This week, we'll be looking at a story Jesus told that is so weird, so seemingly out of character for Him, you might think--if you're reading it for the first time--that some cynic has pasted it into your Bible when you weren't looking. In the story (found in Luke 16:1-9), Jesus seems to hold up a crook as an example for Christians to follow (?). Then He seems to say that people who know how to work the system in this world are smarter than righteous folks (??). Then He tops it off by saying--literally--"use your filthy money to make friends for yourself so they'll help you out when you need it later" (???).
Have you ever heard someone you knew well say something completely unexpected and out of character? The sweet older woman who seemingly never had an unkind thought put her finger in your face and told you in no uncertain terms what would happen if you ever treated her that way again. Or the friend who was constantly joking around suddenly broke down in tears describing his heartache over his rebellious teenage son. When such things happen, we pay attention. We remember what they said. It has an impact on us, precisely because it was so unexpected. I think that's what Jesus is up to in this parable. But with that said, what was He trying to teach us through this unusual parable?
This is the last of our yearlong study on the parables of Jesus. The following Sunday is the beginning of Advent, believe it or not. You might find it an odd choice for me to end this long study with such a strange story. But I think you'll find if you hear the sermon that this story sums up the entirety of Jesus' message quite neatly. I hope you will be with us Sunday.