Secrets on display
- 12:1 Meanwhile, the crowd outside had grown to several thousand. There were so many people in such a small area that they were stepping on each other. Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees: hypocrisy.1
- 12:2 One of these days, everything that’s covered up and hidden is going to get put on display for everyone to see.
- 12:3 Everything you said under the cover of night is going to get repeated in the light of day. And everything you whispered in the privacy of a room is going to get broadcast everywhere.
- 12:4 Let me tell you something, friends. Don’t be afraid of those who can kill you but then can’t hurt you anymore.
- 12:5 I’ll tell you who to be afraid of. Be afraid of the one who can kill you and then throw you into hell.2 Be very afraid.
- 12:6 You can buy five sparrows for two measly cents,3 can’t you? Well, God would never forget a single one of those birds.
- 12:7 Here’s another fact: every strand of hair on your head is numbered. Don’t be afraid that you’re forgotten or unimportant. You’re worth more than a flock of sparrows.
- 12:8 Listen, if you speak up for me in front of other people, the Son of Humans4 will speak up for you in front of the angels of God.
- 12:9 But if you renounce me in front of other people, you are going to get renounced in front of the angels of God.
- 12:10 There’s forgiveness for everyone who speaks out against the Son of Humans. But there is no forgiveness for those who slander5 the Holy Spirit.
- 12:11 When they arrest you and put you on trial in the synagogues, in front of rulers and officials, don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry about what to say when it comes time to defend yourself.
- 12:12 The Holy Spirit will give you the right words at the right time.”
Story about a greedy gent
- 12:13 From out in the crowd someone yelled, “Teacher, tell my brother to share our family’s inheritance with me.”
- 12:14 Jesus said, “Sir, who appointed me arbitrator between the two of you?”
- 12:15 Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “Defend yourself against greed. Life isn’t about accumulating lots of stuff.”
- 12:16 Then he told the people a parable. He said, “A rich man’s farm produced a bumper crop.
- 12:17 And the man thought, ‘What am I going to do with all this? I don’t have any place to store it.’
- 12:18 Then he said, ‘I know. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. I’ll store all of my grain there, along with my other stuff, too.
- 12:19 Then I’ll say to myself, “Self, you’ve got it covered for many years. So go ahead and take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry as all get out.”’
- 12:20 Then God spoke up and said to him, ‘Not so fast, fool. Tonight, that Self you’ve been talking about is getting recalled. You’re going to die. So tell me, who’s going to get all your stuff?’
- 12:21 That’s what happens to people who hoard wealth, but who don’t have a penny in the bank to what’s important to God.”
Don’t worry about everyday needs
- 12:22 Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “That’s why I’m telling you not to worry about the everyday matters of life: what you’re going to eat, what you’re going to wear, or what you’re going to do if you get sick.6
- 12:23 There’s more to life than eating food and there are more important things for a body than clothing.
- 12:24 I want you to think about this. Ravens don’t plant a garden. And they don’t work at harvest time collecting the crops. Even if they did they wouldn’t have a barn or granary to put it in. But you know what? God feeds them. People, how much more important are you than birds?
- 12:25 What good is it for you to worry if all the worrying in the world can’t add one measly hour to your life?
- 12:26 If you can’t even get that little thing done by worrying, why worry about anything?
- 12:27 Think about the lilies, and about how they grow out in the wild. They don’t work. They don’t spin fabric to make clothes for themselves. But I’ll tell you this, not even King Solomon decked out in his best royal robes looked as handsome as a lily.
- 12:28 If God drapes such beauty on fields of grass, which tomorrow will be pitched in the oven and burned as fuel, how much more is he going to put clothes on you. My goodness, you people have so little faith.
- 12:29 Now listen, don’t focus so much time and energy on thinking about what you’re going to eat or drink. Don’t get bothered by that.
- 12:30 These things are the biggest concern of every nation in the world. Your Father knows all too well that you need them.
