Comparing notes on the dishonest steward

The Gospel reading for yesterday was the parable of the dishonest steward (Luke 16:1-13), the guy who knew he would lose his job for embezzlement and so took the opportunity to forgive the debts of those who owed his boss money, as a way to get in good with them when he would be unemployed. His boss commended his shrewd dealing, as did Jesus, in a way. That’s a fascinating parable, but it’s one of the hardest to interpret and apply.

Churches that follow the three-year-lectionary, not only Lutherans but other denominations as well, will all have read that passage in church yesterday and very likely heard a sermon on it. That means that many of us here heard takes on what that sermon means. Let’s compile what we learned.

My pastor took the part about those who had their debts forgiven and applied it not to money but to sin: We all have a debt we cannot pay. We were forgiven it earlier in the service when we heard the absolution from the pastor.

I heard of another pastor today who observed that the steward, for all of his own problems, was showing mercy.

What aspects of the parable were illuminated for you in yesterday’s sermon? (Pastors, tell us what you did with it. Laypeople, tell us what you got out of it.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    The steward knew he would die. What would kill him? UNfaithfulness. In this case unfaithfullness was not following the law.

    What was his crime? He uses money that was not his.

    So he will lose his life on the scales of the law in the form of sacrifice. That is what the law demands. sacrifice. it gives nothing at all. It only demands. and what it demands is our life.

    So now that he has lost his life because of the sacrifice that the law demands what is left for him to do?

    He uses money that is not his to do Mercy. He should be sacrificed for this as well, but he is now outside the reach of the law. He is already as good as dead. His reward will come after his sure and certain death. That is now what animates the SAME thing he was doing before.

    So the actions remain absolutely identical, with the same effect and result, but the why for doing this has changed. This is our Jesus breaking the Sabbath law. It is the difference between Sacrifice and Mercy. Further it is the relationship between the two.

    For there to be Mercy, death must happen. In genesis God showed mercy on adam and eve by the killing of animals to clothe their sinful nakedness. Blood was shed. For even the old adam of a christian to show Mercy, mortification of the flesh must happen. There is no other way. This is not sanctification. But these are only types. To show mercy on us , the Death that conquered death itself had to happen.

    And so now we , as the living dead, are free from the law to show Mercy.

    This is exactly what the Lutheran Confessions assert about any works we can do.

    This is why the Confessions in the Formula of Concord Art VI , and in the catechisms in the 1st article and the 4th petition make the radical claim that there is no intrinsic difference between Works of the Law and Fruit of the Spirit. The visible good works and law keeping and visible righteousness of christians are exactly identical to those of pagans!

    This says that there is no difference at all in the works done by pagan or christian! The works are utterly identical. This is radical isn’t it? This parable shows us how this can be so.

    so what does he do

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    The steward knew he would die. What would kill him? UNfaithfulness. In this case unfaithfullness was not following the law.

    What was his crime? He uses money that was not his.

    So he will lose his life on the scales of the law in the form of sacrifice. That is what the law demands. sacrifice. it gives nothing at all. It only demands. and what it demands is our life.

    So now that he has lost his life because of the sacrifice that the law demands what is left for him to do?

    He uses money that is not his to do Mercy. He should be sacrificed for this as well, but he is now outside the reach of the law. He is already as good as dead. His reward will come after his sure and certain death. That is now what animates the SAME thing he was doing before.

    So the actions remain absolutely identical, with the same effect and result, but the why for doing this has changed. This is our Jesus breaking the Sabbath law. It is the difference between Sacrifice and Mercy. Further it is the relationship between the two.

    For there to be Mercy, death must happen. In genesis God showed mercy on adam and eve by the killing of animals to clothe their sinful nakedness. Blood was shed. For even the old adam of a christian to show Mercy, mortification of the flesh must happen. There is no other way. This is not sanctification. But these are only types. To show mercy on us , the Death that conquered death itself had to happen.

    And so now we , as the living dead, are free from the law to show Mercy.

    This is exactly what the Lutheran Confessions assert about any works we can do.

    This is why the Confessions in the Formula of Concord Art VI , and in the catechisms in the 1st article and the 4th petition make the radical claim that there is no intrinsic difference between Works of the Law and Fruit of the Spirit. The visible good works and law keeping and visible righteousness of christians are exactly identical to those of pagans!

    This says that there is no difference at all in the works done by pagan or christian! The works are utterly identical. This is radical isn’t it? This parable shows us how this can be so.

    so what does he do

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Here’s what I preached a couple months ago when it came up in the one year lectionary:

    http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com/817866.html

    More or less… I took the “he’s betting on the master’s mercy” angle.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Here’s what I preached a couple months ago when it came up in the one year lectionary:

    http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com/817866.html

    More or less… I took the “he’s betting on the master’s mercy” angle.

  • James T. Batchelor

    This You Tube video has an interesting take:

  • James T. Batchelor

    This You Tube video has an interesting take:

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    Here’s Rev. Fisk’s notes:

  • http://necessaryroughness.org Dan at Necessary Roughness

    Here’s Rev. Fisk’s notes:

  • helen

    Thank you, “revfisk”! (The other two will have to wait till after work.)

    I heard something new yesterday… (and I’ve been a pewsitter for “awhile” ;)

    My Pastor postulated (if I heard it correctly) that the debtors did not know the steward was about to be fired.
    Therefore, they were not only grateful to him but they thought his master was being generous.
    The master, he said, was painted into a corner. He could let the money go and be thought big hearted and merciful, or he could come back to the debtors, tell them the steward had no right to discount their debts and demand that they pay in full.
    The steward shrewdly guessed that his master would opt for his enhanced reputation.
    He did… but the steward was still out of a job.

    Now there was more to the sermon. I just related an idea that was new to me.
    See stpaulaustin.org and look under sermons in a week or so (when the webmaster posts it) for the whole text.

    {It’s quite possible that ‘revfisk’ has the better idea.}

  • helen

    Thank you, “revfisk”! (The other two will have to wait till after work.)

    I heard something new yesterday… (and I’ve been a pewsitter for “awhile” ;)

    My Pastor postulated (if I heard it correctly) that the debtors did not know the steward was about to be fired.
    Therefore, they were not only grateful to him but they thought his master was being generous.
    The master, he said, was painted into a corner. He could let the money go and be thought big hearted and merciful, or he could come back to the debtors, tell them the steward had no right to discount their debts and demand that they pay in full.
    The steward shrewdly guessed that his master would opt for his enhanced reputation.
    He did… but the steward was still out of a job.

    Now there was more to the sermon. I just related an idea that was new to me.
    See stpaulaustin.org and look under sermons in a week or so (when the webmaster posts it) for the whole text.

    {It’s quite possible that ‘revfisk’ has the better idea.}

  • SM

    Unfortunately, the preacher at my church did not deliver a sermon on the text, so I turned to Helmut Thielicke’s The Waiting Father which contains an excellent homily on the Dishonest Steward parable.

  • SM

    Unfortunately, the preacher at my church did not deliver a sermon on the text, so I turned to Helmut Thielicke’s The Waiting Father which contains an excellent homily on the Dishonest Steward parable.

  • MHB

    Yes, the manager relied on his master’s mercy, mercy that was shown to the debtors and to the manager.

    In the presence of the Master who is always just, a Mediator — not a manager — stepped forward. Jesus did not cook the books. He fulfilled them. Matthew 5:17-18. Colossians 2:13-15. And the Master let the cancelled debts (not merely 50 or 20%, but in full) stand. That is mercy — mercy received by faith, which always bears fruit.

  • MHB

    Yes, the manager relied on his master’s mercy, mercy that was shown to the debtors and to the manager.

    In the presence of the Master who is always just, a Mediator — not a manager — stepped forward. Jesus did not cook the books. He fulfilled them. Matthew 5:17-18. Colossians 2:13-15. And the Master let the cancelled debts (not merely 50 or 20%, but in full) stand. That is mercy — mercy received by faith, which always bears fruit.

  • trotk

    Two possibilities exist other than the fact that he was defrauding his master.

    One is that he forgave the interest on the loans, which would have been banned anyway, but still occurred. The steward had the law on his side, and so the master, now seen as generous to his debtors and with the law against, couldn’t argue with what happened.

    The other, and more powerful understanding, is that the steward forgave his own commission, which was normal for an “oikonomos” to take. The master actually praises him with the word “wise” (phrovios), and the Pharisees (who loved money) scoffed (“Who would give up their own commission?!”), and so this understanding fits the practice of the ancient world, the internal details of the parable, and the reaction of the Pharisees.

    This reveals a man who is confronted by sin, broken by it, and repents, much like Zacheus.

    Either way, the central point still stands:

    You can use your money for yourself, and be mastered by it, or you can use your money for the kingdom, and be its master.

  • trotk

    Two possibilities exist other than the fact that he was defrauding his master.

    One is that he forgave the interest on the loans, which would have been banned anyway, but still occurred. The steward had the law on his side, and so the master, now seen as generous to his debtors and with the law against, couldn’t argue with what happened.

    The other, and more powerful understanding, is that the steward forgave his own commission, which was normal for an “oikonomos” to take. The master actually praises him with the word “wise” (phrovios), and the Pharisees (who loved money) scoffed (“Who would give up their own commission?!”), and so this understanding fits the practice of the ancient world, the internal details of the parable, and the reaction of the Pharisees.

