About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 16:1-14   ch. 16:16-19   ch. 16:19-31

The Parable Of The Shrewd Manager (ch. 16:1 - 14)

Now in chapter 16 Jesus turns from speaking parables to the crowds and begins to speak them to His disciples.

The next story goes like this. There was a manager that failed to do a good job at managing The owner of the business hears about the sloppy job the manager is doing and calls him in to fire him.

The manager, now without a job wonders what he can do. He is not strong enough to dig. He will not humble himself to beg, so he concludes that his friends will take him in and let him live with them.

Knowing who owed the owner of the business money, the manger went to a few of them. The first owed the owner 800 gallons of oil. The manager told him to cut debt stated on his bill in half, to four hundred gallons.

The manager went to another debtor and asked what he owed. The man said that he owed 1000 bushels of wheat. The manager told him to make his bill say 800 bushels.

When the owner saw the shrewdness of this dishonest manager, he was pleased with him. We can only assume that he did not loose his job.

This parable is one of the hardest parables of Jesus to figure out. There have been many thoughts about this parable over the years. Why did the owner think this manager to be shrewd when the manager actually cheated him out of money. Well, the owner must have thought that this man was creative and devious enough to gain friendships with the debtors in order to find a place to live as well as getting some money back for the owner. Even though the owner lost money, he now saw shrewdness in this manger that could possibly make money for him in a dishonest way in the future. So both owner and manager were dishonest and shrewd.

In verse 8 Jesus commented on shrewdness. He compares the shrewdness of these 2 men to the shrewdness of the people of this world. He said that the people of this world act shrewd towards one another. They cheat and mislead their own kind for personal gain.

Then Jesus went on to say that the "people of the light", meaning followers of righteousness, are not so shrewd. They do not cheat and mislead their own kind as the people of the world do. Of course, that is too their credit in the eyes of God.

The last phrase is easy to understand. It is this next phrase that has everyone questioning. Verse 9 says, "use worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into the eternal kingdom".

One thing that Jesus says for sure here and that is "worldly wealth" will not last forever. After it is gone, there will be an eternal kingdom to dwell in, where worldly wealth is not important. This is plain and clear.

But what does Jesus mean when He says, "use worldly wealth to gain friends Ö"? This statement on the surface does not sound like something Jesus would say. Could He be saying these words somewhat sarcastically, meaning, "yes, go ahead, try to make friends with worldly wealth, be like them, but some day the money will be gone, and youíll have to be received into an eternal kingdom. See if your money will get you into that kingdom". If this is the idea, then Jesus is not saying making friends by the use of unrighteous money is a good thing.

Yet on the other hand, if He is indeed suggesting for us to make worldly friends with worldly money, then weíd have to think this through differently. His suggestion might be to make friends with the rich and worldly while the money lasted. It may come in handy. Just remember, the money wonít last forever.

At the moment, I am not convinced just what Jesus is meaning here.

In verse 10 Jesus continued by telling us that if we are trustworthy in handling little, weíll be trustworthy in handling lots, suggesting that we may have opportunity to get more because of our trustworthiness. This is simply a natural law, nothing really spiritual or hard to figure out.

Yet Jesus continued by saying that if we canít be trusted with worldly wealth, "how can you be trusted with true riches". True riches must refer to things of God, that is, responsibilities in the Kingdom of God. If we canít handle money for example, we may have a hard time handling important things, such as Godís people.

In verse 12 Jesus made a very practical statement, that being, if you cannot be trusted with other peopleís property, how can you be trusted with your own. This too is a natural law. For example, if a renter of a house does not look after the house he is renting, he would not look after a house that he would own outright.

In verse 13 Jesus gets down to the crux of the matter. He said that you cannot serve 2 gods. You canít serve God and money. All along He has been talking about worldly people and how their god is in fact money. He is saying that a Christian, a Godly person, canít give himself to God and money at the same time. Once again, this only makes sense. Whatever you give yourself to is the god you serve. If you give your life to the pursuit of making money, all that you do revolves around that, then money is your god.