- 12:31 So instead of focusing on them, make his kingdom your biggest concern—your top priority. When you do, he will give you what you need.
- 12:32 Don’t be afraid little flock. Your Father is giving you the kingdom. And he’s delighted to do that.
- 12:33 Go ahead and sell things you own and give away the money you get for it. Donate it to needy folks. That’s how you make money bags that never wear out. They’ll hold a treasure in heaven that no thief can steal and no moth can eat through.
- 12:34 Wherever you keep your treasure, that’s where you’ll find your heart.
Stay ready for the return of Jesus
- 12:35 Put your clothes on and light your lamps.
- 12:36 Think of yourselves as a group of workers waiting for your boss to get back from his honeymoon.7 You want to be ready when he comes and knocks on your office door.
- 12:37 Consider yourself fortunate if you’re one of the workers the boss finds awake and on the job. He’ll reward you for that. The boss himself will seat you at a table and treat you to a nice meal.
- 12:38 The boss may come during the night shift—in the middle of the night or just before daybreak. It will be good news for you if he finds you working, for those are the ones who will get the reward.
- 12:39 Listen to me. If a homeowner knew exactly when a thief was going to break into his house, you can bet the homeowner would be ready. No way would the thief get in.
- 12:40 You, too, need to get ready for an arrival. The Son of Humans is coming, and you have no idea when to expect him."
- 12:41 Peter said, “Sir, are you saying this parable applies to us, or to everyone?”
- 12:42 The Lord said, “Who is the dependable and sensible worker that the boss can put in charge of the other workers, and make sure they take their lunch break at the right time?
- 12:43 When the boss shows up, that worker will get a nice reward for doing a good job.
- 12:44 I’m telling you the truth, the boss will put a supervisor like that in charge of everything.
- 12:45 But let’s say the worker thinks the boss won’t show up anytime soon, so he begins to mistreat the other workers. And instead of doing his job he stuffs himself with food and he gets himself good and drunk.
- 12:46 When the boss shows up unexpectedly and sees what’s going on, he’ll shred that worker and send him on his way to that place where unreliable workers go.
- 12:47 That worker who knew what his boss wanted done but didn’t do it will get beaten up.
- 12:48 On the other hand, a worker who didn’t know what the boss wanted, so he didn’t do it—that worker won’t be punished as severely. For those who have been given a lot, a lot is expected. The more someone has been given, the more they must give.
Jesus causes splits in relationships
- 12:49 I have come here to set this world on fire. I wish it were burning now.
- 12:50 There’s something I need to do, and it’s going to weigh heavy on me until I get it done.
- 12:51 Do you really think I came to bring peace on earth? Absolutely not. I’m telling you that my being here is going to have the opposite effect. I’m going to cause divisions.
- 12:52 From now on, if you have five people in your home, three of them will take a side against the other two, and those two against the other three.
The father won’t agree with his son,
and the son won’t agree with his father.
The mother won’t agree with her daughter,
and the daughter won’t agree with her mother.
The mother-in-law won’t agree with her daughter-in-law,
and the daughter-in-law won’t agree with her mother-in-law.”
- 12:54 Jesus said to the people in the crowd, “When you see clouds building in the west, you say, ‘It’s gonna rain.’ And sure enough, it rains.
- 12:55 And when the wind starts blowing in from the south, you say, ‘We’ve got some hot weather coming.’ And what do you know. Here comes the hot weather.
- 12:56 Frauds.8 You know how to read the signs in the sky about what’s going to happen in the future. Why is it you can’t tell what’s happening right now?
- 12:57 Why don’t you go ahead and decide for yourself the right thing to do?
- 12:58 For example, when you find yourself heading to court, try to reach a settlement before you get there. If you don’t, your opponent will take you to the judge, the judge will turn you over to the bailiff, and the bailiff will show you the way to prison.
- 12:59 When that happens, I can assure you that you will not get out of lockup until you have paid every last penny the judge says you owe.”
