In the Old Testament God set up the Jewish religious system through Moses as a way to set them apart. By the time of Jesus the Israelites had turned away from God so many times it gets hard to count, and they had turned the law into something unrecognizable from its original intent and had given into greed, hypocrisy and selfishness. Jesus spent much of his time on earth battling and rebuking the Pharisees who epitomized all of the flaws with the Jewish religious system of the time. Knowing that the church will have a strong Jewish culture with these traditions and tendencies and that they will be persecuted after he is gone, Jesus gives the advice found in Luke 12.
First in Luke 12:1-3 he warns them against hypocrisy because that is the quickest way to errode the witness and testimony of the church. Similarly for us today, if we want to reach those around us for Christ, then we have to be consistent in our actions and words. If you are a different person on Sunday than the rest of the week, or if your friends outside of church are genuinely surprised that you are a Christian because they cannot tell by your actions, then you need to evaluate your heart.
Then in Luke 12:4-12 he warns them to fear God more than the world and the government and people who are persecuting them. We are also given a promise that when we boldly stand up for Jesus despite the physical consequences he will stand up for us before God. As believers in Jesus we cannot stand idly on the sidelines. Now that we have the knowledge of our sin, and the fact that Jesus died for our sins and requires us to live a life set apart we have to make a choice and stand up for it every day.
In Luke 12:13-34 Jesus warns his disciples against greed, and being bad stewards of the things that God has given us. Of those who are given much, much will be required. This is true for riches as well and talents and abilities. If we knowingly put ourselves before the Kingdom and spend all our time and talents on ourselves and buying worldly items and position and popularity then we will be held accountable for those actions. If we are living a truly changed life for the gospel then we should be using our money and talents to further the gospel in any way we can. If we put God first in this then he will take care of our physical needs as well.
Finally in the rest of the chapter he tells them to be watchful for his return, and to not grow complacent. The entire Old Testament led up to the ministry of Jesus and everybody in Israel knew the scriptures and should have known that Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not interpret the events correctly, and their hearts were not ready. Similarly we have been given a promise of the return of Jesus in the future and need to be always ready for his return. We cannot grow complacent in our Christianity. We cannot let sin creep back into our lives and we cannot allow our passion and fire for the gospel to dwindle. We should also be familiar with the prophecies of his return so that when they start to be fulfilled we can be prepared for his return. We do not want to miss out like many of the Israelites of Jesus’ time did.