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Luke Chapter 16

Posted by adventbiblestudy on February 2, 2015


Luke Chapter 16

Luke 16:1-31 NLTse Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. (2) So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ (3) “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. (4) Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’ (5) “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ (6) The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ (7) “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ (8) “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. (9) Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. (10) “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. (11) And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? (12) And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own? (13) “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (14) The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. (15) Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God. (16) “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. (17) But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. (18) “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” (19) Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. (20) At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. (21) As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. (22) “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, (23) and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. (24) “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ (25) “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. (26) And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ (27) “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. (28) For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ (29) “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ (30) “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ (31) “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Wasting the Employer’s Money

Luke 16:1-9 NLTse Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. (2) So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ (3) “The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. (4) Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’ (5) “So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ (6) The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take the bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’ (7) “‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take the bill and change it to 800 bushels.’ (8) “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light. (9) Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

There have been a lot of different interpretations to this parable. Most interpretations look only at the parable by itself and don’t take into account the previous chapter or the setting Jesus told it in. We can see, Jesus told this parable to His disciples, but Luke didn’t record much else about the setting. As usual, we’ll follow the general rule of context that tells us to look back to see how the previous chapter ended.

Luke 15:29-32 NLTse but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. (30) Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ (31) “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. (32) We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!'”

Luke’s chapter 15 ended with the parable about the two sons who didn’t appreciate what their father did to prepare the fields, farm, and their inheritance. It’s not surprising chapter 16 opened with another parable related to money. Now it’s our job to look at other connections.

Money is the main theme in both parables, along with a disregard of what had to be done to build an inheritance in one, and a business in the other parable. We can see how these two parables were introduced to reach the disciples on different levels. It’s not difficult to see, some of the disciples had close families ties, and could relate to the parable of the two sons. Other disciples had more of a business mind. This parable is aimed at them.

Jesus told them, the manager didn’t have his books in order. The man was not focused on business. He wasn’t giving business his full attention. His lack of attention and concern cost the business owner money. The man was not keeping up on accounts, and based on what Jesus said, was poor at keeping records. So the owner had to fire the manager.

What happens to people when their fired? They panic. They see their regular income they’ve come to depend on disappear. They think of what to do. That man was scared. He said, “ I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg.” So he figured he could set a plan in motion to secure some type of security. He gave away a good portion of the money and goods owed to his employer.

No where did Jesus indicate the employer gave that manager permission to give away half his goods, or forgive half the debt owed. Jesus told His disciples, “The rich man had to admire the dishonest rascal for being so shrewd.” Jesus didn’t say the employer agreed with the manager’s plans. Jesus didn’t say He approved of the plan. Jesus did say, “it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.”

The word translated here as dishonest rascal, can also be translated unjust or wrongful. There was nothing right or admirable about what the man did. The man was looking out for himself and using people to obtain his goal. Jesus said, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.

Jesus didn’t have anything against using worldly goods and money to help others, but Jesus did tell His disciples to use, “your possessions.” Jesus didn’t tell His disciples to use other people’s money. The man was in the story was viewed as being dishonest. What lesson did that teach to the disciples?

We can look at the summation for a clue. This chapter ended with a rich man asking God to deliver a warning to his family. What warning is in that parable about the dishonest servant? What did that manger do wrong? He told people their debt would be forgiven if they paid only half the amount they owed. How does this apply to the disciples?

Jesus’ disciples were given a message to preach when they were with Jesus. They were supposed to tell people about God’s Kingdom. Once Jesus returned to Heaven, the message changed. The new message included the price that had to be paid to earn a spot in God’s Kingdom.

That message was to tell the world about the price Jesus had to pay. That included not only His sacrifice, but how Jesus gave up Heaven to come here and live life in His human form. That message was included what Jesus taught, and His connection with God’s Spirit, as He was guided along day by day, and step by step. Their message had to include the full price Jesus paid.

Today we have all kinds of denominations who won’t preach that full message. Some denominations preach a once saved, always saved message. Many denominations preach little or nothing about the lessons Jesus taught, how He taught them, and the role of God’s Spirit in Jesus’ ministry, and His continuing role after returning to Heaven. The dishonest manager, or servant represents all those preachers who teach people only a portion of the total cost of Heaven, but promise a full reward.

