Today’s reading: Luke 12:32-59
Today we read the 2nd half of Luke chapter 12. Jesus makes reference on how to deal with legal disputes:
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 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. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.” Luke 12:57-59
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 the Gospel is the end of the world and the day of Judgement. Notice the other proceeding passages:
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… Luke 12:33
Interesting! Doing works provides you a “treasure in heaven that does not fail”. And:
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. You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Luke 12:39-40
This is the famous, “thief in the night” passage. We must be ready at all times because we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will come. And:
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. 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. Luke 12:47-48
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. And:
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three… Luke 12:51-52
This is a hard passage. Because we know, that even though Jesus loves everyone and wants them to be with him, Jesus divides. Or more correctly, he does not divide but people divide themselves from him. Jesus 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?
And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 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. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.” Luke 12:57-59
Well if this passage is following along on the general subject on which Jesus is teaching we know it is talking about the afterlife and how we will be judged. Jesus is the judge. He is telling us we need to resolve the conflicts within our lives before we reach the day of Judgement.
Now realize what Jesus is saying … 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 because in heaven you will be rewarded. This place is a prison and you will owe a debt.
It is not hell because 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. You 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 severities of punishment at the judgment.
Tomorrow: Luke 13