Luke: Treasure and Dominion
Treasure and Dominion is my commentary on the Gospel of Luke. Matthew focuses on priorities. Luke focuses on wealth.
The Gospel of Luke contains more of Jesus' warning against the lure of wealth than any of the four gospels. But it goes beyond this. It warns against wealth as a temptation that most people cannot handle. Yet it is Matthew that identifies the issue: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matt. 6:24).
Furthermore, Luke contains one of the most powerful proclamations of wealth in the Bible. "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38).
It is clear in Luke that economic growth was not a major theme for Jesus, nor was it in the New Testament. Yet it was in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Was the New Testament a reversal of the Mosaic Covenant? No. It assumed the validity of that covenant.
Those Christian expositors who reject the Mosaic law have a tendency to read the Gospels as calls to voluntary poverty. This message has never taken root in any Christian nation. Other expositors use them to defend the welfare state. This is a complete misreading of the Gospels.
Here is the fundamental principle of free market economics: serve the consumer. This theme of service is basic to the Gospel of Luke.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth (Luke 22:25-27).
The quest for great wealth for its own sake is foolish, Jesus said -- not just in Luke but in the other Gospels, too. But this theme is front and center in Luke's Gospel.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:16-21).
The Bible is clear: the search for anything for its own sake is a snare and a delusion.
Here are some of the chapters: Reversal of Fortune, The End of the old Covenant Order, Liberation of the Whole World, Open Fields at Harvest Time, Full Measure Running Over, By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them, The Lure of Business, The Good Samaritan, Missionary Finances, Rewards for Perseverance, The Narrow Gate, Counting the Costs, Unprofitable Servants, Profit and Interest, Monopoly Pricing, Confiscation in the Name of the People, The Widow's Gift and Graduated Taxation, Dominion Through Service.Treasure and Dominion