Summary: The Mammon of Unrighteousness is not your works or ways, your merits or deeds, but the Eternal Flesh and Blood Oblation of our Dear Lord Jesus
“Mammon of Unrighteousness—His Eternal Flesh and Blood Oblation”
the Sunday Sermon preached for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity
at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church—UAC
by the Rev. Frederick E. Davison, Pastor
August 17, 2003
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Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. [Amen.]
The sermon for the Ninth Sunday after the Holy Trinity is recorded in the Holy Gospel appointed, the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke chapter 16th, with particular focus on these words:
“…Make friends to yourselves of the mammon of unrighteousness…”
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. [Amen.]
“There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, ‘How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.’
“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. Ah, I know what I am going to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.”
He’s faced the facts of the matter. He doesn’t argue about the fact that he’s wasted and plundered part of his master’s goods. Apparently it is pretty obvious. It must be a rather well and widely known fact—the master had heard. And for him the gig was up. He was done. What was he going to do? The solution was beyond him. The situation was out of his control. His stewardship was going to end and there was no doubt about it. He needed to act and he did it “quickly.”
“So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, ‘How much owest thou unto my lord?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of oil.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.’ Then said he to another, ‘And how much owest thou?’ And he said, ‘An hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said unto him, ‘Take thy bill, and write fourscore.’
The question is why? Yes, part of the why’s been answered: ‘so that he will be received by them into their houses…” First, when the Lord comes to accuse the unrighteous steward, he doesn’t throw him into jail as by rights he could have. This unrighteous steward’s lord is a merciful lord. And his mercy is apparently wide and well known, for his tenants do not question his unrighteous stewards actions. It is in fact, the unrighteous stewards’ lords’ mercy that he counts upon. It is the lord’s mercy that makes his actions makes sense. It is his lord’s mercy that this steward banks on when he figures out what it is he is going to do.
Counting on his master’s mercy, he figures out his plan. His first judgment he looks at purely pragmatically. It uses simple worldly common sense—“What will I do?” He is in such dire straits that he even thinks about such distasteful options as the Prodigal Son in the parable just before, but these for him are no option at all. Although he is an unrighteous steward, he is brutally honest with himself about his situation: “I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.”
And his lord—that is the lord of the parable—commends his unrighteous steward for being “wise.” Not for deceit and deception, but in trusting in his mercy, the unrighteous steward would see not only how mercifully he treated his steward, but also how kindly the master treated his debtors as well.
And the Lord Jesus applies this teaching toward His disciples saying, “the children of this world are *in their generation* wiser than the children of light [are in theirs].
So often when taking up this teaching of Jesus, we are amazed that Jesus would seem to commend unrighteousness. But even our little guys here know that can’t be true. They know that if Jesus said, “keep the Commandments”—and He *does*—there is *no* way He is teaching us to bear false witness, or to steal, or anything like it. So what *is* He teaching?
This unrighteous steward was brutally honest with himself. He knew he was. He knew that on *that* account, he was liable to the judgment of his master, and further, when that judgment was made, he was threw. So he was, first of all, honest about his master’s judgment of *him.*
But the second thing his master commends is besides being honest about his master’s judgment, he was honest about what that meant. There was nothing *he* could do *himself* to get out of it. But, there *was something that his master could do for him.