Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Sep 18th)

Pastor's Summary of Luke 16:1-13

As he continues to travel towrds Jerusalem, Jesus says more about what is required of a disciple. Many in the crowd were poor, oppressed by the rich, so a story about a "rich man" (vv. 1-8a) would be popular. Jesus speaks in their terms, calling money "dishonest wealth" (v. 9) or filthy lucre. (A "manager", v. 1, negotiated and signed contracts on his master's behalf; the master was usually a (hated) absentee landlord.)  Mosaic law forbade charging interest on a loan, but there was a way round this: the debtor in v. 6 had probably received 50 jugs of olive oil but the bill was for 100. The manager settles the account by forgiving the usurious interest, probably to his master's benefit, not his own. Both the "master" (v. 8, the rich man) and the manager are businessmen; the master praises the manager for acting "shrewdly" (the Greek word means pragmatically). Both understand prudent use of financial resources.

From elsewhere in the New Testament and from the Qumran literature, we know that "the children of light" (v. 8) are the spiritually enlightened: business-people are more pragmatic in their sphere than are disciples in affairs of the Kingtdom. Then v. 9: Jesus advises accumulation of heavenly capital by providing for the needy.  If one does this in One;s own small way, God will see one as trustworthy regarding Kingdom affairs (v. 10)-and if one isn't, he won't. Being faithful now involves sharing possessions; one who doesn't now won't be entrusted with "true riches" (v. 11), i.e. the Kingdom. Financial resources are God's gift; they belong "to another" (v. 12), e.i. to him. "Your own" is your inheritance as God's children, i.e. eternal life. So in v. 12 Jesus asks: if you have not managed your finances prudently, will God give you eternal life? Then v. 13: one cannout make a god out of money and serve God.  Disciples must serve God exclusively, using material resources for his purposes, sharing with the needy. The alternative is enslavement to materialism.

 

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