Luke 12:54-59 (ESV)

54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Jesus admonished the crowd for not interpreting the spiritual signs around them. They could determine when it was going to rain by looking at the clouds. When they felt a warm desert wind coming from the south, they knew the heat was coming. They were great at discerning the physical signs, but clueless when it came to the things of God. How foolish they were! The Christ was right there in their midst, yet they couldn’t see him. Jesus was so upset that he called them “hypocrites.” Then he called the people in the crowd to judge for themselves. The spiritual signs were in front of them. What would they do? Would they concede that the Jesus was the key to the kingdom of God? Jesus warned them about making the wrong judgment with a scenario from a court of law. If a woman knew she would be found guilty before the judge, she would be wise to try to “settle out of court” before she was forced to go to jail.

In the ancient world, one who owed a debt was at the mercy of her debtor. When payment was delayed, the debtor would take the borrower to court and hand her over to the legal system. In Jesus’ parable, the debtor called the borrower into court. There was a short window of time open for the borrower to get things right before she would stand in front of the judge. And then it would be too late. She would be thrown into prison until the last penny was paid. The word for “last penny” is the Greek word lepton, a smallest value coin worth about an eighth of a cent. Once in prison, the debtor wasn’t getting out of anything. Eventually, every person who has lived on this planet will have to stand before God. If we end up in the court Jesus referred to, we will be found guilty. But we can settle accounts with God today! We can turn to Jesus in repentance and faith. If you have put off your need to get things right with God, don’t wait any longer. You never know when you will be called to face the Judge. If you have already responded rightly to Jesus’ offer of “debt forgiveness,” then fully enjoy this day with the sense of rest that can only come from knowing that you have been freed from the penalty of your sin. What a great cause for rejoicing!