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Less 179 THE UNJUST STEWARD AND THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

 
Luke 16:1-31;

Lesson 179 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much" (Luke 16:10).

I The Unjust Steward

The steward was called to give an account of his stewardship, Luke 16:1, 2; Ecclesiastes 12:14 The steward conceived a plan whereby he would not have to dig or beg when he lost his position, Luke 16:3, 4; John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8 He put his plan into action to purchase favor by lowering the bills of his master's debtors, Luke 16:5-7 The steward was commended by his lord because of his prudence in doing something about his plight, Luke 16:8 The children of this world are wiser than the children of light, Luke 16:8, 9 He that is faithful in small things will be faithful in greater things, Luke 16:10-13; 19:17; Matthew 25:21

II The Pharisees' Derision

The covetous Pharisees derided Jesus, but He told them that God knew their hearts, Luke 16:14, 15; Matthew 23:14 The Law and the prophets were until John, but not one tittle of the Law will fail, Luke 16:16, 17; Matthew 11:12,13 Jesus denounced the sin of adultery, Luke 16:18; Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11; I Corinthians 7:10,11

III The Rich Man and Lazarus

A rich man fared sumptuously and a beggar lay at his gate, Luke 16:19-21; Job 2:7; I Peter 4:3,4 The beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom; the rich man died and was buried, Luke 16:22; Ecclesiastes 9:2; I Peter 4:17 The rich man went to hell, a place of torment; Lazarus went to a place of bliss, Luke 16:23 Being tormented in the flame, the rich man begged for solace and relief, Luke 16:24; Mark 9:44 Abraham told him to remember his and Lazarus' lifetime; now Lazarus is comforted and the rich man is tormented, Luke 16:25; Job 21:13; Isaiah 66:24

IV No Passing from Heaven to Hell

No one can pass from one place to the other, Luke 16:26 The rich man begged Abraham to warn his five brothers, Luke 16:27, 28 They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them,' Luke 16:29; Isaiah 8:20; John 5:39, 45; Acts 15:21 The rich man insisted that a miracle would cause them to repent, Luke 16:30 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be per¬suaded, though one rose from the dead,' Luke 16:31; John 12:9-11

NOTES

We have an account of a man who was steward for a very wealthy and influential man. This steward was accused of wasting his master's goods, and when he heard that he was going to be called to give an account of his stewardship, he began at once to scheme how he could avoid being thrown out into the world without a place to stay. He was ashamed to beg and too proud to dig for a living.


Arriving at a plan, he calls his lord's debtors and asks how much each one owed his master. It was the custom in those days for the debtor to write the contract and the steward to sign it. The steward always had absolute and complete control of the goods of his master.


One debtor said he owed the master an hundred measures of oil. The steward told him to sit down quickly and write fifty, thereby decreas¬ing the indebtedness. Another said he owed an hundred measures of wheat. The steward told him to make it fourscore. The lord of the steward commended the steward for acting wisely in his own behalf. The steward had, on his own principles, made a very prudent provision for his support.

The Children of Light

The Jews were the children of light, and they designated the Gentiles as the children of this world or the children of darkness. Jesus brings out the fact that the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. This unjust steward used the means at hand to provide for his future welfare. The Gospel of God was brought to the Jews. They had a chance to look forward and provide for their eternal welfare; but, unlike the steward in this parable, they were slow to use the means God had provided for them.


The unjust steward was not commended for his false dealing. He was commended because when he saw the plight in which he was soon to be placed he did something about it. When people see the awful plight sin has wrought in their lives, and the eternal consequences of continuing in that way, if they would act as the children of light should act and use the means God has provided for their deliverance, they would be laying in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come.


'Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.' Jesus told the disciples here that they, as children of light, were not to seclude themselves from the world but to show love toward the people that they might have an opportunity to tell them the story of Jesus and by that means win them to Jesus. They were to go to all the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8).

The Unrighteous Mammon

Money is called the unrighteous mammon here. We need money to supply our daily needs, but the love of it and the unwise struggle for it, referred to here, is that which can find a place in our hearts and cause us to lose our souls. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil ( I Timothy 6:10).


The Pharisees were covetous at heart, and the Lord was driving these truths home to them. They derided Jesus, refusing to accept the message He gave them, but He said unto them, 'Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.'

Faithfulness

Jesus makes it very plain that if we are faithful in the little things, we will be faithful in greater things; if we are unjust in the least, we will be unjust in much. In the parable of the talents He said to the one who had correctly used his talents: ',Fell done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord' (Matthew 25:21). We may not be able to do great things, but we can faithfully do the little things for Jesus. He said the giver of a cup of cold water would not lose his reward, if he gave it in Jesus' name and for His glory and honor.

