Again, Jesus sat at the table with the Pharisees, his disciples, and people the Pharisees considered to be sinners and told them another parable. The Good News Jesus is preaching today is revolutionary and radical inclusiveness.
It is a parable about a dishonest manager, a con artist who cheated his master of his wealth. The rich man heard that his manager has been squandering his wealth, called him out, and threatened to fire him. The dishonest manager did not respond to his master’s accusations. About to be unemployed, the dishonest manager was worried about what he would do next, he does not see himself in manual labor or as a common beggar, so he decided to buy friendships from his master’s debtors, so if he is fired these folks might help him land another job. In today’s terms, the dishonest manager might be a fixer. So, he started to reduce the debt owed to the rich man.
The debtor who owed a hundred containers of wheat he reduced it by 20 percent and the debtor who owed a hundred jugs of olive oil he reduced it by 50 percent. In this parable, none of the debtors cried foul or denied the cut. They all kept quiet. No complaint. Yet, the dishonest manager was commended by his master for his smart thinking.
Imagine you got a note from your bank manager telling you that all the monthly payments you have made towards your mortgage have been converted to the principal on the house, and the interest for the past ten years is wiped out. What would you do after receiving this news?
Is Jesus condoning the theft and dishonest behavior by the dishonest manager? In fact, Jesus says “for the children of the age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” (Luke 16:8).
Let me make it clear, this parable by Jesus is not by any way encouraging dishonesty or saying it is okay to be a con artist or tells us it is okay to cheat or manipulate others for our own benefit.
However, Jesus is having fun with this parable at the expense of the Pharisees.
Let us establish the characters in this parable:
We have a rich man with an abundance of wealth and possessions.
We have a dishonest manager that inappropriately gives out his master’s wealth by cutting deals with the debtors.
We have the debtors who receive an undeserved cut from their debts without deserving it or bargaining for it.
Jesus is using this parable of the dishonest wealth and manager to make a point.
This parable is about God’s Grace, Mercy, Blessing, and righteousness from God.
Our God is the rich man who has an abundance of wealth which are forgiveness, mercy, blessings, grace, and righteousness.
Jesus is the dishonest manager who is accused of misusing the wealth of the rich man who forgives our sins, gives us God’s Grace and Blessings without deserving it, and welcomes all of us to God’s kingdom without any hesitation.
All of us are debtors because we all receive God’s forgiveness, Grace, Blessing, and Mercies without deserving it. God’s gift poured out on all of us.
Let us look at hymn 671 (amazing grace:1-3) I loved this hymn because it means several things depending on the event of a situation.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that
saved a wretch like me; I once was lost but
now am found, was blind now I see.
It was grace that thought my heart to fear, and
grace my fear relieved; how precious did that
grace appear the hour I first believed.
The Lord has promised good to me, his word
my hope secure; he will my shield and
portion be as long as life endures.
How beautiful it is to have Jesus on our side who takes away our sins.
In May of 2019, Robert F. Smith was the speaker at the graduating class of Moore House College in Atlanta, Georgia.
At the end of his speech, he told the graduating class and the crowd that he would pay off all the student loans of the, graduating students about four hundred of them. The average debt was about $40,000. By September of 2019, Mr. Smith paid $34million to Moore College to settle the loans of the students.
22 yr. old Aaron Mitcheon drew up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it will take him to pay back his loan of over $100,000 in student loan. It was a liberating gift for these students to go into the world. But it does not take long before the critics came out and started to rebuke him and talk about others who have paid their own loans through their hard work.
This is a story of what a man did for these students, and what about what Jesus has done for us? Unseen Mercies and Grace that is given to us all the time. Not everybody that wanted to wake up this morning woke up. But by the Grace of God, we were all here this morning.
The Pharisees believed that righteousness must be earned. They believed the goodness and gift they have is through their hardwork and forgot they are just like the debtors. They have problems with Jesus giving out God’s Grace and forgiveness to people who do not deserve it.
Jesus told the Pharisees that if you cannot do right with the gift that is not yours, i.e., giving out the dishonest wealth that has been given to them, then how would they give out the wealth that belongs to them?
Here Jesus is talking about being generous with our wealth and helping the needy in our communities.
Jesus wants us to understand that when we are faithful with the resources that God has given us today, He will surely bless our tomorrow. Jesus is encouraging us not to hoard what we need for tomorrow when many of God’s children around us are in desperate circumstances today, and we can change their situations.
Jesus concludes with a sharp statement to sum up what he had been trying to say all along:
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)
Our parable today reminds us that God’s grace is not bound by our rules or our expectations or our understanding. Life is about the grace and forgiveness of God given so freely and so unearned.
Today, Jesus demands of us that the value of our relationships must be measured by love, kindness, forgiveness, and true friendship. We are required to be in a relationship with all, baring no expectation of quid pro quo. All.
Wealth, possessions, power, and everything we possess in life have been given to us by God, and life itself does not belong to us. What is the point of not sharing God’s gift that has been given to us. God forgives us of our sin, however, have you forgiven the sin of those who have wronged you?
As Christians, we are to bring people into God’s kingdom. And one way of doing that is to use our gifts, wealth, and time to support God’s work.