It is a crazy so far. And it's good to remember it is our good Lord Jesus telling this story! So the fourth surprise is the words Jesus places on lips of the rich man.
In the story, you expect there to be wrath and hell to pay. Some justice to be done. You do not expect him to get away with it (Like Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors). You expect him to cop it, like the story Jesus tells of the man who doesn’t forgive (Matthew 18).
But the master finds out about the scam – maybe the next day. And Jesus has him commend the super! Not condemn. Commend.
Look at V8 carefully:
And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly
Now, notice that the master commends him as shrewd, whereas Jesus, the narrator, identifies him as dishonest. That is an important distinction.
But in your mind's eye, you can see the rich man, next day, when he looks at the books, and figures it out.
"You sly fox."
"You cheeky monkey."
"You … You are brilliant."
"Seriously, no wonder I hired you in the first place."
And that’s it. That's the story. I always liked this story because it was surprising. It isn’t a Hallmark moment. Its not the kind of nice note you write to someone, just to lift up their spirits, or put on a poster to sell at some Christian bookshop.
But what do you learn from it?
Frederick Buechner said: "With parables and jokes both, if you've got to have them explained, don't bother." So I am inclined to let the story just sit, and you can make of it what you will. But I can’t. Because Jesus offers an interpretation.
One in V8.
The other in V9.
Two things to learn coming...