    This reveals a man who is confronted by sin, broken by it, and repents, much like Zacheus.

    Either way, the central point still stands:

    You can use your money for yourself, and be mastered by it, or you can use your money for the kingdom, and be its master.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rev lehman at 2

    good on you to point out that the story does not end in the man getting fired.

    and…
    “It is at this point, however, that the story goes totally nuts. Instead of punishing the steward for reducing the debts, the master praises him. The kind of praise that the master gives to the steward is a very specific kind of praise. Only God or one of his representatives can give this sort of praise to a man. It is the same sort of praise that God gives to the sheep in the final judgment in Matthew 25.”

    I think another pointer you might offer your flock besides “where am I in this story” is an even more potent and lutheran one. it is this:

    Jesus in the parables uses earthly things to describe heavenly things. Consider that this is our Lord’s own lecture series then about how to apply law and gospel. Law is the Earthly Kingdom of everything we can do in our bodies. This true righteousness fully includes spiritual things we can do. Church stuff.

    Then there is the Heavenly Kingdom Righteousness is alone about faith and hope in Christ. Actually it is the very Person of Christ Himself.

    We get things tangled by distinguishing between earthly righteousnesses, as though there is christian righteousness and then civil “righteousness”. Or we do the same thing by confusing love with gospel.

    We Lutherans mistake that the two kingdoms doctrine of luther is wierdly about church stuff vs civil government. It is instead just another form of the law /gospel distinction of works vs faith which in turn is just the pauline flesh/body vs spirit.

    So then this parable is the difference between mercy and sacrifice.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rev lehman at 2

    good on you to point out that the story does not end in the man getting fired.

    and…
    “It is at this point, however, that the story goes totally nuts. Instead of punishing the steward for reducing the debts, the master praises him. The kind of praise that the master gives to the steward is a very specific kind of praise. Only God or one of his representatives can give this sort of praise to a man. It is the same sort of praise that God gives to the sheep in the final judgment in Matthew 25.”

    I think another pointer you might offer your flock besides “where am I in this story” is an even more potent and lutheran one. it is this:

    Jesus in the parables uses earthly things to describe heavenly things. Consider that this is our Lord’s own lecture series then about how to apply law and gospel. Law is the Earthly Kingdom of everything we can do in our bodies. This true righteousness fully includes spiritual things we can do. Church stuff.

    Then there is the Heavenly Kingdom Righteousness is alone about faith and hope in Christ. Actually it is the very Person of Christ Himself.

    We get things tangled by distinguishing between earthly righteousnesses, as though there is christian righteousness and then civil “righteousness”. Or we do the same thing by confusing love with gospel.

    We Lutherans mistake that the two kingdoms doctrine of luther is wierdly about church stuff vs civil government. It is instead just another form of the law /gospel distinction of works vs faith which in turn is just the pauline flesh/body vs spirit.

    So then this parable is the difference between mercy and sacrifice.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    mhb @7

    except that the stewards act was not a result or fruit of the mercy of the master. it was, to the exact contrary, in contemplation in fact that the master would show no mercy.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    mhb @7

    except that the stewards act was not a result or fruit of the mercy of the master. it was, to the exact contrary, in contemplation in fact that the master would show no mercy.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    helen @5

    always best to shoot for the more simple meaning. i am an accountant. i would tell the client that there had been a mistake in the bookkeeping. my reputation would not have been at all damaged by this. in the earthly kingdom this would only be fair and right.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    helen @5

    always best to shoot for the more simple meaning. i am an accountant. i would tell the client that there had been a mistake in the bookkeeping. my reputation would not have been at all damaged by this. in the earthly kingdom this would only be fair and right.

  • Nathan Dudley
  • Nathan Dudley
  • http://lcrwtvl.org inexile
  • http://lcrwtvl.org inexile
  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    dan @ 4

    fisk has some rather wonderful points, but I don’t think he is exactly right.

    I note that the steward is doing the exact same thing he was before and that deserved for him to be fired.

    So none of the behavior or actions changed on the part of the steward. This is a very very key point and the one that messes with us.

    So what is it that changed in the steward that gained the praise of the master with him saying “what a great example of what to do!”?

    The motive of the steward changed. he relied alone upon hope and faith as someone already a gonner. For this, alone, the master praised the steward and indeed hold him up as an example.

    Again Our Lord uses earthly kingdom things (which includes everything!) to describe heavenly kingdom things (which excludes everthing, but alone invisible faith).

    Lutherans say exactly what Jesus said. We confess in our confessions : “nothing can be added to the ethical system of Aristotle.” We can, and should (!) learn from the pagans about righteousness ,forgiveness and love this says.

    We Lutherans confess here that we can completely learn about morality from pagans. No christ or faith is necessary at all to do this or to do the earthly righteousness that God demands, which is completely done by loving our neighbor as ourself.

    The only thing. alone. that makes one different from a pagan as a christian is invisible faith. alone.

    it is not love or forgivenss or the christian life or the fruit of faith.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    dan @ 4

    fisk has some rather wonderful points, but I don’t think he is exactly right.

    I note that the steward is doing the exact same thing he was before and that deserved for him to be fired.

    So none of the behavior or actions changed on the part of the steward. This is a very very key point and the one that messes with us.

    So what is it that changed in the steward that gained the praise of the master with him saying “what a great example of what to do!”?

    The motive of the steward changed. he relied alone upon hope and faith as someone already a gonner. For this, alone, the master praised the steward and indeed hold him up as an example.

    Again Our Lord uses earthly kingdom things (which includes everything!) to describe heavenly kingdom things (which excludes everthing, but alone invisible faith).

    Lutherans say exactly what Jesus said. We confess in our confessions : “nothing can be added to the ethical system of Aristotle.” We can, and should (!) learn from the pagans about righteousness ,forgiveness and love this says.

    We Lutherans confess here that we can completely learn about morality from pagans. No christ or faith is necessary at all to do this or to do the earthly righteousness that God demands, which is completely done by loving our neighbor as ourself.

    The only thing. alone. that makes one different from a pagan as a christian is invisible faith. alone.

    it is not love or forgivenss or the christian life or the fruit of faith.

  • –helen

    fws
    There is, as I said, another part of the story.

    If your firm cancelled my debt, and I was told later that you couldn’t keep your business straight and I would pay for the fact, it might be “fair and right” but I wouldn’t like it much.

    Just yesterday I read a man who said he got some payments from the government, which he thought in excess of what was due. He asked about it and was told to deposit the checks. So he assumed he was wrong. Later the gov’t came back and said he’d been paid too much and they would take it out of subsequent checks. “Fair and right” except that they are deducting a different sum every month so he never knows what he’ll have next month!

    I think there are varying sermons on this story because it is a difficult one. So far, I like ‘revfisk’ and his version which he fits into the surrounding chapters.
    God bless!
    Helen

  • –helen

    fws
    There is, as I said, another part of the story.

    If your firm cancelled my debt, and I was told later that you couldn’t keep your business straight and I would pay for the fact, it might be “fair and right” but I wouldn’t like it much.

    Just yesterday I read a man who said he got some payments from the government, which he thought in excess of what was due. He asked about it and was told to deposit the checks. So he assumed he was wrong. Later the gov’t came back and said he’d been paid too much and they would take it out of subsequent checks. “Fair and right” except that they are deducting a different sum every month so he never knows what he’ll have next month!

    I think there are varying sermons on this story because it is a difficult one. So far, I like ‘revfisk’ and his version which he fits into the surrounding chapters.
    God bless!
    Helen

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @8

    This says that the steward actually started flying right. he stopped embezzling! he became righteous according to his actions then. he becomes a good pharisee.

    Again God uses earthly things to describe heavenly things.

    what is included in the earthly kingdom? everything we can do. including spiritual things like believe and repent. Judas repented.

    what is included in the heavenly kingdom? everything that is not in the earthly kingdom. Since the earthly kingdom already includes EVERYthing, this would leave invisible faith. alone. That alone which we cannot do.

    http://www.thirduse.com Luther has an excellent sermon on law gospel in the exact form of our Lord’s law and gospel distinction of heavenly vs earthly kingdom. the parabolic heavenly vs earthly kingdom.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    trotk @8

    This says that the steward actually started flying right. he stopped embezzling! he became righteous according to his actions then. he becomes a good pharisee.

    Again God uses earthly things to describe heavenly things.

    what is included in the earthly kingdom? everything we can do. including spiritual things like believe and repent. Judas repented.

    what is included in the heavenly kingdom? everything that is not in the earthly kingdom. Since the earthly kingdom already includes EVERYthing, this would leave invisible faith. alone. That alone which we cannot do.

    http://www.thirduse.com Luther has an excellent sermon on law gospel in the exact form of our Lord’s law and gospel distinction of heavenly vs earthly kingdom. the parabolic heavenly vs earthly kingdom.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com/ Tapani Simojoki

    Here’s my take on it: Learn from the Crook.

    If the dishonest manager knew to take advantage of the good nature of his erstwhile master, how much more should we cast ourselves on the grace and mercy of God!

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com/ Tapani Simojoki

    Here’s my take on it: Learn from the Crook.

