Trinity 9 (Lk 16,1-13)

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: The kingdom of the world is one of debt.))

Debt. Repayment. Collections. Repossession. Foreclosure. Bankruptcy. It’s how the world works. But it’s not just money. This sort of arrangement works itself out in our relationships, too.

Slights. Wrongs. Giving offense. Taking offense. Settle a score. Make amends. Grudges. Bad blood. Retribution. Power. Force. Influence. Cancel culture.

This is how things work in the world. The pandemic and it’s fallout has taken the veneer off. Our relationships with one another are laid bare. Our feelings towards one another exposed.

As it were, the books have been opened. What people have done or haven’t done, the good, the bad, the ugly, are all on display. But if you wanted to talk about it under one heading, at least as far as Jesus’ parable is concerned. What’s the world like? What’s the world about? Debt.

((4. Ugh!: Whomever you owe is your lord.))

This isn’t just finances. Though debt is a problem for many of us. No, it’s relationship debt, too. Where we’ve messed up with others. That’s what I’m talking about. In the church those are called sins, transgressions, trespasses. But in the world whomever you owe is your lord.

That’s finances, for sure. Pay or else. But it’s also what you say or do. If you mess up and there’s record of it, well, you’ve got to make up for it. You’re in debt to the people or the society or the individual you’ve wronged. And you’ll repay whatever you’ve got to before you’re able to move on. It can be time, money, prison. Or there are lots of things these days that are unforgivable. Crimes are crimes of course, but when it comes to the way society is shifting, things are made into societal crimes that are not legal crimes. And you end up cancelled, deleted, blocked, shunned.

As Christians, we bring this into our relationships, too. We make apologies the currency of our forgiveness and mercy and not holding a grudge. Or maybe they’ve got to do more, say more, mean it more, do enough before we’re satisfied, and only then they’ve earned mercy…maybe. So often we think: “Well, I can’t just forgive them!” But when it comes to our mistakes and the way we’ve hurt other people, sinned against them, wronged them, we want a free pass.

((3. Aha!: The Lord’s Way is not our way.))

The Lord’s thoughts aren’t our thoughts. His Way isn’t our way. His way of doing things isn’t our way of doing this. His is the Jesus way. That’s the Way Jesus is talking about in our Parable today. Today, “Jesus also said.” What did He say before this? Context is king when understanding the Bible. Well, our parable today comes right after the Parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Two Lost Sons. In fact, our “manager” today is supposedly “wasting His master’s possessions.” “Wasting” the exact same thing the prodigal son did.

Mercy from above. The shepherd finds the Lost Sheep. The woman her lost coin. The father’s welcomes back his younger son. The father seeks out his older son, too. Today, mercy from below. A manager numbered with the transgressors. He slashes the debts. Gives away what apparently isn’t his to give away. He gets praised for it! “That’s no way to manage money! That’s ridiculous!” So think the “Pharisees who were lovers of money.” They get hung up on the money and miss the greater aspect of mercy.

((2. Whee! The Lord’s kingdom is one of forgiveness.))

The Lord’s Kingdom is one of forgiveness. Opposite of what happens in the world. From top to bottom, bottom to top that’s what the Lord’s Kingdom, the Christian Church is all about. It’s a message different from anything else in the world.

The Father sends His Son to die for sinners, for those who rebelled against Him. The Son seeks out the lost: sheep, coin, tax collectors, sinners, pharisees, too. The sent-from-the-Father Son seems to be wasting His Father’s Kingdom. Slashing the debts of sinners. Giving the Kingdom away!

His Kingdom isn’t one of power, of holding debt, of collecting debts from those who can’t pay. No, He pays for them. He sheds His blood for them. For you. For your sins against Him, the debt you owe Him, and for your sins against the people in your life, too. Each lashing He receives, slashes your debts, your sins, your transgressions, your trespasses. His blood redeems you, buys you back.

((1. Yeah!: YOU DON’T OWE BUT ARE FORGIVEN IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM.))

You don’t owe the Lord. You’re forgiven. That’s His Kingdom. That’s how you stand before Him. No debt to pay. You’re forgiven. His forgiveness has been delivered to you. The purchase price made yours. Baptized into His death, washed in His blood—that’s you. His body and blood given and shed for you, given you to eat and to drink, your continual source of forgiveness, new life, and eternal salvation. It’s the medicine of eternal life. The medicine against sin and against death. All yours! “He who by grace the Word believes The purchase of His blood receives.” See, YOU DON’T OWE BUT ARE FORGIVEN IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM.

These are “the things that are another’s.” Given to you. Given through you to, to others. Make friends by using another’s goods, another’s forgiveness. Jesus’! His for you. His through you. Be forgiving towards others. In the Jesus way. YOU DON’T OWE BUT ARE FORGIVEN IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM. Neither do they not because of they’ve done, but because of what Jesus does for them. Not only in His death, but what He does for them through you.

Your heavenly Lord gives you eternity, new life, forgiveness of sins, and also your daily bread. He will give you what you need to support your body and life. He may give you more not for your sake, for your neighbor’s sake. It’s the Lord’s money. The world would have you serve money, serve yourself with it. They way of debt and payment and due. But the Lord serves your neighbor through you.

God is the gracious giver. Gives life. Supports life. No matter what He will do it. He’s done it so far. He’ll keep doing it. He loves you. Cares for you. But more than that, He’ll do it because He’s given for you the greatest thing, His greatest treasure. His own Son into death for you. The Son came and gave His Father’s Kingdom away to you for free. He slashes your debt. Forgiven—that’s you! If He’s done that, the daily bread is easy.

It’s not the way the world works, but it is His Kingdom, which isn’t “of this world.” His way isn’t our way. His is the Jesus way. The forgiveness for you way. Forgiveness for all way. YOU DON’T OWE BUT ARE FORGIVEN IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM.

INI + AMEN.

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