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Friends, hello there! Welcome to another
parable in our mini-series, Jesus and His Explosive Parables. If you have been
following along with us, we just select a parable and then we take as many
episodes as necessary to unpack it. And the parable that we’re going to begin
looking at in this episode is known as The Parable of the Rich Fool. And as we
have been talking in this series, there are no parables recorded in the gospel,
or the biography, of John, only in the synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
But this particular parable only shows up in Luke chapter 12, and as is the case
with nearly all the parables there is some kind of context, there’s some kind
of situation, that is initiated that eventually leads into the telling of a
story or a parable. So here is that particular context recorded here in Luke
12 beginning in verse 13. It says, “Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, tell
my brother to divide the inheritance with me.'” Now we’re gonna get into the
context of this situation and the rest of the parable in the episodes that are
to come, but for now just simply understand that what’s unfolding here is
that a patriarch of a family, the father of a family, has died. According to the Old Testament, according to Mosaic law, the eldest son gets a double portion and
then the rest of the inheritance is divided among the rest of the brothers.
And so we have a family dispute going on here, and a brother who feels like he is
being wronged by another brother shows up and says, “Jesus my brother is in the
wrong, I am in the right, I want you to rule on my behalf.” And so Jesus, as a
teacher or behind this as a rabbi, he would have been sought out by people who
had some kind of dispute because rabbis were masters at applying the laws of the
Scriptures. And so he has come to Jesus and he is saying, “I want you to step in
and I want you to speak into this family dispute.” Jesus’s response is, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”
And Jesus using this word ‘man’ here is strained. It’s like Jesus is frustrated
by the situation, and Jesus sees through what is going on. The dude has showed up
to say, “Hey, I need you to rule in my favor!” And Jesus is like, “Actually, there
is a much bigger issue we need to deal with.” And so then notice what Jesus does
next. It says, “Then Jesus said to them (not to the brother but to the entire crowd
with the brother standing there. Jesus gives a principle, he gives the point
that he wants them to get, and Jesus says this). ‘Watch out, be on your guard against
all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in an abundance of
possessions.'” Now this is Jesus’s point, but now he is going to give the parable,
a story, to confirm his point or to even make it more poignant. And Jesus tells
this story verse 16 and following. “And Jesus told them this parable. ‘The land at
a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall
I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do.
I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain
and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have plenty of grain laid up
for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry,’ (and in one of the coming episodes we’ll talk about why he is saying ‘to my
soul’ what’s the significance of that I’m sure many of you just picked up on
‘that’s got to be significant in some way.’ So he says ‘all right take life easy, eat,
drink and be merry’). But God said to him, “You fool, this very night your soul will
be demanded from you, then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”‘
Now here’s what’s utterly fascinating about this parable. It’s the only parable we
have in the Bible where God is an active character within it, like, explicitly.
In other parables God is implicitly there as one of the characters, but this
is the only parable that Jesus tells where he said God is a character in the
story, and this is what God did. And what does God do? He says, “You fool!
This very night your soul be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have
prepared for yourself?” And then Jesus concludes by saying, “This is how it will
be with whoever stores up things for themselves, but is not rich toward God.”
So again, we’ll unpack this in future episodes, but just notice how Jesus
concludes this. He says, “Whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich
towards God.” This is what’s going to happen, this is how it is. And again, Jesus
gave us this story by already giving us the purpose of it up front when he said,
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not
consist in an abundance of possessions.” Now I don’t know about you, but I feel
like in many ways we could stop recording, or I could just stop talking,
and we could just keep these words of Jesus up on the screen and just sit for
some time and just let them wash over us, and just allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives where we aren’t living this out, or
we do think that much of our life is around possessions. And I’m not going to
turn off the camera or the recording right now because I want to show you a
couple of other things, but friends this is the essence of the parable. Jesus gave
us the point up front. This is the point of this particular episode, but what
I want to do now is I just want to show you where this story is occurring in
Luke, and particularly here in chapter 12. Now just understand, we didn’t get
chapters as we know them until nearly a thousand years after the Bible was written, okay, so Luke didn’t organize these by
chapters. But in this chapter as a whole it’s really fascinating to me where this
particular story shows up. So in Luke 12, if you look at the first 11 verses you
will see a discussion Jesus is having with his audience around fear. And then
we come to this story, verses 13 to 21, which is about a guy who is going after
possessions, achievements. In a way he’s saying, “Listen, I now have what I need,
all is well.” It’s really about an issue of security. And then immediately after
this, if you’re opening up or you have, you know, Luke 12 open in front of you,
you will see that verses 22 through 30 are Jesus addressing worry and anxiety.
