The Great Reversal – Rich Man Beware!

We must understand that God will not be mocked. He wants us to care for the needy, understanding the grace we have received should make us gracious to others. These study notes continue the background to my recent sermon.
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By Adrian Warnock
23 August 2009
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Jesus says that since we have Freely received, we should freely give (Matthew 10:8)

John Piper:The more sacrificially generous you are on earth, the greater will be your enjoyment of heaven. Therefore, since Jesus loves us and summons us to maximize our eternal joy in heaven, he demands radical freedom from the love of money and radical generosity, especially toward the poor . . . The reason money is so crucial for Jesus is that across all cultures and all ages it represents the alternative to God as the treasure of our hearts, and therefore the object of our worship. . .There are two things being said here. One is that a selfish spirit will keep us out of heaven. And the other is that there are degrees of reward, or degrees of joy, in heaven, depending on how sacrificially generous we were on earth.[i]

The truth is that Jesus warns us elsewhere that if we do not help others we cannot go to heaven.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34)

“The selfish indifference of the rich has landed him in hell.[ii]

This is a “reversal” parable—there are other ancient parallels.

Jesus said: “And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last” (Luke 13:30)

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

We see here “the terrible result of the wicked handling of people and wealth” [iii]

The Last Shall Be First—The Great Reversal “A strong theological emphasis that continually appears in Luke-Acts involves God’s concern for the downtrodden and outcasts:66 the poor,67 tax collectors,68 sinners,69 Samaritans,70 Gentiles,71 and women.72 The Gospel opens with a hymn of praise, for God was about to lift up the humble (1:52) and fill the hungry with good things (1:53). It was to the barren (1:7) and humble (1:48) that God would manifest himself. It was to those reckoned last (13:30) that the kingdom would come. In the Gospel’s opening thematic sermon (4:16–30) Jesus announced that the Spirit had anointed him to bring the gospel to the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind, and release for the oppressed (4:18). T
hus Jesus’ ministry to the hated tax collectors was not simply an accident but intentional.”[iv]

[i]Piper, J. (2006). What Jesus demands from the world (269-273). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

[ii]Piper, J. (2006). What Jesus demands from the world (276). Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.

[iii]Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 11: New Testament commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke. New Testament Commentary (782). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

66See R. F. O’Toole, The Unity of Luke’s Theology: An Analysis of Luke-Acts, GNS (Wilmington: Glazier, 1984), 109–48.

67Luke 1:48, 51–53; 2:7–14; 4:18; 6:20, 24–26; 7:22; 14:13, 21; 16:19–31; 18:22; 19:8. Cf. Acts 3:1–10; 4:34–35; 6:1.

68Luke 3:12–13; 5:27–32; 7:29, 34; 15:1–32; 18:9–14; 19:1–10.

69Luke 5:29–32; 7:34–50; 15:1–32; 19:1–10; 23:40–43.

70Luke 9:52–55; 10:25–37; 17:11–19. Cf. Acts 1:8; 8:1, 4–25; 9:31; 15:3.

71Luke 2:32; 7:1–10; 24:47. Cf. Acts 1:8; 2:5; 8:26–40; 10:1–2.

72Luke 1:7, 25, 27; 4:38–39; 7:11–17, 36–50; 8:1–3, 40–56; 10:38–42; 13:10–17; 18:1–8; 21:1–4; 23:55–56; 24:1–11. Cf. Acts 1:14; 6:1–2.

[iv]Stein, R. H. (2001, c1992). Vol. 24: Luke (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (49). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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