Maybe our problem is that we don’t understand our debt. I mean if someone takes us to court to give them money we don’t owe them, we are going to resist that with vigor. The one time I went to court to contest a ticket I won. After a motorcycle accident, I was given a “failure to control speed” ticket. The police officer told me that it was standard ticket given to everyone who was in a single vehicle accident. Because, you know, you can’t blame anyone else, so it must be a speeding issue. Well, I had not been speeding thank you very much. I crashed because where two streets merged there was a median that I didn’t see to my right. It was night and I was trying to make sure I didn’t collide with cars. Something that is kind of important when driving a motorcycle. So, going the speed limit, I crashed and developed a healthy dose of road rash. I won because I think the judge saw that I could have sued the city over the lack of adequate light. I fought the ticket because I didn’t think I owed anything; that I deserved a “failure to control speed” ticket. I was given two tickets that night. The other one I did not contest. It was a “driving without insurance” ticket. I deserved that one. But I wonder if people fight against God because they don’t think they have a debt; that they don’t owe God anything.
Luke 12:57-59 is a short passage with a debated meaning. Some suggest that this is merely good advice thrown into the middle of a discussion on reading the signs. Most sources will dismiss this theory. It doesn’t hold water. Even if some want to say that Jesus uttered these words in a different setting, Luke threw them in here for a reason. So, either Jesus uttered these words within a context (which I believe to be the case), or Luke put them here. Either way, the context is key. Verse 57 flows from verse 56. Jesus had told them that they know how to test the appearance of the earth and the sky but not the time. Now, he asked why they don’t even from themselves judge what is right. Go ahead and test the appearance. But make judgments concerning what is right. There are more important things than figuring out if you are going to need an umbrella. There is justice; there is right and wrong; there is upright. The implication is that God has given us the ability to make decisions about what is right. Personally, I think that is only true when we are in relationship with him. Otherwise, we tend to make a mess of things. Our present crisis bears this out.
Then Jesus gives us a scenario, maybe even a parable. While you are being led along you’re your accuser, give energy to liberate from him. So, several things here: the word translated “while you are going” in the NASB has a basic meaning of to be led along and it can be a legal technical term for being led off to the authorities. I think this is the intent here. The words “make an effort” (NASB) is literally, “give energy,” and it is a colloquialism for “make every effort,” “give it your all.” “Settle” originally had the meaning “alter by removal,” and it has a common meaning of “liberate.” The preposition “with” is literally “from.” While you are on the road, there is still time. Do every thing you can to liberate yourself. If not you will be dragged before a judge and things will quickly be determined. You will be chucked in prison and stay there until the last lepton, the smallest coin in use in the day, is paid back. And debtor’s prison was not a great place to be able to pay back a debt. So, there is this reality that is discovered at the end: you owe; there is a debt. Your accuser is not just puffing steam.
And now for the big question: What is going on here? One source says that the point that Jesus is making is that God, the judge, is concerned about how we treat others. Take care of your debts. If you don’t you may face bigger consequences than an earthly judge. Okay, that is true, but is that what Jesus is saying here? In the context, it would make more sense to see this as a parable. The time that they should have tested, is that Jesus is the Christ; the one who brings, not only salvation, but judgment. It is a time of being led to the officials. We are living on the road. Now is the time to liberate; to acknowledge that, we do, indeed owe God everything. And Jesus is the only way we can pay that debt. After facing the judge, our options will be up.
You have been issued a ticket for “failure to obey God.” You deserve this ticket. You owe payment. Jesus came to pay the price. And while you are on this path, you have an opportunity to settle your account; to put your trust in Jesus. Satan is the accuser. He is not wrong. He is not merely blowing smoke. You are a sinner. Allow Jesus to liberate you while you are on the path. Please don’t wait.