“An Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke chapter 12 verses 16-31, The Story of the Rich Fool,” by Andrew J. Schatkin
My dear Christians and non-Christians, and you of all faiths and thoughts and all views and opinions, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and do not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, political code words, and hype can join in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in the world of confusion and to come with me in tearing apart he curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Today I will once again with great humility and hesitation undertake an interpretation and comprehension and perhaps gain some sort of understanding of the words of Jesus and one of his sayings or stories or parables found in the Gospel of Luke chapter 12 verses 16-31. I do this with a sense of the honor and privilege this task presents and am in an acute state of awareness of my limited human understanding and process of thought is as I go about to grasp the words and thoughts of the eternal god and savior and redeemer of all men and women as he speaks to us in his holy word and from the mansions of heaven in the presence of all the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven in communion with the persons of the holy trinity.
This gospel passage is as follows: “And he told them a parable saying: The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully and he thought to himself, What shall I do for I have nowhere to store my crops? And He said I will do this, I will pull down my barns and build larger ones and there I will store all my goods and all my grain. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years take your ease eat drink and be merry. But god said to him, Fool, this night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared whose will they be. So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward god.”
This parable presents problems of interpretation. The story presents a view of a rich farmer who has no fear of the future or of a bad harvest and simply wants to build bigger barns to store his grain. This farmer thinks nothing can happen to him and he can do what he wants and continue to entertain himself making merry. Jesus says here that this rich fool does not understand that he is mortal and that he and all of us can be called out of this life at any time and at that time there will be a judgment and the goods or riches that were prepared and stored up will do him no good. Jesus concludes this parable by saying that those of us who solely lay up for themselves earthly treasure but fail to be rich toward god will have a consequence.
There are two messages in this parable. One is the misplaced confidence of the rich man in thinking that the harvest will always be plentiful and that nothing can happen to him and that he can eat drink and be merry forever. The second message is that Jesus tells us that our soil can be required of us at any time and the material possessions we have kept for ourselves and thought would shield us from our essential mortality and judgment by god will do us no good. Jesus tells us here that we should live our lives not laying up things for ourselves whatever they may be whether material goods riches or honors or whatever we set a value on for ourselves but our lives should not be laying up things for ourselves but laying up and living our lives toward god or in god. There are two levels of thought here. One is that the laying up of materials good and whatever we think will make and preserve our lives will not work us good and at any time he can bring our lives to a conclusion and our souls and persons will be required of us or better put we will at any time be subject to god’s judgment. This is the literal understanding of this parable. There is another level of understanding of this parable and it is allegorical. The allegorical interpretation is not that of material goods but placing anything as we live our lives not merely money, but intellect and whatever we choose to believes makes us superior and think raises us up. This can be material possessions but it can also be family, education, looks, clothes, and appearance. These two meanings must be grasped and comprehended to know what Jesus is talking about. The warning here is against greed and amassing possessions to defeat the world and its snares and its evil. These egotistical concerns eliminate god and our neighbor from our sight and from our concern where they should be uppermost. Eating and drinking is a picture of the dissipated life and the answer Jesus gives as to what is life all about is found in the last verse where our lives should be spent in acknowledging god as we can be taken from world at any time.
I do hope and trust my dear friends thinkers and you of all religious persuasions have found value in this essay and as I always urge you to go back to the biblical text and read, reread, and reflect on the words and thought of the king of creation and the savior and redeemer of the world.
I owe and am indebted to chapter 30 of my book entitled “The Parables of Jesus: A Personal Commentary,” pub. by Hamilton books, 2018, pp. 79 and 80.