Luke 12: 54 – 59 Interpreting the times
He said to the crowd: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to be hot,” and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
‘Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.’
* * *
Before we start, a note about weather forecasting, so that our thoughts aren’t diverted by meteorology. The point of this passage isn’t about the ease and/or accuracy of weather forecasting. Jesus is clearly quoting popular sayings related to the weather. They were probably right more often than they were wrong so they had credibility with the listeners.
Why does Jesus call the crowd “hypocrites”? He seems to be saying that judging right from wrong is as easy as forecasting the weather.
What did the people need for their weather forecasts? They needed basic observations of wind and cloud, and they needed knowledge of what was likely to happen next.
We can understand Jesus’ teaching here as being that we should give at least as much attention to the things of God as we do to the weather.
That prompts me to think, “What is the first thing I usually talk about with those I meet? The weather.”
How often do I talk to people about God and Jesus? Not very often. Do I ever open a conversation with a stranger by talking about Jesus? No.
This is not necessarily the way Jesus’ hearers would have understood the parable. It might have been a very direct challenge. Jesus had healed many people and declared the kingdom of God; these were the signs that made spiritual sense of the world. Why did his hearers not believe him, and act on what he had taught? He tells them they are hypocrites, because they are choosing to let self-interest blind them to the truth.
The passage concludes with a warning. There is a judgment. We need to take advantage today of the chance we have of being reconciled to God, because the chance may not come again.
What do we need to do?
Follow Jesus. Love each other.
This applies to us as well as the crowd Jesus was teaching.
Am I being a hypocrite, or am I putting Jesus first in my life? I know there are some matters where I have reservations and I pray for God to forgive me and help me to let go of false gods.
I am sorry that I don’t always put you first. Please help me to let go of everything that stops me from following Jesus wholeheartedly.
In Jesus name, Amen