A Warning against Hypocrisy
12 1 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other's toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus' primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, "Watch yourselves carefully so you don't get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. 2 You can't keep your true self hidden forever; before long you'll be exposed. You can't hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. 3 You can't whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day's coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
Whom to Fear
4 "I'm speaking to you as dear friends. Don't be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. 5 Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life - body and soul - in his hands. 6 "What's the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. 7 And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.
Confessing Christ before Men
8 "Stand up for me among the people you meet and the Son of Man will stand up for you before all God's angels. 9 But if you pretend you don't know me, do you think I'll defend you before God's angels? 10 "If you bad-mouth the Son of Man out of misunderstanding or ignorance, that can be overlooked. But if you're knowingly attacking God himself, taking aim at the Holy Spirit, that won't be overlooked. 11 "When they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don't worry about defending yourselves - what you'll say or how you'll say it. 12 The right words will be there. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes."
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone out of the crowd said, "Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance." 14 He replied, "Mister, what makes you think it's any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?" 15 Speaking to the people, he went on, "Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." 16 Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. 17 He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' 18 Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, 19 and I'll say to myself, Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!' 20 "Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods - who gets it?' 21 "That's what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God."
Care and Anxiety
22 He continued this subject with his disciples. "Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. 23 There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 24 Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. 25 "Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 26 If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all? 27 Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don't fuss with their appearance - but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 28 If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 29 "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. 30 People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 31 Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Treasure in Heaven
32 Don't be afraid of missing out. You're my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself. 33 "Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can't go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. 34 It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
35 "Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! 36 Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. 37 Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He'll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. 38 It doesn't matter what time of the night he arrives; they're awake - and so blessed! 39 "You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn't have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. 40 So don't you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don't expect him, the Son of Man will show up."
The Unfaithful Servant
41 Peter said, "Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?" 42 The Master said, "Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? 43 He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he's doing his job. 44 45 But if he says to himself, 'The master is certainly taking his time,' begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, 46 the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes. 47 "The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. 48 But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he'll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
Jesus the Cause of Division
49 "I've come to start a fire on this earth - how I wish it were blazing right now! 50 I've come to change everything, turn everything rightside up - how I long for it to be finished! 51 Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I've come to disrupt and confront! 52 From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be - Three against two, and two against three; 53 Father against son, and son against father; Mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; Mother-in-law against bride, and bride against mother-in-law."
Discerning the Times
54 Then he turned to the crowd: "When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, 'Storm's coming' - and you're right. 55 And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, 'This'll be a hot one' - and you're right. 56 Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you can't tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now.
Agree with Your Adversary
57 "You don't have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, 58 the kind you'd use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you'd probably go to jail 59 and pay every last penny of the fine. That's the kind of decision I'm asking you to make."
Repent or Perish
13 1 About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. 2 Jesus responded, "Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you too will die. 4 And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? 5 Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you too will die."
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 Then he told them a story: "A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren't any. 7 He said to his gardener, 'What's going on here? For three years now I've come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?' 8 "The gardener said, 'Let's give it another year. I'll dig around it and fertilize, 9 and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn't, then chop it down.'"
A Crippled Woman Healed on the Sabbath
10 He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. 11 There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn't even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over. "Woman, you're free!" 13 He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God. 14 The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, "Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath." 15 But Jesus shot back, "You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. 16 So why isn't it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?" 17 When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed
18 Then he said, "How can I picture God's kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? 19 It's like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it."
The Parable of the Leaven
The Narrow Gate
22 He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.
23 A bystander said, "Master, will only a few be saved?" 24 "Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life - to God! - is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you'll sit down to God's salvation banquet just because you've been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. 25 Well, one day you're going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you'll find the door locked and the Master saying, 'Sorry, you're not on my guest list.' 26 "You'll protest, 'But we've known you all our lives!' 27 only to be interrupted with his abrupt, 'Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don't know the first thing about me.' 28 "That's when you'll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You'll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God's kingdom. 29 You'll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God's kingdom. And all the time you'll be outside looking in - and wondering what happened. 30 This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
31 Just then some Pharisees came up and said, "Run for your life! Herod's on the hunt. He's out to kill you!" 32 Jesus said, "Tell that fox that I've no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I'm busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I'm wrapping things up. 33 Besides, it's not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem. 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets, abuser of the messengers of God! How often I've longed to gather your children, gather your children like a hen, Her brood safe under her wings - but you refused and turned away! 35 And now it's too late: You won't see me again until the day you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of God.'"