April 1, at least in the US, is known as “April Fool’s Day.” It’s a day when people like to play jokes on other people, to “prank” them, though anymore that doesn’t seem to be limited to one day of the year. In Luke 12:13-21, our Lord told of a man who was more than an “April fool.”
This incident in the Lord’s life happened because someone asked Him to arbitrate a dispute over an inheritance. Jesus replied that He wasn’t here for such things, that there was more to life than a lot of “things” and the desire for more of them was to be avoided. In v. 23, He said, “Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” This echoes something He said in Matthew 6:25, “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” I don’t think He meant that we should ignore physical needs; He was just telling those who were listening to Him, and us, that they’re not to be all we focus on.
And Paul, warning Timothy against the love of “things,” wrote, having food and raiment, let us therewith be content (KJV).
In Matthew 6, which contains similar teaching, Jesus continued, “…seek first the kingdom of God AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS…,” emphasis added because we tend to forget that part of what He said. The best we can do can never be anywhere near good enough. We must have “His righteousness” if we are to stand before God uncondemned.
Then Jesus told a story to illustrate what He meant. “There was a man….” Perhaps not a real man, in that the Lord had a specific individual in mind, but certainly a representative man, because there were a lot like him around. Still are. Always have been.
He was a very successful man. The story centers around what he did about it. Liberals see only a condemnation of covetousness. Is that all?
The Lord wasn’t scolding this man for planning or for possessing, but for planning too far ahead. For not planning enough. For being possessed by his “things.”
The man was a “fool” because –
1. He considered the body, but forgot the spirit.
He was getting ready to take it easy; to enjoy his “golden years.” He did have a little knowledge that there is more to us that just an animate body. He referred to his “soul.” Without getting further into the discussion about whether man is two-part or three-part, let me just say this. The body enables us to live in this particular world, breathe its air, walk its surface. Our soul is what makes us conscious of this world, the things which are around us, the warmth of the Sun, the coolness of water splashed on our face. Our spirit is that which makes us understand that there is more to existence than just this world. It’s that which makes us ask with the old song by Peggy Lee, “Is That All?” and know that it isn’t. To know that we’re not the highest being in existence, even if we don’t or won’t admit it.
2. He considered time, but forgot eternity.
He was looking forward to “many years,” but God said, “Tonight.” The only breath we’re guaranteed is the one we have right now.
3. He considered “goods,” but forgot God.
He apparently already had plenty. The text speaks of “barns” – plural. But that wasn’t enough; he was going for bigger and better. He farmed, but apparently never thought about where the rain and sun that nourished his crops came from, to say nothing of the ground in which they were planted and the strength he had to take care of it all.
4. He considered riches, but forgot righteousness.
The Bible does not condemn wealth. In fact, in the OT, it was often a sign of God’s blessing. That’s what puzzled the disciples when the Lord told them how difficult it was for a rich man to enter heaven.
This man wasn’t condemned because he was rich. He was condemned because he never considered his standing before God. I don’t want to read more into the story than what’s there, but surely that’s at least implied by God’s statement to him that his soul would be required of him. There would be an accounting of his life.
Hebrews 9:27 says, it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…. So then, death isn’t “the end.” It’s just a transition into a different plane of existence. Science fiction, and some religion, talks about “ascending to a ‘higher plane’,” whatever that is, but Scripture talks about leaving this temporal life, this life confined to a body, and entering one beyond this body, one in which righteousness, justice and truth are paramount. One in which God will be the ultimate “reality,” and our relationship to Him is determined by our relationship to the Lord Jesus.
Easter is this coming Sunday. In the frenzy of sunrise services, easter egg hunts, and new clothes, it’s reality will largely be forgotten. That reality is that the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to redeem sinners. He lived the life we could never live – a perfect, holy life, and died the death we could never die – a death that paid for sin. We could never pay for even one sin, let alone the uncountable number of sins we’ve committed. He rose from that death, proof that He had conquered it. He told His disciples to proclaim to the world that eternal life was to be had through faith in Him.
Only through faith in Him.
In short, this man in the story forgot everything that really matters, that is really important to our being. He lived for the moment, but forgot that moment when he would leave this life and face God.
He was more than an “April Fool.”