Most churches group the steps and process of that payment together making it a one step path to salvation. They teach atonement, redemption, and sanctification as one process. They wrap them all together to make Heaven look cheap. They do this to present the cheapest, easiest price to attract more members. What is atonement?

We find atonement in the Old Testament. When we look at atonement we find many things and people associated with atonement. Animal sacrifices atoned for people’s sins. Moses and others atoned for people and their sins. An atonement was a reminder. What is redemption?

Redemption is paying a price. Jesus paid the price for our sins with His sacrifice. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say. (Hebrews 9:12, Titus 2:11-15 NLTse).

Paul’s letter to Titus told us, there is more to redemption than claiming Jesus’ blood. But how many people teach what Paul wrote about? Not many. Not enough. What is the process of sanctification? What is sanctification?

This may seem strange, but some Bible translations do not contain the word sanctification. Why? I’m not sure if it’s a denominational thing, or if translators thought other words would make the message easier to understand. Let’s take a look at a few texts.

Romans 15:16 NLTse I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:16 KJ2000 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 KJ2000 (9) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLTse (9) Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, (10) or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people–none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. (11) Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Ephesians 5:25-26 NLTse (25) For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her (26) to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.

Ephesians 5:25-27 KJ2000 (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

As we can see, the modern NLT version used the term made holy, while the KJ2000, which is a modern version of the older King James, used the word sanctified. What’s the difference? There isn’t any. Those texts show there is a process we have to go through to be made holy.

But wait a minute. Isn’t that trying to work your way into Heaven? Well that’s what a lot of churches teach. But that’s not what the Bible says, nor is it what Jesus taught. The parable about the dishonest employee who charged only half the price pointed to churches who only tell you half the price. Why don’t a lot of churches teach about sanctification, the process of becoming holy? The simple answer is, they don’t understand it. Why not? Look at the texts that shows whose job it is to make people holy. “By the Spirit of our God. Made holy by the Holy Spirit. Washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”

Here we see two steps in the process of being made holy. It is a process only God’s Spirit knows. God’s Word also has a role in the process. So why can’t churches explain this simple process? All you have to do is claim Jesus’ blood to be forgiven, and accept the gift of God’s Spirit to begin the process of becoming holy.

Look at church doctrines and traditions. A lot of them claim to be the last day church, and the only church that Jesus will save. They want people to believe membership comes with a guaranteed pass into Heaven. They want to appear to be the only church with all the answers. As scripture explained, sanctification as a process conducted by God’s Spirit. The church has no role in the process. They can’t explain the process. To try to explain the process, to claim they know the process, to claim they can guide you through that process is to deny God’s Spirit. Jesus referred to that as the one sin that’ll never be forgiven.

Sanctification is a personal process between you and God’s Spirit. There are no short cuts or discounts on that part of the price. You have to put in the effort. Jesus told a series of parables showing what happens when you try to cut corners and what happens when you don’t appreciate work and planning put into the process and inheritance. This simple parable is built on those concepts. We’d never see this lesson if we didn’t rely on God’s Word and the simple laws of context He designed in His Word. No wonder God’s Word has a part in making people holy. We can only see those details when we have a close connection with God. That’s what Jesus said when He promised His disciples He would teach them how to understand all parables. The lesson began in that chapter and we’re not done learning eight chapters later. Understanding is not achieved in one parable or two. As we’ve seen, Jesus used a specific series and pattern to add one lesson to another, and another. If we went back and reviewed those chapters with what we’ve learned, we’d knock ourselves on the head once we saw how much we missed. Then after going through that series of lessons in those eight chapters, we can go back again and learn even more. That is one illustration of being made holy with God’s Word and His Spirit as a guide. God’s Spirit will always show you more. He will always show you more than any human can show you. God’s Spirit can teach you more in ten minutes than a staff of a hundred theologians can write about in a year.

Now you know why a lot of churches will never tell you the full price of God’s Kingdom. They don’t know the price and they can’t teach you the personal process you have to go through. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. (Luke 12:31-32 NLTse).

I really don’t know why so many people reject this message. It’s our role to lead people to Christ and put them in His hands. Who cares what church those people are in, or how they choose to worship. It’s not our job to cleanse those people. We can’t clean them. We are powerless. Just admit it and get it over with. Why is that so difficult to understand? I just don’t get it.

