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 on one another.
Jesus turned to his disciples and warned them, “Make sure you are not influenced by the hypocrisy and phoniness of the religious leaders. It permeates everything they do and teach, for they are merely 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 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. 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 an 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.
8“I can assure you of this: If you don’t hold back, but freely declare in public that I am the Son of Man, the Messiah, 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, he can be forgiven. But if anyone scornfully speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will never be forgiven. 11And remember this: When people accuse you before everyone and forcefully drag you before the religious leaders and authorities, do not be troubled. Don’t worry about defending yourself or be concerned about how to answer their accusations. 12Simply be confident and allow the Spirit of Wisdom access to your heart, and he will reveal in that very moment what you are to say to them.”
Jesus Condemns Greed
13Just then someone spoke up from the crowd and said, “Master, you should tell my older brother that he has to divide the family inheritance and give me my fair share!”
14Jesus answered, “My friend, you can’t expect me to help you with this. It’s not my business to settle arguments between you and your brother—that’s yours to settle.”
15Speaking to the people, Jesus continued, “Be alert and guard your heart from greed and 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. In fact, 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 that will 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 are demanding to take your life. Then who will get all the wealth you have stored up for yourself?’ 21This is what 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 food or the clothing you wear. 24Take the carefree birds as your example. Do you ever see them worry? They don’t grow their own food or put it in a storehouse for later. Yet God takes care of every one of them, feeding each of them from 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’t he clothe you as well, O struggling one with so many doubts? 29I repeat it: 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. 31Each and every day he will supply your needs as you seek his kingdom passionately, above all else. 32So don’t ever be afraid, dearest friends! Your loving Father joyously gives you his kingdom realm with all its promises!
33“So, now, go and sell what you have and give to those in need, 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 your thoughts will turn to—and your heart will long to be there also.”
35“Be prepared for action at a moment’s notice. 36Be like the servants who anticipate their master’s return from a wedding celebration. They are ready to unlock and open the door for him at a moment’s notice. 37What great joy is ahead for the awakened ones who are waiting for the Master’s return! He himself will become their servant and wait on them at his table as he passes by. 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 the 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 can promise you that the Son of Man will surprise you and will appear 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 said, “A trustworthy and thoughtful manager who understands the ways of his master will be given a ministry of responsibility in his master’s house, serving others exactly what they need at just the right time. 43-44And when the master returns, he will find that his servant has served him well. I can promise you, he will be given a great reward and will be placed as an overseer of everything the master 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. He will be severely punished and assigned a portion with the unbelievers.
47“Every servant who knows full well what pleases his master, yet who does not make himself ready and refuses to put his master’s will to action, will be punished with many blows. 48But the servant who does not know his master’s will and unwittingly does what is wrong will be punished less severely. 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 long for every heart to be already ablaze with this fiery passion for God! 50But first I must be immersed into the baptism of God’s judgment, 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, for my coming will change everything and create hostility among you. 52From now on, even family members will be divided over me and will choose sides against one another. 53Fathers will be split off against sons and sons against fathers; mothers will be against daughters and daughters against 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! 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 wrong, it is better that you agree with your adversary and settle your dispute before you have to go before a judge. If not, you may be dragged into court, and the judge may find you guilty and 59throw you into prison until you have paid off your fine entirely.”