Warnings and Encouragements From Jesus Himself
(Luke chapter 12, verses 1-12)
Last week as we closed out our in-depth analysis of Luke chapter 11, we finished a chapter in which Jesus used an invitation from a member of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish ruling council at Jerusalem – to come and dine with him as a podium for his contempt for the Jewish religious establishment of that time. Jesus told them off – every last one of them – after being rebuked for not washing properly before sitting down to eat. 'Don't you dare tell me', Jesus was saying to them in summary, 'about my poor manners when you yourselves are filled with such virulent hypocrisy!' And so today, as we move on to Luke chapter 12, we find that a large crowd has gathered within as well as outside the palatial home where this fancy luncheon was being served, presumably because of the commotion being caused by Jesus' critical speech to his hosts. So let's begin right there at verse 1 of chapter 12.
“Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began first by speaking 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 revealed in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.'” (Luke 12, verses 1-3)
Watch out, Jesus was warning his apostles and those near them, for the teachings of organized religion. This is a lesson that we can still take to heart today, and probably even more so. Don't misread my meaning here, I'm not implying that all denominational Christian churches are evil or corrupt, nor are there any synagogues like this today that I am aware of. The fact is that there are lots of good churches out there that are being administered by gifted and Spirit-filled pastors or rabbi’s, and we must never discount the tremendous value and Spiritual healing that this represents.
But there are other teachings from other denominations that cause strife and that are divisive, and these types of things should be avoided at all costs. For example, there's the argument over the exact timing of the Rapture of the Church and Jesus' return, over what day of the week the Sabbath falls on, or which denomination has the “correct” teaching about this or that. All of these arguments – and that's all they really are – are secondary to the teaching of the salvation of Christ, which can be found only through his shed blood on the cross, which has saved us all from certain condemnation. Everything else pales in comparison.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” 'If you think you can hide anything from God', Jesus was warning the crowd, 'you may as well forget about it'. This warning extends to governments and businesses as well as individuals. Meaning, every government scandal that has been concealed, every crime that has been committed that was never prosecuted (especially where someone lost their life), every shady business deal or bogus investment where people got swindled out of their money, property, investments or other assets will be found out (Even I was once accused of a few of these things back when I was a much younger man, but I have long since repented of them all). Moreover, every illicit affair, betrayal, theft and all the cheating of various kinds that has gone on unnoticed will be given billboard ad status. It doesn't say how or when all these things will occur, but if the Bible says it will happen, you can be sure it will.
“What you have said in the dark will be revealed in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” All the folks who sneak around behind the backs of others doing this or that, every conversation that no one else was supposed to hear, and everything that has been concealed for nefarious purposes will be exposed to all, just like a newspaper headline. The darkest secrets will be broadcast to the entire planet, and no one will be able to stop any of these things from occurring. All you crooked politicians and corrupt police officers had better take note in order to save your own souls. Now let's continue our study starting at verse 4.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who can kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not 5 sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs on our head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12, verses 4-7)
'Don't be afraid of those who sneak around behind you to do you harm, and don't fear death, either', Jesus was admonishing them. Death, or mean and crooked people, can only harm your physical or psychological self. But fear Satan, fear the devil and all the evil that accompanies him, because it is only he who can throw your soul into hell. And once you're in hell, that's where you'll stay forever. There is no escape. That's what Jesus was trying to tell us here, but then he further clarified his warning about the fear of death. “Are not 5 sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
If not even one single sparrow is forgotten by God, how much more for ourselves? If not even one sparrow is forgotten by God, then will he not spare the rest of your family and even your house-pets? 'Worrying about these things is pointless, so quit doing that', Jesus was instructing them. “Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Don't fear death, it's only a transition, not an end unto itself. Jesus will be there waiting for us when our time comes to cross over to the other side. Instead of being preoccupied with that, be attentive to obeying the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. And now let's move on to the next portion of our study, starting at verse 8.
“I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men, I will disown before the angels of God. And every man who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Luke 12, verses 8-10)
Never be bashful or reticent regarding your faith in Jesus, and Jesus will reciprocate by standing with you throughout your life. Do not hesitate to tell others about your faith when asked, and always be on the lookout for opportunities to share your faith with those in need of counseling or encouragement. Because if we fail to do these things, we are already dead in the sight of God. “Faith without works is dead”, wrote the apostle James (see James 2: 17), and it's just as true right now as it was when those words were first written down roughly 1,950 years ago. If any of us were to walk up to a homeless woman with 2 little kids sitting on a park bench and pray for all of them without bothering to make any kind of real contribution prior to walking away, what good is that? Does anyone reading this seriously believe for more than a split second that God will hear that prayer? Of course He won't!
Moreover, if we profess our Christian faith 6 ways from Sunday while never troubling ourselves to ever be of service to anyone other than ourselves, we are missing the mark and falling short because of our own behavior. We're doing this to ourselves. Worse yet, when we do any or all of these negative things, when we fail to acknowledge our faith in the presence of others, or when we walk right past my hypothetical homeless mom and little kids as so very many would, we fail to put our faith into action and so lose out on what would have been a blessing. If we fail to acknowledge our faith, Jesus will not acknowledge us when our time comes to stand before the throne of God (see Revelation 20: 11-15). “...anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” One example of this would be those who reject the fact that Jesus was and is the Son of God. Another would be those who don't believe in the crucifixion or the resurrection of Christ. Anyone who thinks they can just flip off God and walk away with no consequences are only kidding themselves. And now let's finish up today's study with verses 11 and 12 of Luke 12.
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves and what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
On the surface of this, it seems as if Jesus is hopping around from one topic to another, but upon closer examination I find this to be an extension of his previous sentence from the present into the future. At the time Jesus said this, nothing in this statement had come to pass. It was only after the Day of Pentecost and the start-up of the early Church that persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire began in earnest. These are also 2 verses that I quote to those who love to quote from Romans chapter 13 (“The ruling authorities are established by God....”). The ruling authorities may indeed be established by God, but they can also be removed just as easily as they were established.
Moreover, whenever these same authorities falsely accuse one of those they govern, the Holy Spirit will give those individuals the right words to free themselves with. So do not fear authority no matter how abusive, and do not fear death either, no matter how dreadful either may seem. God will uphold you all. I should know, he's been doing this same thing for me for more than a quarter-century now. If God is willing to do these things for me, do you now see that he is just as willing to do all these things for yourselves as well? Of course you do, and of course He will too! And next week we'll move on to part 2 of chapter 12 of the Gospel of Luke.