Luke 16: 1 – 13 / Faithful
Intro: A farmer’s cow gave birth to identical twins. He said to his wife, “Mary, because the Lord gave us 2 instead of 1, we will raise 1 for ourselves and the other for the Lord. We’ll feed and treat them the same. . . The calves grew and prospered through the summer. Then one day the farmer came in from the fields looking very gloomy. “What’s the matter?” said the farmer’s wife. “A terrible thing has happened,” replied the farmer. “The Lord’s cow has died.”
I. The parable of the dishonest steward poses significant theological challenges.
A. First there linguistic problems that make any plain reading of the text. The parable seems to end at 8a with the master surprisingly commending the steward for his shrewd, though dishonest behavior.
B. Imagine Luke sitting down at his desk with a big pile of sayings-of-Jesus note cards, adding one maxim after another to the parable, based on loose thematic or semantic connections.
C. The parable has parallels to the prodigal son that immediately precedes it. Both “squander” / steward not penitent / rich man is not forgiving.
II. The parable presents as the model for our faith someone whose life is the complete opposite of everything Christ ever taught. (See Vss. 8 – 9)
A. This dishonest steward understands how to use what was entrusted to him to serve a larger goal.
B. The Pharisees were the leaders of the chosen people, keepers of the treasures of God, they were like the dishonest steward who had lost their vision of who God had called them to be. They had traded their call to be God’s people to become servant of the treasurers of the present day. Controlled by wealth, by money, even complacency, they had blended into society and lost their vision.
C. The parable of the manager speaks especially to Christians or communities who have lost the vision of the larger picture. Who is god and who are we in relationship to God. Have we stopped hearing God’s voice. Somewhere along the way, the challenges seemed so much bigger than the answers. So we huddle in an effort to save whatever was left and forgot about living for something greater.
III. In Vs. 8 the adjective shrewd and the adjective shrewdly have the same meaning as the words used to describe the faithful servants in the parable of the talents in Matthew 12. The word shrewd = faithful and prudent.
A. The story is told of a manager for UPS who made awesome chocolate chip cookies. He placed them on his desk with a sign that said the 1st one was free and after that, it was necessary to memorize a verse from the Bible to get subsequent cookies. His boss said he had to stop. He took the plate of cookies when he was called into his boss’s office. The boss went crazy over the cookies and they came back along with the Scripture memorization.
B. That’s being a faithful, prudent and shrewd disciple of Christ Jesus.
C. I think the point of the parable is this: if wicked people of this world go to so much trouble and effort to be wicked, to be dishonest, to cheat, and to be so selfish --- why can’t disciples of Jesus put as much effort or even more effort into being sons and daughters of God?
Conclu: It’s about being faithful with everything. If only Christians were as eager and ingenious in their attempts to be disciples as people of the world are in their attempts to attain money and comfort. Jesus wants us to act with the same intensity in our discipleship toward him as the rascals, cheats and crooks act in their attempt to gain comfort and wealth. Just how faithful are you?