Luke 12: 13 – 21 The parable of the rich fool

Luke 12: 13 – 21 The parable of the rich fool

Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”

‘Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

*       *       *

Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

I wonder what the voice from the crowd thought they would achieve by asking Jesus to intervene in a family dispute. Was it a sense of injustice or unfairness that prompted the question? Was Jesus seen as someone wise whose decision would be seen as impartial and just by the brother and their neighbours?

Whatever the reason, Jesus has no time for it:

Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’

And then, looking behind the question he says:

‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

Jesus pinpoints the man’s motivation; it is greed. He then tells a straightforward parable about a rich farmer whose land yields an abundant harvest. Just as the farmer is about to enjoy his wealth, he dies. What then does he have that he can offer God? His wealth is useless.

Now the first thing to notice is that it’s easy to make the parable apply to 21st century life. A rich entrepreneur sold a software company to Google/ A merchant banker made a killing/ Penny Gadd was given a six-figure advance on her novel (as if!)/ An unemployed man won a lottery jackpot. The rich farmer could be any of us.

Okay, so what is the parable teaching us; let’s look at the detail.

The farmer’s first mistake is that he doesn’t thank God; instead he plans how he will enjoy his prosperity.

The second mistake is that he will use his riches for his own pleasure. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.

Where was God in the farmer’s plans? Nowhere. He could have used the time freed by prosperity to worship God; to study the scriptures; to do works of charity; and then, when his time came to face God he would have been better prepared.

God wants us to use this life to prepare to meet him for our eternal life, and the way we do this is by worship, prayer, study and care for our neighbour.

Greed is such an insidious sin. It tempts us to take our eyes of God. Jesus made his farmer rich, but, you know, in contemporary Europe or the USA, we’re pretty much all rich by comparison with most of the rest of humanity.

And, laughingly, I suggested that my version of the parable was a six-figure advance, but in fact it doesn’t need to be anywhere near as high as that. I am perfectly capable of being greedy by not sharing my employment pension generously with others; not contributing with zeal to missionary efforts.

And, as one of the worst effects of greed is that it takes your eyes off God, I am deeply grateful that God insists that I write this blog before writing anything else on a weekday. This constraint is, in part, a gift to me, that I start my day thinking about Jesus.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for your love. Thank you that I have enough and to spare. Please help me always to recognise that all I have comes from you; please help me to be more generous; please help me to see and love Jesus better day by day.

In Jesus name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: