Life-Study of Lukeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 16:14-31. This portion of the Gospel of Luke covers two matters: the teaching about the entrance into the kingdom of God (vv. 14-18) and a warning to the rich (vv. 19-31).
We have seen that in 16:1-13 the Lord teaches about the prudence of a steward, in particular, about prudence in the proper handling of money. The Lord spoke this word purposely to touch the Pharisees, and His word was an arrow penetrating them.
“Now the Pharisees, being lovers of money, heard all these things, and they were sneering at Him” (v. 14). The Greek words translated “were sneering at” literally mean “were turning up the nose.” The Lord’s word penetrated the depths of their being. But instead of being convinced by it, they were stubborn. Because the Lord’s word touched them, they sneered at Him.
In verse 15 the Lord went on to say to the Pharisees, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” The self-justification of the Pharisees was an exaltation of self in pride. Hence, it was an abomination in the sight of God. Here the Lord was telling the Pharisees that they were altogether an abomination in the sight of God.
In verse 16 the Lord continued, “The law and the prophets were until John; from that time the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.” The “law and the prophets” refer to the Old Testament. The words “until John” indicate the change of dispensation from law to gospel. This proves that the Old Testament dispensation was terminated by the coming of John.
The Lord told the Pharisees that from the time of John “the good news of the kingdom of God is preached.” The Savior preached here the gospel of the kingdom of God to the Pharisees, the moneylovers (v. 14). Money and sexual lust, incited by money, held them back from entering into the kingdom of God. Hence, the Savior’s preaching hit these two things purposely and strongly in 16:18-31.
In verse 16 the Lord also spoke about forcing one’s way into the kingdom of God. For the Pharisees to force their way into the kingdom, they needed to humble themselves and divorce their money, not their wives, that is, to overcome money and the lust incited by money.
Here the Lord Jesus seemed to be telling the Pharisees, “Don’t sneer at Me. The good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and you need to force your way into the kingdom. It is no longer the time of the law and the prophets. Now is the time of the jubilee of grace, and you need to force your way into it.”
In verses 17 and 18 the Lord says to the Pharisees, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one serif of the law to fall. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries one who has been divorced from a husband commits adultery.” A “serif” is a minute horn-like projection which distinguishes various Hebrew letters. Lest the Pharisees think that it was no longer necessary to keep the law since the law and the prophets were until John, the Lord told them that it was easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the slightest part of the law to fail.
When the Lord Jesus saw that the Pharisees were sneering at Him, He was not disappointed or discouraged. Neither would He stop speaking. Instead, the Lord went on to speak to them about being an abomination in the sight of God, about the kingdom of God, about keeping the law, and about divorce. In 16:15-18 the Lord seems to be saying, “You Pharisees are sneering at Me. You justify yourselves in the sight of men, but in the sight of God you are an abomination. You need to realize that now is no longer the dispensation of the law, but the dispensation of the acceptable year of the Lord. Now is the time for the jubilee, the good news of the kingdom of God. In a sense, the law and the prophets are over.”
When the Pharisees heard this, on the one hand they were unhappy. But, on the other hand, they were somewhat happy in that they may have thought that they no longer needed to keep the law. Now they were free to divorce their wives. Some of the rich Pharisees divorced their wives because they were indulging their lust. This lust was incited by their riches. Hence, the lust of the Pharisees to divorce their wives and marry another was incited by riches.
A poor man is less likely to divorce his wife than a rich man. Today a large percentage of wealthy professional men have been divorced at least once, and a number have been divorced more than once. This is an indication that riches when used wrongly incite lust. This should warn us not to use riches to satisfy our lust. Instead, we should use our money for the benefit of others.
As lovers of money, the Pharisees were incited by their riches to indulge their lust. When one was not satisfied with his wife, he could divorce her and get another one. Knowing their situation and realizing that, in a sense, they would be happy to hear that the law was over, the Lord seemed to tell them, “Don’t think that it is no longer necessary to keep the law. The law will never pass away; it remains to condemn you. You are not free from the law in order to divorce your wives.” The Lord’s dealing with the Pharisees here actually touches their riches and their lust. His word deals with the matters of money and marriage.
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