The Unjust Steward and the Just Savior: A Sermon on Luke 16
It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. Every birthday pushes you one day closer to deathday. The candles are finally blown out by your final breath. It is the point of no return. But it is not really a point, death, that is—day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, we are perpetually dying. Even the common cold is a reminder that one day our mortal flesh shall lie cold within the earth. As for the days of our life, they contain 70 years, or if due to strength, 80 years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow, for soon it is gone and we fly away.
We fly away to the judgment seat of God. There we shall appear before the One who knows all, before whom nothing is hidden. Do you really think you can conceal something, anything, from Him? He who created the eye—has He not seen your every greedy gaze, your every lustful look, what you’ve done when no man’s eye looked on? He who formed the ear—has He not listened to every lie and heard every hateful word you’ve spoken? He who shaped the hands—do you think He is ignorant of thieving hands, lazy hands, hands bloody from violence and back-stabbing, hands grabbing for more and more? Yes, He knows all—not only the sins you remember and are ashamed of, but also those you have forgotten and even those you never knew you committed.
On what will you rely in that day? Those on trial in human courts – who truly are innocent – rely on the evidence to prove their lack of guilt. Those who truly are guilty, but claim innocence, they rely on ambiguities in the evidence, the skill of their attorneys, loopholes in the law, and whatever else they can use to get a “not guilty” verdict. But both these approaches are hopeless before the almighty bar of justice. You are not innocent, but guilty, and there is a mountain of indisputable evidence to prove that; nor are there any loopholes in the law; nor is there a “dream team” of lawyers to get you off the hook. Who shall you be like in that day? You shall be like the unjust steward in the parable our Lord Jesus told.
He was caught red-handed, this steward, caught wasting his master’s goods. Very shortly he would be out of a job. Too weak to dig, too ashamed to beg, he acted shrewdly to plan for his future. Calling in his master’s debtors, he reduced their bills—from 100 to 50 measures of oil, from 100 to 80 measures of wheat. So pleased would these renters have been that, when the steward was fired, they’d receive him into their homes. But what about the rich man, this steward’s boss? Once he discovered that his employee had messed with the books, couldn’t he change them back? In addition, could he not have the steward arrested, tried, and jailed for his misdeeds? He could have, of course, but that is precisely the point: he did not. Quite the opposite, he commended the steward because he had dealt shrewdly.
The unjust steward had banked on the mercy of his master. For not only the steward, but the master as well would have appeared good and gracious in the eyes of the renters for lowering the amount they owed. When found guilty before his master, with nowhere else to turn, the steward turned back to the master himself. This man’s compassion and generosity were his only hope for the future. His judge became his savior.
And so it is with you. The stewardship given you by the heavenly Master—your body and soul, money and property, vocation and family—all of these you have abused and misused. To deny this is to deceive only yourself. There is only one hope for you when you stand before the almighty Judge; there is only one place to turn—to the Judge Himself. “The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son.” But this Son to whom the Father has committed all judgment is also the Son who has been delivered up for your sins. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,” not to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him. Your hope is not that you are better than others; your hope is not that God has been blind to your wrong-doing; your hope is not that your good deeds outweigh your misdeeds; your hope is in the very One who sits in judgment upon you. For that One who sits on the throne of judgment is the very One who was willingly nailed to the crucifix as the one judged for you.
He who created the eye and has seen all you’ve done—His are the eyes that closed in death and opened in resurrection life, that they might look upon you as the apple of His eye. He who formed the ear and has heard all you’ve said—His are the ears that are open to your cry, that will not hear the accusations of the devil, that are deaf to anything said evil of you. He who made your hands—His are the hands held in place by the spikes, the hands which scooped up water to bathe away your iniquity, the hands that place within your mouth His own blood and flesh, the hands upon which your name is inscribed. He knows all, this Judge, but more importantly, He knows that you are His.
O Sin, you cannot condemn us, because for us the sinless One has already been condemned. He who knew no sin was made sin for us that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. O devil, you cannot accuse us, because you have already been judged yourself and you have nothing in the Son. If you have nothing in Him then you have nothing in us, for Christ abides in us and we in Him. O Law, you cannot curse us, for Jesus has become a curse for us. Cursed is everyone hung on a tree, says the Law, and on that tree He has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the One who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us?” If our Judge is our intercessor; if our Brother, Priest, Savior, and Friend is the One before we shall stand, we have nothing to fear. It is appointed for me to die once, and after this comes judgment. And after judgment, come the words, “Welcome, blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for your from the foundation of the world. Welcome, unjust steward justified by Me.”