THE LIFE OF CHRIST

PART 61

 

In our last lesson, we examined Luke 12:1-41, in which Jesus mainly talked to His disciples though a large crowd was gathering around them. He warned them about the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and how nothing that man does will remain hidden. He encouraged them not to fear man, but God. He then talked about how God knows all about us and will never forsake us. Then He spoke a parable warning them about covetousness, and talked about how God will surely take care of us since He takes care of the rest of His creation. He taught that our treasure is in heaven and then spoke a parable about how we always need to be ready for Jesusí return so that heaven will be our home. We ended our lesson with Peter asking Jesus if He was speaking this parable to them or all people.

 

In this lesson, we are picking where we left off. Though Jesus does not specifically answer Peterís question, as I pointed in the last lesson, Jesus makes it clear in other places that these parables apply to all who are willing to take heed to them. So, letís begin with Jesusí response to Peterís question, which is another parable.

 

Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?43 "Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.44 "Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.45 "But if that servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,46 "the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.47 "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48 "But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

 

Though a steward was still a slave, his master trusted him to take care of his household. He was in charge of the other slaves and of taking care of the masterís business, especially when he was gone.

 

I want you to think how that applies to us. Our master is Jesus and He has gone away, but He will come back again. In the meantime, all Christians are stewards. While we are children of God, we are considered slaves because we are either slaves of righteousness or wickedness. We are supposed to be taking care of Godís kingdom and redeem the time we have for the Lord as Paul said:

 

Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

 

However, sometimes Christians might say, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,. Obviously, we will not say these exact words, and we do not have servants under us to beat, but this is just saying that some Christians will start thinking they have plenty of time to get the masterís house in order before He returns. In the meantime, some Christians will abuse and misuse the blessings God has given them and they will do things for their own pleasure instead of using their time for the Lord. They eat and get drunk thinking they can live like the world and get right with God just in the nick of time before Jesus returns.

 

However, Jesus makes it clear that He will come back at a time when you are not expecting it because no one knows when His second coming will be. If He comes back while you are living in sin, then you will be cut in two and will find yourself in the same place as the unbelievers. No, He is not going to literally cut you into, but this is talking about the judgment and how you will find yourself facing the same fate as unbelievers in hell.

 

Some people have different opinion on whether there are degrees of punishment in hell, but notice our last few verses again:

 

47 "And that servant who knew his master's will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48 "But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

 

This certainly seems to indicate that there will be a harder punishment given to those who know the will of the Father, yet turn from it and live like the world anyways because they will receive many stripes. However, the person who does not know the will of God, will receive fewer stripes for not obeying the Fatherís will. I think this fits perfectly with what Peter said:

 

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

 

Also the writer of Hebrews says:

 

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

 

Personally, it really does not matter to me if there are degrees of punishment in hell or degrees of reward in heaven because all I care about is not being in hell, but in heaven. I do not care I have smallest reward to be had in heaven because being in heaven with God for eternity is reward enough for me.

 

Did you also notice that there is no such thing as innocent sinner? Even though those who do not know the will of the Father will receive less stripes, they still receive their punishment, just as Paul points out in:

 

2 Thessalonians 1:7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

 

Of course, this parable, like the one before it shows how we must continue to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. We cannot slack off and take our easy because Jesus is coming and we must be ready or else we will find ourselves unprepared for heaven, which means that hell will be our home. Many more verses could be used along with this parable, but I will close my thoughts on this parable with what Paul said in:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

 

Next Jesus says:

 

Luke 12:49 " I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!50 "But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished!

 

Due to the vagueness of what Jesus said here, there are several ideas of what is meant by verse 49. I like how Coffman presents his answer to this verse, so I will share what he said:

And just what is this fire? Barclay identified it as "judgment";[48]Lamar was puzzled over the fact that "Bengel made it `spiritual warmth,' Alfred `the Holy Spirit,' Barnes, `discord and contention,' etc.," and concluded by agreeing that it probably refers to results which would follow the proclamation of the gospel.[49] Dummelow understood it as "the fire of Christian love";[50]Childers said, "It is a fire of conflict";[51] John Wesley interpreted it as "the fire of heavenly love."[52]

In the light of so many scholarly opinions, another can do no harm. The fire is "the word of God." "Is not my word like as a fire?" saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:29).

