Sunday School Lesson – June 24, 2018 Reaping God’s Justice
To follow along, visit your local Christian bookstore, and ask for the Bible Expositor and Illuminator
Time: A.D. 30 Place: Probably Perea
As the parable of the prodigal son set before us the grace of the gospel, so this sets before us the wrath to come and is designed for our awakening. The tendency of the gospel of Jesus is both to reconcile us to poverty and affliction and to arm us against temptations to worldliness and sensuality. Now, this parable goes far in prosecuting those two great intentions. This parable is not like Jesus’ other parables where He uses natural things to bring about a spiritual meaning. But here the spiritual things themselves are represented in a narrative or description of the different state of good and bad in the world and the world to come. This lesson is about a rich man and a poor man, we don’t know if this rich man shared any of his blessings with others or not, one thing we do know for sure is that he didn’t share it with Lazarus. The rich man enjoyed life, while Lazarus who was poor in need of help laid at the gate of the rich man full of sores desiring to be fed from the crumbs of the rich man table; the dogs had more compassion on the poor man than the rich man. Both men had an appointed time with death, one enters into the bosom of Abraham while the other enters hell.
Lesson Outline: I. Rich Man, Poor Man – Luke 16:19-21
Luke 16:19- There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. There was a certain rich man, who was not given a name but was only described as a rich man. “Rich man”, in this story is often referred to as Dives. The word dives is a Latin word that means rich. It doesn’t state whether or not this particular person held some type of official position or not, but it does let the reader know this man was rich. “Clothed in purple”, purple clothes were extremely expensive because they were made with a special dye extracted from a certain kind of snail. This rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen, he had fine linen which was probably changed every day. His table was furnished with all the varieties and dainties that nature and art could supply. His side-table richly adorned with beautiful china, most likely he had women and men servants to wait on him head and foot. He wanted for nothing as he thought most likely to himself. It was no sin to be rich, no sin to wear purple and have fine linen, his problem was he forsook the distress of the poor and afflicted, provoking God and bringing spiritual detrimental to his soul. The Pharisees considered wealth as a proof of righteousness, Jesus startled them with this story about the rich man and Lazarus.
Luke 16:20 – And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus which was laid at his gate full of sores. Here is a godly man in the depth of adversity and distress. This poor man was reduced to the last extremity, as miserable as you can suppose a man to be in this world. His body was full of sores, to be sick and weak in body is a great affliction, but sores are more painful to the person and more loathsome to those about him. During this time of history, there wouldn’t have been any nonprofit organizations or government agencies to help disabled people or those who found themselves in dire straits would find themselves begging, even today there are many states and countries where those who need basic necessities and medical needs are reduced to begging to survive. Because of his illness, he probably couldn’t get to the rich man’s gate himself, some compassionate person laid him at the gate. Those who are not able to help the poor monetarily should help them with some kind of gesture other than “God bless you”. Take the time to hear their story, take the time to see if there’s something you can do to ease their pain.
Luke 16:21 – And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. His expectation of the rich man was just to be fed the crumbs from the table. He didn’t look for a whole dinner though he ought to have had one, he was just desiring to be fed the crumbs. The dogs showed more compassion than the rich man, they came and licked his sores. Wound licking is normal with dogs, cats, rodents, and primates all lick wounds. There is a common folk belief that animal saliva, especially that of dogs, has healing properties for human wounds. Evidence for this comes from a number of historical traditions. Similar to others unable to work, Lazarus was laid at a gate where he could receive charity from those with the ability to help.
Lesson Outline: II. Reward and Retribution – Luke 16:22-23
Luke 16:22 – And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died and was buried. Both men had an appointment with death, the rich man’s wealth could not exempt him from death and both had to answer to what they had done in life and toward others. The beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom whereas the rich man died and was buried. Lazarus was escorted into the presence of Abraham to rest at his side, being the father of the Hebrew people, Abraham was seen as the overseer of paradise, the place where the righteous would go after death. Lazarus was taken to paradise indicates his righteousness, although nothing is stated about his faith or character, he didn’t go to heaven because of his poverty. Although he was poor, most likely he was rich in spirit, sin wasn’t going to enter into paradise. For Jesus to give this parable, He was indicating riches does not make one righteous and giving an example of the heart whether it was right with God or not.
