“Thou Fool, This Night”

Luke 12:13-20

THE first portion of Luke 12 records diverse admonitions of our Lord, climaxing in the parable of the rich fool. In the presence of a multitude so enormous that men often trode upon each other, He warned His disciples of the leaven of Pharisaic hypocrisy. Why be hypocritical? All will be revealed anyway, so why hide anything? God is presented here sternly as having power to kill and to cast into hell; He is the One to fear.

But Jesus moves immediately to declare that even the sparrows are not forgotten of our Father. Two sparrows are sold for a farthing and five sparrows for two farthings, and He is the “God of the odd sparrow.” Then even more minute a figure is used: “Even the very hairs of your head are numbered.”

Our Lord declares that those who confess Him before men He will confess before the angels, and those who deny Him He will deny. We tell people to believe, and certainly they must, but we have soft-pedaled confession. Yet God’s Word couples mouth confession with heart belief in an unmistakable and unbreakable connection (Rom. 10:9-10). The Bible demands public mouth confession of Christ as Lord and Savior as emphatically as heart belief for salvation.

Jesus presents here the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, the sin without forgiveness. It is that expression of a nature so hardened in sin and impervious to God as to call the works of Christ the works of the devil. He advises His disciples not to prepare their messages in advance when called before synagogue councils and other authorities, but to depend upon the Holy Spirit. While this does not rule out sermon preparation, it does remind us that humble dependence upon the Spirit is the best rule of homiletics.

The parable of the rich fool was an answer to a covetous request from a man who wanted property. Our Lord first made it clear that He was no judge and divider, settling petty differences about lands and goods. “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possessed.” The things may be abundant, but the life is not.

The awful contrast appears in the rich fool, with God saying to his soul, “Thou fool, this night….” We think to make ourselves secure for the future by barricading with stocks and bonds and early wealth, but the only life insurance is saving faith in Christ. How foolish that a man will insure life, home, car, everything except his soul, the only thing he will have a few years from now! Men pride themselves on business shrewdness and clever management and fail to receive eternal life. Any man who lets Jesus pass by is a fool, however he rates at the bank. “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

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