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
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
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
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
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
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
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.