    If the dishonest manager knew to take advantage of the good nature of his erstwhile master, how much more should we cast ourselves on the grace and mercy of God!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @17

    But the steward was not at all counting on the mercy of the master. to the exact contrary. that is why the story is difficult. and the steward furthermore did not at all change his behavior.

    trotky: your view cant work especially because of the reaction of the pharisees if what you say is so. it would then make perfect sense to a pharisee. it would be the shrewdness of following the letter of the law to gain our own ends.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @17

    But the steward was not at all counting on the mercy of the master. to the exact contrary. that is why the story is difficult. and the steward furthermore did not at all change his behavior.

    trotky: your view cant work especially because of the reaction of the pharisees if what you say is so. it would then make perfect sense to a pharisee. it would be the shrewdness of following the letter of the law to gain our own ends.

  • CRB

    Here is a summary of a sermon we heard awhile ago:
    This is a hard parable for the Jews to hear
    For US to hear
    For we often forget the One whose Treasures we are given to share,
    to apply to those who are in need of God’s mercy
    And so we struggle on, to serve this One who calls us, who enables
    us to serve in His Kingdom of grace
    To write over the debts of our fellow sinners, “Forgiven!”
    And to live in that grace each and every day.

  • CRB

    Here is a summary of a sermon we heard awhile ago:
    This is a hard parable for the Jews to hear
    For US to hear
    For we often forget the One whose Treasures we are given to share,
    to apply to those who are in need of God’s mercy
    And so we struggle on, to serve this One who calls us, who enables
    us to serve in His Kingdom of grace
    To write over the debts of our fellow sinners, “Forgiven!”
    And to live in that grace each and every day.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    fws @ 18

    I would argue that he was counting on the mercy of the master (if you can bear it, read the whole thing…). He played the master’s good nature (of which we have evidence in the parable) to his best advantage.

    The point isn’t that he changed – he didn’t. He’s a ‘manager of unrighteousness’ and a ‘son of darkness’. It’s a case of “if a, how much more b!”. If Bill Clinton knew that AIDS in Africa is a problem, how much more should Sarah Palin know it. If you follow my gist.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    fws @ 18

    I would argue that he was counting on the mercy of the master (if you can bear it, read the whole thing…). He played the master’s good nature (of which we have evidence in the parable) to his best advantage.

    The point isn’t that he changed – he didn’t. He’s a ‘manager of unrighteousness’ and a ‘son of darkness’. It’s a case of “if a, how much more b!”. If Bill Clinton knew that AIDS in Africa is a problem, how much more should Sarah Palin know it. If you follow my gist.

  • Geoff

    fws @ 18

    I think Tapani (and Charlie, above) are right to run with the merciful Master bit. Think of it this way, the manager doesn’t go around and cancel debts for his own benefit–he does it for the benefit of his master. The debtors don’t know the cancellation of debts comes from the manager and not the master. If the manager was looking to secure a job elsewhere, the debtors would 1) check with his previous employer (and get a bad accounting), and 2) they wouldn’t want a manager that willy-nilly cancels debts! The manager here relies on the fact that his only hope is for the master to have mercy on him and reverse His decision. Above and beyond that, the cancellation of debt is what the (Heavenly) Master wants all along–and not just half-way, but the whole lot!

  • Geoff

    fws @ 18

    I think Tapani (and Charlie, above) are right to run with the merciful Master bit. Think of it this way, the manager doesn’t go around and cancel debts for his own benefit–he does it for the benefit of his master. The debtors don’t know the cancellation of debts comes from the manager and not the master. If the manager was looking to secure a job elsewhere, the debtors would 1) check with his previous employer (and get a bad accounting), and 2) they wouldn’t want a manager that willy-nilly cancels debts! The manager here relies on the fact that his only hope is for the master to have mercy on him and reverse His decision. Above and beyond that, the cancellation of debt is what the (Heavenly) Master wants all along–and not just half-way, but the whole lot!

  • sandi

    Loved reading these, good idea Mr. V.

  • sandi

    Loved reading these, good idea Mr. V.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @20

    ok. but the facts still are that he did not change,

    and yet something DID change on the part of both the steward and the master that led the master to not only praise the steward but indeed hold him up as an example of how a righteous person should do thing.

    So something still seems missing from your spin in this parable I think…..because your account does not take this problem into account.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @20

    ok. but the facts still are that he did not change,

    and yet something DID change on the part of both the steward and the master that led the master to not only praise the steward but indeed hold him up as an example of how a righteous person should do thing.

    So something still seems missing from your spin in this parable I think…..because your account does not take this problem into account.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    geoff @ 21

    again your view misses anything law gospel. I am asserting that our Lord’s form of law and gospel is heavenly kingdom vs earthly kingdom.

    he is using earthly kingdom stuff to describe heavenly kingdom stuff, which is faith alone. when we try to make the parable follow the reason and logic of earthly wisdom and “make sense” of them that way, we miss the point. even if we end up with some gospel nugget.

    if i am right, then the parables are ALL about doing something in a way that is about doing nothing at all . Or in other words the parables are about doing something that we think can bring the heavenly kingdom down to earth , make it reasonable, doable and sensible.

    Even the judgement parables are about exactly this. they violate our earthly kingdom (law) sense of right and wrong because they do truly violate it. There you are in or out of the heavenly kingdom because you know someone . you have connections. you are an insider. you do everything right but receive the harsh judgement from the other side of the closed door “I never knew you!”

    so the parables are about heavenly kingdom relationship as opposed to earthly kingdom justice of being judged very strictly according to what we do..

    Knowing to do nothing,and that changing our doing or doing more or different will in the end matter not.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    geoff @ 21

    again your view misses anything law gospel. I am asserting that our Lord’s form of law and gospel is heavenly kingdom vs earthly kingdom.

    he is using earthly kingdom stuff to describe heavenly kingdom stuff, which is faith alone. when we try to make the parable follow the reason and logic of earthly wisdom and “make sense” of them that way, we miss the point. even if we end up with some gospel nugget.

    if i am right, then the parables are ALL about doing something in a way that is about doing nothing at all . Or in other words the parables are about doing something that we think can bring the heavenly kingdom down to earth , make it reasonable, doable and sensible.

    Even the judgement parables are about exactly this. they violate our earthly kingdom (law) sense of right and wrong because they do truly violate it. There you are in or out of the heavenly kingdom because you know someone . you have connections. you are an insider. you do everything right but receive the harsh judgement from the other side of the closed door “I never knew you!”

    so the parables are about heavenly kingdom relationship as opposed to earthly kingdom justice of being judged very strictly according to what we do..

    Knowing to do nothing,and that changing our doing or doing more or different will in the end matter not.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    j 25

    we cannot obtain or use the grace of God. so the parable cant be about that then can it be?

    the steward did mercy out of fear of death. mortification. goodness always happens on earth only through the law applied in the form of mortification. even with christians!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    j 25

    we cannot obtain or use the grace of God. so the parable cant be about that then can it be?

    the steward did mercy out of fear of death. mortification. goodness always happens on earth only through the law applied in the form of mortification. even with christians!

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Some of the comments I’m reading boil down to:

    “Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant that.”

    Whenever you’re tempted to say something of that sort, it is always a surefire sign that you’re not reading the text correctly.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Some of the comments I’m reading boil down to:

    “Jesus couldn’t possibly have meant that.”

    Whenever you’re tempted to say something of that sort, it is always a surefire sign that you’re not reading the text correctly.

  • S Bauer

    Read Kenneth E. Bailey’s Poet and Peasant for a firm exegetical grounding of this parable in its Scriptural and cultural context.

    “A summary of theological cluster of this parable can be briedly stated as follows: God (the master) is a God of judgment and mercy. Because of his evil, man (the steward) is caught in the cirsis of the coming of the kingdom. Exucses will avail the steward nothing. Man’s only option is to entrust everything to the unfailing mercy of his generous master who, he can be confident, will accept to pay the price for man’s salvation. This clever rascal was wise enough to place his total trust in the quality of mercy experienced at the beginning of the story. That trust was vindicated. Disciples need the same kind of wisdom.”

    Or for the kids, “Know which side your bread is buttered on”

  • S Bauer

    Read Kenneth E. Bailey’s Poet and Peasant for a firm exegetical grounding of this parable in its Scriptural and cultural context.

    “A summary of theological cluster of this parable can be briedly stated as follows: God (the master) is a God of judgment and mercy. Because of his evil, man (the steward) is caught in the cirsis of the coming of the kingdom. Exucses will avail the steward nothing. Man’s only option is to entrust everything to the unfailing mercy of his generous master who, he can be confident, will accept to pay the price for man’s salvation. This clever rascal was wise enough to place his total trust in the quality of mercy experienced at the beginning of the story. That trust was vindicated. Disciples need the same kind of wisdom.”

    Or for the kids, “Know which side your bread is buttered on”

  • Rob

    Kinda long for a post, but if you’re interested:

    Reflections on the Unfaithful Steward in Luke 15

    This as an odd and tricky parable. A dishonest servant becomes even more dishonest for personal gain and is praised by both his master and, in a sense, by Jesus!? What gives?

    For starters, Jesus wasn’t holding the steward up as an example in all his behavior. He is compared to a “son of this world” – not a compliment coming from the Lord of the next. However, his shrewdness – a word most commonly translated elsewhere as “wise” (see Luke 12:42 for the same word used in a positive way) – is held as an example. Why?

    I view it this way: once the “house manager” (oikonomos) knew that he was fired, he knew he was playing with “house money” (literally!). He couldn’t be fired twice. So he used that money to build devotion to himself. He forgave debts that weren’t his, “so… people may receive me into their houses.” (v.4) He gave money that would soon be out of his hands to provide a more lasting solution.

