Posted by: mattcolvin | November 13, 2011

Luke 12:13-21: Bigger barns

Tuesday of the 21st week after Trinity: Luke 12:13-21

12:13 – “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” As David Daube points out, the Bible’s ethical teaching values consortium, the sharing of an estate so as to avoid division among heirs. This is extolled in Psalm 133:1 (“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity…”), in the story of Lot and Abraham who “dwell together” until their herdsmen quarrel, and in the story of Jacob and Laban, who have a similar arrangement until Laban demotes Jacob to the position of a hired hand.

12:14 – Jesus’ reply (“Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”) is an echo of the question posed by the “one who did the wrong” when Moses intervened in the quarrel of two Hebrews in Exodus 2:14. I cannot help but think that Jesus, with all His awareness of His messianic vocation, knew exactly what He was saying. It is a wry irony, much like His question to those who asked Him by what authority He “did these things.” God made Him a judge and a ruler. John’s baptism was from God, not from men, and it was at John’s baptism that God made Jesus a ruler.

12: 19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years…”’ I love the comical effect of the rich man talking to his own soul in the vocative.

12:21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” This, of course, is the main point of the parable. Let us remember the context: Jesus is talking to a man who valued wealth so much that he was willing to seek a court decision against his own brother.


  1. […] inheritance early, for they have both done that. Rather, it is in having broken an arrangement of consortium, or “dwelling together”, which is an arrangement preferred and extolled in many […]

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