Daily Devotional

September 7, 2019

Daybreak: Luke 12:1-59

“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40)

At a routine check-up five weeks before our second child’s due date, my doctor made a startling announcement — the baby could arrive at any moment! My husband and I had thought we had more than a month to go, so you can imagine that our relaxed pace of “getting ready for baby” abruptly shifted into high gear. We posted a to-do list on the refrigerator, and one by one checked off items. The bassinette got a fresh coat of paint, and I packed my suitcase with items baby and I would use in the hospital. We put some casseroles in the freezer, and purchased diapers and a few other needed items. Somehow I even squeezed in time to finish the little outfit I had been making to bring our baby home in!

Each morning before my husband left for work, the two of us would discuss childcare for our toddler and other details which would need to be worked out quickly if the baby were to come that day. As we looked ahead to upcoming activities scheduled at church and with our extended family, we prefaced our comments with the phrase, “If the baby hasn’t come yet . . .” Countless times I asked myself, What if it were today? Is everything ready? It seemed like nothing else really mattered.

Anticipation. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? If you are a Christian, there is one coming event that should inspire a feeling of expectancy like nothing else — the soon return of Christ to this earth. In today’s text, Jesus spoke of that event and the necessity of being prepared. He used two examples to illustrate His point: servants who watched for the return of their lord through the night hours, and the master of a household who was caught unawares by a thief.

In order to be ready for Christ’s return, we must commit our lives to God, and then daily live in a manner pleasing to Him. We must study what Scripture says to do to prepare ourselves, and follow through in obedience. In short, we must do everything possible to be sure we are completely prepared for the event that will change everything.

Jesus indicated to His disciples that “the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” While we do not know the exact day or hour of His appearance, the Bible describes many signs that will immediately precede His coming. When we compare the world situation today to those indicators in Scripture, the conclusion is inescapable: His return cannot be far off.

Exactly six weeks after my doctor’s startling announcement, our beautiful little daughter arrived. Those six weeks seemed to last forever! However, my husband and I learned a good lesson in what real anticipation is all about.

Today, let’s take inventory. Is Christ’s return the focus of our lives? Do our actions today and plans for tomorrow revolve around that most important event? Let’s live in expectation of that moment, and be sure our preparations have been made!

Background

Today’s text relates a discourse given by Jesus concerning various aspects of Christian discipleship. He spoke out against hypocrisy (verses 1-12), gave the parable of the rich fool (verses 13-21), warned against worry (verses 22-34), addressed the necessity of being ready for His return (verses 35-48), and predicted coming division and crisis (verses 49-59). Though Jesus directed His words primarily to His disciples, His discourse took place in the presence of a crowd which had gathered while Jesus was in the house of the Pharisee (see Luke 11:37 in conjunction with the text’s opening words, “In the mean time . . .”).

Verses 1-12 are sometimes referred to as “The Creed of Courage and of Trust.” The word leaven in verse 1 alludes to any activating agent, so the “leaven of the Pharisees” pointed to their teaching and practices that were influencing the people. Evidently hypocrisy was their most dangerous characteristic. Their attitudes could not be hidden; like yeast, they would grow, and eventually the power-hungry, self-serving Pharisees would be exposed.

The instruction given in verses 4-5 foreshadowed the persecution of Jesus’ followers, which would begin with His crucifixion and continue almost unabated for the next three centuries. In verses 6-12, Jesus went on to assure His disciples that mortal life is not man’s most precious possession, and that God was aware of whatever befell them.

In Luke 12:10, Jesus referred to what has been termed by some as the “unpardonable sin.” Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is persisting to reject the very One who convicts of sin — the only One who can draw a person to repentance. Thus, by his own actions the individual who chooses this course of rejection will find no place of repentance.

The parable of the rich fool (verses 13-21) was precipitated by a request from “one of the company” for Jesus to resolve an issue concerning an inheritance. Jesus refused to step into the role of arbitrator, and instead put His finger on the man’s real motive, implying that the question sprang from greed (verse 15). Jesus then related the parable as an illustration. The rich man’s selfish attitude was demonstrated by the frequent use of first person pronouns; in verses 17-19, the words “I” and “my” occur eleven times.

In verses 22-34, Jesus contrasted faith with anxiety, especially regarding temporal needs. In the original Greek, the prohibition “neither be ye of doubtful mind” (verse 29) is very picturesque. The image is that of a boat tossed by a rough sea — one that Jesus’ listeners, who lived in proximity to the Sea of Galilee with its sudden squalls, easily would have understood. Jesus was warning against fluctuating between elation and despair, or hope and fear, as such fluctuations were the opposite of calm repose in certainty of God’s providential care.

Verses 35-48, in which Jesus taught about the importance of being ready for His return, are also connected to His warning about focusing on the material aspects of life. Strong attachment to temporal things could be an “anchor” at the time of the Rapture. “Let your loins be girded about . . .” in verse 35 refers to the custom of drawing one’s robes up around the waist to allow unhindered movement of the legs and feet, in preparation for immediate action.

Jesus employed two illustrations to make His point about readiness: servants who remained watchful and prepared throughout the night for their lord’s arrival, and in contrast, the master of a house who was not watchful and thus unprepared for a thief’s entrance. After a question by Peter, Jesus returned to the illustration of the servants in verses 36-38. His amplification of the parable in verses 42-48 teaches that in eternity there will be degrees of rewards and punishments dependent upon degrees of faithfulness or unfaithfulness.

In verses 49-56, Jesus explained to His disciples that He did not come to institute immediate universal peace. His coming would create an initial divide between those who would follow Him and those who would not. He called those who refused to heed the signs of His ministry and the end of time “hypocrites” (verse 56) because they professed to be well-versed in Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, yet they refused to acknowledge Jesus as the fulfillment of those prophecies.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

VI.    The instruction of the Son of Man
    A.    Instructions concerning hypocrisy (12:1-12)
        1.    The instruction (12:1-3)
        2.    The reason for the instruction (12:4-7)
        3.    The results of the instruction (12:8-12)
    B.    Instructions concerning wealth (12:13-59)
        1.    Instructions to the crowd (12:13-21)
            a.    The question (12:13)
            b.    The answer (12:14-15)
            c.    The illustration (12:16-21)
        2.    Instructions to the disciples (12:22-53)
            a.    The statement (12:22)
            b.    The explanation (12:23-28)
            c.    The exhortations (12:29-53)
                (1)    For proper priorities (12:29-34)
                (2)    For proper perspective (12:35-53)
                    (a)    Faithfulness demanded (12:35-40)
                    (b)    Faithfulness to be rewarded (12:41-44)
                    (c)    Faithlessness to be punished (12:45-48)
                    (d)    Decisive effect of His ministry (12:49-53)
        3.    Instructions to the crowd (12:54-59)
            a.    The signs of the times (12:54-56)
            b.    The urgency of reconciliation (12:57-59)

A Closer Look

  1. Where did Jesus say that secrets told in closets would be proclaimed?

  2. What do you think Jesus meant by His instruction in verse 22?

  3. Verse 34 states an important spiritual principle. How will a focus on this verse help us to prepare for Christ’s coming?

Conclusion

How often does the thought of Christ’s return to earth cross our minds? Let’s keep our focus on that impending event, and make sure we are ready.

Reference Materials