Trinity 9 (Lk 16:1–9)

August 13, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO


What in the world is Jesus talking about? This parable doesn’t make any sense! There’s no business owner who first fires a manager for wasting his stuff, and then praises that manager for stealing his stuff afterward. The fired manager is giving the whole business away! Slashing debts he doesn’t have a right to.

Didn’t you hear it? First, the manager doesn’t collect the debts; so he’s fired. Then, he slashes the debts and gets praised. Praised! This doesn’t happen in the real world. He’s a thief! He should’ve been arrested, punished, condemned, maybe even killed!—at least in the ancient world.

((2. We don’t understand the Lord’s way of doing things.))

That’s Jesus, and it doesn’t make sense to us. Our flesh wants things that make sense, wants right answers. And we get hung up on this unjust, criminal, transgressor manager because we get hung up on the money.

We get money. We’re always worried about the bottom line, the check book, the IRA, the grain price. If someone were to take our money like that manager from the parable, we’d be furious. We’d sue. We’d want him punished.

Tight fisted; not generous. Lowest bid wins. Don’t spend anymore than we have to. Won’t give and donate more than we have to. Let someone else be generous, someone else will give more. Someone else will help.

We don’t really get what the Lord’s up to. That’s Jesus. Telling a parable in such a way as to confound us, to point out our love for this life, but there’s something we’re even more tight-fisted with than money: mercy!

When there’s a debt, there’s a payment plan. All the more when someone’s wronged us. They don’t pay. There’s no mercy. There’s forgiveness available at the very end of a very long and winding road full of tolls and turnpikes. Once they’ve worked enough, once they’ve struggled enough, once they’re sorry enough. Then forgiveness. Then mercy.

But to slash the debts of those who don’t pay, to slash them like a madman—no way! That’s just crazy talk! No one cancels mortgages. No one freely forgives the insult, the wrong, the offense.

((1. The Lord’s way of doing things saves us.))

The Lord’s way of doing things is absolutely unbelievable. It’s outlandish. Crazy! But that’s Jesus. Jesus is rejected by the Pharisees for not only not collecting debts but forgiving them. That’s their accusation of Jesus. He’s around real bad sinners: prostitutes, thieves, tax-collectors, Roman soldiers. Not exacting punishment, not giving them steps to get into God’s good graces. Not only that, He forgives them. Fully, freely. He needs to be stopped! Arrested, punished, condemned, killed, crucified!—anything!

Jesus doesn’t even get pennies on the dollar! He gets nothing on the dollar! “How much do you owe?” “100 measures of wheat.” “Write 50.” “And what about you?” “100 measures of oil.” “Write 80.” What about you? Tight fisted with money? Hard-hearted with mercy? “Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write…” nothing. “τετέλεσται. It is finished.” Blood shed. Life given. Debt paid.

That’s the Lord’s way of doing things. He’s not squandering the kingdom by not collecting debts and forgiving them. He’s giving the kingdom away! The price? His blood and death. A price He gladly pays. He’s the so called “unjust” Steward of the Father’s kingdom. He was “numbered with the transgressors,” as Isaiah foretold—thief on His right, a thief on His left.

If He were only just, you’d have to pay. That’s just and right. Justice alone lands you in hell. The Lord’s way is the way of mercy. His justice is appeased at the cross. Father’s wrath taken by the Son. The Son freely, fully giving His all. He’s the merciful Steward, after all.


All He did, He did for you. His blood and death, which pays the debt. All He gives, He gives to you. He delivers His debt slashing to you. No repayment plans. No steps. No stages. Counted not as a debtor but as a child of the Father. Just like Paisley. No longer a debtor to God but an heir in Jesus. But wait, there’s more! If you’ve got doubts and worries and fears. Absolution! But wait, there’s more! United with Him and His forgiveness: “body and blood, given and shed for you.”

All this for you. No holds barred mercy. But not just for you—your neighbor, too! You’re set free, unchained, let loose. Free from your sins. You don’t have to do them any more. That debt’s been canceled, paid in full. You don’t have to be tight-fisted anymore. Not hard-hearted anymore. You’re amazingly generous! It’s not yours anyway. Not your money. Not your mercy. Just passing along the what’s been freely, fully, generously given to you. So we help, give, serve as a “father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker.” We forgive the wrong, the insult, the offense. Jesus forgave yours. Slashed that debt down to zero.


Nothing holds you back either. Not the looming debt of your sin. That’s been taken care of by Jesus. Nothing to hold you back from slashing the debts of those around you. It’s no holds barred mercy. It’s crazy! It doesn’t make sense! But that’s salvation. It’s wonderfully merciful. Wonderfully free.


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