Luke 12:14

ESV But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
NIV Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?'
NASB But He said to him, 'You there—who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over the two of you?'
CSB "Friend," he said to him, "who appointed me a judge or arbitrator over you? "
NLT Jesus replied, 'Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?'
KJV And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?

What does Luke 12:14 mean?

A crowd of thousands surrounds Jesus as he tries to teach His disciples (Luke 12:1). A man calls out, demanding Jesus force his brother to share an inheritance (Luke 12:13). We don't know any details about the situation. Did this man receive anything? Is his brother older and the sole heir of their father? Those details aren't given since they're not the point of the story.

Jesus is giving the disciples important information about sacrifice in the kingdom of God, but He breaks to teach the crowd some basics. This squabble about money is not worth His time. What is worthwhile is redirecting the man's priorities. So, Jesus tells a parable about a wealthy farmer who has accumulated enough grain to live in leisure for several years. Yet the farmer dies that night. He has spent so much time accumulating wealth, he forgot about his relationship with God. Now, he has no wealth and no relationship with his Creator (Luke 12:15–21).

After returning to the disciples for a bit, Jesus will speak again to the crowd. He will scold them for not understanding that God's kingdom is near and explain what they need to do because of it: make peace with people they have wronged and with God (Luke 12:54—13:9).

This is not the first time Jesus is called on to settle a dispute among siblings. While visiting Mary and Martha, Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to His teaching. Martha stayed in the kitchen to fix the meal. Finally giving in to frustration, Martha told Jesus to send Mary back to help. Jesus told her that Mary had chosen what was best and He would not send her away (Luke 10:38–42).

Jesus has just told His disciples that He will act as judge in the end times, validating their relationship to Him (Luke 12:8). Now, in a different context, He says He is not a judge. This "judge" refers to an official who is commissioned to determine legal matters. It is the same word used in Luke 12:58 when Jesus tells the people to reconcile with each other personally, without resorting to legal authorities. "Arbitrator" is unique to this verse. It refers to one who decides between one thing and another.

This passage does not mean that religious leaders should never be involved with arbitration. In Acts 6:1–4, the apostles commission deacons to resolve unfair practices. In 1 Corinthians 6:4–6, Paul chastises the church in Corinth for resorting to secular courts instead of resolving issues in-house. Jesus merely means that He has greater priorities—training the disciples—than negotiating for bickering brothers who should be able to resolve the issue on their own (Luke 12:57–59).
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