Day 239 – Why is Jesus talking about court?

Today we read the 2nd half of Luke chapter 12. Jesus makes reference on how to deal with legal disputes:

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

Doesn’t it seem odd that God himself would not only teach about how to negotiate settlements to court cases but that the Holy Spirit would inspire Luke to record it in Scripture? Of course, the passage is only nominally about everyday problems. The context of Jesus’ entire teaching in this part of Luke’s Gospel is the end of the world and the day of Judgement. Notice the other passages:

33 Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…

Interesting! Doing good works (giving alms) provides you a “treasure in heaven that does not fail”. And:

39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would have been awake and would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.

This is the famous, “thief in the night” passage. We must be ready at all times b/c we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will come. And:

47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

This text is VERY interesting. First, it clearly shows that one may know the Master’s will, yet not do it. That is free will. Also, it means that one can know, i.e., have faith, yet not be saved, i.e. “receive a severe beating” (admittedly, it is ambiguous here if the severe beating is eternal punishment). In CONTRAST, we see that people can be innocently ignorant. “He who did not know”, shall receive a light beating. This clearly shows that there are degrees of punishment in the afterlife. People who are aware of the will of God are held to a high standard. In contrast, everyone, regardless of whether they have explicit knowledge is held to the basic standard of knowing right and wrong. Here is an interesting question … what if you know Jesus founded a one particular Church and it is his will that everyone be untied in the that Church? Are you in the “severe beating” or the “light beating group”?

And Jesus’ tough teaching continue:

51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three…

This is a hard passage. We know, that even though Jesus is loves everyone and wants them to be with him, yet Jesus and his message divides. Or more correctly, he does not divide but people divide themselves from him. He draws bright lines and you must choose which side of those lines you will be on.

Finally, what then of the passage about going to court?

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.”

Well if this passage is following along on the general subject on which Jesus is teaching we know it is talking about how we will be judged. Jesus is the judge and we need to make right in our lives what we can before we reach the day of Judgement.
But LOOK here: Jesus says if you haven’t you will be handed over and put in prison and not get out UNTIL you have paid the very last copper.

What is this prison?

It is not heaven, b/c in heaven you will be rewarded, you will not owe.

It is not hell, b/c you don’t get out of hell (and strictly speaking you don’t get sent there you choose to go).

So there is some other place, where you pay what is owed and when you have finished paying you get out. We call this place PURGATORY. We can call it “prison” if you prefer but we know about it from the mouth of Jesus. And of course, this corroborates what Jesus had just said about there being different severity of punishment at the judgement.

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