• Welcome to Talk Jesus

    A true bible based, Jesus centered online community. Join over 13,000 members today

    Register Log In

Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool

Users who viewed this discussion (Total:0)

Member
I want to share with you a dramatic little story from the gospel as recorded by Saint Luke. It is a story of a man who by all standards of measurement would be considered a highly successful man. And yet Jesus called him a fool. If you will read that parable, you will discover that the central character in the drama is a certain rich man. This man was so rich that his farm yielded tremendous crops. In fact, the crops were so great that he didn’t know what to do. It occurred to him that he had only one alternative and that was to build some new and bigger barns so he could store all of his crops. And then as he thought about this, he said, "Then I’m going to do something after I build my new and bigger barns." He said, "I’m going to store my goods and my fruit there, and then I’m going to say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods, laid up for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’" That brother thought that was the end of life.

But the parable doesn’t end with that man making his statement. It ends by saying that God said to him, "Thou fool. Not next year, not next week, not tomorrow, but this night, thy soul is required of thee."

And so it was at the height of his prosperity he died. Look at that parable. Think about it. Think of this man: If he lived in Chicago today, he would be considered "a big shot." And he would abound with all of the social prestige and all of the community influence that could be afforded. Most people would look up to him because he would have that something called money. And yet a Galilean peasant had the audacity to call that man a fool.

Now Jesus didn’t call the man a fool because he made his money in a dishonest fashion. There is nothing in that parable to indicate that this man was dishonest and that he made his money through conniving and exploitative methods. In fact, it seems to reveal that he had a medium of humanity and that he was a very industrious man. He was a thrifty man, apparently a pretty hard worker. So Jesus didn’t call him a fool because he got his money through dishonest means.

And there is nothing here to indicate that Jesus called this man a fool because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. It’s true that one day a rich young ruler came to him raising some questions about eternal life and Jesus said to him, "Sell all." But in that case Jesus was prescribing individual surgery and not setting forth a universal diagnosis. You know, Jesus told another parable about a man who was very rich by the name of Dives, and Dives ended up going to hell. There was nothing indicating that Dives went to hell because he was rich. In fact, when Dives got in hell, he had a conversation with a man in heaven; and on the other end of that long distance call between hell and heaven was Abraham in heaven. Now if you go back to the Old Testament, you will discover that Abraham was a real rich man. It wasn’t a millionaire in hell talking with a poor man in heaven; it was a little millionaire in hell talking with a multi-millionaire in heaven. So that Jesus did not call this man a fool because he was rich.

I’d like for you to look at this parable with me and try to decipher the real reason that Jesus called this man a fool. Number one, Jesus called this man a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. You see, each of us lives in two realms, the within and the without. Now the within of our lives is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, religion, and morality. The without of our lives is that complex of devices, of mechanisms and instrumentalities by means of which we live. The house we live in—that’s a part of the means by which we live. The car we drive, the clothes we wear, the money that we are able to accumulate—in short, the physical stuff that’s necessary for us to exist.

Now the problem is that we must always keep a line of demarcation between the two. This man was a fool because he didn’t do that.

Somehow in life we must know that we must seek first the kingdom of God, and then all of those other things—clothes, houses, cars—will be added unto us. But the problem is all too many people fail to put first things first. They don’t keep a sharp line of demarcation between the things of life and the ends of life.

And so this man was a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. He was a fool because he maximized the minimum and minimized the maximum. This man was a fool because he allowed his technology to outdistance his theology. This man was a fool because he allowed his mentality to outrun his morality. Somehow he became so involved in the means by which he lived that he couldn’t deal with the way to eternal matters. He didn’t make contributions to civil rights. He looked at suffering humanity and wasn’t concerned about it.

