The Merciful Master! Luke 16:1-13. The 9th Sunday After Trinity

“Behold, God is my Helper!” We look to our money and stuff to deliver us from the woes of this life and the fear of death. These “little things” cannot help for they are fading away. The “True Riches” are found in Christ and His Word! Sermon Text: Luke 16:1-13. Sermon Theme: “The Merciful Master!” Preached at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana for the 9th Sunday After Trinity (9-August-2020) by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

The 9th Sunday After Trinity 9-August-2020
Sermon Text: Luke 16:1-13
Sermon Theme: The Merciful Master!

I.N.R.I. “Behold, God is my Helper, the Lord is the Upholder of my life.” We confess this morning with David in the 54th Psalm.. David prays these words after the Ziphites betrayed him to King Saul. King Saul had determined to kill David to preserve his government. David would not raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed King Saul. He honored the government even as it pursued him, for his hope was in the Lord who rules over all earthly governments. In this year of COVID-19 and insurrectionists who seek to overthrow the rule of law in our land we need to learn again to confess and pray with David. “Behold” – Lift up your eyes and fix them on the Crucified. “God is my Helper” – “The Almighty” humbles Himself to save sinners. Christ Jesus comes to bear your burdens and carry your sins to the cross and grave that He might purchase and win you back from all sins, from death, and the power of the devil. “The Lord” – Yahweh – The God of Promise – spoken to Adam – sealed to Abraham – fulfilled in the flesh and blood of Jesus – He “Upholds” your life. Because He lives – you live. Baptized into His death and resurrection – you cannot die – for your life is hidden in Christ. He who is the Resurrection and the Life assures you that “though you die, yet shall you live” and “whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
Repent of living these days in fear of disease, death, and rebellious mobs. Look only to:”The Merciful Master!”
Our Gospel lesson for today finds our Lord Jesus preaching and feasting with sinners. History records, “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Jesus speaks to these grumblers the parable of the lost sheep and lost coin. Then turning to His disciples He teaches them the parable of the prodigal sons. The younger son had squandered his father’s inheritance in wild living, the older son had squandered his father’s grace and love by thinking that son ship was something he had earned by his hard work. Now Christ Jesus continues to teach us. (vs. 1-2) The parable is straight forward. A rich man and a crooked steward – one who had cooked the books for his own profit. The steward’s crime has been uncovered and evidence bears out the accusation. The rich man calls the steward into his presence. Asks him, “What is this I hear about you?” – the steward offers no defense – he is guilty and his crimes have been uncovered. The rich man demands the books be turned in that an account of his iniquities might be revealed.
The crooked steward is faced with a dilemma. (vs.3-4) He is too frail for hard labor and too proud to stand on the corner and beg. Then the light goes on and he comes up with a plan that will ingratiate him to fellow debtors that they will gladly welcome him into their homes when he is unemployed. (vs. 5-7) Time is short and the books will soon be opened. He calls his fellow debtors for a review of their recorded debts. He has them rewrite their bills reducing their substantial debts. Their debts, though different in commodities, each are reduced about 500 denarius – or 500 days of wages. Those indebted share no complicity in this crooked steward’s crime – they trust in the well known mercy of the Master and think the steward is acting in His behalf.
Behold the mercy of the Master – (vs.8) He doesn’t condemn the sinful steward – He commends his shrewd action. The sons of the world are very shrewd in preparing for their future. They will plot and plan how to secure their retirement – how to succeed in business. They do it for the city of man which is perishing. The sons of light fix their eyes on the city of God which is eternal. St. Augustine wrote, that this “servant cheated…because he exercised foresight for his future…would you not insure yourself for eternal life?” Luther would echo this preaching, “ought not I spit myself in the face that while others rush pell-mell towards hell, I don’t crawl toward heaven?” The children of the world tirelessly pursue their perverted passions while the children of the Light have a great struggle to do what is good. The insurrectionists tirelessly gather in great crowds trying to overturn the rule of law – while many Christians shy away from gathering together to receive the food of immortality.
