Luke 12: 1 – 12
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Jesus knows he is a contradiction and draws a wide variety of responses from people who could be quite godly, so people speaking against him is understandable. But to call the Spirit’s work Satanic would be blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. In our day and age it might be to preach in the pulpit against the baptism in the Spirit. There is a story from the early Pentecostal revival on Azusa Street in 1906 which illustrates this point.
When God poured out his spirit in California in the early 20th century, this was not well received amongst evangelicals because they believed in a doctrine called dispensationalism. According to dispensationalism, the gifts of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit had been a special dispensation to get the church started but then had been withdrawn. And so one Sunday a Baptist minister was preaching against this new baptism in the Holy Spirit and fell dead in the pulpit. Wise spiritual people, whether they are in favour of some radical new development or not, hesitate to use human power against it until they know what God is doing.
Gamaliel, a revered Pharisee stopped the Sanhedrin from executing some of the apostles not long after Pentecost saying that if they were operating in human strength they would fail and disperse but if they were operating by God’s grace, the Sanhedrin would not be able to stop them because they find themselves fighting against God (Acts 5: 33 – 39).
Again and again Jesus told his critics to judge the tree by its fruit, rather than by their humanly fashioned doctrines, to not call the work of the Holy Spirit the work of the devil. In this age, the sin against the Holy Spirit might be someone having tasted the Spirit and then calling it merely a human activity explainable through science.
Jesus is training his disciples to continue the work of the kingdom after he leaves, when they will find the conditions becoming harder and harder. The crowds are getting bigger and more intense and of course not simply being well-wishers or seekers, there are also many enemies in these crowds. Anticipating when the apostles will have to deal themselves with crowds, popularity and hostility he warns them about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who appear righteous but have a lot of secrets and machinations going on. He warns them that everything that has been kept secret will be shouted from the housetops. All human conniving will be exposed and come to nought for the power of God is so much stronger. His disciples may be uneducated, unsophisticated folk when it comes to dealing with the respected Pharisees and teachers of the law of their day, but he instructs them not to worry about what they will have to say when brought in front of religious authorities. He assures them that the Holy Spirit will show them what to say.
We, like them, are so accustomed to acting on our own strength, being worried about how we will handle things and being stuck at the human level. Lord Holy Spirit, work these words in our hearts, that we might more and more taste the sweetness and power of your presence in our lives, that we might step out boldly as led by you and say what you would have us say. Amen!
Noon Day Prayers Question
Imagine having to give an account of yourself in front of what you imagine to be an unfriendly audience. Imagine opening your mouth and having words come to mind and you find yourself speaking bravely and full of truth and wisdom. This is Jesus’ promise to you, his follower, that you will always have the words to say if you are confronted for your beliefs. Are you ready? Can you trust God to give you the words?
Luke 12: 13 – 34
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of 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’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Where is your treasure? That certainly is an interesting question. You can see the contrast Jesus spoke of between the one who wanted to pile up more and more for himself and his disciples whom he told to sell their possessions and give to the poor, thus providing for themselves purses that will not wear out and a treasure in heaven that will never fail.
But it is not simply possessions or love of money that can be where your heart is. Where is your heart? Where is your treasure? What or who matters to you more than anything else in this world? Think on these things…