Christ Lutheran Church
September 18, 2022
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
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 16:8-9 (DKV)
This parable has always baffled Christians because it appears that the Lord is suggesting dishonest measures to secure the future … but that is not the case. And so let us reverently hear today’s parable so that we might take in what the Lord wants to teach us by it today.
First we need to set the stage by remembering that everything we have been hearing 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 accusation, mockery, betrayal, bitter death and the full judgment of God … in a word … the entire wages due us for our mismanagement of the priceless gifts that God entrusts to us.
Those were collected by Jesus on the cross, and we know from Sacred Scripture that he never opened his mouth defend himself, but quite the contrary, gladly (Heb. 12:2) suffered the penalty due a whole world of unjust managers. He paid the ultimate price for our sins, rose again, and by blessed baptism conforms 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; as a threat to dissuade his people from the disaster they were courting. “Surely I will never forget their deeds,” says the LORD.
But on the lips of Jesus condemnation becomes salvation! It is true. He did not forget a single one of our transgressions but took each of them to the cross to put them to death however small or large, hidden or public.
Hand sanitizers claim to kill 99.9% of germs but when it comes to the ruination of souls even 1/10th of 1 percent will destroy us. And so the Lamb of God takes away not only the “sins” of the world, but more to the point the “sin of the world” so that now there is peace. Now there is calm. Now unjust managers are rendered just, and pure as the driven snow. And so let your guilt and shame and fear of judgment trouble you no more! But live the joyous life that God has called us to live in Christ.
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 servant.
He charms us, cobras that we are, vipers that we are, with tender love to follow him anywhere, even to the cross where the venom 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?
There is the unspoken implication in the parable that we are concerned for ourselves, but that is no sin. Life is the premier gift that our God gives us and we must do all we can to maintain it, until God calls us home to heaven. And to sustain it under God’s Providence takes a great deal of labor, planning, thinking, wheeling, dealing and doing. We must be as shrewd as “the sons of this age.” “Wise as serpents, but as harmless as doves.”
Yes, to be alive is precious. One human life, even the most despised in the eyes of man, is more valuable than the assets of earth, stars, sun and the seemingly endless planets and galaxies ... and so Jesus says, “I came that they might have LIFE, and have it abundantly!”
Your life is significant and what you do with it matters. But what happens when you are "relieved of your position" in this world, like the man 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 provide for him. Can we do that, so that when “life’s little day” “ebbs out” we, too, will be welcomed into the eternal tent? 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 is too taxing to think about. Too frustrating. Too frightening. Moreover, minus the Light of Divine Revelation, where can reliable information be got? 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, put it out of our minds and cross that bridge when we come to it. But that is not the case for us Beloved.
By the Lord’s heavenly teaching, by his death and resurrection we know what is on the other side; and have made friends with the Lord God Almighty; with all the saints, angels and archangels; and with that Great Multitude that no man could number from every nation, tribe peoples and language.
Yes, “Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon so that when it no longer avails, they may receive you into the eternal tents.” What does this mean?
It means that we should use all of our resources to build the church, build our faith, devote our life to God. To love him and love one another as Christ has loved us. And to worship God as we are doing now.
This is what St. Paul teaches us in today’s epistle: that this is the place God’s people offer their prayers, supplications, intercessions as they celebrate holy Eucharist. Not only for themselves … but on behalf of the whole world. All of its people and institutions. So that we may live a godly life now; and so that “all might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” Amen