You know, the famous, you know, ‘look at the birds of the air they do not sow, or reap,
or store away in barns. Look at the flowers of the field.
They do not labor or spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all of his splendor was, you know,
wasn’t dressed like one of these.’ You know all of that famous language that’s
here recorded in Luke 12, and so if you just look at these three words and these
three topics: fear, security, or the desire to have security, and anxiety, how much do
these things govern your life? How much does fear factor into your daily existence? Worried about this, concern that you’re
not going to have that, right? You feel a lack of security and so what do you do
to try to gain that security, right? Well how much does that govern what you
do? And when you aren’t achieving, when you aren’t accomplishing, when you’re not
getting that, you know, security, how much worry and anxiety do you experience?
I don’t think it’s just happenstance that these issues are all being wrapped up
together, because they are actually intertwined with one another. And this
story that Jesus gives is in the midst of this longer conversation where he
goes, “Listen, this is all about a sense of of inappropriate fear.” You know, several
episodes ago we talked about fear, like right before we got into this parable
series we talked about, “What’s a good healthy understanding of fear from a
biblical perspective?” Jesus is addressing like, that negative kind of fear right? In
that sense of not having or always wanting to have more so that we feel
more secure. And just the worry and anxiety that comes along when we’re
grasping, and seeking, and trying to attain things. And what’s so compelling
to me is that after Jesus has talked about fear, and then a sense of how we
desire security but we put it in the wrong things, we put it in our wealth, we put
it in our status, we put into our accomplishments, we stick it into, you
know, our achievements, and then we have this overwhelming sense of worry and
anxiety. Jesus in verse 31 is recorded he says, “But seek his kingdom (Matthew’s
version of this is ‘but seek first his kingdom’) and his righteousness and all
these things would be given to you as well.” And recorded here in Luke, “But seek
first his kingdom (or excuse me) but seek his kingdom and all these things would
be given to you as well.” Jesus is like, “When you are focused on the things of
God (and Jesus is obviously the representation of God. He is God, and he’s
saying this is what the kingdom is like) when you live this out, these other
things are not going to shackle you anymore. The fear,
the sense of insecurity, the anxiety, and the worry.” Jesus goes, “No, no, no, no.
Like, seek first my way, what I am teaching you to do, what I am challenging
you to walk out, and everything else will fall in line. Those things that kept you
up at night, that you were worried about, that you were concerned about, that
brought an enormous amount of fear, that you had to try to seek security around,
like those things will take care of themselves. And you’re going to be so
much better off if you can focus in on what I am calling you to do.” And friends,
in this particular episode, and with this particular parable, Jesus tells us what
he is saying. He’s saying, “Watch out, be on your guard against all kinds of
greed; for one’s life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And the
question I believe we’re being challenged with here is what do we
really believe about the possessions we have and want? Like, how do we think about
what we currently possess? And what’s more–about what we long for? What we
desire? What we want? How do we think about these things? What do we really
believe that they’re going to do? Are they going to simply serve a purpose for
everyday life, or in some way are they going to fulfill us in a way that we’re
hoping they will? But in actuality, they won’t, and they don’t. You know, in reading
Klyne Snodgrass and a number of other authors who are, by the way, linked
underneath this video at walkingthe text.com, is that Klyne Snodgrass and
his book Stories with Intent and looking at this particular parable he just says
this. It’s so powerful, and it’s so penetrating. He says “Parables like this
strike a tender nerve, especially when we admit to ourselves–as we must–that we
want to be like the rich fool. We want to say to ourselves, ‘I have
many good things (or a lot of money) laid up, for many years: eat, drink, and
celebrate.’” Like, he says, “That’s what we want. Like, if we just really
strip away all the pretenses, we want to have this sense of ‘okay I’m good, I got
everything I need, I got everything in the bank that I need, I got all the
possessions I want, like I can just, you know, chill, because I finally obtained