He may have had great books in his library, but he never read them. He may have had recordings of great music of the ages, but he never listened to it. He probably gave his wife mink coats, a convertible automobile, but he didn’t give her what she needed most, love and affection. He probably provided bread for his children, but he didn’t give them any attention; he didn’t really love them. Somehow he looked up at the beauty of the stars, but he wasn’t moved by them. He had heard the glad tidings of philosophy and poetry, but he really didn’t read it or comprehend it, or want to comprehend it. And so this man justly deserved his title. He was an eternal fool. He allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived.

Now number two, this man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on others. Now if you read that parable in the book of Luke, you will discover that this man utters about sixty words. And do you know in sixty words he said "I" and "my" more than fifteen times? This man was a fool because he said "I" and "my" so much until he lost the capacity to say "we" and "our." He failed to realize that he couldn’t do anything by himself. This man talked like he could build the barns by himself, like he could till the soil by himself. And he failed to realize that wealth is always a result of the commonwealth.

Maybe you haven’t ever thought about it, but you can’t leave home in the morning without being dependent on most of the world. You get up in the morning, and you go to the bathroom and you reach over for a sponge, and that’s even given to you by a Pacific Islander. You reach over for a towel, and that’s given to you by a turk. You reach down to pick up your soap, and that’s given to you by a Frenchman. Then after dressing, you rush to the kitchen and you decide this morning that you want to drink a little coffee; that’s poured in your cup by a South American. Or maybe this morning you prefer tea; that’s poured in your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you want cocoa this morning; that’s poured in your cup by a West African. Then you reach over to get your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning you are dependent on more than half of the world.

And oh my friends, I don’t want you to forget it. No matter where you are today, somebody helped you to get there. It may have been an ordinary person, doing an ordinary job in an extraordinary way. Some few are able to get some education; you didn’t get it by yourself. Don’t forget those who helped you come over.

And I feel that if something doesn’t happen soon, and something massive, the same indictment will come to America—"Thou fool!"

That man said he didn’t know what to do with his goods, he had so many. Oh, I wish I could have advised him. A lot of places to go, and there were a lot of things that could be done. There were hungry stomachs that needed to be filled; there were empty pockets that needed access to money. America today, my friends, is also rich in goods. We have our barns, and every day our rich nation is building new and larger and greater barns. You know, we spend millions of dollars a day to store surplus food. But I want to say to America, "I know where you can store that food free of charge: in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of God’s children in Asia and Africa and South America and in our own nation who go to bed hungry tonight."

There are a lot of fools around. (Lord help him) Because they fail to realize their dependence on others.

Finally, this man was a fool because he failed to realize his dependence on God. Do you know that man talked like he regulated the seasons? That man talked like he gave the rain to grapple with the fertility of the soil. That man talked like he provided the dew. He was a fool because he ended up acting like he was the Creator, instead of a creature. (Amen)

And this man-centered foolishness is still alive today. In fact, it has gotten to the point today that some are even saying that God is dead. The thing that bothers me about it is that they didn’t give me full information, because at least I would have wanted to attend God’s funeral. And today I want to ask, who was the coroner that pronounced him dead? I want to raise a question, how long had he been sick? I want to know whether he had a heart attack or died of chronic cancer. These questions haven’t been answered for me, and I’m going on believing and knowing that God is alive. You see, as long as love is around, God is alive. As long as justice is around, God is alive. There are certain conceptions of God that needed to die, but not God. You see, God is the supreme noun of life; he’s not an adjective. He is the supreme subject of life; he’s not a verb. He’s the supreme independent clause; he’s not a dependent clause. Everything else is dependent on him, but he is dependent on nothing!

One day Moses had to grapple with it and God sent him out and told him to tell the people that "I Am sent you." And Moses wondered about it, and he said, "Well, what am I to tell the folk?" He said, "Just go on and tell them that I Am sent you. And then if you need a little more information, let them know that my first name is the same as my last, ‘I Am that I Am.’" And God is the only being in the universe that can say that "I Am," and stop there. Whenever I say, "I am," I have to say, "I am because of"—because of my parents, because of my environment, because of hereditary circumstances. And each of you has to say you are because of something. But God is life supreme. Now God, the power that holds the universe in the palm of his hand, is the only being that can say, "I Am," and put a period there and never look back. And don’t be foolish enough to forget him.

