12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
12:2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.
12:3 What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
12:8 “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.
12:9 But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.
12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
12:11 “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say,
12:12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
12:13 Someone in the crowd [cf. Lk. 12:1] said to him, “Teacher [“Rabbi” or “Master,” a title of respect; people often looked to rabbis to settle disputes (cf. Lk. 10:38-42)], tell my [probably a younger brother] brother [probably an older brother] to divide the inheritance [read Num. 26–27; 33:54; 36; Deut. 21:17 re: OT law concerning inheritance] with me.”
12:14 Jesus replied, “Man [a term of rebuke], who appointed me a judge [an official mediator on a disputed matter] or an arbiter between you?”
12:15 Then [Jesus used this as an opportunity to teach about greed] he said to them [the man and everyone in the crowd (possibly including the man’s brother)], “Watch out [be alert lest a spirit of greed overtake you]! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed [excessive and consuming desire to have more; Paul identified greed as idolatry in Eph. 5:5 and Col. 3:5]; a man’s life does not consist in [is not measured by] the abundance of his possessions. [Jesus issued a moral judgment rather than a legal one]”
Note: How can we guard against greed?
12:16 And he told them [the surrounding crowd] this parable [note the repeated use of “I” and “my” in this parable]: “The ground of a certain rich [note that the man in the story was already rich] man produced a good crop.
12:17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
12:18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods [Jesus was not condemning the farmer for adding storage facilities; Jesus was concerned because the farmer based his actions on wrong priorities and wrong motives].
12:19 [cf. Jas. 4:13-17] And I’ll say to myself [the rich man’s short-range and long-range plans totally focused on himself to the exclusion of others and God], “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years [temporal rather than eternal focus]. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry [desire was for mere self-indulgence].”’
12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool [not a reference to intellectual stupidity but to spiritual folly or blindness (cf. Ps. 53:1); the man was a fool because he ignored God, did not think of others, and assumed money could buy security]! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get [inherit] what you have prepared for yourself? [the answer to this question is: somebody else]’
12:21 [cf. Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:17-19] “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
Note: What should be a Christian’s attitude toward whatever abundance God has allowed him or her to acquire?
12:22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore [links what follows with previous verses] I tell you, do not [an imperative or command] worry [to be anxious or to fret] about your life [the physical necessities of life…], what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear [trust God with the details of your life].
12:23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
12:24 Consider [observe for the purpose of learning] the ravens [they are dependent on God’s daily provision; birds are not idle, but neither are they anxious]: They do not [illustration of normal activities in an agricultural society…] sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn [this is not an excuse for laziness (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10)]; yet God [Jesus identified God as the sole basis of provision] feeds them [this is not teaching that every hungry person in the world will be fed]. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
12:25 Who of you by worrying can add [prolong or lengthen] a single hour to his life?
12:26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
12:27 “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor [refers to hard work that leads to fatigue] or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon [Israel’s richest king] in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
12:28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire [fuel for clay ovens], how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith [anxiety is one of the results of unbelief; faith is the antidote to worry]!
12:29 And [because God provides] do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry [worry shows a lack of faith in God] about it.
12:30 For the pagan world [unbelievers; those who have no sense of God’s care for them; worry puts believers on the same level with unbelievers] runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
12:31 But seek [continuous action] his kingdom [submit to God’s sovereignty; work to advance His kingdom], and [when your priorities are right] these things [needs; the things that people worry about] will be given to you as well.
12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
12:33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning,
12:36 like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.
12:37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.
12:38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.
12:39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.
12:40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
12:41 Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”
12:42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?
12:43 It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.
12:44 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
12:45 But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.
12:46 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
12:47 “That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.
12:48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
12:49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
12:50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!
12:51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.
12:52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three.
12:53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
12:54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does.
12:55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is.
12:56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
12:57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?
12:58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.
12:59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”