Jesus spoke in riddles. His stories are often layered. And sometimes they would be described in modern terms as having a lot of sass.
Luke 16 begins with the story of a rich man and his dishonest manager. The manager gets fired, so he runs off and makes friends with all the rich man’s debtors by giving them discounts. Jesus’ moral is:
9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
After sitting in front of these words for about ten minutes (and reading back and forth through the passage), it finally clicked. We are supposed to use the material possessions of this world to tell people about God’s kingdom so that when we get there, many people will greet us from how we used our money. It nearly the opposite of the American dream which is focused on how far I can pull myself up by my bootstraps. It dares to ask, “how much can I give?”
When we give, God knows He can trust us with what we have. And so He can give us more. And more. And MORE! But we money so often steals the spotlight. Jesus warns, we can only serve one master.
Luke has a sense of humor…
14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.
Ooooh, burn!! But how would I respond?
There is still a lot about this chapter that I do not understand. Why did Luke include all the verse about divorce that seems so out of place?
Jesus wraps up this chapter with another story, in which He talks about another rich man and names the beggar at his gate. I’ve heard a theory that this is a real story, which makes it more intriguing. Essentially, the rich man had good on earth and ended up in torment, while Lazarus suffered on earth and was with the Patriarch of Israel after death. And yet Abraham said that it would not do any good for someone to give any further warning to the people still on earth.
Jesus’ last statement is a bit tongue in cheek, full of meaning:
31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”