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Luke 16:1–13

18 September 2022

Exploring the Scripture

Today’s text contains one of two parables in Luke 16 that begin with, “There was a rich man.” The chapter is devoted to Jesus’ teachings about possessions, a theme often found in Luke. This parable was addressed to the Pharisees who were referred to later in the chapter as “lovers of money.” Jesus implied they regarded prosperity as God’s reward for righteousness (Deuteronomy 27—28). It was also addressed to the disciples who could learn from the actions of the dishonest steward.

In this parable, the master discovers the wastefulness of the manager who was in charge of some of his holdings. He asks him to account for his actions. When the manager sees he will be punished for his actions, he shrewdly develops a plan to reduce the debts of those who owe the master money. He does this to win their favor should he be released from his duties by the manager. The manager buys goodwill for the future.

This raises some interesting scenarios. Was he cheating the master by reducing the debts owed to him? Was he simply reducing the debt by the interest, which was forbidden in Deuteronomy 23:19–20? Or was he reducing the debt in the amount of the commission he would have earned? This speculation could lead to various interpretations of the parable. Whatever the reason, the master on hearing of the manager’s resourcefulness, praises him.

Jesus urges his hearers to cast caution aside, seize the moment of opportunity, and provide for the future with God. Being faithful over what God has entrusted to us is more important than all earthly wealth.

Central Ideas

  1. It requires resourcefulness to manage what God has entrusted to us.
  2. God’s grace is available to all who respond to the call to life as a The master in the parable was graceful and forgiving.
  3. Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be faithful in mission whether they deal with small or vast resources.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are your impressions of the actions of the manager and of the master?
  2. Why is it important to be shrewd in managing the resources placed in our trust?
  3. This text might be uncharacteristic of your impressions of a loving and generous God. How do you make sense of that in terms of the message to the wealthy?
  4. What do the wealthy and those with less have to teach each other? How might this happen in congregational life?

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