Adult Uniform Sunday School Lesson for June 24, 2018
To compare and contrast our personal understanding of justice with God’s will
Background: Luke 16:19-31; John 5:24-30
Luke 16:19-31 (CEB)
19 “There was a certain rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen, and who feasted luxuriously every day. 20 At his gate lay a certain poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 Lazarus longed to eat the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Instead, dogs would come and lick his sores.
22“The poor man died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 While being tormented in the place of the dead, he looked up and saw Abraham at a distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 He shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m suffering in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. 26 Moreover, a great crevasse has been fixed between us and you. Those who wish to cross over from here to you cannot. Neither can anyone cross from there to us.’
27 “The rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, send Lazarus to my father’s house. 28 I have five brothers. He needs to warn them so that they don’t come to this place of agony.’ 29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. They must listen to them.’ 30 The rich man said, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will change their hearts and lives.’ 31 Abraham said, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received good things, whereas Lazarus received terrible things. Now Lazarus is being comforted and you are in great pain. (Luke 16:25)
Today’s lesson is one of a series of parables on perils of being rich. The Lazarus mentioned in this parable should not be confused with the brother of Martha and Mary that Jesus raised from the dead.
While the proceeding parable is about the farmer who thinks he needs bigger barns, our text is about being aware of what is going on around you.
The point of both is that at some point in the future there will be an accounting for what you have done, and not on what you acquired.
Our text makes no mention of the rich man being a bad person, except he seemed to ignore this man that was at his gate every day begging for some food, drink or comfort. Some may think that he not only ignored him, but he never really seemed to see him. However, as the story progresses, the rich man knew exactly who he was. The rich man's claim of not knowing, is soon exposed by Abraham. When he requested, “ Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m suffering in this flame.’
We should not preclude that all rich men are evil and destined to spend eternity in some sort of tormented hell, or that all poor beggars are going directly into a paradise. John 5:24 says 24 “I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life.”
Jesus is trying to get those to whom he is talking “Pharisees” to understand the choice is now, sending someone back from the dead (which will happen in a few short years at the resurrection) will not necessarily change anyone's mind, unless they believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
Where we spend eternity depends on how we respond to the life, death and resurrection of God’s only Begotten Son. Jesus was pretty plain when He said, “if you love me keep my commandments.”
When our neighbor is a beggar, we are obligated to love them, feed and cloth them as a community of believers or as an individual. Our text does not tell us how Lazarus came to know Christ or believe in Abraham, but he probably prayed every day to be rescued from the hell he found himself in. Just a reminder we are all as lost as the rich man and Lazarus both unless we acknowledge our only chance for salvation is through Jesus the Christ.
My hymn for this week is “Have Thine Own Way Lord.”