Jesus Warns against Hypocrisy
1By now a crowd of many thousands had gathered around Jesus. So many people pushed to be near him, they began to trample one another.
Jesus turned to his disciples and warned them, “Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It permeates everything they do and teach, like leaven. # 12:1 The Aramaic adds “serving their own interests.” 2Everything hidden and covered up will soon be exposed. For the facade is falling down, and nothing will be kept secret for long. 3Whatever you have spoken in private will be public knowledge, and what you have whispered secretly behind closed doors will be broadcast far and wide for all to hear.
4“Listen, my beloved friends, don’t fear those who may want to take your life but can do nothing more. It’s true that they may kill your body, but they have no power over your soul. 5The one you must fear is God, for he has both the power to take your life and the authority to cast your soul into hell. # 12:5 The Greek text is literally “the Valley of Hinnom.” This was a valley along the south side of Jerusalem where excrement and rubbish were burned continually. It became a Jewish metaphor for the place of eternal punishment. Yes, the only one you need to fear is God.
6-7“What is the value of your soul to God? Could your worth be defined by any amount of money? God doesn’t abandon or forget even the small sparrow he has made. How then could he forget or abandon you? What about the seemingly minor issues of your life? Do they matter to God? Of course they do! So you never need to worry, for you are more valuable to God than anything else in this world. # 12:6–7 This translation has chosen to make explicit the figures of speech and metaphors of these verses. The literal Greek text reads “Do not five sparrows sell for two copper coins? Not one is overlooked before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Stop fearing—you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
8“I can assure you of this: If you freely declare in public that I am the Son of Man, the Messiah, then I will freely declare to all the angels of God that you are mine. 9But if you publicly pretend that you don’t know me, I will deny you before the angels of God. 10If anyone speaks evil of me, the Son of Man, that one can be forgiven. But if anyone speaks scornfully against the Holy Spirit, it will never be forgiven. 11And remember this: When people publicly accuse you # 12:11 The Greek text adds “in the synagogues.” and forcefully drag you before the religious leaders and authorities, do not be troubled. Don’t worry about defending yourself or how to answer their accusations. 12Simply be confident and allow the Spirit of Wisdom access to your heart, and in that very moment he will reveal what you are to say to them.”
Jesus Condemns Greed
13Just then someone spoke up from the crowd and said, “Master, you should compel my older brother to divide the family inheritance and give me my fair share!”
14Jesus answered, # 12:14 In the Jewish culture of that day, rabbis would be asked to mediate disputes such as this. However, the man did not want mediation but representation. “My friend, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
15Speaking to the people, Jesus continued, “Be alert and guard your heart from greed and from always wishing for what you don’t have. For your life can never be measured by the amount of things you possess.”
16Jesus then gave them this illustration: “A wealthy land owner had a farm that produced bumper crops. Every year the harvest was so great it filled his barns to overflowing! 17He thought, ‘What should I do now that every barn is full and I have nowhere else to store more? 18I know what I’ll do! I’ll tear down the barns and build one massive barn to hold all my grain and goods. 19Then I can just sit back, surrounded with comfort and ease. I’ll enjoy life with no worries at all.’
20“God said to him, ‘What a fool you are to trust in your riches and not in me! This very night the messengers of death # 12:20 The Greek text is simply “they.” will demand to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?’ 21The same thing will happen to all those who fill up their lives with everything but God.”
22Jesus taught his disciples, saying, “Listen to me. Never let anxiety enter your hearts. Never worry about any of your needs, such as food or clothing. 23For your life is infinitely more than just the food you eat or the clothing you wear. 24Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They neither grow their own food nor put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them out of the abundance of his love and goodness. Isn’t your life more precious to God than a bird? Be carefree in the care of God!
25“Does worry add anything to your life? Can it add one more year, or even one day? 26So if worrying adds nothing, but actually subtracts from your life, why would you worry about God’s care of you?
27“Think about the lilies. They grow and become beautiful, not because they work hard or strive to clothe themselves. Yet not even Solomon, wearing his kingly garments of splendor, could be compared to a field of lilies. 28If God can clothe the fields and meadows with grass and flowers, can he not clothe you as well, O struggling one with so many doubts? # 12:28 This Greek word means “little faiths.” 29I repeat: Don’t let worry enter your life. Live above the anxious cares about your personal needs. 30People everywhere seem to worry about making a living, but your heavenly Father knows your every need and will take care of you. 31As you passionately seek his kingdom, above all else, he will supply your needs. 32So don’t ever be afraid, dearest friends! Your loving Father joyously gives you his kingdom with all its promises!
