Luke 12:13-21

Commentary Excerpt by Tom Boomershine

The story for this week is Jesus' parable of the rich fool. This parable is one of what I would call "shock therapy" stories of the Gospel.

The Sound Structure

The introduction addresses the crowd: "Someone in the crowd said to him…" Recall that the crowd introduced at the beginning of chapter 12 consisted of thousands of people who were trampling on each other. So it's a big crowd. Someone in the crowd was yelling out,"Teacher, tell my brother…!" Jesus is addressing this big crowd and he told the parable to them, so the parable also is big.

Another dimension of the sound is that when Jesus begins the parable, the first part describes the rich man talking to himself. This is relatively quiet given the crowd—"The land of a rich man produced abundantly and he thought to himself, 'what am I going to do? I don't have any place to store my crops and then he said,'"—and so that part of the parable is relatively slow and quiet.

But then there's a long sentence: "This is what I'll do, I'll pull down my barns and build bigger ones and there I'll store my grain and I'll say to my soul, 'soul'…" It just goes faster it gets louder and louder until the end, "relax, eat, drink be merry!" This episode has a big crescendo that is indicated by both the length of the sentence, which has six phrases in it, and the last one is the climax of the whole thing.

The last episode is God speaking to him. God speaks directly to the man at night and so this is quiet and slow: "God said to him, 'Fool. This night your life is being demanded from you, and as for all these things that you've prepared, whose will they be?'" You can sense from the structure of the story and its sound, the way in which it builds up to the climax of the rich man's celebration, that he's got it made. Then God gives him a wake-up call. Or perhaps it should be called a go-to-sleep call. The parable is certainly a wake-up call for Jesus' audience.

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Audio telling of the story, Soundmap, Audio commentary, Original Image - 

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