Jesus has been speaking to His disciples in a sort of an aside in front of a very large crowd when suddenly a man in the crowd shouts out a request: He wants Jesus to tell his brother to cut him in for a piece of his brother’s inheritance. Presumably, their father left his estate to the brother, probably the firstborn of the two… or maybe the more responsible of the two. Jesus isn’t getting involved in their dispute, but tells a parable instead, one that should be quite familiar to us…
A well-to-do farmer has a bumper crop of grain, much more than he can store in his barn. What will he do??
His solution is to tear down his old barn and build a new bigger one so he can store up his harvest and take the next few years off for a big party. That very night, he dies suddenly; who will get his riches?
Here’s the pinch line:
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (12:21)
I’ve heard it said in our time that ‘he who dies with the most toys wins’. But what do they win? Jesus’ point is that if we spend our whole life worried about amassing a great fortune, we will have nothing when we die, for while we could have been working and devoting ourselves to projects with an eternal purpose and reward, we wasted our efforts on something that will do us no eternal good whatever.
A person’s life is very short, blink and it’s about gone. Eternity is forever, so which of these should be a greater priority for us?
Come to think of it, isn’t this pretty much what Jesus was telling the disciples in their little chat before the man asked Jesus to help him with his brother?