The Book of Luke, Settle Out Of Court! - Lesson 168
In chapter 12 of Luke, Jesus Christ has warned of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
He has warned the vast crowd gathered to hear him preach that they are not to be afraid of them which kill the body but to fear him who hath power to cast into hell.
He has refused to step into a family dispute and play the role of judge for his time is not yet to do so, for he has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
He has told of the rich fool who counted everything as valuable except that which God counts as valuable.
He has taught his disciples that they have a mission for God whereby God has promised to take care of them as he so faithfully takes care of the lilies and the ravens.
He has instructed his disciples to be watchful for his return, prepared for the work, to live pure lives, lives of joyful expectancy knowing that the master will return.
He then tells them of his two fold mission, that of a baptism which alludes to his crucifixion and that of casting fire upon the earth which alludes to inevitable judgment.
He tells them that his coming will not bring peace but division for family member will rise up against family member showing that divisions will occur in the closest of human relationships.
He then brings to their ears that which is prominent among them, the ability to know the future by looking at signs, specifically knowing future weather by observing present weather conditions.
He questions the reasonableness of having this analytical ability to determine the weather, while somehow not being able to discern their future by seeing what is taking place at the present, specifically the preaching, the works and the miracles of Jesus Christ who is now in amongst them.
Luke 12:54‑59, And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. 55And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. 56Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? 57Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. 59I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
As we have said in the beginning of chapter 12, Jesus spoke of the hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders).
Now, Jesus focuses on the hypocrisy of the individuals in the crowds.
Jesus calls them hypocrites.
Why is this so? In what way are they hypocritical?
A hypocrite is one who acts inconsistently, who does not act as one believes.
The people all knew how to judge the future in the light of the present and Jesus illustrated this by showing that they had the analytical ability to predict the weather.
When a cloud appeared in the west, they quickly concluded that it was going to rain.
It only took one cloud, not a whole sky full of them.
And this one cloud was sufficient reason for them to immediately conclude that rain was coming and to make preparations.
It did not take long deliberation for the conclusion was obvious.
The evidence was clear, even though but one cloud.
Also the evidence was clear, with a south wind for a southerly wind was sufficient evidence for the Israelite to conclude that it was going to be a hot day.
In both cases, the predictions proved true.
The cloud from the west produced rain, just as the southerly wind produced heat.
The ability to judge evidence and to see its implications was not confined to the experts but God has given the common man such gifts for here he was talking to the crowds.
Everyone would come to the same conclusion from the evidence they received.
There are weather helps in all cultures around the world and people use them religiously to predict the weather just as Jesus told the crowds here in our passage.
Perhaps you know of these rhymes which give helps concerning weather.
evening red and morning gray
wind is blowing in the North
higher the clouds
is dew upon the ground, no rain that day will be found,
Windows won't open, And the salt clogs the shaker,
So the Lord wonders why, then, could these people, skilled at reaching conclusions about the weather, not come to the conclusion that He was the Messiah?
They had by many years of observation of the weather been able to come to conclusions about the weather.
So why could they not come to a conclusion about him, based upon the mountains of evidence which had piled up since he has come on the scene.
This mountain of evidence conformed perfectly to the predictions of the prophets and should have made known to any thinking man or woman that Jesus was the Messiah.
But the crowds were relying on their leaders to do their thinking for them.
And we know from scripture that Israel’s leaders were guilty of not believing the prophets.
Their leaders were guilty, but this did not exempt the individuals from the crowds.
They should have seen the obvious and come to the right conclusion about Jesus, even if their leaders did not.
Jesus’ rebuke to the crowds seems to be that they did not think clearly, nor did they think independently of their leaders.
They were guilty of letting their leaders think for them.
Listen to our Lord’s words again:
Verse 57, Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?
They should have thought for themselves, Jesus charged.
Their leaders were guilty, but so were the followers for following blind leaders.
Jesus Christ is telling the individuals of the crowd to look at the evidence and judge rightly for themselves.
