Well-known in All Our Ways

Leaven. Whispers.

Sparrows. Hairs.

Ravens. Lilies.

Sheep.

All of these words refer to little things. And Jesus had a lot to say about small stuff in Luke 12.

Surprisingly, the chapter opens with a picture of something that was not at all small.

The crowds around the Son were large at this point. “There were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, so many that they were stepping on each other” (Luke 12:1).

These opening phrases of Luke 12 indicate that the disciples were now part of something that had become big and was getting bigger. The movement of Jesus had entered a period of popularity.

The temptations going forward would be different. With this in mind, Jesus gave His followers precepts – lessons designed to prepare their hearts and minds for what was ahead for them.

Stand for the Son

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. …” was His first warning. “Leaven” or “yeast” is the ingredient in dough that interacts with the air and causes bread to rise. Leaven flavors the loaf.

The Pharisees were a puffed up and sour lot. There was phoniness about them as they practiced and enforced religious rules and traditions.

Beware, Jesus said; don’t get full of yourself and large in your mind. All of these things will be brought into the open. What is done under the cover of darkness will be exposed. Secret sins will be revealed and the whispers amplified. Slanders and malignant talk will be shouted from the rooftops for everyone to hear.

Be real, Jesus cautioned. Stay true even in the face of adversity for there will come days when these self-righteous bullies will seek to kill you.

Fear God and not these kinds of people, the Savior said. They will in fact put some of you to death. Yes, your bodies may suffer harsh things. But there’s more to you than that.

Ultimately, the Lord is in control. He is the One who manages of the issues of death and our lives beyond the grave.

An audience of angels is watching how this all plays out. Be loyal so Jesus can take pride in calling you one of His own. Click To Tweet

Once this warfare begins, purpose to stand for the Son, and He will stand with you. An audience of angels is watching how this all plays out. Be loyal so Jesus can take pride in calling you one of His own.

Later in the chapter, Jesus instructs the disciples not to fret over what to say in the coming crises.  He did not want them to waste time in practicing answers for these moments. The Holy Spirit would be sent to live in them, and from Him they would be given the words to say in the trials.

Further on, the Savior spoke of the internal dangers, the trouble that comes when we get possessed by possessions. Covetousness, the lust for things, is covered by Commandment No. 10. He told them not to worry about their basic needs for food and clothing. There’s more to life than this stuff, He explained.

“Seek the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you,” He said (Luke 12:31).

Detail Oriented

Throughout His teaching on these matters, Jesus emphasized to His followers again and again just how much they were known and valued by Him and His Father. The crowds and notoriety would wane. The tide of public opinion would turn.

Still, they were to be anxious for nothing. God was well aware of their needs and at work on their behalf.

Sparrows were cheap pet birds sold in those days. A number of them could be bought for pennies. I think of these birds like the goldfish that can be bought or won at neighborhood carnivals; the kind that are carried home in plastic bags full of water; the kind of fish that stay alive for about a day and a half.

What does Jesus say about the sparrows? He says that the Lord cannot forget even one of them, and He takes note when one falls to the ground.

To drive home the point, Jesus makes reference to our heads, or rather what’s on our heads. Every one of our hairs is cataloged, numbered and known by God.

Cast aside that notion of a lie that implies that the devil is in the details. Every little thing about us counts with God.

David wrote that the sum of His thoughts toward us is too astronomical to reveal: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you” (Psalm 139:17-18).

The last part of that passage tells me that I can lay my head on the pillow with confidence in His care.

Things close to home are matters of concern to the Lord, as are things of the air and the field.

“Consider the ravens” (Luke 12:24). These fowl are classified as unclean birds, flesh-eating scavengers and dark to look at. I like this verse because I am a fervent fan of the Baltimore NFL team called the Ravens, and familiar with the Edgar Allen Poe poem” “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.’”

Sparrows nest in houses, ravens are found out and about. I believe this reference is toward those of us who fall into seasons of wandering. His promise toward us remains. He provides for us even “if I make my bed in some hell,” God is there (see Psalm 139:8).

The Father’s Pleasure

Every one of us has felt out of sorts with the Lord. We sometimes get discouraged because we aren’t where we think we should be in our life with God. There’s hope, however, for even those with “little faith.”

Jesus’ answer is this: “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27).

These lovely blossoms rest and bloom where they are planted. And this is the Savior’s word to us about our growth.

Put aside toil. Don’t work up a sweat trying to measure up. Quit twirling about for attention. Rest in Him and in His love. He clothes you with His righteous royal splendor as one of His chosen ones.

This is His joy. And He has brought you to His pasture where there are still waters and green grass and a table prepared in the presence of your enemies. (See Psalm 23.)

Remember, this passage started with disciples in the midst of a multitude. Those days did not last. Many went away and followed no more (see John 6).

The Lord’s work is best served by the remnant that abides faithful and true. Size matters not a bit to Him. Hairs, sparrows, ravens, and lilies are under His watch.

The Good Shepherd is calling together His sheep. We are the ones who hear and know His voice and draw near to Him.

Fear the Lord for His way is right. And His everlasting Kingdom shall be ours.

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

 

Steve Andrulonis
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