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The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., August 18, 2019
Part of the The Parables of Jesus series.

Not all of the parables of Jesus are easy to understand or apply. Some are readily interpreted and applied because Jesus Himself gives us the meaning. For example, the parable of the sower recorded in Matthew 13 is immediately explained by Jesus such that there is little doubt about its meaning. And other parables of our Lord are so very simple that no explanation is even needed. This would apply to the parable of the mustard seed (also in Matthew 13), and the parable of the lamp (Luke 8).

But then, there are some parables that are deeply mysterious, seemingly obscure, and even confusing to us. Such is the case with the parable that we will examine this coming Lord’s Day.

In Luke 16 we find what has been called the most perplexing of Jesus’ parables, the parable of the dishonest manager (16:1-9). Some even find this parable to be embarrassing for Christians, since it appears that Jesus endorses dishonesty (see v. 9).

The parable itself is actually quite entertaining, for in it we meet a man who has to think very quickly on his feet in order to get out of a big jam. According to Jesus, he demonstrates the quality of shrewdness, a character trait that, oddly enough, should be found in all disciples (vv. 8-9).

Despite the apparent difficulties with this story, it is nonetheless aimed primarily at Jesus’ disciples (16:1), and, therefore, it has much to teach us as well. It will be a rich blessing, if not a challenge, to explore this parable together on Sunday!