It was that impromptu question from a listener which allowed Jesus to teach one of life’s greatest lessons. In Luke 12, we read of a massive, innumerable crowd where people were trampling over each other just to listen to Jesus (v. 1). At one point, when Jesus paused, a person spoke up to the Master and said to Him, “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (v. 13). The death of a parent often creates strife among the family, and this person knew that Jesus would settle the matter. Jesus did settle that matter but not in the way anyone expected.
He first told the man that His purpose was far greater than just to be a judge or arbitrator over such matters, and He spoke to that multitude. He showed the real problem in that family squabble was not just a legal matter. The Lord’s view of this matter? “Beware of covetousness” (v. 15). Who “gets the farm” is meaningless, for, as Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” That person who asked the question thought all that mattered was “the family farm,” and Jesus said that “the farm” has no value when we look at the real purpose we are on this earth.
He then illustrated this truth by telling the story of the rich farmer whose harvest had given him great wealth. That man’s view of life was so wrong. He thought that his life consisted of his business skills. With a heart filled with foolish pride, he made plans to build bigger barns because he looked to his future and it was so bright. He now had “…many goods laid up for many years” (v. 19). The future was so bright. He had worked hard and now he could “retire” and enjoy what he had earned. His words? “Take ease; eat, drink and be merry.” You know the rest of the story—he died within hours of saying this!
Jesus then asked a question worth noting: “Then whose shall these things be?” They definitely were not the farmer’s, for he died. They were not his children’s, for they too would eventually die. Neither were they his grandchildren’s! The truth is that they never were possessed by any mortal. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (Psa. 24:1).
Jesus’ view of one’s possessions was so different from that of the farmer. The farmer saw them as many goods laid up for many years. Jesus saw them as “things.” The truth is that all of life’s treasures are simply “stuff.” Gather all the “stuff” on this earth, all its silver and gold, and compare it to the value of your soul (Matt. 16:26).
The farm and all earthly possessions were the Lord’s before the farmer was born and were His after he died. Jesus called the farmer a fool. Check your values. Do not be a fool!