Luke 12:1-21A Warning & A Parable

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. 2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 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.

4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.
9 But whoever publicly disowns me will be disowned before the angels of God. 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.

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 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

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 my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”


Points of Interest:

  • (v.1) “the yeast of the Pharisees”—a very small amount of yeast affects an entire batch of dough. Sadly, the thing the Pharisees add which affects the entire environment, is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is living by a set of rules different from the one you teach. It’s more than just failure to live up to your principles; it’s possible to fail sincerely. Hypocrisy takes it a step further: it’s purposefully setting up a standard for others you don’t expect to keep yourself, or treating your own failure more lightly than the failures of others, or pretending you are living up to standards you are not. Jesus warns his followers to be vigilant about hypocrisy. If they let even a little in, it will affect their entire lives.
  • (v.7) “you are worth more than many sparrows”—God values life, even the life of a sparrow and all the more the lives of human beings. Fortunately, the one who has the power to do us real damage wants to do us good instead.
  • (v.10) “anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven”—Jesus may be referring back to Monday’s passage when the Pharisees accused Jesus of defeating demons with demonic power. Blasphemy is saying that something holy is evil, which is exactly what the Pharisees did: they called the Holy Spirit (by whose power Jesus was casting out demons) the prince of demons. If someone thinks the Holy Spirit is the devil, they won’t welcome the Holy Spirit into their lives. But as John told us in his sermon (Luke 3:15-17) the Savior has come precisely to bring the Holy Spirit to people; it’s by being baptized in the Holy Spirit that we are freed from our sins. So, by refusing the Holy Spirit, they are refusing the power to be rescued.
  • (v.13) “tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me”—according to the law set up by Moses, the older brother would receive twice as large an inheritance as the rest (Deuteronomy 21: 17). It’s unclear whether this man is saying that his brother hasn’t giving him his share at all, or he’s hoping that Jesus would say that the inheritance should be divided equally. In any case, Jesus is not interested in getting involved.
  • (v.19) “eat, drink and be merry”—this phrase has become somewhat well-known, as a sort of cheer for partying, but in context it’s tragic: it’s the last thing the man says before dying. He doesn’t actually get the chance to be merry. Eat, drink, and be merry,” is probably a reference to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, in which Solomon comes—at least temporarily—to the cynical conclusion that the most a human being can expect out of life is to eat, drink, and be proud of their work (2:24 and 3:13).


Taking it home:

  • For you: Ask God to save you from hypocrisy. Pray for the faith to be honest, sincere, genuine, and fair as you apply the truth to your own life.
  • For your Six: Pray that your Six would begin to know how valuable they are to God.
  • For our church/ILTJ: Pray that God would protect us from envy, greed, and ambition. Pray that as we “live the journey” this year, we will store up richness toward God with all of our actions and giving.


Family/Household Option:

  • To Talk About: Jesus tells us that nothing can be hidden from God. He sees all, hears all and knows all – right down to the number of hairs on your head! That can bring both comfort and fear. I am comforted to know He is always with me and I can totally be myself with God. I fear the things I do, say and think that I wish God didn’t know. I wonder if rather than be discouraged by this it can actually motivate us to think before we speak and act, not because we are afraid of God, but because God loves us and we love Him. Being motivated by love is so sweet.
  • To Do: Pick one person in your family whom you can try counting the hairs on their head. Maybe just pick a section of hair and try counting those. I find that it’s pretty impossible to do. I love that our God is the God of the impossible. Thank God for knowing everything about us, loving us when we make great choices and loving us when we mess up. Ask Him to help us love Him and others confidently and boldly.