Understanding "fire" here as the word of God, that is, the gospel, gives the key as to why Jesus desired that it already be kindled on earth. Paradoxically, however, the preaching of the gospel would bring pain, sorrow and division, as well as joy, peace and salvation. (2 Corinthians 2:15,16). Coffman Commentary on Luke

In verse 50, the baptism Jesus would be baptized with is referring to His cruel death on the cross. Way before the Garden, we can see that Jesus was distressed by what He would have to go through as He would be immersed intense suffering, but it had to be done and it was the only way that we could be reconciled to God and for the new covenant to be put in place. So, let know one say that it was easy for Jesus to do what He did because it was not, but He did anyways because He loved us that much.

Luke 12:51 "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.52 "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.53 "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

What is amazing about this is that the message we preach is a message of peace (Acts 10:36), and if possible, we are to live peaceable with all men (Rom. 12:18). However, when we start proclaiming Godís Word and upholding what it says, it does bring division and causes families to fight against each other because many do not like to be held by any standard other than their own.

I like what Boles says about our verses:

Christ is the Prince of Peace; but in a sinful world, a righteous king can have and give peace only by destroying error and evil; to do this will bring war; not because Christ and his people have the spirit of strife and war, but because the truth they urge is resisted, and made  the occasion for strife, division, and contention by others. The conflict that may be waged among the different advocates of error will often unite them in their opposition to the truth. The truth taught by Jesus is opposed to error; there can be no compromise between truth and error. When one member of the household accepts the truth and others reject it, there is opposition and antagonism (Boles 264).

 

I am sure all of us have known families that have been divided because of Jesus. Satan knows that we have the mentality that blood is thicker than water and he uses that to his advantage. He knows if anyone can talk a person out of following Christ it is a family member. Those who have grown up around you can make you more miserable and more guilty than anyone else.

 

When you take the Lordís side and refuse to give into your family members whether it be a husband, wife or your children, there will be division. This is on reason Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

It is not easy to go against the ones you love and are around every day. It can be challenging to put God before them when you cannot see God or talk to Him directly like you can your loved ones. When you have a loved one who keeps hounding you every day to give up on Christianity, it can become very hard not to.

 

Division is almost always viewed in a negative light. No one wakes up and says, ďtoday I am going to divide my familyĒ? While the division hurts, it is not always wrong and it is necessary at times. Jesus is telling us that He must come first in our lives. We cannot compromise Godís Word for the sake of the family. His way must always come first. We must realize this the day we make the commitment to become a Christian.

 

We have not been promised an easy path. You have to be fully committed to God in order to allow His truth to take first place in your life. Notice Jesus said that you are not worthy of Christ if you put your family first. I want you to think about your family right now and how much you love them and what you do for them. Now, ask yourself, do you love your family more than you love God? Would you put your familyís needs above what God asks you to do in His Word? If so, Jesus says you are not worthy of Him. This is a hard saying, but when it is followed, you can see how it can bring division in a family.

 

Luke 12:54 Then He also said to the multitudes, "Whenever you see a cloud rising out of the west, immediately you say, 'A shower is coming'; and so it is.55 "And when you see the south wind blow, you say, 'There will be hot weather'; and there is.56 "Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?

 

Now Jesus turns His attention to the multitudes and He rebukes them because there is nothing wrong with their senses or their ability to understand. They could look at the clouds forming in the west and know that rain is on its way, and they could observe the wind from the south and that the temperature is going to rise, yet something even easier to see was right in front of them, which was Jesus.

 

The people knew the Scriptures that foretold the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom. They heard Jesus speak like none other. They saw Him do amazing miracles, and even though their people had been waiting and longing for this day to arrive, they did not want to see it. While it was a unique time while Jesus was on the earth, people are just like this today. They have all the evidence they need to believe the Jesus is Lord and that we have the Word of God, but they reject it. How sad it is. Next Jesus says:

 

Luke 12:57 " Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?58 "When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.59 "I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite."

 

Jesus is calling them to action. Just as they would try and make peace with their adversary before going to court and receiving their punishment, Jesus is telling them, they need to make their peace with God now before the judgment day comes, otherwise it will be too late.

 

Some have tried to teach the idea of purgatory from verse 59 that somehow you will only stay in hell until your debt of sin has been paid, but that is not what this teaching at all because grammar of this verse indicates that you will never be able to pay off that debt, therefore you will never be released from hell.

