Text: Luke 16:1-13
If you are not sure what to make of this Parable of the Unjust Steward or as it is sometimes called the Shrewd Manager, take some comfort. I’m not sure Luke knew what to do with it either. It may very well be one of the most, if not the most, confusing parables of Jesus. One of the first things to note about this narrative is that it serves as a bridge between two other stories: the story of the Prodigal Son and the Rich Man and Lazarus. Like the prodigal in the preceding story, the dishonest manager has “squandered” what was entrusted to him. And, like the story that follows, this parable begins with the phrase, “There was a rich man.”
As one commentator noted: “Although the dishonest manager does not repent like the prodigal, or act virtuously like Lazarus, he nonetheless does something with the rich man’s wealth that reverses the existing order of things. In Luke, reversals of status are at the heart of what happens when Jesus and the Kingdom of God appear. The proud are ‘scattered.’ The powerful are brought down and the lowly lifted; the hungry are filled and the rich are sent away empty.” If we can say nothing else about this confusing parable, Luke uses it to further his theme of upside down thinking.