    Jesus has already made it quite plain in Luke 12 that everything we have is the Father’s. And the Father loves to care for us. Just as he cares for the flowers of the field or the birds of the air. Like the house manager (though for very different reasons), we are playing with house money. We have the “wealth of unrighteousness (adikaios)” at our disposal. We ought to use it in such a way that when we arrive at heaven, our “friends…will receive [us]into the eternal dwellings.” (v.9)

    A note here: “Adikaios” doesn’t necessarily mean sinful or ill-gotten. Just like “a-moral” doesn’t mean “immoral”. In this case, I think a better understanding of “adikaios” is similar to how we understand “a-moral”. This wealth is not unrighteous or opposed to righteousness. This is wealth that has nothing to do with righteousness. It can have no purpose in heaven. It is true: “you can’t take it with you.”

    So, even ungodly sinners (like the oikonomos) know that they should use a free shot to its greatest advantage. As Jim Elliott, missionary martyr of the 1950s, said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Thus, our worldly wealth should be used in such a way that friends (even those who currently oppose the Gospel) might welcome us into the heavenly dwellings. Christ can even use our possessions as part of his process of bringing them to faith. Thus, through His use of our possessions, they too will enter into heaven and celebrate with us.

    We, who are saved by faith, have been given a free shot in regards to this entire life. Christ’s grace is sufficient for all our needs (2 Cor 12:9). Everything we have should be used to its full advantage in genuinely caring for others and exposing them to the Gospel truth.

    It would be foolish to serve money or earthly possessions, for they will pass away. Instead, we must “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) With eyes fixed on him, worldly possessions become inconsequential except in so far as they can be used to further his kingdom.

    Instead of serving wealth, we should give it freely in building the Kingdom. We should “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5), because in Christ, all our needs are already provided. Now and forever. And He longs to use our worldly wealth so that many more may celebrate with us in his kingdom. This is the promise he has given, and he will see it through to completion.

  • Rob

    Kinda long for a post, but if you’re interested:

    Reflections on the Unfaithful Steward in Luke 15

    This as an odd and tricky parable. A dishonest servant becomes even more dishonest for personal gain and is praised by both his master and, in a sense, by Jesus!? What gives?

    For starters, Jesus wasn’t holding the steward up as an example in all his behavior. He is compared to a “son of this world” – not a compliment coming from the Lord of the next. However, his shrewdness – a word most commonly translated elsewhere as “wise” (see Luke 12:42 for the same word used in a positive way) – is held as an example. Why?

    I view it this way: once the “house manager” (oikonomos) knew that he was fired, he knew he was playing with “house money” (literally!). He couldn’t be fired twice. So he used that money to build devotion to himself. He forgave debts that weren’t his, “so… people may receive me into their houses.” (v.4) He gave money that would soon be out of his hands to provide a more lasting solution.

    Jesus has already made it quite plain in Luke 12 that everything we have is the Father’s. And the Father loves to care for us. Just as he cares for the flowers of the field or the birds of the air. Like the house manager (though for very different reasons), we are playing with house money. We have the “wealth of unrighteousness (adikaios)” at our disposal. We ought to use it in such a way that when we arrive at heaven, our “friends…will receive [us]into the eternal dwellings.” (v.9)

    A note here: “Adikaios” doesn’t necessarily mean sinful or ill-gotten. Just like “a-moral” doesn’t mean “immoral”. In this case, I think a better understanding of “adikaios” is similar to how we understand “a-moral”. This wealth is not unrighteous or opposed to righteousness. This is wealth that has nothing to do with righteousness. It can have no purpose in heaven. It is true: “you can’t take it with you.”

    So, even ungodly sinners (like the oikonomos) know that they should use a free shot to its greatest advantage. As Jim Elliott, missionary martyr of the 1950s, said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Thus, our worldly wealth should be used in such a way that friends (even those who currently oppose the Gospel) might welcome us into the heavenly dwellings. Christ can even use our possessions as part of his process of bringing them to faith. Thus, through His use of our possessions, they too will enter into heaven and celebrate with us.

    We, who are saved by faith, have been given a free shot in regards to this entire life. Christ’s grace is sufficient for all our needs (2 Cor 12:9). Everything we have should be used to its full advantage in genuinely caring for others and exposing them to the Gospel truth.

    It would be foolish to serve money or earthly possessions, for they will pass away. Instead, we must “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) With eyes fixed on him, worldly possessions become inconsequential except in so far as they can be used to further his kingdom.

    Instead of serving wealth, we should give it freely in building the Kingdom. We should “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (Colossians 4:5), because in Christ, all our needs are already provided. Now and forever. And He longs to use our worldly wealth so that many more may celebrate with us in his kingdom. This is the promise he has given, and he will see it through to completion.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    J @31

    There’s a good case for stopping at the end of v8 and treating 9ff. as a separate pericope. There’s a lot to link this parable with the prodigal son. K. Bailey explains it well (Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes).

    fws @23
    No, I don’t think a change is required for interpretation. The point is (as quoted from Bailey by S Bauer @29) not that the manager changed but that he did the right thing – namely trust the master’s magnanimity to get out of trouble.

    Both of which make this a Gospel parable, not a law one. It’s not primarily a case of “you too should forgive” or whatever the law application is, but rather “you too should stop trying hopelessly to extricate yourself out of your own mess by digging or begging and instead start putting your whole trust in the grace of your heavenly Master”.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    J @31

    There’s a good case for stopping at the end of v8 and treating 9ff. as a separate pericope. There’s a lot to link this parable with the prodigal son. K. Bailey explains it well (Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes).

    fws @23
    No, I don’t think a change is required for interpretation. The point is (as quoted from Bailey by S Bauer @29) not that the manager changed but that he did the right thing – namely trust the master’s magnanimity to get out of trouble.

    Both of which make this a Gospel parable, not a law one. It’s not primarily a case of “you too should forgive” or whatever the law application is, but rather “you too should stop trying hopelessly to extricate yourself out of your own mess by digging or begging and instead start putting your whole trust in the grace of your heavenly Master”.

  • Rob

    Tapani @32 and S Bauer @29 – Beware Bailey. He has some wonderful cultural insights, but at times he values his cultural views more highly than the actual text.

    In the case of dividing this pericope at v.9, the Greek almost militates against it, given that a resumptive “kai” is used as opposed to the much more disjunctive “de” (as was used in verse 1, and appears again in verse 14).

    Add to that the directly parallel phrases closing verse 4 and verse 9: “receive me into their homes” and “receive you into eternal dwellings” (not plain in some translations but clear and striking in the Greek). I think the Greek pretty much demands that the pericope extend to verse 13, no matter how challenging that may be.

    Besides, even reading for context, it’s a bit hard to believe that Jesus tells a story about a steward, then makes comments about stewardship, and those two passages are to be separated.

    On a larger note in this thread: Is it so unbelievable that when Jesus talked about what to do with money, he actually meant what we should do with our money? I get nervous when we start seeing all Scripture, not through the lens of Law and Gospel, but as allegory for Law and Gospel. The doctrine comes from the text, not the other way around. And Luther and Walther would say the same thing.

  • Rob

    Tapani @32 and S Bauer @29 – Beware Bailey. He has some wonderful cultural insights, but at times he values his cultural views more highly than the actual text.

    In the case of dividing this pericope at v.9, the Greek almost militates against it, given that a resumptive “kai” is used as opposed to the much more disjunctive “de” (as was used in verse 1, and appears again in verse 14).

    Add to that the directly parallel phrases closing verse 4 and verse 9: “receive me into their homes” and “receive you into eternal dwellings” (not plain in some translations but clear and striking in the Greek). I think the Greek pretty much demands that the pericope extend to verse 13, no matter how challenging that may be.

    Besides, even reading for context, it’s a bit hard to believe that Jesus tells a story about a steward, then makes comments about stewardship, and those two passages are to be separated.

    On a larger note in this thread: Is it so unbelievable that when Jesus talked about what to do with money, he actually meant what we should do with our money? I get nervous when we start seeing all Scripture, not through the lens of Law and Gospel, but as allegory for Law and Gospel. The doctrine comes from the text, not the other way around. And Luther and Walther would say the same thing.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    I don’t claim any special knowledge of the parable. I just stumbled through it as best I could. I’m just saying that if ever your interpretation of a text of Scripture amounts to, “It couldn’t mean what it says; it must mean something else,” that exegesis is wrong.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    I don’t claim any special knowledge of the parable. I just stumbled through it as best I could. I’m just saying that if ever your interpretation of a text of Scripture amounts to, “It couldn’t mean what it says; it must mean something else,” that exegesis is wrong.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    J @ 27

    “We can obtain and use the grace of God. Not by meriting it, but by asking for it, and with it carrying out our vocations.”

    This that we ask for is not grace then. We are talking then about gift. And even then, the fruits of the spirit are identical to righteous fruits worked by the law. There is nothing here that defines one as christian. That alone would be invisible faith.

    And so then Life is mortification. It is about subduing the old adam just as it is necessary for pagans to do. “good works are necessary” precisely because and only because that is how a loving heavenly Father produces 1st article and 4 petition gifts from and to “even all the wicked ” ie unbelievers, which category fully includes even christians according to their Old Adams! That is what vocation looks like. vocation is identical for christian and pagan alike.

