They Can Forecast the Weather, But Can't Interpret the Present Time

But why does that make them hypocrites?

Luke 12:54-59 (ESV)

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. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 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?

“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 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. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Everything in this passage is straightforward except one thing. Jesus says, “You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” OK, that makes sense, but why does that make them hypocrites?

Hypocrite here means pretender, literally “play actor.” Who or what are they pretending to be?

The paragraphs before and after don’t address this directly; our main clue is in the example given. Weather forecasting is obviously about the future – what’s going to happen next. Jesus’ criticism is also obviously about not knowing what’s coming.

In fact, since the beginning of this chapter Jesus has been talking about the future. First Jesus says, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed.” Then, “Fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.” Next He says, “The one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Then He tells the parable of the rich man who built bigger barns to store his bumper crop. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you.” Next Jesus tells us not to worry about this life saying, “Consider the lilies, how they grow.” Then he teaches us to be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Jesus’ accusation of hypocrisy puts an exclamation point on all this. Without it, He would just be saying, “Y’all should know how to interpret the present time.”

Instead, He’s saying. “There’s no way you’re unaware of what’s going on; you’re just faking it.”


In one sense, Jesus is accusing his listeners of cowardice. It’s not that they don’t see what’s going on and believe it; it’s that they can’t be bothered to do anything about it. “Yeah, it’s all true, but I’m busy.”

That’s why they’re hypocrites; they’re pretending not to notice.

America is full of couch potato Christians – faith without action. Yikes.

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. – Rev. 3:16 (ESV)

We are in desperate need of a revival.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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