Sunday 18 September 2022

Bible Book:

'No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.' (v. 13)

Luke 16:1-13 Sunday 18 September 2022

Psalm 113


The words in today's reading may be confusing to those who live so many centuries after they were spoken. For at first glance the steward in the story that Jesus is telling seems to be totally immoral by modern standards. He is taking revenge on his employer by giving discounts to those owing him money, and making his own life more comfortable in the process. Bible scholars who have studied the text deeply have also had some difficulty making sense of these words in Luke’s Gospel, so we do not need to stress ourselves too much when we, too, find them difficult to understand.

It would appear that  Luke when compiling his gospel was reflecting on many of the comments that related to the care of money and there is a suggestion that the parable should finish at the end of verse seven. But we need to look at the background of the story and what Jesus would intend to be understood by the activities of the man. The sincere Jew would – as is still the case today – live to a set of rules laid down for them by the rabbis and their faith. One such rule said that usury, the charging of interest when loaning money, was totally disallowed. The servant had noted that his master was generous in making loans but also added a sum of interest to the capital being offered. If we understand this, then the servant, rather than cheating the master by repaying such interest, was preventing him from being in trouble with his faith.

Like the passage in Luke 14 where Jesus seems to be telling his listeners that they have to turn their backs on their families, indeed to hate them, it would seem that he is deliberately seeking to get his listeners to be startled into taking notice of what it costs to be one of his followers. In that case (in Luke 14) despite the comfortable life they have been used to they might well have to leave it all behind to do the work they are called on to do as his followers. 

In the story we have before us today, we have to be very careful when it comes to loving our neighbours, that we do not in the process exploit them. It can still make an uncomfortable read, but on reflection it gives us the opportunity to look to the way in which we ourselves might have exploited those who have sought to help, and seek to make recompense in the process.

To Ponder:

  • If you were the master in the story would you have seen the manager’s actions as being sensible or otherwise?
  • In our own time, can we think of situations which might have similar outcomes to that recorded?
  • Do you think Luke is developing the story rather than leaving it as Jesus intended it to be?


As we are called to love our neighbours, help us Lord, to treat them all, those close at hand and those further away, with fairness and care. Help us not to make greater demands of them than they are able to fulfil, and help us to seek always to do your will rather than look to our own glory. Amen.

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