Luke 12

The Word Made Fresh

1While all this was going on, the crowds were gathering by the thousands and trampling each other. He began to speak first to his disciples, saying, “Be aware of yeast of the Pharisees; it is their hypocrisy. 2Nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing is kept in secret that won’t become known. 3So, what you say in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops.

4“Friends, I’m telling you not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but then can do no more harm. 5But you should be afraid of the one who can kill, and then has the power to cast into hell. Fear him! 6Aren’t five sparrows sold for two bits? Yes, but God has not forgotten a single one of them. 7Even the hairs on your head are all counted. So, don’t be afraid – you are worth more than many sparrows.

8“Everyone who acknowledges me to others will be acknowledged by the Son of Man before God’s angels. 9But God’s angels will deny those who deny me before others. 10Everyone who curses the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever curses the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11When they accuse you before the synagogues and the rulers and authorities, don’t worry about defending yourself; 12the Holy Spirit will teach you in that moment what you should say.”

13Someone in the crowd called out, “Teacher, order my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”

14Jesus answered, “Friend, who made me the judge or arbitrator over you?” 15Then he said to the crowd, “Be careful! Be on guard against every form of greed; a person’s life isn’t measured by how much he owns.”

16Then he told them this parable: “There was a rich man whose fields were very productive. 17So he wondered what to do because he had no place to store his crops. 18Then he said, ‘I’ll do this: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and that’s where I’ll store up all my grain and other belongings. 19And I’ll tell my soul, “You have more than enough laid up for many years, so relax. Eat, drink, and be happy.”‘ 20But God said, ‘You fool! Tonight, your life will be demanded of you. Then all the things you have piled up, whose will they be?’ 21That’s how it is with those who gather wealth for themselves but are not generous toward God.”

22He said to his disciples, “Don’t worry about your life and about what to eat, or about what clothes to wear. 23Life is more than food and the body is more than clothing. 24Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or gather what they’ve planted. They don’t own storehouses and barns – but God still feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than the birds? 25Can you add a single hour to your life by worrying? 26So, if you can’t do anything about something as simple as that, why should you worry about the rest? 27Look at how the lilies grow: they don’t work; they don’t weave. But even Solomon in all his glory was never dressed like one of these. 28If God so clothes the grass in the fields, which is alive today and thrown into the oven tomorrow, how much more will God clothe you who have such little faith? 29Stop clamoring for what to eat and drink, and stop worrying. 30Everybody in the world worries about these things, but your Father knows what you need. 31So, work for God’s kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well.

32“Don’t be afraid, little flock. It is your Father’s pleasure to give the kingdom to you. 33So, sell what you own and give to the poor. That will be a purse for you that will never wear out, but will give you an unfailing treasure in heaven that thieves and moths can’t steal or destroy. 34Wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be also.

35“Stay ready for action. Keep your lamps lighted. 36Be like the servants who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so they can open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Those servants who are on the alert when the master comes will be rewarded. He’ll fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them himself. 38Those servants will be well rewarded if he comes in the middle of the night or at daybreak and finds them alert and ready to serve.

39“But think of this, too; if the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his home to be broken into. 40So, you must be prepared! The Son of Man is coming unexpectedly!”

41Peter asked him, “LORD, is this parable for just us, or for everyone?”

42The LORD answered, “Who then will the faithful and wise master put in charge of all his servants to provide them with their food when the time comes? 43That servant is fortunate whom the master finds busy at work when he arrives. 44Surely he will put that servant in charge of everything. 45But if that servant thinks, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and then eats and drinks until he is drunk, 46the master will arrive on a day and at an hour when he is not expected, and he will punish that servant severely and demote him to the lowest position. 47The servant who knew what his master wanted of him but didn’t prepare himself or do what was wanted, will be punished severely. 48However, the ones who didn’t know what the master wanted and did things that would deserve punishment will receive a light punishment. Everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

49“I came to start a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already ablaze! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and I am not free until it is done. 51Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth? No! I am here to bring division! 52From now on families will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53They will be divided father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

54He also told the crowds, “When you see a cloud coming from the west you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and so it does. 55When the south wind blows you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and, sure enough, it is. 56Hypocrites! You can forecast the weather, but you are clueless about what’s happening in the world around you!

57“Don’t you know how to judge between right and wrong? 58When you go with one who accuses you to stand before a magistrate, don’t you try to settle with him while you’re on the way? Otherwise, you’ll be dragged before the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the bailiff and the bailiff will lock you up. 59You will never be released until you have paid every penny of what you owed!”


1-3: Jesus is speaking to his “disciples” here, but it is impossible to tell whether Luke intends that to mean just the Twelve or all his followers, including the Seventy. He has just blasted the Pharisees for their hypocrisy, and now he warns the disciples to beware of them. He refers to their hypocrisy as their “yeast”. Jesus has drawn a line, clearly challenging the Pharisees to a contest, and the disciples need to understand that there is no longer any privacy. Everything they say can and will be used against them in the court of public opinion.

4-7: However, the Pharisees are not to be feared. God only is to be feared; indeed, the Son of God after he is killed still has the authority to judge. They are not to be afraid, however, for in God’s sight they are of great worth.

8-12: It is clear that Jesus is now speaking of the time after he has been dead and buried and has risen again. He warns them that they will be accused of heresy and worse in the synagogues, and promises them that the Holy Spirit will come to their defense. The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would seem, then, to be a refusal to believe their testimony even though it comes from the Holy Spirit.

13-15: Amazingly, someone in the crowd tries to bring a case for Jesus to judge. The division of an estate was governed by the Law of Moses, and this unidentified voice wants Jesus to render a decision in a family dispute over the dispensation of a dead relative’s property. Jesus refuses to get involved, and then uses the occasion to issue a general warning about greed.

16-21: He tells a parable to press the point that we can’t take material things with us when we die. Why, then, expend so much effort accumulating wealth?

22-31: The birds of the air and the flowers of the field are proof that God can provide all that we need.

32-34: Do not be afraid to treat others the way God treats you.

35-38: A wedding banquet may last for a week or more, and travel time to and from may take even longer, but a good servant is always ready for the master to return from the banquet. Jesus goes so far as to say that the appreciative master will become a servant to the servants if he finds them diligently at work. The point is surely not lost on them that God is ready to provide for them if they are faithful.

39-40: This is a similar but separate statement. In verses 35-38 the disciples are depicted as slaves to a master. Now Jesus is likening them to owners of the house.

41-48: Peter is confused about that last statement. He asks for clarification. Jesus’ words are obviously intended for his followers in the years to come. Now there are three levels: master, servant, and servant manager. No doubt the master is the resurrected Christ. The servant manager represents those who are put in charge of the congregations of the Church. The servants are the followers. Clearly, those who are placed in charge of the spiritual work of the Church will be held to a higher standard than the others.

49-53: The Church will not grow peacefully; there will be divisions, even among close family members.

54-56: These words are addressed to “the crowds,” with whom Jesus is becoming impatient. He chides them for not being able to discern the activity of God in their time, and calls them hypocrites — a stinging judgment indeed, considering it is the word he just used to describe the Pharisees.

57-59: Some sage advice: settle your disputes out of court whenever possible.


Weather is a continuing presence which daily impinges on our earthly life. It is only natural that it should be an ongoing concern for us. But God is also a daily presence, not only in the natural world, but in the spiritual world as well. We are made in God’s image. We are spiritual creatures, not just natural creatures. It is hypocrisy for us to take pride in our knowledge of natural phenomena, but not know anything about the workings of God in the world around us.