    Luther:

    “Grace and gift differ in that grace actually denotes God’s kindness or favor which he has toward us and by which he is disposed to pour Christ and the Spirit with his gifts into us, as becomes clear from chapter 5, where Paul says, “Grace and gift are in Christ, etc.” The gifts and the Spirit increase daily in us, yet they are not complete, since evil desires and sins remain in us which war against the Spirit, as Paul says in chapter 7, and in Galations, chapter 5. And Genesis, chapter 3, proclaims the enmity between the offspring of the woman and that of the serpent. But grace does do this much: that we are accounted completely just before God.

    God’s grace is not divided into bits and pieces, as are the gifts, but grace takes us up completely into God’s favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator, so that the gifts may begin their work in us.”

    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    J @ 27

    “We can obtain and use the grace of God. Not by meriting it, but by asking for it, and with it carrying out our vocations.”

    This that we ask for is not grace then. We are talking then about gift. And even then, the fruits of the spirit are identical to righteous fruits worked by the law. There is nothing here that defines one as christian. That alone would be invisible faith.

    And so then Life is mortification. It is about subduing the old adam just as it is necessary for pagans to do. “good works are necessary” precisely because and only because that is how a loving heavenly Father produces 1st article and 4 petition gifts from and to “even all the wicked ” ie unbelievers, which category fully includes even christians according to their Old Adams! That is what vocation looks like. vocation is identical for christian and pagan alike.

    Luther:

    “Grace and gift differ in that grace actually denotes God’s kindness or favor which he has toward us and by which he is disposed to pour Christ and the Spirit with his gifts into us, as becomes clear from chapter 5, where Paul says, “Grace and gift are in Christ, etc.” The gifts and the Spirit increase daily in us, yet they are not complete, since evil desires and sins remain in us which war against the Spirit, as Paul says in chapter 7, and in Galations, chapter 5. And Genesis, chapter 3, proclaims the enmity between the offspring of the woman and that of the serpent. But grace does do this much: that we are accounted completely just before God.

    God’s grace is not divided into bits and pieces, as are the gifts, but grace takes us up completely into God’s favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator, so that the gifts may begin their work in us.”

    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    j @ 31

    8″The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. ”

    let it mean exactly what it says. the point of earthly righteousness is to make others happy. we are already dead/fired in our baptisms, so we can mortify ourselves for the sake of others without feeling threatened by that death to self that love for others will always require until the resurrection when that old adam in us will be no more.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    j @ 31

    8″The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. ”

    let it mean exactly what it says. the point of earthly righteousness is to make others happy. we are already dead/fired in our baptisms, so we can mortify ourselves for the sake of others without feeling threatened by that death to self that love for others will always require until the resurrection when that old adam in us will be no more.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Rob @34

    Me protests — never said that we separate anything, only that it’s a separate pericope, i.e. a separate chunk of text. The one leads to the other, just as the parable of the squandering son (and prodigal father) leads to this parable. All the teaching in this whole large section of Luke’s Gospel, covering several chapters, builds up piece by piece. You’ve got to look both ways.

    My take on the entire lection (which cuts across three pericopes in the Greek) is that a leads to b leads to c. Our stewardship of goods is to be a reflection of God’s stewardship of His goods towards us. Which then leads to the conflict with the Pharisees, who deal somewhat differently. Witness Lazarus and the rich man.

    Yes, the parable opens up the themes of 9-13. But in terms of priority as well as text order, those follow.

    I think what this discussion is showing us is that there’s more than one angle on the text—which is good news for preachers and hearers, and fits in neatly into the image of someone handing out goods from a treasure trove year after year.

    I’ll shut up now.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Rob @34

    Me protests — never said that we separate anything, only that it’s a separate pericope, i.e. a separate chunk of text. The one leads to the other, just as the parable of the squandering son (and prodigal father) leads to this parable. All the teaching in this whole large section of Luke’s Gospel, covering several chapters, builds up piece by piece. You’ve got to look both ways.

    My take on the entire lection (which cuts across three pericopes in the Greek) is that a leads to b leads to c. Our stewardship of goods is to be a reflection of God’s stewardship of His goods towards us. Which then leads to the conflict with the Pharisees, who deal somewhat differently. Witness Lazarus and the rich man.

    Yes, the parable opens up the themes of 9-13. But in terms of priority as well as text order, those follow.

    I think what this discussion is showing us is that there’s more than one angle on the text—which is good news for preachers and hearers, and fits in neatly into the image of someone handing out goods from a treasure trove year after year.

    I’ll shut up now.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    I’m very amused that folks are deciding that I was accusing them of poor exegesis when I actually never named anyone in particular.

    It reminds me of the often appropriate response on Facebook to certain comments:

    “You’re so vain you think this status is about you.”

    The reason I didn’t name anyone in particular (and am still not naming anyone in particular) is that I think it’s always worth asking ourselves the question, “Am I trying to make Jesus not say what He actually said?”

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    I’m very amused that folks are deciding that I was accusing them of poor exegesis when I actually never named anyone in particular.

    It reminds me of the often appropriate response on Facebook to certain comments:

    “You’re so vain you think this status is about you.”

    The reason I didn’t name anyone in particular (and am still not naming anyone in particular) is that I think it’s always worth asking ourselves the question, “Am I trying to make Jesus not say what He actually said?”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob @ 34

    “On a larger note in this thread: Is it so unbelievable that when Jesus talked about what to do with money, he actually meant what we should do with our money? I get nervous when we start seeing all Scripture, not through the lens of Law and Gospel, but as allegory for Law and Gospel. The doctrine comes from the text, not the other way around. And Luther and Walther would say the same thing.”

    amen. The parables are not alegory. they use earthly kingdom things to describe and contrast heavenly kingdom faith. They are our own Lord’s form of Law and Gospel. Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms is about law and gospel as well. it is not some political theory about the churchly vs the civil estate. we emasculate the confessions by teaching the two kingdoms that way.

    Lehman @35

    “if ever your interpretation of a text of Scripture amounts to, “It couldn’t mean what it says; it must mean something else,” that exegesis is wrong.”

    Amen! whenever we don’t understand the parables , it is because we do not understand the law gospel distinction our lord is teaching us. we are mixing the heavenly kingdom with the earthly kingdom. the heavenly kingdom is about faith alone. grace. the earthly kingdom is pure law, is about everything we can do in our bodies, including believing and repenting, and is pure law. things that will die with the earth ala romans 8.

    read the parables looking for dropping dead to doing, and then to doing by dying.

    Look for God showing both favor and judgement purely out of nepotistic relationships rather than the justice done according to what is done.

    Here the part about money is pure St James. we are justified in the earthly kingdom alone by our works and not by faith. This fully applies to christians and pagans alike.

    the only difference between christian and pagan is knowing. It is that christians know this means their death and dont look for life in this. The veil of Moses has been removed. they look for the life of others in their deaths. They know now that their life is in that heavenly kingdom that is not at all about any doing or dying. Life in the heavenly kingdom is alone about invisible faith in christ.

    This Righteousness is useless on earth to anyone but God and a troubled conscience.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob @ 34

    “On a larger note in this thread: Is it so unbelievable that when Jesus talked about what to do with money, he actually meant what we should do with our money? I get nervous when we start seeing all Scripture, not through the lens of Law and Gospel, but as allegory for Law and Gospel. The doctrine comes from the text, not the other way around. And Luther and Walther would say the same thing.”

    amen. The parables are not alegory. they use earthly kingdom things to describe and contrast heavenly kingdom faith. They are our own Lord’s form of Law and Gospel. Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms is about law and gospel as well. it is not some political theory about the churchly vs the civil estate. we emasculate the confessions by teaching the two kingdoms that way.

    Lehman @35

    “if ever your interpretation of a text of Scripture amounts to, “It couldn’t mean what it says; it must mean something else,” that exegesis is wrong.”

    Amen! whenever we don’t understand the parables , it is because we do not understand the law gospel distinction our lord is teaching us. we are mixing the heavenly kingdom with the earthly kingdom. the heavenly kingdom is about faith alone. grace. the earthly kingdom is pure law, is about everything we can do in our bodies, including believing and repenting, and is pure law. things that will die with the earth ala romans 8.

    read the parables looking for dropping dead to doing, and then to doing by dying.

    Look for God showing both favor and judgement purely out of nepotistic relationships rather than the justice done according to what is done.

    Here the part about money is pure St James. we are justified in the earthly kingdom alone by our works and not by faith. This fully applies to christians and pagans alike.

    the only difference between christian and pagan is knowing. It is that christians know this means their death and dont look for life in this. The veil of Moses has been removed. they look for the life of others in their deaths. They know now that their life is in that heavenly kingdom that is not at all about any doing or dying. Life in the heavenly kingdom is alone about invisible faith in christ.