As Geldenhuys said:

The aorist subjunctive used in the sense of future-perfect: "will have paid"; and that moment never arrives. The full repayment or liquidation of the debt is not possible for the guilty one. Condemnation lasts forever. Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 369.

 

I think Paul puts it best in:

 

2 Corinthians 6:2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

 

Now letís turn our attention to next chapter.

 

Luke 13:1There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.2 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.4 "Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?5 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

 

We learn that Pilate had some Galileans killed who were making their sacrifices to God. Perhaps it was the event that had caused friction between Pilate and Herod. These Galileansí blood was mixed with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus asked an important question to find out if these people thought these Galileans were worse sinners than other Galileans. The reason this is an important question was because the school of thought was that if bad things happened to people it must be because they are bad people who are full of sin. We know that Jobís friends certainly thought this about Job. We also know that Jesusí disciples thought this was true about the man that was born blind in John 9.

 

Jesus answers His own question and says no. Just because someone has something bad happen to them does not mean that he is living a sinful life because bad things can happen to good people. However, even if these Galileans were sinners, there is something we all have in common with them and that is if we do not repent we will all likewise perish. Even if someone dies a brutal physical death as a consequence of their sins, we will face the same eternal fate as them if we do not repent.

 

Jesus gives a different example of these 18 men who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them and asked the same question as before if they thought they were worse sinners than the men who lived in Jerusalem. Once again, the answer is the same, which is no. He repeats His message again:

 

but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

 

Repentance is recurring command throughout the New Testament, and it is the hardest thing for a person to do because it means we have to set our pride to the side and realize that we must make changes in our lives to live according to Godís Word.

 

Some have the wrong idea about what repentance is because some think it just means being sorry, but one can be sorry for something without actually repenting. For example, a child could get caught eating the cookies he was told not to eat. While he may say he is sorry, he just sorry that he got caught.

 

Now being sorry is certainly part of the process of repenting, but it requires that the sorrow moves you to repentance, which means you are now going to change your way of thinking and do things differently. As Paul said in:

 

2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

 

So, to sum this up repentance includes Godly sorrow, which leads to a change of mind, which should lead to a change of life. I think the parable Jesus teaches next goes right along with what He just taught about repentance.

 

Luke 13:6 He also spoke this parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.7 "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?'8 "But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.9 'And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.' "

 

A fig tree is known for is fruit production. You can usually expect a crop of fruit in April, June, and August. So, you would expect such a tree to produce some fruit. After 3 years, the man wanted the keeper to cut it down, but the keeper talked him into waiting another year so that he could do everything he could for it including fertilizing it. If it did not bear fruit after that, then he says cut it down.

 

Some believe there is a dual meaning to this parable and the verses before it. Some believe it can have an immediate application the nation of Israel. For example, in the first two examples we read about in verses 1 Ė 5 these men that perished did so under the hand of Rome. Well, we know for sure that the Galileans did, but is believed that the 18 men also died working for Rome. So, it is believed that Jesus could be telling these Jews to repent or they too will perish at the hand of Rome in A.D. 70. While this is possible, I still believe the general view I gave earlier still applies.

 

Same thing with our parable. It is believed the man is the Father, Jesus is the keeper, and the fruitless fig tree is the nation of Israel. Though the Father is ready to cut Israel off, Jesus asked for one more year for them to start bearing fruit. The three years is supposed to represent the first 3 years of Jesusí ministry, and the last year would represent the remaining 6 months or so before Jesus was put to death. The cutting down of the fruitless tree represents the judgment God caries out against Jerusalem 40 years later in A.D. 70.

 

Again, I will say that while this may be a possible meaning of the parable, I believe the overall meaning of it is that Jesus is pleading our case to the Father when we become fruitless. The idea is that He is doing everything He can in our lives to help us to grow as we should, but if we remain fruitless, then we will be cut off as Jesus said in:

 

John 15:2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

 

Whether our verses we looked at in chapter 13 have an immediate application to the nation of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem or not, I am confident that the overall message is for all of us, which is do not put off repenting of your sins so that you remain fruitless for the Lord because if you do, you will be cut and it can cause you to miss out on heaven. While true repentance can be very difficult for us, I hope this lesson has shown you why true repentance is necessary, and I hope that none us ever lets our pride keep us from repenting. As Jesus said:

 

"I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.