John T. Willis

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jesus' Parable of the Dishonest Manager--Luke 16:1-18

After addressing three parables to the Pharisees and scribes in Luke 15, Jesus now turns to his disciples to give a parable about a dishonest manager. This whole section of Luke deals with how God's people should think of and deal with earthly possessions. The account of the parable of the dishonest manager falls into two parts. I. The Parable of the Dishonest Manager and its meaning. Luke 16:1-13. a. Jesus turns away from the Pharisees and scribes in Luke 15 and addresses his disciples directly. 16:1a. b. Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who had a manager who was accused of squandering his property. The rich man brought his manager in and fired him for his dishonesty. Obviously the rich man had trained and tested his manager in the supervisio0n of his farm estate, but his manager turned out to be incompetent, unfaithful, and one who had broken the good will of his master. 16:1b-2. c. The dishonest manager found himself in a quandary or dilemma: he was not strong enough to dig physical work, and he was ashamed to beg because of his former position. Then he came up with a plan: I will go to my master's debtors to lessen or remove their debts. His purpose is that at least some of these people will support the fired dishonest manager. 16:3-7. d. Then the dishonest manager's master commended him for treated these debtors by reducing their debts. The dishonest manager has eliminated his own commission from the original usurious bonds. He used his material possessions to use them as wisely as he could to ensure his future security. Jesus emphasizes this point: "Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes." 16:8-9. e. Jesus proclaims an important principle: if one is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much. If you have not been faithful with what belongs to others, who will give you what is your own? Every human being struggles between serving one master. No one can serve two masters. One must make the strong decision to serve God or to serve money. 16:10-13. II. The Human Heart is of Utmost Importance. Luke 16:14-18. a. The Pharisees were listening to Jesus' parable of the dishonest manager. The Pharisees were lovers of money, and thus they ridiculed Jesus because of this parable. Jesus said: "God knows your hearts." Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke Chapter X-XXIV, Anchor Bible, 28A, p. 1112, says: "Mammon may enable a person to secure esteem or an image of uprightness in human society, but that is not what really counts. The depths of the human heart and its desires or loves are known to God; and what he knows should constitute the real estimate of a human being." The heart is the seat of human emotion, desire, and reaction. 16:14-15. b. Jesus then reinforces the important truth that God's people must not drop "one stroke of a letter in the law" of God proclaimed in the Hebrew Bible. God's message is exactly the same throughout the entire Bible, not merely in the Newer Testament. Jesus proclaims the same truth in Matthew 5:17-20; 11:12-13. There is a striking "continuity of Jesus' kingdom- preaching with the manifestation of God's will in the law of old." (Joseph A Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke Chapter X-XXIV, Anchor Bible, 28A, p. 1116). "The law and the prophets" in Luke 16:16 is a common summary of the entire Hebrew Bible in the Newer Testament. 16:16-17. c. Jesus concludes this thought with a brief example of divorce. Human beings must be faithful to their spouses instead of going after and engaging in sexual activities with other people who are not their spouses. See Matthew 5:32; 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11. 16:18. Share YOUR experiences and feelings and shortcomings and concerns with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis