Chapter twelve contains a series of teachings that Jesus gave over several months as he moved toward Jerusalem. Most of these are directed toward his disciples (vs. 1); some, however, applied to the crowds at large. Most of them have the recurring topic of keeping our proper focus. The first teaching (vs. 1-12) was a warning and encouragement to his disciples to focus on God and his plan. Nothing can be hidden from him, and no matter what happened to them, God will be faithful to fulfill in them what he promised. The second teaching (vs. 13-21) was a parable in response to a question from a landowner. Jesus, headed toward to Jerusalem, insisted that earthly matters are of secondary importance to eternal matters, and he refused to get bogged down in temporary matters, encouraging us to do the same.
The third teaching (vs. 22-34) is a favorite from the Sermon on the Mount. Because of God’s faithfulness, Jesus’ followers need not worry about storing up things on earth. Not only will God provide for our physical needs, he has prepared eternal possessions and rewards for us as well. For now, Jesus said, whatever has our attention and emphasis has our hearts. That should be God, not possessions. The fourth teaching (vs. 35-48) was an encouragement to use the possessions and time that we have faithfully in God’s service. The possessions that we do have are all on loan from God, and he expects us to use them for his purposes, not our own. For those who do, there will be reward; for those who do not, there will be punishment of some kind.
The fifth teaching (vs. 49-53) was mostly an aside. Jesus noted that his teachings and the lifestyle that he demanded would cause division between his followers and the rest of the world, even within families. If the lifestyle of Christians does not make unbelievers uncomfortable in some way, the believers are not being Christ-like. Christ is the great divider at this time, not the great uniter. Believers and unbelievers should be markedly different.
The final teaching (vs. 54-59) is more of an indictment on the immediate listeners. They could read weather and adjust their lives accordingly, but they refused to acknowledge the Messiah right in front of them. The parable about settling out of court is a nod to the truth that people need to settle with Christ in this life. Once they stand before the Judge (God), it will be too late.