What does this parable mean? Is Jesus encouraging us to cheat to get ahead in our business dealings? Who is this “rich man?” Who is this “unjust steward” Our Lord Jesus teaches us to call upon God as our loving Father in heaven – begging of Him as dear children ask their dear father. He teaches us that our greatest riches are God the Holy Spirit and His Gospel Word that hallows His name and brings us into His kingdom of grace by faith in Jesus’ holy wounds. We pray that we don’t get our way, but that God’s good and gracious will keep us in His Word and faith until we die. Behold the goodness of our God – He gives us daily all that we “need for the support of this body and life.” Yet like the freed children of Israel we rebel against God’s rule desiring evil and instead of receiving our daily bread with thanksgiving we grumble. We need the “way of escape” from our faithful God. He is Jesus – baptized into His cross and empty tomb – baptism “works the forgiveness of sins.” daily and richly God the Holy Spirit renews us in Jesus’ blood. We pray forgive us our trespasses. Father, look not on our account – look only upon the sacrifice Your only-begotten Son made for my sins upon Calvary. I indeed daily sin much and only deserve God’s just wrath and punishment. I look only to the merciful Master and plead His grace. Rejoicing in my Merciful Master I am freed to forgive from the heart all those who have sinned against me and gladly do good to them.
This unjust steward like the prodigal sons had squandered his merciful Master’s grace. He imagined that religion was for worldly gain and not to follow Jesus’ mercy in pouring out our lives in humble service of our fellow sinners. Greed and the idol of stuff clings to our old adam to the grave. St. Paul warns us against surrendering the true treasure of Christ’s doctrine for this world’s junk, 1Ti 6:3-10 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, (4) he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, (5) useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (6) Now godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (9) But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Listen to our Savior’s Word (vs.9) Forgiven we are freed to forgive and we are freed for giving. That is we are our brother’s keepers – our Lord supplies us with an over abundance of daily bread that we can show mercy to those in need. In caring for them we care for Jesus. St. John teaches us 1Jn 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. Our Merciful Master Jesus frees us from the idol called “Me” to forgive fellow sinners and care for them. Charity flows from Christ Jesus through those who are citizens of the City of God to care for all whom Jesus purchased and won by His suffering and death on the cross. St. Augustine wrote, “It is easy, of course, to understand that we must give alms and a helping hand to the needy, because Christ receives it in them.… We can understand that we have to give alms and that we must not really pick and choose to whom we give them, because we are unable to sift through people’s hearts. When you give alms to all different types of people, then you will reach a few who deserve them. You are hospitable, and you keep your house ready for strangers. Let in the unworthy, in case the worthy might be excluded. You cannot be a judge and sifter of hearts. “
Our Lord Jesus calls us to account of our stewardship. (Vs.10-13) Faithful in least – where is your treasure? That is where your heart is also…. What is recorded on your phone logs, browser history, bank accounts, time logs? Do you gladly spend time pursing that which moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal? Do you grumble when you have to spend more than an hour in God’s House to hear and feast with Jesus on a Sunday morning? Do you have the true God or a man made idol? “This world and the world to come are enemies.” You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Repent and look only to your merciful Master – Jesus Christ.
He is the true riches – He is the unjust Steward – he took on your skin and assumed all your debts of sin, God’s wrath, and hell. He draws near to receive us sinners and feast with us. He says to you this morning, “How much do you owe?” “Temporal death and eternal damnation for my sin.” He says, “Take your bill and write – “baptized” washed forgiven in My blood. How much do you owe? “Your innocent suffering and death.” He says, “Take your bill and write, “forgiven by Jesus.” And how much do you owe? “Everything – eternity suffering under God’s just wrath without a drop of water to quench my thirst.” Take your bill and write: “This is My body given for you, this is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Receive from My mercy – life and salvation. Amen.

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