Read Luke 16:1-31
While attention will be given to vs1-9; the completion of the entire chapter is needed to understand context.
“It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
The words quoted from Mark Twain are some of the first ones that I think of when reading vs 1-9. What in the world was Jesus saying? He just finished the parable in chapter 15 of the Prodigal Son (a story that we all love to reflect on when considering the need for forgiveness), and He immediately tells this crazy parable about two money guys, both as dishonest as the other. Is He saying that this is how we should live too?
Is this what it takes to get into the Kingdom of Heaven?
The ironic thing about Jesus’ parables is that those in His audience were a mixed group of society’s social classes. Among them, a class of people were called the Pharisees. These people can be better understood to be the religious leaders of the day; wealthy, authorities and keepers of the law. When I think about the impact of Jesus’ words in a story about dishonest people, the Bible highlights their response:
“The Pharisees who loved money, heard all of this and were sneering at Jesus.”
Why would they sneer? Perhaps, their own hard hearts were exposed through the story and the subsequent follow through that drove home what it takes to really thrive in God’s Kingdom:
- Jesus convicts us (yes, each of us can be Pharisees too) as He uses the story to make the point that, if you can figure out how to be trusted to handle a little bit for the Master, then you can be trusted to handle much more. We can thrive in God’s Kingdom, but only after being trusted with a little!
- Jesus immediately connects the imaginary story to the reality of those who love money. Keep pursuing what matters to people to find value and you will always come up short!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” – v. 13
The parable of the shrewd manager is not an example for how we should emulate greed. It is a reality that reveals the condition of the human heart.