    This Righteousness is useless on earth to anyone but God and a troubled conscience.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @ 32

    “you too should stop trying hopelessly to extricate yourself out of your own mess by digging or begging and instead start putting your whole trust in the grace of your heavenly Master”.

    but isnt he forgiving debt calculating that he will make friends that will give him a safe landing. ie trusting in those whos debts he is forgiving? cultivating their favor? isnt that the natural understanding? he has already been judge and assumes he will be fired. the notice is in the mail. there has been an audit ordered for a purpose. the master says he must die. and the Master says we too must die. and now that we are dead, now what?

    the audience here is to disciples not to the pharisees.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @ 32

    “you too should stop trying hopelessly to extricate yourself out of your own mess by digging or begging and instead start putting your whole trust in the grace of your heavenly Master”.

    but isnt he forgiving debt calculating that he will make friends that will give him a safe landing. ie trusting in those whos debts he is forgiving? cultivating their favor? isnt that the natural understanding? he has already been judge and assumes he will be fired. the notice is in the mail. there has been an audit ordered for a purpose. the master says he must die. and the Master says we too must die. and now that we are dead, now what?

    the audience here is to disciples not to the pharisees.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @39

    “My take on the entire lection (which cuts across three pericopes in the Greek) is that a leads to b leads to c. Our stewardship of goods is to be a reflection of God’s stewardship of His goods towards us.”

    ok. but this is not about how to be christian or about faith at all. this is law. we should all do this. including pagans. good stewardship, being thrifty, is something all boyscouts are taught.

    Aristotle can teach us this just as well as the parables can. And in addition, pagans can do this often better (as jesus says here) than any believer can do. that fact is confessed in the lutheran confessions.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @39

    “My take on the entire lection (which cuts across three pericopes in the Greek) is that a leads to b leads to c. Our stewardship of goods is to be a reflection of God’s stewardship of His goods towards us.”

    ok. but this is not about how to be christian or about faith at all. this is law. we should all do this. including pagans. good stewardship, being thrifty, is something all boyscouts are taught.

    Aristotle can teach us this just as well as the parables can. And in addition, pagans can do this often better (as jesus says here) than any believer can do. that fact is confessed in the lutheran confessions.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    fws @various places,

    A stimulating exchange, and I’d love to sit down with you over a pint and bash this one to bits. However, I haven’t the time now so must bow out with apologies.

    God bless!
    Tapani

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    fws @various places,

    A stimulating exchange, and I’d love to sit down with you over a pint and bash this one to bits. However, I haven’t the time now so must bow out with apologies.

    God bless!
    Tapani

  • J Voss

    See # 29
    Our pastor based his sermon on Kenneth E. Bailey’s “Poet and Peasant.”

  • J Voss

    See # 29
    Our pastor based his sermon on Kenneth E. Bailey’s “Poet and Peasant.”

  • Paul

    Yesterday I heard for the first time what was for me the most convincing explanation of this parable that I had ever heard. If this take is included above, I must have missed it and apologize. I’ll do my best to be as concise and accurate in giving the interpretation I heard yesterday preached by Pastor Mark Jasa.

    What’s the context of this parable? The previous three in Luke, i.e., Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son, all show examples of “bad stewardship,” and yet these are the parables God applies to Himself in describing His grace.

    Is Christ in the parable of the Dishonest Manager? Yes; in fact, in at least three ways the manager stands for Christ. The master stands for God and we are the debtors.

    The manager is accused of bad stewardship; many accusations were brought against Christ (e.g., breaking the Sabbath by healing, etc.). Is the manager actually guilty? The text does not say. Though many accusations were brought against Christ, no evidence was. Nonetheless the manager was in a sense condemned. We recall Christ’s words from the cross, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” The manager then irresponsibly, and in fact, ridiculously, settles debts. In this way he reconciles the debtors to the master. Christ became like us in every respect, yet without sin, and reconciled us to God by becoming sin for us and taking upon Himself our punishment. Because of the manager’s mercy, the debtors will welcome him into their homes. It is the mercy of God that inspires repentance, not the law. After the manager settled the debts, the master commended him. Christ was resurrected and commended for His work.

  • Paul

    Yesterday I heard for the first time what was for me the most convincing explanation of this parable that I had ever heard. If this take is included above, I must have missed it and apologize. I’ll do my best to be as concise and accurate in giving the interpretation I heard yesterday preached by Pastor Mark Jasa.

    What’s the context of this parable? The previous three in Luke, i.e., Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son, all show examples of “bad stewardship,” and yet these are the parables God applies to Himself in describing His grace.

    Is Christ in the parable of the Dishonest Manager? Yes; in fact, in at least three ways the manager stands for Christ. The master stands for God and we are the debtors.

    The manager is accused of bad stewardship; many accusations were brought against Christ (e.g., breaking the Sabbath by healing, etc.). Is the manager actually guilty? The text does not say. Though many accusations were brought against Christ, no evidence was. Nonetheless the manager was in a sense condemned. We recall Christ’s words from the cross, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” The manager then irresponsibly, and in fact, ridiculously, settles debts. In this way he reconciles the debtors to the master. Christ became like us in every respect, yet without sin, and reconciled us to God by becoming sin for us and taking upon Himself our punishment. Because of the manager’s mercy, the debtors will welcome him into their homes. It is the mercy of God that inspires repentance, not the law. After the manager settled the debts, the master commended him. Christ was resurrected and commended for His work.

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    @46

    Our pastor based his sermon on Kenneth E. Bailey’s “Poet and Peasant.”

    Why didn’t he base it on Luke 16?

    A wise man once said, “Read the Scriptures. They shed great light on the commentaries.”

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    @46

    Our pastor based his sermon on Kenneth E. Bailey’s “Poet and Peasant.”

    Why didn’t he base it on Luke 16?

    A wise man once said, “Read the Scriptures. They shed great light on the commentaries.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @44
    I live in brasil the beer is cold and great down here. come on down!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @44
    I live in brasil the beer is cold and great down here. come on down!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    paul @ 47

    give my loving and warmest regards to your dear pastor Mark Jasa!

    With this understanding pastor jasa simply cannot be wrong because he has found Christ everywhere in this parable. And not the christ that is our Example, but rather that Christ who died for us.

    So pastor Jasa’s idea could be wrong without ever being wrong. I think that the only thing I would maybe suggest is a little more room. Just as spirit in romans 8 could be spirit or Spirit, the figures could be God or Spirit or could be the new man in christ exercising faith and holding to that which is true and enduring.

    well done!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    paul @ 47

    give my loving and warmest regards to your dear pastor Mark Jasa!

    With this understanding pastor jasa simply cannot be wrong because he has found Christ everywhere in this parable. And not the christ that is our Example, but rather that Christ who died for us.

    So pastor Jasa’s idea could be wrong without ever being wrong. I think that the only thing I would maybe suggest is a little more room. Just as spirit in romans 8 could be spirit or Spirit, the figures could be God or Spirit or could be the new man in christ exercising faith and holding to that which is true and enduring.

    well done!

  • Dan Kempin

    Rob, #30,

    Bingo.

  • Dan Kempin

    Rob, #30,

    Bingo.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob @30

    yes that would be it. and it allows the parable to mean exactly what it says. and it is law and gospel earthly kingdom and heavenly kingdom rightly distinguished. bonus bonus points.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    rob @30

    yes that would be it. and it allows the parable to mean exactly what it says. and it is law and gospel earthly kingdom and heavenly kingdom rightly distinguished. bonus bonus points.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Gregory DeVore

    I focused on verse 9 since during the reformation that verse was used by the Romanists to teach Justification by works. The point of my sermon was to disabuse my congregation of the idea that we give in order to earn salvation. What Jesus is saying is that just as the worldly are wise in using money for worldly purposes are use of money should also wisely be consistent with our identity as sons of the light. I spoke of how Christians give money as an act of faith, hope and love. Faith that God has made Himself our Friend at the cross, Hope that we shall dwell in everlasting dwellings with our divine Friend, Love for our Friend to whom we express our love by our generous gifts, in this sense, making friends. My goal was to help the congregation to see our stewardship in light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. The Gospel handle that I used was also the forgiveness of debt and I asked how they might have felt who had their debt partially forgiven and how should we regard God who has forgiven all our debt of Sin. I also compared the threatened ejection of the steward with Christ’s abandonment on the cross where He expiated the wrath of God with His blood.

  • http://www.gethsemanelutheranchurch.org Gregory DeVore

    I focused on verse 9 since during the reformation that verse was used by the Romanists to teach Justification by works. The point of my sermon was to disabuse my congregation of the idea that we give in order to earn salvation. What Jesus is saying is that just as the worldly are wise in using money for worldly purposes are use of money should also wisely be consistent with our identity as sons of the light. I spoke of how Christians give money as an act of faith, hope and love. Faith that God has made Himself our Friend at the cross, Hope that we shall dwell in everlasting dwellings with our divine Friend, Love for our Friend to whom we express our love by our generous gifts, in this sense, making friends. My goal was to help the congregation to see our stewardship in light of the glorious Gospel of Christ. The Gospel handle that I used was also the forgiveness of debt and I asked how they might have felt who had their debt partially forgiven and how should we regard God who has forgiven all our debt of Sin. I also compared the threatened ejection of the steward with Christ’s abandonment on the cross where He expiated the wrath of God with His blood.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws,

    Good comments throughout, though I don’t have opportunity to respond to them in detail.

    . . . and why is everything in italics? Are we whispering?

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws,

    Good comments throughout, though I don’t have opportunity to respond to them in detail.

    . . . and why is everything in italics? Are we whispering?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    dan

    thanks for the kind comment.

    something must be wrong with the site for the italics.

    I would like to say something about commentaries, scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. Lutheran pastors vow to interpret scripture using the confessions as their guide.

