Jump Start # 3247
Luke 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared.’”
Our verse today reveals the stunning, shocking and sobering words of God. This comes from Jesus’ parable about the farmer who wanted to tear down his barns and build larger ones. His plans and goals were to take it easy after that. He had everything mapped out in his mind. This was going to work. This was going to be good. Everything was set.
Then comes the horrific words of our verse today. This very night. Tonight. Now. Not next week. Not next month. Not down the road. Not in a year or two. Not even tomorrow. Now. Tonight, you will die. No time to make alternative plans. No time to contact others. The sand in the hourglass was empty. He would die and he would die with plans in his head for tomorrow, but no tomorrow would come for him.
Jesus told this parable as a response to someone who had interrupted Jesus with the demand to settle a family problem about inheritance. “Tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me” is what the person asked Jesus. Did the brother keep it all? Did this man get his lawful share but he wanted more? None of those things mattered. Rather than listening to Jesus, this man wants Jesus to settle a family dispute over money. The Lord who had nothing, was not about to get tangled into that mess. That was not His purpose for being here. So, Jesus, rather than telling the other brother what ought to be done, tells this one about a greedy farmer who died suddenly. The greedy farmer represents the man with the question who interrupted Jesus.
Understand, the issue here is not about barns. It’s not about how large your barns are or how many barns you have. You and I have all torn down barns. Most of us live in larger homes than what we started out with when we were first married. Many of us own more cars, more TVs, and such like. When first married, I could put my entire life’s possessions in a four-door car. No way today. I couldn’t even get my library in such a space. The issue isn’t barns, it’s hearts.
The farmer never includes God. He never thanks God. He never plans to help God. It was all about himself. It’s mine, he thought, even though it was God who sent the rains and the sunshine that made his crops grow. Without God’s help, the farmer had nothing. He doesn’t seem to acknowledge that.
This night your soul is required of you. Give that some thought:
First, if this were true of us, we too would have some plans that would never be completed. The farmer who thought he was rich, was really poor. He thought he had years. He didn’t even have another day. He thought he controlled the future. He couldn’t even control the night. When we forget our place and when we leave God out of our lives and plans, we easily could find ourselves in the same place that this farmer was in. Whether death, or the coming of Jesus, there will be books unfinished. There will be sermons that never got preached. There will be letters that were never received and good that never was completed.
Second, someday our soul will be required of us. This isn’t shocking. This isn’t new news to us. It is appointed unto man to die once, Hebrews tells us. That divine appointment is always kept by God. The farmer was ready for tomorrow but he wasn’t ready for today.
This tells us that if there is some unfinished business, we ought to finish it. Need to apologize? What are you waiting for? Need to forgive? Best get about doing that. Need to get serious about the Lord. Now is the time. Our farmer in this story didn’t know. I expect he would have done a few things differently had he known, but he didn’t. And, likely, most of us won’t know either. We expect another day. We just know that we’ll be around tomorrow. That’s the way the farmer thought. He was so wrong.
Third, all of this reminds us that God is more important than anything else. Character and faith are far more valuable than barns and stuff that we put in those barns. One may have the finest collection of something, but when our soul is required, that collection will not help us. The God who owns the whole world is not impressed with the collections we have.
The parables of Jesus often involve pain and very unhappy endings. Only in the world of Disney does everyone live happily ever after. These parables do not make nice bedtime stories for children. They were intended to awaken us and drive a stake into our hearts to see how serious the Lord is. The parables were shocking in that culture. There were not intended to be nice, loveable stories. They often were a slap in the face. The very idea that a Jewish boy feeding pigs comes home to a celebration. No way. A man beaten and left for dead is ignored by the religious establishment. How embarrassing. Parables did that. This parable, about the barns, does that.
This very night…someday that wil be true of each of us. Are you ready, as the old hymn goes? Are you ready, are you ready, are you ready for the judgment day? If not, you ought to do something about it, and you ought to do it right now!