A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF LUKE
Focus on the Kingdom of God
In the midst of a crowd of people v 1, Jesus gave his disciples five kingdom perspectives to consider. Many of these were given by Jesus on other occasions. Clearly, Jesus repeated many of His teachings, probably so the disciples would remember them.
FOCUS ON GODíS KINGDOM BY KNOWING WHO TO FEAR
In the vicinity of Jerusalem, the crowds grew to thousands, and the Pharisees began to make secret plans to eliminate Jesus. Knowing this, Jesus began to teach His disciples not to fear people like the Pharisees who could only kill the body.
Verse 1: Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is to pretend. In the case of the Pharisees it was pretending something is the word of God when it is not. The point is there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed v 2. The word of God will ultimately not be covered up v 3.† But neither will your actions. Hypocrisy is not just inconsistencyósaying one thing and doing something else but also creating a standard by adding to or taking away from the word of God. Then acting like the new standard is the word of God and judging yourself and others by that new standard. The Pharisees added Rabbinic Judaism. Today that is often done by adding prophesies, visions, sacred tradition, circumstantial leading, and personal messages from God denying the sufficiency of the Bible.
Verse 4-5: Fear God the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. God knows about each sparrow and each of the hairs of your head v 6-7, a declaration of omniscience. He knows your need and cares for you. However, God takes His omniscience into our judgment as well so fear Him and nothing else and if you are fearing something else you are not fearing God. The apostles did not seek persecution but they did not fear their persecutors, they feared disobeying God.
Verse 10: He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. In v 8-9 angels seem instrumental in carrying out judgment because Jesus says if we confess Him or deny Him, He will do the same for us before the angels. The Holy Spirit empowered and filled Jesus (Luke 3:22; 4:1). The Pharisees were rejecting Jesus, therefore blaspheming the Holy Spirit. In v 10 the idea is if you spoke against the Son of Man and he was not connected with the Holy Spirit and He was just a man, saying stuff he believes like the rest of us do, then you would not be condemned for disagreeing with Him. But if Jesus is empowered by, filled with, and one with the Holy Spirit, then disagreement is unforgivable.
Verse 12: The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. The context is not preaching a sermon but being brought to trial because of your faith v 11. The principle is not to worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense. Donít think you have to use a teleprompter or memorize a speech. Pray for God to give the right words to say and know the Word for content.
NB: We are motivated by fear. As a believer, donít forget that the way you live your life has eternal ramifications. You cannot erase what you do. Your body leaves a record of your life. So fear God.
FOCUS ON GODíS KINGDOM BY UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM WITH POSSESSIONS
When one asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the family inheritance with him v 13 Jesus responded with a lecture on the problem with possessions. The point being, possessions get our focus off of death, off of heaven, and off of the kingdom of God.
Verse 15: Be on your guard against every form of greed. Jesus answers a man who interrupted Jesus to ask Him to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. The point is be on your guard against seeking greater wealth in this world. Jesus answers with a parable of a man who decided to build a bigger barn v 16-18. Jesus warned against the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God v 21. The point is to seek wealth toward God not yourself. The attitude Jesus warns us against is in verses 19-20. Donít be self centered and self absorbed and use possessions to display this.
Verse 23: Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Jesus said to not worry about food, clothing, and length of life. Then He illustrated it with ravens and lilies v 24, 27-28. The point is not that they donít work but that they donít worry. The word means to worry or be anxious or be concerned v 29. In English the difference between worry and concern is just one of degree. Theologically, we need to discern the difference: Concern is being responsible, Worry is doubting the sovereignty of God.
Verse 34: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. So Jesus says sell your possessions and give to charity v 33. We cannot literally do that without violating many other biblical directives. We do have other responsibility, like providing for our family. Or if you own a business and sell it and give to the poor, your employees who need their jobs to support their families would be out of work. Instead the goal is to make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, [which is] an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys v 33. Put all wealth in heavenly values not earthly.
NB: Avoid possessions. The more possessions we have, the harder it is to focus on the kingdom of God. Jesus focused our attention on possessions not riches. It is possible to have wealth without possessions and (especially in our world of debt) to have possessions without wealth
FOCUS ON GODíS KINGDOM BY ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE TO BE READY
Jesus challenged to be ready, alert, waiting for His Second Coming. Peter asked if the challenge applied to the disciples or to everyone v 41. Christís indicated itís true for everyone and even more true for them.
Verse 40: Be ready, the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect. This is true of both the rapture and the 2nd coming. The difference is the rapture has no preceding signs. Jesus illustrates this with: (1) being dressed in readiness, keeping your lamps lit v 35, being like a slave waiting for his masters return from the wedding feast v 36-38, and (2) being ready to stop a thief v 39.† The point is to live as if Christ would return today. This keeps us focused on eternal realities.
Verse 42: The faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge. Jesus contrasts the good slave with one who begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk v 45. Notice the bad slave who mistreats people, is a glutton and a drunk. He is judged v 46. The picture is one of departure much like Judas who was amongst Jesus followers but failed to follow him. Verses 47 and 48 seem to teach different degrees of punishment in the lake of fire. There are two principles here: (1) The more knowledge you have the more you are accountable for. (2) The more you have, like the luxury we live in today vs. ancient times, the more we are accountable for in heaven.
NB: The best way to prepare for eternity is to be ready for it. John Stott did this each morning when he placed feet on floor and prayer Father may I please you. Son may I follow you. HS may I know power.
FOCUS ON GODíS KINGDOM BY BRINGING DIVISION NOT PEACE
Jesus went on to reveal His mission of division, not peace, as an inevitable result of teaching truth in the
midst of a sinful world.
Verse 51: Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division. Jesus goal was not world peace, or national peace or even family peace. Jesus illustrates this division with family members being against one another v 52-53. It sounds like Jesus understands that His second coming follows His death and he wished it were here v 49-50. That of course means He wished the crucifixion were already over, but it also tells us He believed He would judge the earth at His second coming and He was eager to get on with that judgment.
NB: Christlike leaders set people against each other not as a goal but as a result of teaching the
kingdom of God in a perverse world. Jesus said He would even divide households. If we follow Him, we should expect the same.
FOCUS ON GODíS KINGDOM BY ANALYZING THE TIMES
Jesus taught the general wisdom that if you see a problem coming, do something about it before it gets
there. Thatís especially true of the times and what is happening with respect to His Coming.
Verse 56: Why do you not analyze this present time? Jesus said they could predict the weather v 54-55, but could not analyze the times in which they lived. The point is they should have known biblical prophesy so they could recognize the times. We can only do this if we know Bible prophecy.
Verse 57: Why do you not even on your own initiative judge what is right? Jesus illustrated this by warning against going to court v 57-59. The point is we should be able to judge that is discern what is right not expect a judge, being part of this corrupt world, to make that judgment. If at all possible, stay out of court. When you listen to the people who say you should not be judging, meaning you should be tolerant of sin, you are just giving up to the moral judgments of this world and worldly people.
NB: Christlike leadership sees the evil times coming, knows God will judge the world, and persuades
people to go to God for mercy. Jesusí parable tells us to settle up on the way to court. In other words, go to God for mercy before He comes to judge. Jesus never tells us to change the world. He said He would judge it not change it. The point of the passage is to avoid judgment not to improve your life.
Jesusí heavenly perspective comes through loud and clear in these five kingdom perspectives. The only value Jesus sees in anything earthly was to use it to invest in that which is heavenly. Jesus here eliminated once and for all any idea of:† heaven on earth, prosperity gospel, health/wealth gospel, God helps those who help themselves, world peace, or any other worldly goal.