Lesson 4: Parables

Jesus offered them still another parable: “The kindom* of heaven is like the yeast a baker took and mixed in with three measures of flour until it was leavened all through.

– Matthew 13:33 (TIB) 

*Along with replacing “the kingdom of God” with the “reign of God” or “reign of heaven,” some modern translators favor the word “kindom” over “kingdom.” Kindom refers to a state of relationship, whereas “kingdom” has classist and governmental connotations.

Devotion: Read Luke 16:1-13. The parable of the dishonest manager shocks many people. They wonder why Jesus would use a scoundrel as an example. This awakens us to the true nature of parables. Although the explanation offered for the parable of the sower earlier this week suggests it is an analogy, parables are seldom analogies. They are stories intended to surprise us into opening parts of our minds and hearts closed off by the routines of life. In this case, we are caught off guard when the master commends the manager for being shrewd and just as surprised when Jesus says we should emulate him. The lazy man knows how to use his position and resources to accomplish what matters to him (taking care of himself!) and secure his future. What are we using our positions and resources to accomplish? What keeps the “people of light” from being shrewd with positions and resources? How would it change our view of money and work if we saw them as tools given to us to accomplish something for God?

Personal Worship Option: Read Luke 16:10-13. Spend time in prayer, reflecting on how you view money. Who does your money serve most of the time? What is at least one new way you might use the resources at your disposal (position, money, relationships) to serve God?

Dig A Little Deeper:

When we squander money or property (15:13, 16:1), what does it say about us? 

What is the role of self-reflection (16:3) in being shrewd? What attitudes are required for us to be self-reflective? What is the connection between prayer and self-reflection?

Some scholars believe the manager cancels the extravagant interest he is personally adding to the debt, not canceling the original debt at all. If this is the case, how does it change the message of the parable?

If the debtors believe the manager is reducing their original debt, how will they view the manager? How will they view the rich man? If the debtors do not know the manager is about to be fired, would it change their outlook? Why would the rich man commend the manager?

Compare the term “children of this age” to “children of light.” What is being communicated by those expressions?

What “friends” should children of light be making with the wealth to which they have access? How does the phrase “welcome you into the eternal homes” impact what friends we seek?

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