Trinity 9: The Shrewd Dishonest Manager
We hear the Word of the Lord:
2 Samuel 22:26–34
1 Corinthians 10:6–13
Luke 16:1–9 (10–13)
We meditate on the Word of the Lord:
“The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness” (Luke 16:1–9). The steward’s shrewdness is praiseworthy for two reasons. First, he knew the master would be merciful. He trusted that the master would honor the debts he forgave in the master’s name. In the same way, though we have squandered our heavenly Father’s possessions in selfishness and sin, Jesus is the Steward who has canceled our debt, knowing that His forgiveness will be honored by the Father because of the holy cross. Secondly, the steward was shrewd in using oil and wheat to provide for his earthly welfare. So also do these earthly elements aid us when pressed into heavenly use in the anointing of baptism and the wheat of the Lord’s Supper. Those who have the Sacraments will have an eternal home when their earthly home fails. These provide us aid in times of temptation (1 Cor. 10:6–13). For the Lord is our strength and a shield to all who trust in Him (2 Sam. 22:26–34).
Luther on the Gospel Reading:
You must hence remember that eternal life consists of two things, faith and what follows faith. If you go and believe and do good to your neighbor, everlasting life must follow, although you never think about it. Just as when you take a good drink, the taste will follow as soon as you drink, even though you do not seek it. So it is also with hell, the damned do not seek it, but it follows unsought and undesired, and he must inherit it whether he will or no. This St. Paul also says, I Thes. 2:15-16, of the persecutors of the Gospel: They “drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always, but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.” As though he would say: They only persecute us to fill the measure of their sins and fairly to deserve hell, and ever urge their sins more and more until they become entirely hardened, and finally have no regard for either God or man.
16. Thus the Scriptures declare here, that we should do good, so that we may be saved; and this is not meant to say, that we must first earn salvation by our works, but that we must believe, and it will follow of itself. Therefore mark well, that you do not take what follows for what goes before, and keep yourself free from the merit of works. Should God give us heaven for our works? No, no, he has already given us heaven freely, out of mere mercy. Therefore give unto the poor, in order that the eternal tabernacles may follow, and not that you may merit them by your works.
17. Observe then that these passages are explained in two different ways. First, that a man should seek salvation by works, which is false. Second, as a consequence of faith, which is right. Therefore, you are not to seek heaven with any kind of works, but only to do the works freely, then the result, eternal life, will follow of itself without your seeking. For if I should see heaven standing open and could merit it by picking up a straw, I would not do it, lest I might say: Behold, I have earned it! No, no, not to my deservings, but to God be the glory, who has given me his Son to abolish sin and hell for me.
18. In the third place, you should faithfully hold fast to the following words: “That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles.” Behold, they say, here it stands written that they receive us into heaven, how then can you say that we dare not place the saints as mediators before God, and that they cannot help us to heaven? Here observe, that we have but one Redeemer before God, and he is Christ. For thus St. Paul speaks, 1 Tim. 2:5: “For there is one God, one Mediator also between God and man, himself man, Christ Jesus.” Again, Christ himself in John 14:6 says: “I am the way, no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Therefore we must not seek our consolation in any of the saints, but in Christ alone, through whose merits alone we and all Saints are saved. Therefore I will not give a penny for St. Peter’s merits, that he should help me. He cannot help himself, but whatever he has he has from God by faith in Christ. Now then, if he cannot help himself, how then can he do anything for me? Consequently I must have another, who is Christ, God and man in one.(From Luther’s Church Postil, text in public domain).
BWV 105 – “Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht”
Cantata for the Ninth Sunday after Trinity
Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht. Denn vor dir wird kein Lebendiger gerecht.
Lord, do not pass judgment on Your servant. For before You no living creature is justified.
|2. Rezitativ A
Mein Gott, verwirf mich nicht,
Indem ich mich in Demut vor dir beuge,
Von deinem Angesicht.
Ich weiß, wie groß dein Zorn und mein Verbrechen ist,
Daß du zugleich ein schneller Zeuge
Und ein gerechter Richter bist.
Ich lege dir ein frei Bekenntnis dar
Und stürze mich nicht in Gefahr,
Die Fehler meiner Seelen
Zu leugnen, zu verhehlen!
|2. Recitative A
My God, do not toss me away,
since I bow down before You in humility,
before Your countenance.
I know how great is Your wrath and my trespass,
that You are at once a swift witness
and a righteous Judge.
I lay before You a free confession
and do not plunge myself into danger,
by denying or concealing
the faults of my sins!
|3. Arie S
Wie zittern und wanken
Der Sünder Gedanken,
Indem sie sich untereinander verklagen
Und wiederum sich zu entschuldigen wagen.
So wird ein geängstigt Gewissen
Durch eigene Folter zerrissen.
|3. Aria S
How the thoughts of the sinner
tremble and waver,
while they make accusations among themselves
and again and again try to excuse themselves.
Thus an anxious conscience
is torn apart by its own torment.
|4. Rezitativ B
Wohl aber dem, der seinen Bürgen weiß,
Der alle Schuld ersetzet,
So wird die Handschrift ausgetan,
Wenn Jesus sie mit Blute netzet.
Er heftet sie ans Kreuze selber an,
Er wird von deinen Gütern, Leib und Leben,
Wenn eine Sterbestunde schlägt,
Dem Vater selbst die Rechnung übergeben.
So mag man deinen Leib, den man zum Grabe trägt,
Mit Sand und Staub beschütten,
Dein Heiland öffnet dir die ewgen Hütten.
|4. Recitative B
Yet it is well for him who knows his Indemnitor,
who makes reparation for all guilt,
for the signature disappears
when Jesus moistens it with His blood.
He Himself lifts us up on the Cross,
He will hand over the account of your goods, body, and life,
when your hour of death strikes,
to the Father Himself.
Therefore your body, which is carried to the grave,
may well be covered over with sand and dust,
while your Savior opens the eternal courts for you.
|5. Arie T
Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen,
So gilt der Mammon nichts bei mir.
Ich finde kein Vergnügen hier
Bei dieser eitlen Welt und irdschen Sachen.
|5. Aria T
If I can only make Jesus my friend,
then Mammon is worth nothing to me.
I find no pleasure here
in the midst of this vain world and earthly objects.
Nun, ich weiß, du wirst mir stillen
Mein Gewissen, das mich plagt.
Es wird deine Treu erfüllen,
Was du selber hast gesagt:
Daß auf dieser weiten Erden
Keiner soll verloren werden,
sondern ewig leben soll,
Wenn er nur ist Glaubens voll.
(“Jesu, der du meine Seele,” verse 11)
Now, I know, You shall quiet in me
my conscience which gnaws at me.
Your faithful love will fulfill
what You Yourself have said:
that upon this wide earth
no one shall be lost,
rather shall live forever,
if only he is filled with faith.
|Psalm 143:2 (mov’t. 1); “Jesu, der du meine Seele,” verse 11: Johann Rist 1641 (mov’t. 6)|