You know, a lot of people are forgetting God. They haven’t done it theoretically, as others have done through their theories—postulated through the God-is-dead theology—but a lot of people just get involved in other things. And so many people become so involved in their big bank accounts and in their beautiful expensive automobiles that they unconsciously forget God. So many people become so involved in looking at the man-made lights of the city that they forget to think about that great cosmic light that gets up early in the morning in the eastern horizon and moves with a kind of symphony of motion like a masterly queen strolling across a mansion and paints its technicolor across the blue as it moves—a light that man could never make. Some people have become so involved in looking at the skyscraping buildings of the cities that they’ve forgotten to think about the gigantic mountains, kissing the skies, as if to bathe their peaks in the lofty blue—something that man could never make. So many people have become so involved in televisions and radar that they’ve forgotten to think about the beautiful stars that bedeck the heavens like swinging lanterns of eternity, standing there like shining silvery pins sticking in the magnificent blue pincushion—something that man could never make. So many people have come to feel that on their own efforts they can bring in a new world, but they’ve forgotten to think about the fact that the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. And so they end up going over and over again without God.

But I tell you this morning, my friends, there’s no way to get rid of him. And all of our new knowledge will not diminish God’s being one iota. Neither the microcosmic compass of the atom nor the vast interstellar ranges of interstellar space can make God irrelevant for living in a universe, where stellar distance must be measured in light years, where stars are five hundred million million miles from the earth, where heavenly bodies travel at incredible speeds. Modern man still has to cry out with the Psalmist, "When I behold the heavens, the work of thy hands and all that thou hast created; what is man, that thou is mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou hast remembered him?"

God is still around. One day, you’re going to need him. (My Lord) The problems of life will begin to overwhelm you; disappointments will begin to beat upon the door of your life like a tidal wave. And if you don’t have a deep and patient faith, you aren’t going to be able to make it. (My Lord) I know this from my own experience. The first twenty-five years of my life were very comfortable years, very happy years; didn’t have to worry about anything. I have a marvelous mother and father. They went out of the way to provide everything for their children, basic necessities. I went right on through school, I never had to drop out to work or anything. And you know, I was about to conclude that life had been wrapped up for me in a Christmas package.

Now of course I was religious; I grew up in the church. I’m the son of a preacher, I’m the great-grandson of a preacher, and the great-great-grandson of a preacher. My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my Daddy’s brother is a preacher. So I didn’t have much choice, I guess. But I had grown up in the church, and the church meant something very real to me, but it was a kind of inherited religion and I had never felt (My Lord) an experience with God in the way that you must have it if you’re going to walk the lonely paths of this life. (Yeah) You’d better know him, and know his name, and know how to call his name. You may not know philosophy. You may not be able to say with Alfred North Whitehead that he’s the Principle of Concretion. You may not be able to say with Hegel and Spinoza that he is the Absolute Whole. You may not be able to say with Plato that he’s the Architectonic Good. You may not be able to say with Aristotle that he’s the Unmoved Mover.

But sometimes you can get poetic about it if you know him. You begin to know that our brothers and sisters in distant days were right. Because they did know him as a rock in a weary land, as a shelter in the time of starving, as my water when I’m thirsty, and then my bread in a starving land. And then if you can’t even say that, sometimes you may have to say, "he’s my everything. He’s my sister and my brother. He’s my mother and my father." If you believe it and know it, you never need walk in darkness.

Don’t be a fool. Recognize your dependence on God. As the days become dark and the nights become dreary, realize that there is a God who rules above.

-Inspiration from the Great Sermons of
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.(edited for length)
 
Top