33“Now, go and sell what you have and give to those in need; you will be making deposits in your account in heaven, an account that will never be taken from you. Your gifts will become a secure and unfailing treasure, deposited in heaven forever. 34Where you deposit your treasure, that is where you fix your thoughts—and your heart will long to be there also.”
35“Be prepared for action # 12:35 The Greek is literally “Let your loins be girded and keep your lamps burning.” at a moment’s notice. 36Be like servants anticipating their master’s return from a wedding celebration. They are ready at a moment’s notice to unlock and open the door for him. 37What great joy is ahead for those who stay awake and wait for their Master’s return! He himself will become their servant and wait on them. 38He may appear at midnight or even later, but what great joy for the awakened ones whenever he comes! 39Of course, if they knew ahead of time the hour of their master’s appearing, they would be alert, just as they would be ready if they knew ahead of time that a thief was coming to break into their house. 40So keep being alert and ready at all times. For I promise you that the Son of Man will surprise you and appear # 12:40 The Greek word can also be translated “become.” when you don’t expect him.”
The Faithful Servant
41“Lord,” Peter asked, “does this apply only to the twelve of us, or is it for everyone else as well?”
42The Lord replied, “A master will delegate authority in his house to a trustworthy and thoughtful manager who understands his master’s desires. And the household manager will serve others what they need at exactly the right time. 43-44And whenever his master returns, he will find that his servant has served him well. I promise you, the master will reward him generously and he will be placed as an overseer of everything he owns.
45“But what if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master delays his coming, and who knows when he will return?’ Because of the delay, the servant elevates himself and mistreats those in his master’s household. Instead of caring for the ones he was appointed to serve, he abuses the other servants, both men and women. He throws drunken parties for his friends and gives himself over to every pleasure. 46Let me tell you what will happen to him. His master will suddenly return at a time that shocks him, and he will remove the abusive, selfish servant from his position of trust. The master will punish him and assign him a portion with the unbelievers.
47“Every servant who knows what pleases his master yet does not make himself ready and refuses to put his master’s will to action will receive many punishing blows. 48Every servant who does not know his master’s will and unwittingly does what is wrong will receive a less severe punishment. For those who have received a greater revelation from their master are required a greater obedience. And those who have been entrusted with great responsibility will be held more responsible to their master.”
Jesus Brings Fire to the Earth
49“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze with fiery passion for God! # 12:49 Some scholars believe this fire that Jesus came to bring is judgment. But Jesus did not come to judge the world but to save it (John 3:17). He wished not for judgment but mercy to grip the hearts of God’s people. He interceded for those who crucified him. 50But first I must be immersed into the baptism of God’s judgment, # 12:50 The implication of the context is that Jesus was drawing closer to his time of experiencing God’s judgment for our sins on the cross. It is a “baptism” of judgment that we deserved. and I am consumed with passion as I await its fulfillment. 51Don’t think for a moment that I came to grant peace and harmony to everyone. No, my arrival will change everything and create hostility among you. 52From now on, even family members will be divided over me and will choose sides # 12:52 The Greek text is literally “Among five in one house, three will be against two and two will be against three.” one against another. 53Fathers will be divided from sons and sons from fathers; mothers will be divided from daughters and daughters from mothers; mothers-in-law will be against brides and brides against mothers-in-law—all because of me.”
Discerning the Time
54Jesus then said to the crowds gathered around him, “When you see a cloud forming in the west, don’t you say, ‘A storm is brewing’? And then it arrives. 55And when you feel the south wind blowing, you say, ‘A heat wave is on the way.’ And so it happens. 56What hypocrites! # 12:56 There is an amazing play on words found in the Aramaic text. The word translated “hypocrites” is literally “accepter of faces.” The Aramaic states that the Pharisees looked at the “face” of the sky and the “faces” of men, living superficially, not seeing what was happening spiritually around them. You are such experts at forecasting the weather, but you are totally unwilling to understand the spiritual significance of the time you’re living in.
57“You can’t even judge for yourselves what is good and right.
58“When you are guilty of wrong-doing, it is better to agree with your adversary and settle your dispute before you have to go before a judge. If not, your adversary may drag you into court, and the judge may find you guilty and 59throw you into prison until you have paid off your fine entirely.”