Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Jesus’ description of the shrewd steward, found in Luke 16:1-15, is a difficult passage to deal with. After all, the steward can seem dishonest, and it can seem that Jesus is advocating dishonesty. Yet we know Jesus is very concerned with honesty and integrity.
What the steward does, however, is not dishonest, though it is very shrewd. The master was dealing with debts which were not collectable. It didn’t look like there was any method by which he would ever get his debtors to pay their bills. Further, the steward didn’t seem to understand the master.
If we consider this a parable which is illustrative of God’s character and our inability to live up to God’s demands, it almost immediately makes sense. Our debt of sin is too great to be repaid. We can never pay God what we owe Him. Even our death as a result of our sin won’t accomplish the salvation from sin which we need. It will only accomplish our death. What we need to realize here is that God values reconciling the debt more than he values the payoff. The concept is summed up by the steward realizing that the master really wants the debts not to be outstanding, and that he is more concerned about that than he is about how much oil or wheat is repaid. When the steward recognizes this concern of his master, he is able to resolve the debts and again be pleasing to his master.
God hates sin. Sin, according to the biblical concept, can only be reconciled through death, but it has to be a perfect death. We aren’t able to pay it off. We aren’t able to atone for ourselves. The only way of correcting the problem of sin is for someone perfect, without sin, to die in our place. God isn’t pleased with our death. He is pleased with our life and the destruction of our sin. This is exactly what Jesus, God the Son, was able to take care of. By his death in our place we are able to receive his life. The outstanding debt of sin is resolved. This is the whole point of Christianity.
Does this make sense? It didn’t make sense to the Pharisees and it doesn’t make sense to most of our world. But Jesus, the shrewd manager, has resolved our debt and made peace with God on our account. This is the good news of our Gospel passage this week. It may bring mocking, as it did from the Pharisees. But it is the way God works in His kingdom.
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