In verse 14 Luke tells us that the Pharisees actually heard Jesus say these things to His disciples and were sneering at him as a result of what they heard. They most likely knew very well that He was speaking of them. Luke tells us that the Pharisees loved money. In reality, Jesus was most likely suggesting that the shrewd people of the world were indeed the Pharisees who overheard this conversation, and they were not very happy with His words.

Jesus ended this section by saying to the Pharisees, "you are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in Godís sight". Money is the valued thing Jesus has been talking about. Therefore, the pursuit of money is detestable with God. Giving oneís self to the pursuit of riches , and not giving yourself to the pursuit of God is thought very poorly of in Godís eyes. This is an important point to note for the prosperity teachers of today.

Additional Teaching (ch. 16:16 - 19)

Jesus made an interesting point in verse 16. He said, "the Law and the Prophets were proclaimed since John. Since that time, the good news of the Kingdom of God is being preachedÖ" What does this mean?

We need to understand this verse without any preconceived biases. Jesusí words are fairly clear. Throughout Old Testament times, both the Law and the Prophets were read and taught. But since the appearing of John the Baptist we have a new addition, and that is the message of the Kingdom of God that John spoke about and that that Jesus is now demonstrating in both words and actions.

Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets. By this I mean, the predictions of Jesus by the Prophets were now being fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Also, the Law was more than a list of rules. The Law in one sense of the word spoke about a redeemer that would come and do more than what the Law could ever do. The redeemer came in Jesus. He obeyed all aspects of the law perfectly, thus fulfilling its requirements on our behalf. This is an important aspect to the gospel that few really understand. The reason why God can consider us righteous is that Jesus lived the perfect life, obeying all aspects of the Law on our behalf. Finally the Law was obeyed. Finally the Law was fulfilled. This satisfied God, resulting in us now being viewed as righteous in the eyes of God.

Jesus went on to say that many people "were forcing their way" into the Kingdom of God. The crowds were pressing in on Jesus as He demonstrated the Kingdom in front of their very eyes. There was more interest in the Kingdom of God as Jesus lived it, that in Judaism as seen in the lives of the Pharisees.

Now verse 17 is also very interesting, especially in light of what He just said. Verse 17 says, "it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law".

Now, what does this mean? We need to understand one thing. There were many copies of the Law that had been passed down and rewritten over the centuries. It is an historical fact that some of these copies vary in strokes of the pen, in letters, and in words. These variations are a result of human error. So in this sense of the word the stroke of the pen has changed and has dropped out over the years. Jesus is not speaking about these changes. He is speaking about Godís understanding of the Law. He is speaking about the real intent of the Law in Godís eyes. That has not changed.

The Law if multi functional. It was instituted for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that God gave the Law as a concession. For example, we see in Matt. 19 concerning divorce that the Law permitted divorce because of the hardness of manís heart, but this was not Godís will from creation. Therefore God Himself conceded to man by giving him a way out of marriage, even though that was not what God wanted. You could this say that God said not to kill in the Ten Commandments. That was a concession given to man. God new man could not obey the real command which would be, "donít get angry", So He said, "donít kill" instead. This is what Jesus said on the sermon on the mount when He told His disciples that the Law said, "donít kill", but I say, "if you get angry at your brother it is like killing him". Can you see that this commandment was actually a concession given to man? The real command in the eyes of God was not "donít kill", but "donít get angry".

When Jesus came to earth, part of His job was to point out Godís ways and intentions from creation, not simply from the Law. Here therefore "redefined" what the Law meant, and what it was all about. Another example is this. Jesus told us that the Law said not to commit adultery. Yet the real law behind the law was, "donít lust". Do you see how Jesus redefined that law. Or to say it another way.. Jesus pointed out Godís original intentions from creation. He pointed out the heart of God that was behind the Law.

