Forcing your way into the kingdom – that tricky saying in Luke 16:16-18

Posted: November 28, 2012 by J in Bible

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It’s a passage the commentaries make little sense of: what’s it doing there stuck between the two parables about money? And why does Jesus talk about divorce here?

I’m preaching on this, so I’d like to make sense of it. Here’s my effort at a paraphrase translation.

(parable of the shrewd manager)… “So make friends for yourself with unrighteous money, so that you will be given true riches”.

The Pharisees who were lovers of money ridiculed him for this strange instruction to give away riches. But Jesus replied,

“You justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. For there are things that are prized by men, but are an abomination before God.

It’s all there in the law and the prophets, which were proclaimed until John’s ministry. Since John the good news of kingdom of God has been announced – and everyone is pushing into it. But it’s not a case of religious unfaithfulness. This is no divorce and remarriage. By coming into the kingdom of God, you’re not turning your back on the law and the prophets. Quite the opposite: we’re only preaching what was in the law. Heaven and earth will pass away before the smallest letter of the Scriptures will fall!

Even in the law, a man who divorces his wife sins, and a man who marries that divorced woman shares in the sin. So no one’s suggesting that God has abandoned his covenant with you, and that you now need a new one. It’s still the same promises, and God still wants the same things from you!

This attitude I’ve been promoting, of using money now with an eye to the future kingdom – you should have learned that from your Scripture. Listen to a parable about that…

(cue parable of Lazarus and rich man).

That’s all I’ve got for now.
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