Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
It’s not hard to see that I’m quite fascinated with Jesus’ teachings on wealth. There are so many parables, so many commands and rebukes and admonishments he makes concerning wealth, it baffles me that anyone could miss how radical Jesus was.
Funny that the first thing that runs through my mind as I read this parable is how the guy could have responded to God, “Well, my children could get what has been prepared. That would be a pretty nice inheritance wouldn’t it?” Yet, Jesus’ parable and the rhetorical question of God is clearly not expecting that answer. So, what is the point of the parable?
Well first let’s look at the situation which he tells the parable after. A guy comes up to Jesus demanding, not asking, Jesus tell his brother to split their inheritance. I’m not sure if that was custom for Rabbis to dictate that stuff, or if the guy just had a warped idea of Jesus’ view of money and possessions.
Jesus rebukes him and reminds him, “Man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Now, what we tend to do is rip the verse out of it’s context, say “it’s an issue of the heart” and go on about our business collecting inheritances and possessions left and right.
I’m not here to demand a certain interpretation of the verses, I just want us to see them clearly so you can reflect on their meaning. Jesus rebukes the demand for an inheritance and then he tells a parable about how it is foolish/unwise to store up in barns. How do you apply that to your own life? Maybe it means you don’t accept your inheritance, you empty your storehouses, you humbly live your life in a way that is “rich toward God.” Let me know, cause I’m still just trying to follow.