that security.’” And the fool who thought he wasn’t a fool in this story thought
that that was the point. That would bring a sense of security. That would alleviate
the fear, that would alleviate the anxiety. And God goes, “You think you’re
rich? You’re actually bankrupt because you think possessions are gonna do
something for you that only I can do for you. And as long as you are caught in the
allurement of what you have and what you want to
possess, you are in a lot of trouble.” And Klyne highlights this, and then he goes
on and he says this. He says, “The message of this parable is as antithetical to
our thinking as any Jesus told. I know of no more difficult topic to apply
personally or to the lives of modern Western Christians.” Friends, I identify
with this. You know, oftentimes when I’m putting together these teachings it’s
not that I just kind of wake up one morning and go, “Oh, what would I like to
film today?” It’s like I’m wrestling with these things for days, sometimes weeks,
and many times months, and I know that this has hit a chord with me. You know,
for those of you who may be watching or listening to this on the release week,
next week is Thanksgiving, right? It’s a day where we come together,
we amp up our gratitude and our thankfulness, you know, to God for what we
have, for our friends, for our family. But you all know what’s coming on the next
screen because you’ve been inundated with Black Friday deals you know it
seems like it’s been since August, right? It’s like, yes, we can be thankful for a
day, but now we need to move into Black Friday where we can acquire more at a
cheaper price and fulfill the things that we’re hoping these things fulfill. And then after Black Friday if you haven’t
shopped local then you need to do Small Business Saturday, you know, support the
local establishments. You know, if you spend all your time on Amazon
or something else, well get local. And then all of a sudden you’re like, “Well, we
all know what’s coming on Monday. But those deals start on Sunday in order to
start talking about Cyber Monday.” And then my goodness! A cyber Monday deal
can’t end at midnight–it’s got to go into Tuesday. But Tuesday’s already
reserved for what? Right. Yeah, Giving Tuesday. You know, it’s almost like Giving
Tuesday came about because everybody was feeling so guilty about everything they
bought on these other days. Now I recognize that this is a little bit of
an interesting conversation to have when we’re a nonprofit organization
crowdfunded that actually relies a lot on Giving Tuesday, but here’s the thing
that I always say is that I don’t ever personally want to give, or I don’t want
anybody to give, out of a sense of guilt or obligation, right? I want people to
give out of a sense that says, “Man I’m grateful for what I have. And you know
maybe this organization, or this organization is impacting me in some way,
and I believe that they’re having impact, you know, with people around the world
and I want to be part of it. And I believe God’s calling me to give to that.”
Like, those are the reasons why you give to something. Not just because you spent
all this money on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday Cyber Monday.
And you go, “Well, now I need to be generous, you know, to other people.”
But friends, this is the world that we live in. This is the world that were couched
in. And when it comes to this parable and just recognizing our own context, like,
the point of the parable isn’t hard to understand. The problem, however,
is that we live as if the point isn’t true. I think that for many of us, we could just
summarize it this way by saying ‘We’re possessed by our possessions.’
And maybe for some of us we can articulate that. We’re willing to
articulate that. I think for many of us we don’t even recognize how much we’re
being possessed by possessions, by what we have and what we long to have. And
I believe Jesus is going right after that. And so as we tie up this particular
episode, here’s what I just want to challenge you–and I’m challenging myself
with–is what do we believe about our possessions? And where might we be
possessed by our possessions? And how may God be speaking a new word into us,
a word of challenge or a word of encouragement, to get off that path that
we’re on, or maybe have been on, and get onto a new path a path that he would
want us to be walking? That where we truly listen to the words of Jesus, that
we watch out, that we’re on our guard against all kinds of greed, because one’s
life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. So friends, thanks for
watching, thanks for listening. We’re gonna go deeper into this in the weeks
to come, but for now may we embrace these words of Jesus and may we truly walk out
this text in our lives.

Reynold King

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