Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Help me...

I'm preparing for a sermon on Sunday. And I'm looking for help. My hat is in my hand, and any nickels and dimes might be of assistance. Maybe this could be a collaborative effort?

Click on Luke 16:1-13 for my text: The so-called 'Parable of the Dishonest Manager'.

I get this bit:
V8: The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
But this bit is not clear:
V9: And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

Every time I've read these verses, I feel like I'm trying to push a square peg through round hole. So can you answer maybe any one of the following questions for me?

  • What do these verses mean?
  • Is Jesus being serious??
  • How do these verses challenge the 'people of the light'?
  • Is there something obvious that I am missing? Maybe something in its historical context? Or in the original languages?
  • Have you preached on these verses? Or have access to someone who has?
  • What are the best commentaries on this? And the wildest applications?
  • Do you have any online resources? Solid MP3 sermons on this text that I can listen to on the subway?

Go on -- have a go.

"Feed the faith of the saints in Manhattan." says Justin, opening his cap for anything to feed on.


michael jensen said...

It's about desperation isn't it? ORdering everything to an eschatology... a kind of gospel pragmatism...

lunch said...

We did the parables in bible study last year and all agreed that this was the craziest of the lot.

Didn't do a study on it, though so I'm really not much help!

byron said...

Ian Powell has preached on it twice in the last couple of years. Here is the better of the two. I remember feeling convinced at the time, though can't remember what he said... (must have been good!)

Justin said...

MPJ -- Yes I hear you. Although this is the square peg/round hole thing. WHy doesn't Jesus say:

"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves ... so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."

ie leave out the "by means of unrighteous wealth" bit.

How will I do this? Is there a seminar I can go to on how to 'gain' dishonestly. I didn't learn this in MTS...

AndrewE said...

Tom Wright translates 8 and 9 like this:
"And the master praised the dishonest steward because he had acted wisely. The children of this world, you see, are wiser than the children of the light when it comes to dealing with their own generation. So let me tell you this: use that dishonest stuff called money to make yourselves friends! Then, when it gives out, they will welcome you into homes that will last."

Wright suggests that the master is himself engaging in shady business, adding interest (which Jews shouldn't do). The steward deducts this interest (with a higher rate for oil). The master then can't charge the steward, because to do so he would have to disclose his own shadiness. Wright then suggests that this nis a parable for Israel, who is the steward facing a crisis, and who, instead of following the Pharisaic line of tightening requirements, should "make friends."

This is all in Luke for Everyone

I'm not sure I'm convinced, but I think there's some nice points.

Pete said...

Al Stewart took this on at Synod in Sydney last year. Guess making anything make sense out of it is good enough to be made a bishop.

I'm not sure this is what he said, but... there seems to be a situation where the manager realises that judgement is coming, and he prepares himself to handle the judgement.

Tom B said...

My NIV has verse 9 "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

I take it to mean that we are to focus on what money can do for others rather than focus on getting money for money's sake. Which I think is what v 13 is emphasizing as well.

But I don't recall ever hearing a sermon on this. Good on you for having a go.

Eric said...

As I read it desperation struck me as well, or rather dogged persistence and singlemindedness to attain the reward, whatever the means or cost. This is just lay-speak, but that's how it strikes me. How devoted are we, really?

Megs said...

i think it's an awfully odd thing for Jesus to say - he's certainly neither boring nor predictable!

i would love to know what you end up saying in your sermon, Justin! How bemusing!

BJE said...

My rough translation.
click Comments for more thoughts.

M.P.J. I think desperation is merely one motivational factor towards the point.

A.W. I like NTW's translation. I think readers get caught when:
1) they assume the master = God
2) they think the praise is for dishonesty, (whereas it is for cleverness).

BJEM: I think, the main point is, use whatever you have access to/have, to serve God.
In other words, don't use $ & stuff for self, use it for God.

Benjamin Ady said...

I *absolutely love* the way you are approaching this sermon. You rock! I think if you were in Seattle, I would totally be tempted to endure a church service to come hear you preach this on Sunday. =)

Benjamin Ady said...

Have you seen Eugene's translation of the offending verses? I love the "So you'll really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior".

Here's the whole bit:
8-9"Now here's a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you'll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."

DiscuZion said...

Here are some links:

Geneva Bible commentary - http://bible.crosswalk.com/Commentaries/GenevaStudyBible/gen.cgi?book=lu&chapter=01

JC Ryle's commentary -

IVP Bible commentary -

dave williams said...

Could it be that we try to jump to a 21st Century conclusion without a 1st century one??? Just thinking allowedhere? Would it be as simple as that for a Jew at the time to use Roman money and the trasing system was to use unrighteous money. So Jesus isgiving us permission to be involved in the world but to use it for the kingdom? Thinking out loud -my notes are on a CD in storage

Justin said...

Thanks all for the heads up.

Dave -- welcome! Do I know you?

dave williams said...


no. Found my way here via MPJ via saftey girl via several oak hill blogs! Nice to be here!