Luke 12

Luke 12:1

Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

(a) Thousands of people. The crowds were like an army besieging Jesus; see entry for Matt. 11:12.

(b) Leaven symbolizes influence. In context, Jesus is referring to the corrupting influence of manmade religion. The Pharisees preached a law-based religion of self-improvement that led to pride and hypocrisy. He also warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of Herod, the corrupting influence of political power (Mark 8:15).

(c) Pharisees; see entry for Matt. 3:7

Luke 12:5

“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Fear Him! See entry for Matt. 10:28.

(b) Hell; see entry for Matt. 5:22.

Luke 12:9

but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Whoever denies Me. Jesus is talking about unbelievers, not Christians going through a bad patch. Peter denied or disowned Jesus three times but Jesus didn’t disown him. Instead he prayed for him. See entry for 2 Tim. 2:12.

Luke 12:10

“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.

(a) It will be forgiven. Prior to the cross, Jesus preached conditional forgiveness to people living under the old covenant. “If you forgive, God will forgive” (Matt. 6:14, Mark 11:25). However, as the messenger of the new covenant, he also demonstrated and proclaimed unconditional forgiveness (Matt. 9:2, 18:27, Luke 7:42, 47, 23:34). On the night he rose from the dead, he told the disciples to preach the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47).

(b) Forgiven; see entry for Forgiveness.

(c) He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit; see entry for Matt. 12:31.

Luke 12:15

Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

(a) Greed or covetousness is destructive (Gal. 6:8). Like all sin, it will kill you dead (Rom. 8:6).

(b) Possessions. To run after material things that rust and fade away is to pursue an inferior goal and to settle for much less than the life God offers (see entry for John 10:10).

Luke 12:28

“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!

You men of little faith! Alternatively, “you who have little trust or confidence in the Lord!”

Luke 12:30

“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

(a) Your Father; see entry for Luke 2:49.

(b) Your Father knows that you need. The God Jesus revealed is a caring Father (Matt. 6:8, 30, 32).

Luke 12:32

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

(a) Your Father; see entry for Luke 2:49.

(b) Give you. The God Jesus revealed is a giving Father (Matt. 7:11, Luke 11:13).

Luke 12:33

“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

(a) Give to charity. Don’t invest in worldly wealth that fades away but store up heavenly treasure.

The Jews understood that giving to the poor was a pathway to blessing and a way to store up heavenly treasure (Deu. 15:10). “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his good deed” (Pro. 19:17).

(b) Unfailing treasure in heaven refers to people.

People are the treasure that moth and rust can’t touch and thieves can’t steal. When the Bible talks about spiritual offspring or eternal friends, it is referring to the only treasure you can take with you. Why did Jesus give up everything he have? To win you. You are his treasure.

See entry for Heavenly Treasure.

Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(a) Treasure. The original noun (thesauros) means deposit, storehouse, or treasury. It’s the place where your valuables are kept.

(b) Heart. The thoughts of our heart are focused on the place where our treasure is.

Our hearts and treasures are connected. If you want to know where your heart is, you only need to look for where your treasure is. A heart inclined towards God, will find its treasure within his heavenly kingdom. It will view people as precious, because Jesus died for them, and use worldly wealth to make eternal friends (see entry for Luke 16:9).

Luke 12:36

“Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.

In his eschatological parables Jesus told stories of masters, noblemen, and bridegrooms being gone “a long time” (Matt. 24:48, 25:5, 25:19). Since Jesus has been gone a long time, he exhorts us to “be like servants waiting for their master” (Luke 12:36).

The need to wait is echoed by the epistle writers. “Wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Rom 8:23); “We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom 8:25); “We eagerly await a Savior” (Php 3:20); “Be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits…” (Jas. 5:7); “Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 1:21).

We are to be watchful and ready for the Lord’s return, but we are not to put life on hold. Plant trees and raise families, and do whatever God put you on this earth to do. Invest, build, dig deep and go long. Let your light shine so others may praise your Father in heaven.

Luke 12:49

“I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!

(a) Fire. Jesus is looking ahead to Judgment Day when the fire of God’s wrath will bring an end to the ungodly and all stumbling blocks (Matt. 13:41–42, 2 Pet. 3:7)

Some imagine that Jesus speaking about the fire of God’s love or the fire of persecution. But the context is his glorious return to earth (Luke 12:40). In the Old Testament, the imagery of fire is often associated with divine judgment (Is. 66:15–16, Oba. 1:18, Zeph. 3:8, Mal. 4:1). Jesus also spoke of fire in connection with Judgment Day (Matt. 5:22, 13:42, 50, 18:9, 25:41, Mark 9:43, Luke 17:29–30, John 15:6). He did not dread this fire but he looked forward to it knowing that it would spell the end of sin and usher in eternity. After the fires of judgment have purged the earth, the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43).

(b) I wish it were already kindled! Why would the Lord look forward to fiery destruction? Because he is longing for the new heaven and the new earth that will replace the present heaven and earth (see entry for 2 Pet. 3:13).

Christ is about to go to the cross, and this is distressing (see next verse). His ordeal will be brutal. Understandably, he is looking past this trial to a glorious and wonderful end.

Luke 12:51

“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;

Division. These words seem hard to reconcile with the image of Jesus the Prince of Peace. But the sword he wields is not a Roman sword; it’s a sword of truth, and truth is divisive.

People divide themselves by their response to Jesus. A Christian is not necessarily more moral than their unbelieving neighbor; a Christian is someone who does what Jesus says. Conversely, an unbeliever is not necessarily immoral; an unbeliever is someone who rejects what Jesus says. Like the hard-hearted leaders of Jerusalem, they “refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:40). Jesus is the Life, and those who come to him shall live.

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