    This basically means first understanding that we teach “the gospel and all its articles”. meaning that there is only one Lutheran doctrine, Christ crucified, and everything else is commentary. My pastor recently suggested that not all gospel readings lend themselves to a Gospel message. That would mean for a Lutheran that it would be ok for a lutheran pastor to deliver a sermon that is not christian. that would be so very not lutheran to do.

    secondly it means that to do this christ-is-all thang, we see endless variations of the theme of law and gospel.. these would be sanctification vs mortification. faith vs works, the two kingdoms, two kinds of righteousness. etc etc etc etc. rinse and repeat.

    pastor lehman is right. scriptures are better than any commentary, but as a Lutheran pastor, I am sure he interprets scriptures using the confessions as his guide. And I as a layman am , by extension, bound to do the same thing.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    dan

    thanks for the kind comment.

    something must be wrong with the site for the italics.

    I would like to say something about commentaries, scriptures and our Lutheran Confessions. Lutheran pastors vow to interpret scripture using the confessions as their guide.

    This basically means first understanding that we teach “the gospel and all its articles”. meaning that there is only one Lutheran doctrine, Christ crucified, and everything else is commentary. My pastor recently suggested that not all gospel readings lend themselves to a Gospel message. That would mean for a Lutheran that it would be ok for a lutheran pastor to deliver a sermon that is not christian. that would be so very not lutheran to do.

    secondly it means that to do this christ-is-all thang, we see endless variations of the theme of law and gospel.. these would be sanctification vs mortification. faith vs works, the two kingdoms, two kinds of righteousness. etc etc etc etc. rinse and repeat.

    pastor lehman is right. scriptures are better than any commentary, but as a Lutheran pastor, I am sure he interprets scriptures using the confessions as his guide. And I as a layman am , by extension, bound to do the same thing.

  • Louis

    And now the italics are closed?

  • Louis

    And now the italics are closed?

  • Louis

    Didn’t work, someone else should try.

  • Louis

    Didn’t work, someone else should try.

  • Rev. Michael Monterastelli

    The master was loaded. He had lots of stuff.
    The manager/steward was being unjust (selfish and lazy) on all accounts and at every point of this parable.
    The master was just (not merciful) in firing the unjust manager for wasting the master’s stuff.
    The manager reduced the debt of the debtors for his own benefit; the text says nothing about the unjust manager wanting to benefit the master in any way.

    But if the sons of this world know how to make friends and influence people for their benefit, how much more should the sons of Light be able to make friends and influence people with the eternal wealth of the Heavenly Master Whose stuff never fails?

    The master commends the unjust manager for being thoughtfully shrewd (even worldly wise) in knowing he could curry favor with other men by reducing their debt.
    Apparently, there’s a difference between wasting the master’s stuff (worthy of being fired) and relieving the debt owed to the master (worthy of commendation/praise).

    The wealth the manager (mis)used was not his own.
    This type of wealth is what Jesus calls “unrighteous wealth”; by using (for the benefit of others) the Master’s wealth which has been given to us (stewards), people will befriend us. Jesus wants us to use our heavenly Master’s wealth to make friends who will welcome us in eternal dwellings.

    You see, commendable stewardship in the eyes of God is not about how much you “feed the pig”, store up in houses, or bury in the backyard. It’s about giving beCause you’ve been given to.
    It’s about the One who is the unending Source of all that you possess; He is loaded with good stuff. Commendable stewardship is about believing God is faithful, steadfast, fathomless, without end and then living like you believe it.

    “But, if I give stuff to those who have not earned it, they’re just going to waste it.” Well, yeah! That is the point. That’s how God’s mercy and grace work in order to win eternal friends. God gave us His most precious possession when He sent His Son to die on a cross–His Son whose gifts of righteousness and forgiveness and life we continually waste in our sinful living. Our tendency to waste what God gives does not keep Him from giving it away and never charging for it.

    Well, almost never. There is a cost for all your sinning. The cost is way more than all the silver and gold, oil and wheat on the entire earth. It’s the cost of life that comes in the precious Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The cost is so high that God sent His own Son to pay it for you with His own life.
    He has no guarantee that you or anyone is going to use what He has given to you so that the needs of others will be met so that righteousness increases rather than decreases on the earth; but that does not keep Him from sending His stewards to give His gifts to you; He knows you’re going to waste what He gives you, but He still gives you all that you need for this life; “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust;” (Matthew 5:45) and in Christ, God especially gives you the righteousness you need for eternal life with Him. He commends you. He is pleased with you and is eager to receive you into eternal dwellings with Himself in heaven.

  • Rev. Michael Monterastelli

    The master was loaded. He had lots of stuff.
    The manager/steward was being unjust (selfish and lazy) on all accounts and at every point of this parable.
    The master was just (not merciful) in firing the unjust manager for wasting the master’s stuff.
    The manager reduced the debt of the debtors for his own benefit; the text says nothing about the unjust manager wanting to benefit the master in any way.

    But if the sons of this world know how to make friends and influence people for their benefit, how much more should the sons of Light be able to make friends and influence people with the eternal wealth of the Heavenly Master Whose stuff never fails?

    The master commends the unjust manager for being thoughtfully shrewd (even worldly wise) in knowing he could curry favor with other men by reducing their debt.
    Apparently, there’s a difference between wasting the master’s stuff (worthy of being fired) and relieving the debt owed to the master (worthy of commendation/praise).

    The wealth the manager (mis)used was not his own.
    This type of wealth is what Jesus calls “unrighteous wealth”; by using (for the benefit of others) the Master’s wealth which has been given to us (stewards), people will befriend us. Jesus wants us to use our heavenly Master’s wealth to make friends who will welcome us in eternal dwellings.

    You see, commendable stewardship in the eyes of God is not about how much you “feed the pig”, store up in houses, or bury in the backyard. It’s about giving beCause you’ve been given to.
    It’s about the One who is the unending Source of all that you possess; He is loaded with good stuff. Commendable stewardship is about believing God is faithful, steadfast, fathomless, without end and then living like you believe it.

    “But, if I give stuff to those who have not earned it, they’re just going to waste it.” Well, yeah! That is the point. That’s how God’s mercy and grace work in order to win eternal friends. God gave us His most precious possession when He sent His Son to die on a cross–His Son whose gifts of righteousness and forgiveness and life we continually waste in our sinful living. Our tendency to waste what God gives does not keep Him from giving it away and never charging for it.

    Well, almost never. There is a cost for all your sinning. The cost is way more than all the silver and gold, oil and wheat on the entire earth. It’s the cost of life that comes in the precious Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The cost is so high that God sent His own Son to pay it for you with His own life.
    He has no guarantee that you or anyone is going to use what He has given to you so that the needs of others will be met so that righteousness increases rather than decreases on the earth; but that does not keep Him from sending His stewards to give His gifts to you; He knows you’re going to waste what He gives you, but He still gives you all that you need for this life; “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust;” (Matthew 5:45) and in Christ, God especially gives you the righteousness you need for eternal life with Him. He commends you. He is pleased with you and is eager to receive you into eternal dwellings with Himself in heaven.

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Schroeder

    I did not preach yesterday but this is my start on the Text: fwiw.

    “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”–St. Luke 16: 10-11

    At a church council meeting a usual church council kind-of topic came up: ‘Who has the keys to the church? How many keys are out there? How are we going to find out?’ After the usual go-around, I had an insight: “You know, maybe everyone who is a member here should be given a key. They’re members. And after all taking care of the building pales in comparison to what the Lord has entrusted us to do.” And I said it, kind of like that. Needless to say, my suggestion was, well, blown-off.

    I had in mind “the true riches” of Luke 16. What are those true riches? This parable of the shrewd manager or steward comes after the end of Luke 15. Luke 15 has the 3 parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost, or prodigal, son (or actually the parables of the seeking shepherd, the seeking householder and the seeking father). Our Lord taught the Word to the Pharisees who were grumbling that He ate with sinners and tax collectors. They were almost accusing Him of such and of course, they were right! The three parables are the incomparable story of the Lord’s mercy to justify the sinner before God in the simplest and most profound way: lost then found. The true riches is God’s mercy, His forgiveness, His grace, His peace. I take back, though, what I just wrote: the actual incomparable true story of the Lord’s mercy to justify the sinner would occur, in non-fiction, upon the Cross and the joyous cry, He is risen!

    So back to that hard parable of the shrewd manager, going into debt, wasting the rich man’s possessions (See Luke 15: 13: the prodigal son wasted his father’s whole “being”, life (“wasted” in Luke 15 is same Greek verb as in Luke 16!). The shrewd manager needed to have his debt reduced. He comes up with a very smart scheme: a write-off! Point? ‘This manager knew how to save his own hide shrewdly, should not you My Church, My disciples shrewdly and smartly preach and teach My unsearchable riches? You were a write-off. The wages of sin is finally not mere debt, but death and you work for such lousy wages. Every sin committed is wasting My possessions, My life for you. In being My enemy, My lost sons and sheep and coins, you were not even as shrewd as that manager. But I am. And on the Cross your sin was erased, your debt forgiven, not in half, not partially, but fully. The free gift is eternal life in Me. The keys to your church buildings, your homes, your bank security boxes, your home-safes do not compare to My blood shed for you and for the whole world. Use those man-made keys to show people the Door, the Keys of forgiveness which alone unlock the door and go in and be fed the Bread of Life.’

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Schroeder

    I did not preach yesterday but this is my start on the Text: fwiw.

