Have you ever tried to explain something but the person you were trying to inform just could not grasp the idea? This is where this weeks teaching begins. We find Jesus, simply exhausted of trying to have the pharisee’s understand this new upside down kingdom. So, turning to the other part of His audience, the disciples, Jesus tells another parable further explaining how the good news of the new kingdom should look. Keep in mind while the story is directed to the disciples, Jesus knows full well the pharisees, lawyers and scribes are listening. Jesus has not given up on the ‘enlightened lost’.
In this section we read one of Jesus’ most difficult parables, ‘The Parable of the Shrewd Manager ‘sometimes called ‘The Parable of the Dishonest Manager’, or other times called ‘The Parable of the Unrighteous Steward’ or another translation titles it the ‘Parable of Unrighteous Mammon’. As you may notice, there seems to be a great deal of, lets say confusion, over the description of this parable. Is the theme about the overseer’s character? How would you describe his character? Could the emphasis of the parable be about unrighteous mammon (entrusted wealth)? Think about the role wealth plays in this parable. Where does it come from and how is it managed?
As with the previous parable, it is still important to keep the context in which this story was told in view. The prodigal parable makes the point that even when one’s own mismanagement cause separation, a reconciliation is cause for celebration. This story continues the theme adding important detail. As the multitude of titles for this parable suggest, it is about the management of entrusted wealth. You might even see it as an explanation to the brother of the prodigal son, and us, as to the nature of wealth and how it should be utilized.
As we look at this parable we will find three main points. One on accountability, one on self reflection and the last on reconciliation. As we read this parable, pay particular attention to how we feel about the manager when he is accused, when he reflects upon his situation, and when he devises his plan of action. Are our thoughts more in line with the prodigal’s father or his brother? Are we prone to sympathy or skepticism? What about “admiration” for the “dishonest rascal”? How does that fit into a righteous living model? Keep in mind that a parable is hardly ever “about what it is about”. So, if money is not the object of wealth, what is?
This is a challenging parable. It asks us to navigate this world with the entrusted wealth Jesus has offered and to do so in a palatable way. No small task!
I look forward to sharing it Sunday, hope you can join us!