September 22, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Luke 16:1–16:8
Christ Lutheran Church
September 22, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
He also told his disciples this parable. There was a rich man who had a manager against whom charges of mismanagement were brought. So summoning the manager he said to him, "What is this I hear about you?" Turn in your books, for you can no longer be manager. So the manager said to himself, "What shall I do now that my master is taking my position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am too proud to beg. I know what I will do so that when I am relieved of my duties people will receive me into their homes ...”
And so summoning his master's debtors one by one he said to the first: "How much do you owe my master?" He said to him, "A hundred measures of oil." He said to him, "Sit down, take your bill, and quickly write fifty." Then he said to another, "You, how much do you owe?" He said, "A hundred measures of wheat." He said to him, "Take your bill and write eighty."
And the master praised the unjust manager because he did what was prudent. For the sons of this age are more shrewd than are the sons of light are in theirs.
Now I declare to all of you: make friends for yourselves using unrighteous mammon so that when it no longer avails they may receive you/pl into the eternal tents.
Luke 16:1-9 (DKV)
This parable has always baffled Christians because it appears as if the Lord is approving dishonest measures to secure the future … but the church has never interpreted it that way.
But whatever the correct explanation of this parable might be, as lovers of God’s word let us reverently hear it, so that we might learn what the Lord wants us to learn by it today.
First we set the stage by remembering that everything we have been learning from St. Luke for many Sundays now are the things that Jesus was teaching on his way to Jerusalem!
On his way to the cross where he would suffer judgment, accusation, mockery, insult, spit, betrayal, pain, bitter death and the full judgment and justice of God!
In a word … the entire wages due us for our mismanagement of the precious gifts that God entrusts to us (don't think natural resources here, but the people God puts into our lives) were collected by Jesus on the cross.
But he never opened his mouth to object or defend himself, but suffered the penalty due a whole world of unjust managers. He died for our sins, rose again, and by baptism has conformed us to his own divine image!
He is the “Pride of Jacob” we hear about in today’s Old Testament lesson who says, “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” (Amos 8:7)
Amos meant that as a negative. A threat to frighten his people away from the disaster they were courting. “Surely I will never forget their deeds.”
But on the lips of Jesus condemnation becomes salvation! It is true. He did not forget a single one of our sins but took each and every one of them to the cross with him, for even one tiny sin cell left behind will grow, and ruin a person forever.
And so he offered his body to be punctured by thorns and nails and spear. Opened up, if you will, so that by his wounds we could gain entrance into him, as did Faithful Thomas; and make him our eternal dwelling place.
Yes, for many weeks now we have considered the various teachings the Lord gave on his way to the cross. And with each succeeding one he lures us farther and farther away from of the self-contained life that we all seek to live –the enclosed little world where we are master, and everyone else servants.
He charms us, cobras that we are, vipers that we are, with tender love to follow him anywhere, even to the cross --where the poison of sin was neutralized by holy blood, and where the lion now lies down with the Lamb. “Beneath the cross of Jesus.”
What else might we gain from this parable today?
First there is the unspoken implication that we are concerned for ourselves, but that is no sin. To be alive, to have life, is the most precious gift there is! Who among us, after all, wishes that she had been aborted in the womb, and never seen the light of day?
To be alive is precious. One human life, even the most despised in the eyes of man, is more valuable than the assets of all the earth; of the sun and the planets and galaxies ... and so Jesus says, “I came that they might have LIFE, and have it abundantly!”
Your life is important, and what you do with it is likewise important. This is why St. John writes, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … for their deeds follow them!"
But what happens when you are "relieved of your position" in this world, like the man was in the parable? Then what?
He was happy with Plan A. It worked for him. And as far as he could tell it would keep working, and he could see no farther than that – until he had to!
He had no fallback position when his world came crashing down around him. But he did devise one in short order! He secured his future by making friends who would later take him in.
Can we do that, so that when “life’s little day” “ebbs out” we too will be welcomed into heaven? Jesus says: yes!
But what people commonly call “the next life” is a big blank for most people. They don’t know where to begin. It’s too taxing to think about. Too frustrating. Too frightening. And, where can reliable information be found? After all, who has ever died, and come back to tell what’s on the other side?
Better to live for the moment, we think, and cross that bridge when we come to it.
But that is not the case for us Beloved. By the Lord’s teaching we know what is on the other side. and by his death we have made friends with the Lord God Almighty and with all the saints and angels. We dwell inside of Christ and neither sin, nor Satan can snatch us from God’s mighty hand.
What is the take away then? Jesus plainly says, “Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon so that when it no longer avails, they may receive you into the eternal tents.”
Said another way use all of your resources to build the church, build your faith, devote your life to God. To love him and love one another as Christ has loved us.
And to worship God as we are doing now. Corporately. As the Body.
This is what St. Paul teaches us in today’s epistle. That this is the place God’s people offer their prayers, supplications, intercessions and celebrate holy Eucharist. Not only for themselves … but on behalf of the whole world. All its people and institutions. So that we may live a godly life now; and so that “all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” Amen