the crowd was anxious about his life, about how would survive if he did not receive his inheritance. In our flesh, we can all relate to his sense of urgency. But then Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them that this urgency is a false urgency. He continues the theme that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions–he says, in fact, that life is more than food. This message has been a theme during all his time with them. Remember in Matthew 6, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, he taught his disciples the importance of seeking first the kingdom of God. Now, just days from the end of his time on earth, Jesus repeats the same truth: Seek first the kingdom of God!
This passage provides a wonderful opportunity to teach your children about seeking God’s kingdom, first and foremost. Notice the powerful word pictures that Jesus paints: the beauty of the lilies, purses which will not wear out. Help your children to resist the leaven of the Pharisees, which still exists today. Urge them not to focus on securing food and clothes, but to seek true wealth–that which will endure forever.