Luke 16:23 – And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. The word translated “hell” in our text is the Greek Hades which was understood as the world of the dead and equivalent to the Hebrew Sheol, often found in the Old Testament. Hades was not necessarily a place of suffering but just the place people went after death. However, in the New Testament, Hades is usually depicted as a place of torment. The rich man was very much aware of where he was and he saw Abraham and Lazarus indicating his spirit wasn’t dead and he was aware of everything that was going on. We don’t know whether or not the lost can see what they missed if so, this would add to their torment not only being tormented by worms but also seeing what they could have had.
Lesson Outline: III Request Denied – Luke 16:24-28
Luke 16:24 – And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. Realizing where he was caused the rich man to cry out for mercy. As a Jew, it was appropriate for him to address Abraham as “Father”. The physical descent of Abraham didn’t mean they had a spiritual relationship with God. The rich man was able to see Lazarus and also seeing him being comforted by Abraham. Although he didn’t assist Lazarus when they both were alive, but he wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in the water to cool his tongue. You would think he would have wanted more than his tongue cooled. Even in torment, he’s looking at Lazarus as a servant. According to An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, Baker, “If hell is not real fire, as some insist, then it is worse than fire; for the reality is always greater than the symbol”. According to the Word of God there is a hell, and its a place where the worm does not die (And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched – Mark 9:43-44). The Father wouldn’t have had hell written in the Holy Scriptures if it wasn’t so. It’s a place of torment, its a place prepared for Satan, and his angels and all those who reject salvation with true repentance.
Luke 16:25 – But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Abraham reminded the rich man of his former life of luxury and how Lazarus had poverty, privation, and pain. The standard by which the rich man treated others was now being applied to him. In his lifetime he lacked compassion, so now there was no compassion towards him. According to the Bible, a man reaps what he sows (Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap – Galatians 6:7). Whether our actions are good or evil, compassionate or non-compassionate we will receive what we have sown. The rich man was still selfish, he was only concerned about his needs and he wanted the man he had over-looked to come to his rescue.
Luke 16:26 – And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Even if Abraham had wanted to grant the request of the rich man, he couldn’t because those who were in heaven couldn’t go to hell and those who were in hell couldn’t go to heaven. One’s eternal destiny is fixed at death, there is no place where you stay for a little while and then be released. Once your spirit leaves your body its either going to heaven or hell. This also gives us an example of once people die they aren’t returning to earth visiting their loved ones.
Luke 16:27 – Then he said, I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house. The rich man asked for a heavenly envoy to be sent so that his brothers would not repeat his irreversible error. It is difficult to know if his concerns for his brothers was sincere or just a backhanded way of saying that in his own life he had not received an adequate warning about the judgment, if so, Abraham probably would have reminded him of the prophets God sent to His people instructing them to repent of their sins and return to Him. Even now, God sends His Word through television ministries, radio ministries, internet, people witnessing, there will be no excuse for those who reject God’s salvation through His Son, Jesus. Not only must one receive salvation, but they have to come subject to God’s written Word of instructions.
Luke 16:28 – For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. The rich man had five brothers he wanted to warn about the place of torment. He didn’t want them to end up there, but how did he think if Lazarus could return him being a beggar could influence his brothers? Most likely they were rich as well, who would have listened to him? Sometimes people can be so cold-hearted, and sin natured until you can’t witness to them verbally, but you can witness to them through your lifestyle and your actions of love towards them.
Lesson Outline: IV. Revelation Sufficient – Luke 16:29-31
Luke 16:29 – Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. Abraham made it clear that the rich man’s brothers should have known what to do since they had the message of God in the ancient writings. The point here is that generosity with money and care for the poor were taught in the Old Testament.
Luke 16:30 – And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. The rich man’s request was a logical attempt by a man who now knew better and wanted to help those he loved. The answer given by the Lord in quoting Abraham was that the living can do no better than to live by the light God has already given them. Someone coming back from the dead would not convince them.
Luke 16:31 – And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead. A person who rejects God’s message will not be persuaded by resurrection. Though the rich man’s request for a heavenly messenger is denied within the parable, it is honored in the telling of the account, because the parable is part of a Gospel that announces Christ’s resurrection. Jesus is the only one that was resurrected from the dead, Lazarus from Bethany was raised from the dead because Jesus resurrected him like He’s going to do for all those who have believed and placed their trust and the submission to His Lordship on His return.