Chapter 12 - Pharisees Said What?

Chapter 12

Dr. Luke baffled me in this chapter! I had to read it a few times and resort to some Bible commentary to decipher his text!

There is nothing more fun than sitting at the Sunday dinner table with your teenage siblings listening them laugh about the hypocrites you’d just left at church! The crooked banker that lead the benediction or the town drunk that sang in the choir! Mama used to shame us and make us stop, but every church body has those folks!

Chapter 12 begins with Jesus warning His followers about the leaven of the Pharisees. We know of leavening as yeast that makes bread rise or beer bubble! The use of that word in this context is that the Pharisees are growing their hypocrisy and poisoning the Jesus movement. Jesus teaches that nothing is hidden, that everything will be revealed. One of the commentaries I read referenced that nationally known evangelist, who in 1985 wrote a book condemning sexual sins and pornography … but was caught not too long after … having committed those crimes himself.

Nothing remains hidden!  I suspect that we have all been hypocrites at some time. I’m not suggesting that we have all committed crimes, but most of us have done something that we’d like to remain hidden!  Hiding it, but chastising others for having done something similar, is the leavening that we need not produce!  If you don't think you have been guilty of this, just think about raising teenagers.  You tell them not to drink beer, not to drive fast, not to sneak out of the house ... then Grandma tells them that you did the same things when you were a teenager!  Guilty!

 (It is important to note that leaven is used later as a word to describe the positive effort of growing the Kingdom of God.) 

Jesus also teaches us not to be afraid of persecution. It would be impossible to even begin to list the people who have been martyred for Christ. As Jesus was teaching this very lesson, he already knew that 11 of his disciples would die in martyrdom. He taught them that man can only kill our bodies. Our souls are secure!

He calms the Disciples about worrying. First, He lets them know that when they are taken before the authorities, God will put the right words in their mouths. They will automatically know what to say, because God will be with them. Later in the chapter, Jesus teaches that we should not worry about anything. Trust God to handle it all. I have to say that has always been difficult for me.  I want to fix everything myself.

Jesus addresses a man who has asked Him to get involved in a dispute he is having with his brother over their inheritance. Jesus refuses to get involved but uses the account to teach us not to covet material possessions. He uses the parable of the rich fool to say that all our material possessions won’t get us into Heaven! I flunk that category, too … since I have three storage units of stuff … material possessions! Jesus connects worry with greed. We worry about getting all these things we think we need, when in reality, all we need is God.

This chapter is filled with text telling us to stay ready for the second coming of Christ. Jesus is right there, but He is trying to prepare his followers for what is going to happen and wants them to base their ministry on the fact that we need to always be ready. He uses the analogy of servants ignoring their responsibilities if they think their master isn’t coming. They only act right and do their jobs, when the master is arriving. Jesus discusses the notion that if people can tell when strong winds or rain is coming, we should be smart enough to see the signs that He is coming! That was true then, and it is true now. We need to be “right with God” and ready … always.

My take-away from this chapter is all about worry. When I was diagnosed with cancer 21 years ago, I tried to teach myself to not worry. Worry causes stress and stress can kill us. However, eliminating worry is easier said than done. It is so hard to just say, “let God handle this.” That is really the way we should live our lives, but that is difficult.  I think we are expected to do everything we can do to resolve issues. My mother used to line the shelves in the basement with home-canned vegetables and fruit. She resolved her worry about feeding her family by working all summer to put up the garden harvest! That is a simple example of how we should live, preparing as best we can, then giving it to God! That concept takes us back to blind faith. Simply believe.

Let’s Cook!

I’ve had this recipe for over 30 years. It came from a friend who hosted a weekly Bible study at her house for ladies in the neighborhood. I was able to attend that a few times and when she served this, I asked for the recipe. She was one of the most humble people I have ever know, so I’ll share this recipe from my friend Evelyn.

Hawaiian Cheesecake Bars 

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
16 ounces cream cheese
4 TBS sugar
4 TBS milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
16 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups flaked coconut
2 TBS melted butter

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup butter.
Pat mixture into ungreased 9 X 13 pan.
Bake at 350 oven for 14-19 minutes.
Cool slightly.

Mix together
cream cheese, 4 TBS sugar, milk and eggs.
Fold in vanilla, and drained pineapple.
Spread over baked crust.

Combine coconut and 2 TBS melted butter.
Sprinkle over pineapple layer filling.
Bake 350 for 15-20 minutes.

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