Friday, October 21, 2016

Parables of Jesus Part 7 (The Rich Fool PART I)

Primary Sources:

1. The Parables of Jesus, James Montgomery Boice, Moody Publishers, 1983
2. The Parables of Jesus, R. C. Sproul, video series and Study Guide, Ligonier Ministries, 2013

Parables of Jesus, Part 1
Parables of Jesus, Part 2
Parables of Jesus, Part 3
Parables of Jesus, Part 4
Parables of Jesus, Part 5
Parables of Jesus, Part 6

I don't covet; there are just things I want desperately that I can't have.
Therefore, you preachers, out with your swords and strike at the root. Speak against covetousness, and cry out upon it. Stand not ticking and toying at the branches nor at the boughs, for then there will new boughs and branches spring again of them; but strike at the root, and fear not these giants of England, these great men and men of power, these men that are oppressors of the poor; fear them not, but strike at the root of all evil, which is mischievous covetousness – Hugh Latimer  (c. 1487 –1555)

The Rich Fool (PART I)

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” ( Luke 12:13-21)

Unlike most wisdom parables that contrast wisdom and foolishness, this parable is all about the latter.

The Introduction

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge over you?”
Was this man wronged by his brother (and appealing to the law in Deuteronomy that allowed for a rabbi to serve as judge/attorney in a dispute) or was he trying to get Jesus to rewrite the law (judicial activism)—perhaps objecting to the older brother obtaining two portions of the inheritance?

The text doesn’t say, but the subsequent teaching favors the latter (or something like it) interpretation. For it is not wrong to ask for what is yours—but it is sinful to ask for more.

The dude's cluelessness

Jesus was put off by this request. He had just finished teaching amazing truths including (just three verses prior), this juicy nugget:

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
(Luke 12:10)

and it was if this man had not heard. He just wants to retain Jesus as his attorney. Jesus refused.

Why did Jesus refuse?

Calvin (Commentaries) gives three reasons why Jesus refused.
  1. The Jews imagined that Jesus would establish an Earthly kingdom. He did not want to do anything to perpetuate this error. His kingdom is not carnal (of this world), but spiritual.
  2. Jesus was drawing a distinction that he was to work for the “division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb 4:12). Secular jurisdiction and asset division is not his mission.
  3. Jesus saw that the man was selfishly attempting to use him as a judge for purely monetary reasons
Before getting to the actual parable, Jesus seizes the opportunity to teach about covetousness. The man sort of riled Jesus up.  So Jesus gives a weighty warning before the parable: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Coveting is the “wink and nod” sin of Christianity. It is a sin that we all can readily (and gravely) admit to without much guilt involved. However the narrative reminds us how seriously Jesus views covetousness. Not to mention that it is the 10th Commandment.

Coveting is no laughing matter

And [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:20-23)

Coveting is placed on a par with sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, etc. It is entirely possible that we take this sin way too lightly.

Et tu Paul?

Paul agrees.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. (Rom 1:29)

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. (Rom 7:7-8)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints
. (Eph 5:3)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5)

For you may
be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Eph 5:5)

OK, OK, OK, I grasp the concept!

(To be continued)


No comments:

Post a Comment