These notes are notes done without having much conversation before hand; though hopefully I will come and update them after having discussed them with a brother/sister. These coming chapters have a few teachings which are the topic of much debate and I think often get misunderstood. As this isn’t an essay I wont be comparing many views (though I may mention some), my focus will be on noting what I understand from the text based upon context and study.
Chapter 16: The parable of the shrewd manager (16:1-14). is the first matter to be contested. Some have argued the message is that we as Christians should be shrewd in their business dealing. I think this is wrong. Jesus says near the end of this teaching (16:8b) “For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light”. We, as people of the light, are expected to behave accordingly, and not do business in secret or unjustly. Jesus even encourages us to use our worldly wealth, which isn’t done often, to make friends (16:9). With the focus not being on loving worldly wealth, but on making friends. Furthermore, it is to my understanding that when Jesus speaks regarding the ‘small matters’ (16:10) he is speaking regarding financial things. For a Christian financial wealth is a thing of small importance. Next we have Lazarus and the rich man (16:19-31). In verse 31 we read that if one will not listen to ‘Moses and the prophets’ they would not follow God even if they saw Resurrection. This is interesting because many today are willing to reject the OT or say it is of less merit, yet Jesus clearly values it very highly and suggests it leads to Him.
Chapter 17: Jesus starts by warning us against leading one another into sin (17:1-2), followed by saying we should forgive even those who sin against us repetitively on the same day. This is a challenging teaching! further more this is simply our duty (17:10) and not something we should get extra rewards for. Our wages are eternal life which are enough, we are not deserving of,nor should require more than this which is our agreed wages. When Jesus heals ten men, only one of them comes back (16-18) and this one was the ‘foreigner’. Furthermore the thanks is not a formal ‘thank you Lord’ but rather he throws himself on the ground. Finally the fact that God’s kingdom is in people, not in a physical place (17:21). This could imply many things: that God’s kingdom isn’t bound by physical limitations, that God doesn’t value physical things, or rather that when we pray for His kingdom to come, we are praying an evangelistic not eschatological prayer (though it could be both).
Chapter 18:The parable of the widow is often interpreted in such a way to suggest we should pray persistently (18:1-8). If we note verse 6 we see that this is how a corrupt judge responds, but God is far better than a corrupt judge and responds quickly (18:8). We do not need to chase God and convince Him to help up, but he hears us when we cry. I also noticed how the tax collector did not repent (18:13) though it seems to be implied by his prayer. The tax collector makes no attempt to justify himself or his sin, bur rather asks for what he knows he needs. He asks for the mercy which he needs, as he knows he has sinned. Jesus then again speaks about how hard it is for rich people to enter heaven (18:18-30), and assures us that the riches in following him are vast compared to what we leave to follow him (18:29-30). Finally we see someone who, upon hearing Jesus is near, cries out to him (18:38) and does not stop until he is heard regardless of what people say to him (18:39). When people tell him to be quiet, he cries even louder. He has faith that this will end well, otherwise he would not make a scene when he is already someone considered an outcast. This person sacrifices everything to get to Jesus, as we must to be his disciples.