Up a Tree
“And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.' And Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham” (Luke 19:8-9).
Jesus insists on giving sinners a chance to repent. Jesus showed that “anyone” can be restored to the Father through the story of Zacchaeus when He worked the “saving transformation on a man who's situation seemed to be one of double jeopardy: he is both a chief tax collector and a man of wealth” (Nolland, 904).1
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. For the kingdom of heaven is like...” (Matthew 19:29-20:1a)
It has become common knowledge that God will bless people 100 times over (or with “100% interest”) for what they sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. However, because this parable has been lifted from the context of Jesus' larger teaching (since Jesus is the most misquoted person in history), people have used it to support their worldly inspired visions of a material heaven.
“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:14).
As in Luke 14:11, Jesus illustrates again illustrates the concept of the “upside-down Kingdom.” For justification cannot come by works, by religion, or any other man made attempt to reach God. Christ is clear that it is only through recognizing our helplessness and repenting of our failure that we shall be found, just as He explained repeatedly that “whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33). Even in the Old Testament, again and again, disaster is promised to be averted if only God's people will humble themselves and repent of their ways (2 Chronicles 7:14, 33:23, 36:12, Ezra 8:21)! It's a paradoxical principle of humiliation before exaltation, which is seen best in Christ's ministry on earth.
And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:6-8)
Jesus told two parables to his disciples regarding the nature of how they should pray:
Codex Aureus of Echternach
“The poor man [Lazerus] died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” (Luke 16:22-23)
While the story of Lazerus and the rich man is a parable, that doesn't negate the Truth elements depicted in it. Jesus is never known to fabricate or repeat myths even in his parabolic storytelling. Thus, even if the events described didn't happen historically (though Lazerus is the only named character in a parable), the
"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Luke 16:10-13).
Trust with riches & relationships are earned. It's amazing how many people misinterpret this passage for Jesus' teaching here isn't rocket science.
What lesson for Christian stewardship can be applied from the parable of the Unjust Manager? (Luke 16:1-13)
“do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1Corinthians 6:19-20)
Paul outlined that God not only created us, but bought us back from the life of sin we chose over Him. While Paul is explicitly speaking of our physical bodies, it would seem natural to extend such a philosophy of indebtedness to every aspect of our lives, for if our own bodies are not our own, how much more so the skills and knowledge He gave us? The families and friends that bless us? The jobs and wealth that He has granted us? Should we not see ourselves as nothing more than stewards when it comes to every aspect of our lives? In this regard, we need to act more like the shrewd manager, that is thinking of my future, my eternal future. Each day we should be waking up and asking, how can we use these possessions and qualities that we've been granted authority over to impact my true home, the eternal Kingdom. Whether it be money, time, or talents, investing them back into the Kingdom from which they came, and to which we will live in for eternity, is the most logical approach.
In the parable of the prodigal son whom does the father, the lost son, and the eldest son represent?
Rembrandt, The Lost Son
“It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" (Luke 15:32)
The key to understanding the story of the prodigal sons is the context in which Jesus told the parable, which was a crowd of tax-collectors & sinners who “were gathering to hear him” and Pharisees & teachers of the Law who were muttering about why he'd hang around such shameful people.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)
If anyone does not prioritize their calendar around loving Christ, they are not worthy to call themselves His disciple. Whoever is unwilling to be buried in unmarked grave as a traitor to their country for the name of Christ, is not worthy to be called Christ's disciple.
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)
At a dinner where Pharisees were scrambling for the “places of honor at the table” Jesus told a parable instructing them to take humble seats, for if the host asks them to move to a higher seat they will be exalted and if the host asks them to move to a lower seat they will be shamed before everyone. While this may come across as a sly way to get ahead by practicing a false humility in order for the host to publicly “indicate your intrinsic superiority” (Elwell, 825), v11 shows that Jesus was clearly illustrating the Kingdom law of “humility before honor,” which demands “self-humbling” and the elevation of others (Howell, 237).