This is a clever metaphor, given that Jesus has just come from eating a meal with Pharisees. Yeast pervades all the dough in a baker’s loaf of bread; it’s everywhere mixed into the dough. Hypocrisy works that way on the Pharisees; that’s what many Bible experts say is the point Jesus was making.
The Greek word is Gehenna, and it’s Hinnom in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament. That’s the name of a valley on the south side of Jerusalem. It’s the place where some Jews used to sacrifice to idols – including some human sacrifices (2 Chronicles 28:3). These were sins that many Jews came to believe were the reason God allowed Babylonians from what is now Iraq to temporarily wipe the Jewish nation off the world map in 586 BC, exiling the Jewish survivors for a generation. In time, Gehenna came to symbolize the judgment of God.
The coins are two assaria. It takes 16 of them to make a denarius. A denarius was considered a day’s wage for a common worker.
Usually translated Son of Man. See note 5:24.
The word is more literally “blaspheme.” It’s not clear what Jesus meant by this. Matthew reports that Jesus said this after some Pharisees accused him of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-27). Given that context, some scholars say the sin is crediting Satan with a miracle performed by the Holy Spirit. Others suggest it is simply a person’s persistent unwillingness to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. For people who fear they have committed the unforgivable sin, Bible experts point them to 1 John 1:9, which says that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Period.
More literally, “about your body.” It’s unclear what Jesus had in mind.
More literally, from the wedding feast.
Jesus uses the idea of yeast to describe how hypocrisy affects everything the Pharisees do (12:1). For those of you who bake with yeast, what would make that a good illustration?
Jesus tells the crowds that one day “everything that’s covered up and hidden is going to be put on display for everyone to see” (12:2). What do you think he’s talking about? Is he talking about Judgment Day, or perhaps about the way secret sins eventually tend to find their way to the surface, or possibly something else?
When Jesus says we should be very afraid of “the one who can kill you and then throw you into hell” (12:5), is he talking about God? And if so, how comfortable do you feel about the God of love doing something like that?
Jesus tells the people not to worry about what to say when they are put on trial because of him. He says “The Holy Spirit will give you the right words at the right time” (12:12). Do you think advice like that is for us today, or just for the people in that generation?
Jesus told the people, “Defend yourself against greed” (12:15). Given that we never know how much we are going to need for future costs such as healthcare, retirement, assisted-living, how can we know we have gone overboard in building up assets for expenses like that? When is it greedy?
Jesus told his disciples not to worry about “everyday matters of life” (12:22), such as food and clothing, along with what’s going to happen if we get sick. How is that not crazy talk?
Jesus told the people, “Don’t focus so much time and energy on thinking about what you’re going to eat or drink… Your Father knows all too well that you need them” (12:29-30). What do we have to say for God when people remind us that not everyone has enough to eat or drink?
Jesus tells a parable about workers being ready for when the boss shows up. And he does it as a way to illustrate that we should be ready for the arrival of the “Son of Humans” (12:40). Could he be talking about his arrival in that generation, or do you think it’s more likely he’s talking about his future return? Either way, how does someone get ready to receive him?
LIFE APPLICATION. Pastors say one of the most common questions they get during counseling with people who know at least a little about the Bible is that they are afraid they are going to hell because they sinned against the Holy Spirit. Mark said, “There is no forgiveness for those who slander the Holy Spirit” (12:10). That shocking quote from Jesus shows up in the Gospels of Matthew (12:31-32) and Mark (3:29) as well. It sounds as though we could be in big trouble if we give the Holy Spirit a good cussing out. What’s a pastor to say?
LIFE APPLICATION. Let’s answer the question Jesus asked: “If all the worrying in the world can’t add one measly hour to your life….Why worry about anything? (12:25-26). Is there any value to worrying?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus said he did not come to bring peace on earth he said “My being here is going to have the opposite effect. I’m going to cause divisions” (12:51). How have you seen that happen?