    “If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”–St. Luke 16: 10-11

    At a church council meeting a usual church council kind-of topic came up: ‘Who has the keys to the church? How many keys are out there? How are we going to find out?’ After the usual go-around, I had an insight: “You know, maybe everyone who is a member here should be given a key. They’re members. And after all taking care of the building pales in comparison to what the Lord has entrusted us to do.” And I said it, kind of like that. Needless to say, my suggestion was, well, blown-off.

    I had in mind “the true riches” of Luke 16. What are those true riches? This parable of the shrewd manager or steward comes after the end of Luke 15. Luke 15 has the 3 parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost, or prodigal, son (or actually the parables of the seeking shepherd, the seeking householder and the seeking father). Our Lord taught the Word to the Pharisees who were grumbling that He ate with sinners and tax collectors. They were almost accusing Him of such and of course, they were right! The three parables are the incomparable story of the Lord’s mercy to justify the sinner before God in the simplest and most profound way: lost then found. The true riches is God’s mercy, His forgiveness, His grace, His peace. I take back, though, what I just wrote: the actual incomparable true story of the Lord’s mercy to justify the sinner would occur, in non-fiction, upon the Cross and the joyous cry, He is risen!

    So back to that hard parable of the shrewd manager, going into debt, wasting the rich man’s possessions (See Luke 15: 13: the prodigal son wasted his father’s whole “being”, life (“wasted” in Luke 15 is same Greek verb as in Luke 16!). The shrewd manager needed to have his debt reduced. He comes up with a very smart scheme: a write-off! Point? ‘This manager knew how to save his own hide shrewdly, should not you My Church, My disciples shrewdly and smartly preach and teach My unsearchable riches? You were a write-off. The wages of sin is finally not mere debt, but death and you work for such lousy wages. Every sin committed is wasting My possessions, My life for you. In being My enemy, My lost sons and sheep and coins, you were not even as shrewd as that manager. But I am. And on the Cross your sin was erased, your debt forgiven, not in half, not partially, but fully. The free gift is eternal life in Me. The keys to your church buildings, your homes, your bank security boxes, your home-safes do not compare to My blood shed for you and for the whole world. Use those man-made keys to show people the Door, the Keys of forgiveness which alone unlock the door and go in and be fed the Bread of Life.’

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    the italian (but apparently lutheran….) rev @ 58

    well done!
    man would i like to discuss this over a beer down here in brasil with you. thanks. and you managed to avoid spiritualizing this by forcing something that is not in the text about bringing people to christ, even though that would probably happen anyhow with you being frivilous and all to make others happy and you probably cant be shut up about jesus….

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    the italian (but apparently lutheran….) rev @ 58

    well done!
    man would i like to discuss this over a beer down here in brasil with you. thanks. and you managed to avoid spiritualizing this by forcing something that is not in the text about bringing people to christ, even though that would probably happen anyhow with you being frivilous and all to make others happy and you probably cant be shut up about jesus….

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What a good exercise, everybody. I really learned a lot about the Scripture from this exchange. We’ll have to do this sort of thing again. (I don’t know where the italics are coming from.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    What a good exercise, everybody. I really learned a lot about the Scripture from this exchange. We’ll have to do this sort of thing again. (I don’t know where the italics are coming from.)

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    The italics are coming from an improperly closed italics tag in comment #39. Looking at the HTML looks like someone, Pastor Simojoki or the content system goofed up the closing tag. I have closed the tag at the start of my comment.

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    The italics are coming from an improperly closed italics tag in comment #39. Looking at the HTML looks like someone, Pastor Simojoki or the content system goofed up the closing tag. I have closed the tag at the start of my comment.

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    Whoops, looks like the closing tag didn’t take.

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    Whoops, looks like the closing tag didn’t take.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Mea culpa. We’re all being very emphatic now. At least that’s a Lutheran trait.

  • http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com Tapani Simojoki

    Mea culpa. We’re all being very emphatic now. At least that’s a Lutheran trait.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @64

    ha!

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tapani @64

    ha!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    I fixed it! Thanks, SimDan, and no problem Tapani.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    I fixed it! Thanks, SimDan, and no problem Tapani.

  • Craig

    This statement was in the bulletin of our church and our pastor preached in greater depth in the sermon comparing Jesus to the unjust steward. A key point being that the the steward was “accused” of doing wrong, rather than actually doing wrong, just as Jesus was by the pharisees.

    TODAY’S THEME: JESUS DISPENSES GOD’S GRACE LIBERALLY

    Parables teach us how God acts that is different from the way sinful man acts. Is it possible to understand the Unjust Steward as a reference to Jesus? When He cancelled the debts of tax collectors and sinners He was accused by the self-righteous of great injustices and of misrepresenting. “No legitimate prophet would squander the salvation of God and distribute it to those who had not earned it and who did not deserve it. If this is what He is doing, He should be put out of the Stewardship!” That was, in fact, the accusation that was raised against Jesus. His work of salvation seems so “unjust” precisely because those who receive His mercy are forgiven debts that they have not paid for by their own efforts. In the face of such “unjust stewardship” we would have expected the Master to have condemned the Steward; instead, the Master “commends
    the unjust steward for having acted so shrewdly.” As Jesus used
    everything at His disposal in order to communicate God’s grace and
    salvation to sinners, so we are called to use “unrighteous mammon”
    shrewdly in the cause of proclaiming His Gospel to the lost. Jesus’
    faithfulness unto death for sinners gave Him the right to distribute God’s salvation liberally.

  • Craig

    This statement was in the bulletin of our church and our pastor preached in greater depth in the sermon comparing Jesus to the unjust steward. A key point being that the the steward was “accused” of doing wrong, rather than actually doing wrong, just as Jesus was by the pharisees.

    TODAY’S THEME: JESUS DISPENSES GOD’S GRACE LIBERALLY

    Parables teach us how God acts that is different from the way sinful man acts. Is it possible to understand the Unjust Steward as a reference to Jesus? When He cancelled the debts of tax collectors and sinners He was accused by the self-righteous of great injustices and of misrepresenting. “No legitimate prophet would squander the salvation of God and distribute it to those who had not earned it and who did not deserve it. If this is what He is doing, He should be put out of the Stewardship!” That was, in fact, the accusation that was raised against Jesus. His work of salvation seems so “unjust” precisely because those who receive His mercy are forgiven debts that they have not paid for by their own efforts. In the face of such “unjust stewardship” we would have expected the Master to have condemned the Steward; instead, the Master “commends
    the unjust steward for having acted so shrewdly.” As Jesus used
    everything at His disposal in order to communicate God’s grace and
    salvation to sinners, so we are called to use “unrighteous mammon”
    shrewdly in the cause of proclaiming His Gospel to the lost. Jesus’
    faithfulness unto death for sinners gave Him the right to distribute God’s salvation liberally.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    craig @ 67

    I am not sure I agree with your pastor´s spin on this parable, but like I said earlier, a Lutheran pastor simply cannot go wrong finding Jesus as Savior in a passage.

    This is truly a fine and gorgeous example of your Lutheran Pastor reading this passage according to his ordination vows, which were to always read scriptures with a Lutheran Confessional lense and understanding!

    And the Lutheran Confessions teach us that if we cant see how a passage is somehow about Christ as our Redeemer, we need to keep trying, because in that case we don´t really understand the passage! Period.

    Jesus” You search the scriptures because in them you think you will find eternal life, and they all are a testimony about Me!”

    John” There are many things Jesus said and did that could fill many books, but these things are written that you might know that Jesus is the Son of God and have life in Him.

    The Word of God is all and only to have us know about the Word of God. There is no other purpose at all for the Holy Scriptures.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    craig @ 67

    I am not sure I agree with your pastor´s spin on this parable, but like I said earlier, a Lutheran pastor simply cannot go wrong finding Jesus as Savior in a passage.

    This is truly a fine and gorgeous example of your Lutheran Pastor reading this passage according to his ordination vows, which were to always read scriptures with a Lutheran Confessional lense and understanding!

    And the Lutheran Confessions teach us that if we cant see how a passage is somehow about Christ as our Redeemer, we need to keep trying, because in that case we don´t really understand the passage! Period.

    Jesus” You search the scriptures because in them you think you will find eternal life, and they all are a testimony about Me!”

    John” There are many things Jesus said and did that could fill many books, but these things are written that you might know that Jesus is the Son of God and have life in Him.

    The Word of God is all and only to have us know about the Word of God. There is no other purpose at all for the Holy Scriptures.

  • Gary

    Thanks for all these comments! The one I like best is the one that identifies us as the unjust steward. Even those in this world know that forgiving people will bring them rewards, yet those who have received the gift of God’s Word can take it and hoard it for themselves, and thus risk losing it. In this way, this can tie in with the parable of the Ten Minas, because the gospel of our Lord is something that grows only when it is spent. If the people of this world can shrewdly make gain with a worldly wealth that isn’t theirs, then how much more so can we spend heavenly riches that are gifted to us, that the Kingdom of God may grow and we, too, might receive our inheritance!

  • Gary

    Thanks for all these comments! The one I like best is the one that identifies us as the unjust steward. Even those in this world know that forgiving people will bring them rewards, yet those who have received the gift of God’s Word can take it and hoard it for themselves, and thus risk losing it. In this way, this can tie in with the parable of the Ten Minas, because the gospel of our Lord is something that grows only when it is spent. If the people of this world can shrewdly make gain with a worldly wealth that isn’t theirs, then how much more so can we spend heavenly riches that are gifted to us, that the Kingdom of God may grow and we, too, might receive our inheritance!


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