How careless we are with the most valuable thing we have and that is the neglect of our own soul in totally depending upon another for its security!
Generally speaking we are too easily swayed by the thinking of the “experts.”
We want people to do our thinking for us.
We want to let others be responsible for coming to the right answers and if they don’t we blame them.
We tune into the news programs so we can find out how what position we are to take on a particular issue.
I think of the laziness of many in hurricane prone areas who do not think and plan for themselves but totally depend on others to think and plan for them and when those in charge do not do a good job they blame them.
We are so prone to seek professional advice we turn off our
God given brains and refuse to use the common sense God has given us.
But Jesus is very clear here.
The important truths, those which really matter, are self‑evident to anyone who will look at the evidence.
God has revealed His truth to babes, not scholars.
Luke told us that in Luke 10:21, In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
We are all responsible to “search the Scriptures” and to see if what is taught is true, even if the Apostle Paul is the teacher.
That is what the Bereans thought!
Acts 17:11, These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
We are to study the Word for ourselves and believe the self‑evident truths which are easily found and are revealed to all men who seek it through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14‑16, But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.)
It is in this light that I believe John wrote these words:
1 John 2:26‑27, These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
We are not, by these words, told to go it alone and to neglect the gift of teaching which God has given to the church, but neither are we to be so dependent upon the teaching of others that we believe whatever we are told.
God gives us the Spirit to teach us, and He therefore holds us accountable for our conclusions.
By these words Jesus placed upon the multitudes the weight of responsibility for searching out the scriptures.
There are none which can repent of your sins for you.
There are no experts which can be saved for you.
You cannot hire a substitute to stand before God in your place.
And with regard to individual responsibility Jesus Christ brings to our mind the next two verse which again place responsibility upon the individual to get things right.
So Jesus encourages individual responsibility by saying in:
Luke 12:57,58, Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right? 58When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. 59I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
What has preceded this discourse?
What is the motivation for getting right with your adversary?
The motivation is of course the fact that Jesus Christ is come to cast fire upon the earth.
This in itself is enough said for the wise man.
In the light of impending judgment a wise man will quickly reconcile with his brother, knowing that anger toward one’s brother is deserving of eternal damnation.
Jesus Christ says 8When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate.
In a sense everyone on earth is headed to the magistrate with his adversary.
Everyone on earth is headed toward the great white throne of judgment with their adversary.
What Jesus is saying here as he says: as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him;
In other words give diligence to settle out of court lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison.
What he is saying here is “Make a deal so that you do not have to appear before the judge!”
This is good advice in any case but in this case I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is warning his hearers that the best that can happen to them is to settle out of court.
You are to settle with the Son or the Father will settle with you and he will cause your knee to bow before the Son.
That is the bottom line to this matter for all have sinned and settlement for that sin is needed more that anything.
I like the way Isaiah put this negotiation for it involves the mind and it involves reason with nothing emotional about it.
Isaiah 1:18,19, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Jesus is coming to the earth to bring fire upon it, the fire of divine wrath.
And if men are responsible for their decisions concerning Him, then men had better seek to be reconciled to Him before that final day of judgment arrives, when it will be too late.
All men must come to Christ one way or the other.
Some will come to Him now, as their Lord and Savior.
They will accept His baptism as their own.
They will accept His death in their behalf as their death.
They will find Him as the One who brings forgiveness of sins and peace with God.
Others will reject Him now, but will face Him when He comes the second time, to bring fire upon the earth.
None who are wise will want to be a part of this second group.
Jesus in His first coming has already endured the “fire” of God’s wrath.
He has already died for the sins of men.
Trust in Him and you will never need to fear His second coming.
Be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20‑21), and do it before you face Him as your judge, and before you must face the fire of His wrath.
The wise man, the wise woman will do it decisively, will do it quickly, will do it now for today is the day of salvation for there are not guarantees of a tomorrow!