The Law and the Prophets

Jesus said the Law and the Prophets were until John. The Law had served its purpose and Jesus had come to fulfill it. The Law was a type and shadow of good things to come, and John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, who introduced the Gospel dispensation. Christ came preaching repentance. Repentance is godly sorrow for sin, and is the principal re¬quirement for entrance into the Kingdom. Godly sorrow for sin will bring a cry from the heart for mercy, and mercy brings justification. Justification gives the sinner a new heart, and he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus. Those in the dispensation of the Law received the same salvation as we, through faith in the Blood which was, for them, yet to be shed.

Divorce

Jesus said divorce was tolerated under the Law of Moses, because of the hardness of their hearts, 'but from the beginning it was not so' (Matthew 19:8). If a person is divorced and remarried while the first companion is living, that person is living in adultery and under the condemnation of God, because he is living contrary to the teachings of His Word.

Beyond the Grave

In this next scriptural incident the Lord draws aside the curtain that obscures our view and gives us a glimpse of the life after death. The final scene of the incident is a rich man in hell being tormented in the eternal flames and a poor man being comforted in Abraham's bosom — the place of bliss to which all the righteous go. The rich man, in this life, had dressed in gorgeous robes and fared sumptuously every day. The poor man was laid at the rich man's gate that he might receive a few crumbs of bread from the rich man's table. Jesus tells us that the name of the poor man was Lazarus. For reasons of His own, Jesus did not tell us the name of the rich man, but we do know that he lived solely for himself while in this world, not caring for the poor beggar who lay at his gate. He did not ex¬hibit the spirit of even a nominal Christian, but only a selfish heart and a self-centered life.


The rich man and Lazarus both died. No doubt the rich man was buried in the pomp and glory of this world, but Lazarus had a far more wonderful funeral procession. Unseen by mortal man, the angels carried the soul of Lazarus to Abraham's bosom, the place where the departed saints await the great Resurrection morning.

Conversation Between Abraham and the Rich Man

The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and come and touch his parched tongue, for he was tormented in the flames. When on earth he would have recoiled at the mere thought of the diseased and despised Lazarus even touching his garments, much less his tongue. What a change! Abraham told him there is a great gulf between them, and that it is fixed. No one can pass from one place to the other.


Then the rich man begged for Abraham to send Lazarus back to this earth to warn his five 'brethren' lest they would also come to that place of torment. But he became interested in the salvation of his household at too late an hour. Far too many people are interested after it is too late! Abraham told him that they have Moses and the prophets, the infallible Word of God, let them hear them. But the rich man insisted that if one rose from the dead they would believe. Abraham, knowing better the inclinations of the unregenerated heart than the condemned rich man did, told him that if they would not hear Moses and the prophets they would not believe though one rose from the dead. How true are those words! Jesus rose from the dead — and yet many people do not believe. What a warning we have in this lesson, because Jesus gives us here a glimpse of hell, shows us that those who go there are tormented, and shows us their attitude toward God's plan even while in eternal torment! This man, as eager as he seemed to be to have his people saved from, a fate like his, still wanted a way for their salvation different from God's way (John 10 :1-18) .

Realities of Hell

Hell was real to the rich man. He still possessed the faculties that he had while here on earth. He knew Abraham and he knew Lazarus. He could see them. He could talk, for we see that he talked with Abraham. He could remember, for we read that he remembered his five brethren, back in his father's house, who were traveling the same road he had traveled — the broad road to destruction. He could feel, for he was tor¬mented in those flames. He was conscious of everything. Abraham told him to remember that he had good things in his lifetime and Lazarus evil things. Now he was tormented and Lazarus was comforted. There is no soul-sleeping in hell or in Heaven. People are conscious in both places and are in full possession of all their faculties. Lazarus was not saved because he was poor, but because he believed in God. The rich man was not lost because he was rich, although Jesus said: 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!' (Mark 10:23) ; but he was lost because he failed to believe and obey the Word of God.


It is not true that some people are born to be saved and others born to be lost, as certain people teach. 'Whosoever will' may come and 'take the water of life freely' (Revelation 22:17). 'Choose you this day whom ye will serve' (Joshua 24:15). 'Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' There is a real hell to shun and a real Heaven to gain.


This little insight that Jesus gives us into hell and its terrors should make us flee to the Blood for our eternal salvation, in order that we may escape that awful place of torment, and live forever with the Lord. We should put our fingers in our ears and run for the wicket gate — which we may envision as being the entrance into salvation — as Christian of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did, crying 'Eternal life! Eternal life!' Time is only a short span, but eternity is forever and ever.

QUESTIONS

1 What means did the steward use to gain favor with his lord's debtors?
2 Why did his lord commend him for what he did?
3 Why did Jesus consider the children of this world wiser than the children of light?
4 Why cannot We serve two masters?
5 After their death what separated the rich man and Lazarus?
6 Could the rich man see after his death? Could he talk?
7 Why did the rich man want to send Lazarus back to this earth?
8 Did anyone ever rise from the dead and talk to people on this ,earth? 9 What does the Bible say is the root of all evil?

 
   
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