St Paul Lutheran Church
The 9th Sunday after Trinity
July 28/29, 2018+
St. Luke 16:1-9
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The way of Jesus is just plain different. Jesus is shrewd. Now normally you wouldn't think that what the man does in the Gospel is something that should be commended. He is an operator, knowing how to work the angles and get ahead in life. The man in the Gospel story that Jesus tells is definitely a shrewd operator. If you are going to get fired from your job, like the guy in the parable, and fired for good reason, because you have been a lousy employee and if that you are too weak to work with your hands and too proud to beg, what you need to do is find all the people who owe your boss money and cancel out a bunch of their debt so that you will make friends with them and they will soften your fall after you get canned. This is a very shrewd plan, it almost seems like sinful, cancelling debts that weren't his to cancel. For Jesus cancellation of debts to make friends is commendable, as a matter of fact it is good, so good that in the story Jesus has the rich man who owned the business commend the guy who not only made up the plan but put it into action, at a loss to him.
So the way of Jesus is different, not minding too much when his employees are wasteful, not minding when they cook the books to cancel debts that don't belong to them. Waste, and the cancelation of debt by an employee that wasn't his to cancel – all commended. Because forgiveness, that is, debt cancellation is exactly what he has come to do and any time it happens with his people he rejoices in it, and He wants you, his people to live that way, the forgiveness way.
The debt you owe to the Father simply cannot be repaid by you. Not with gold or silver, dollars, offerings to church or God. Of course you should be giving your offerings faithfully and sacrificially, but not to pay debts. You can't make up what you owe with your smarts or your engaging personality. You owe a debt you cannot pay. Let anyone who stands take heed lest he fall. Because of the debt of sin, the fall of eternal death would come to each one. So Jesus pays it. He has paid the debt, with his holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death. Jesus gets into the accounting of your life and picks up all with debt and cancels it all out before his Father by paying the price for it all, by shedding his blood, by dying. He lives now to have you live in the cancellation of your debt, which is the preaching of the forgiveness of your sins. All debts paid for at the cross, debt relief delivered to you now in this time, in this place, that is what happens when you, in repentant faith receive the Body and Blood of Christ here and now. The debt was paid once on the cross, the relief of that debt being paid is given do you now. Jesus way. Forgiveness won and delivered.
This is how the Lord chooses to deal with debts that are owed to him, with debtors that are on the hook to him – he forgives their debts. It is a shrewd way the makes friends out of debtor He who forgives the debt is God, and he who won the forgiveness is His only-begotten Son.
The Church lives and works in the shrewd debt cancellation way of Jesus. You as a member of the Christ's deal shrewdly, when someone owes you something, you forgive it. When someone has hurt you, you release them from their guilt. You work and strive to lessen everyone else's debt, knowing that your Father in heaven has not only forgiven you, he will also forgive them. If you tell someone that you forgive them, you are simply acting as one who has been forgiven first, and this is how Jesus has you believe and live. St. Paul would warn us to live no other way than by the Jesus way, and certainly not the way of idolatry or sexual immorality. The children of Israel did that, the people had their idols, they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play and they indulged in sexual immorality and on one day 23 thousand of them died. We must not put Christ to the test, in the assumption or presumption of forgiveness. God will not be mocked.
Though temptations will come, they need not overtake you. God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it. The way is not to give into the temptation, or to excuse sin or to imagine that it doesn't matter, or to presume that you can go ahead and put God to the test because "He will forgive me anyway" rather as you heard, "This God, his way is perfect, the Word of the Lord proves true he is a shield for all who trust in him.. For who is God but the Lord? And who is a rock except our God? The Lord Jesus Christ, our of his eternal riches became the debt bearer and forgiver and is the one who stands alive as the man who is the refuge in temptation the way of escape. His way is the way of his Words and promises. His way is perfect. That is Jesus way, the perfect way, giving you life by his Gospel, the proclamation of the cancellation of debt of sin by his blood. That is Jesus' way; different, shrewd, and it is your way unto everlasting life. Amen.