It always strikes me as odd to hear of someone in the crowd making a request of Jesus. In my mind, Jesus is teaching in a lecture style, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for discussion. That may not have been how it really was, or not always. In any case, this man makes a demand of Jesus, and Jesus turns it into a teaching moment.
The man wants his brother to divide the inheritance with him, which should be what happens normally. According to Deut. 21:17, the firstborn gets twice as much as the rest of the sons, and the rabbis were the ones to settle any disputes between inheritors. Based on Jesus’s answer, this man was likely not looking for justice, but advantage.
Jesus tells the crowd to guard against covetousness, as material possessions are not the only good things in life. He tells the story of a very rich man who has to build storerooms for all the goods and grain he has amassed. The rich man is very pleased with himself and starts making plans and imagines how nice his life is going to be. And then he dies. God says to the man that he is a fool because he has not walked with God, concentrating only on the riches he acquired. Now he no longer has his possessions or eternal rewards.
The first-century Jews, and many people today, have the notion that people with a lot of money have been blessed by God and therefore are living the way God wants them to. This is with the counterexample of the corrupt tax collectors. While riches can be a blessing, they can also be a temptation, so we must be on guard to keep to God’s priorities.
Help us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You.