To conclude this thought we need to note that when Jesus died on the cross, the Law became no longer in effect. Jesus Himself replaced the Law. Rom. 10:4 says that "Christ is the end of the Law". Col. 2:14 says that the "code", or the Law, was nailed to the cross with Jesus.

The written Law is gone, but Godís original intention behind the Law, which is much stricter remains the same. And as Jesus said, "it is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one stroke of Godís pen to be changed.

Verse 18 is one brief statement on the topic of divorce. You cannot, and must not simply quote this verse and make a doctrinal statement on divorce. Jesus has more to say elsewhere, and you must consider those words as well. Matt. 19 is much more exhaustive on this subject than this one particular statement.

Jesus made 2 statements here. Statement one is that if a man divorces his wife and gets married again, he is committing adultery. The second statement that He makes is that if a man marries a divorced lady, then he too is committing adultery. These two statements in themselves is easy to understand, yet there is more to this subject than what is said here. There are certain criteria concerning divorce and remarriage that gives exceptions to what Jesus says here. I will not speak of these things here other than to say that God allowed divorce through the Law, but it was not His original intention. This should be the fundamental point for all divorce teaching.

The Rich Man And Lazarus (ch. 16:19 - 31)

In this section Jesus continued with another parable of "worldly wealth". The story goes like this. There was a rich man who lived in luxury. At the gate of his home was a beggar named Lazarus. He had sores on his body that the dogs used to lick. This beggar was in bad shape.

Eventually both Lazarus and the rich man died. Lazarus went to be by Abrahamís side, and the rich man ended up in hell. The rich man could see Abraham and the poor beggar so he asked Abraham to have Lazarus dip a finger in water and put it on his tongues because he was in agony from the fire of hell.

Abraham replied by saying that the rich manís request was not possible to fulfill. First of all, the rich man had experienced his good life on earth and was not willing to share it. Now he is experiencing severe poverty, torture and judgement. The poor beggar on the other hand experienced his poverty on earth but now has found riches in heaven.

Abraham said one more thing. He told the rich man that there is a fixed gulf between heaven and hell and no one in heaven can go down to hell, and no one in hell can go to heaven.

The rich man replied to Abraham by asking him to send Lazarus to his fatherís house and warn them of their fate. He had 5 brothers. He did not want the rest of his family to end up in the same torment.

In verse 29 Abraham replied by saying that his family had Moses and the Prophets. That should suffice.

The rich man pleaded with Abraham saying that if someone came back from the dead, his family would certainly listen to him. Yet Abraham did not agree with the rich manís logic. He responded by saying that even if a man came back from the dead, they would not listen.

Once again, Jesus did not explain the parable. We understand it in hind sight. The Pharisees and those listening could have understood it as well, or at least to a degree.

The reference to someone coming back from the dead is clearly speaking of Jesus rising from the dead. He did come back from the dead, but for the most part, the Jews and their leaders refused to hear the message.

The parable is clearly spoken to Jews because of the reference to Moses and the Prophets. The Jews were blessed with the Law and the Prophets. They spoke of the Messiah to come, and when He came, they did not recognize Him.

There are some other things to note about this parable. Concerning hell, it is a present location, not a future one. We know from Revelation that hell will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. (Rev. 20:14) It is also present because of what the rich man said here. He wanted Lazarus to go to talk to his family while they were still on earth, and he was in hell. People then appear to be in hell at this moment while the rest of us are on earth.

Between hell and the place where the righteous dead are is a great chasm. No one can cross this span of space. Verse 26 suggests that some may want to go from "here (place of the righteous dead) to there (hell) but canít. Why some might want to cross over to hell is not known. Maybe they might want to help people they know. The parable is not really about this. This is merely a side point that doesnít get explained.

One thing is clear and this is, once one arrives in hell, it is too late to return to earth or relocate to heaven. The time to choose your eternal destiny is while your are on earth.

 

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