I had that discussion with a pastor this past week. She has been working so hard over the past few years. She talked to God. She got a message to deliver. She preached the message. Lead people to Christ, tell them the full price, and leave them in God’s capable hands. But people don’t understand. They can’t agree or admit there are things they don’t know.

We talked for about an hour. During the conversation, she kept telling me, “that’s exactly what I’ve been studying. I was just reading about that.” All I could tell her was, “this is another way God’s Spirit communicates with us. When the message is important, He will always confirm it.” She was encouraged for the moment and I know God’s voice will be loud and clear on what He needs her to do, how and when to do it. If it is easy to leave a pastor in God’s hands, why would it be different with any member in any church?

I also have people who try to discredit everything I do. I can tell those people are control freaks. I’ve worshiped with people like that and tried to work with them. But it always seems there is one thing people like that hate. They hate anything and everything they can’t control. When they hear me tell people to talk with God, listen to God, only God can make you holy, they have to learn to communicate with God, and only God can change their lives, those control freaks go nuts. They blow everything out of proportion. I want to make this clear. God has His people all over the world. God has people in every church, in every nation, and religion. God is trying to reach out to people in every religion like Jesus was constantly reaching out to those Pharisees. Once they give their heart to Jesus and open their ears to God’s Spirit, we have no reason to say or demand those people should reach a certain level in a given amount of time. That is not our job. It’s not our place to dictate their destiny. Leave all those details in God’s hands.

If you plant a seed, leave it buried. Let is grow. Don’t stand in the way blocking out precious light. Let God’s Spirit do His job. And maybe, if you are patient enough, maybe God’s Spirit can use you to deliver another message, or encourage them when they really need it.

Faithful in Little Things

Luke 16:10-12 NLTse “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. (11) And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? (12) And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?

The lesson we should have learned thus far is, God is in control, and we gotta learn to trust Him. Now comes our part. Look at the series of parables Luke recorded. We studied a story about a son who wasted his father’s money. Neither him nor his brother appreciated the work their father put into their inheritance. The next parable was about a man with little regard for his employer’s business. Then Jesus got serious and laid the lesson on the line. He talked about responsibilities.

If you can’t be responsible for your own salvation, how can you be responsible for some one else, or a group of people. If you can’t display faith, how are people going to learn what faith is from you. Preacher, if you can’t show the small amount of faith it takes to lead people to Jesus and put then in God’s hands, what good are you? Jesus can’t trust you and will not give you greater responsibilities.

Because those previous parables used money as a symbol, preachers often place a physical, monetary interpretation on this parable. They either don’t know how, or don’t want to look into the spiritual side of those parables.

In all those parables, Jesus is teaching about those riches in Heaven. He is teaching about love, forgiveness, good will towards all men, helping people in need, and more. Jesus is teaching the same lesson He gave to those seventy disciples, the Kingdom of Heaven. A place where God gives us everything and Jesus, our King, serves us. Our land, homes, and food is paid for, with Jesus’ blood. Another part of the price we’re supposed to teach. Heaven is a place with nothing but trust. No double dealing. No scams. No bitterness or revenge. No more death. An eternity of debt free happiness. No competition to be the richest, most powerful, or greatest. A place where we are all equal and all of us sons and daughters of God. Heaven …. can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you tell people about Heaven?

If you can’t tell people about Heaven, how are you going to know it, if you ever get there? It’s such a little thing to learn about Heaven. If you can’t be trusted to learn about Heaven, how can you be faithful in eternity? Heaven will be perfect because everyone will finally keep God’s laws. If you can’t learn God’s law in this world, what guarantee does God have you’ll keep it in Heaven?

If you can’t be trusted with worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? If you’re never happy with what you have in this world, you’ll never be happy in Heaven. We won’t be competing with money or goods in Heaven. There’s no doubt, God is going to give us everything in Heaven. We are leaving this world with empty pockets and no suitcases. Our bank accounts are not following is to Heaven. This world is going to be tuned into smoke and ashes.

It’s no different here. People like to think they earned everything they have. But that’s never been the truth. God created this world and everything in it. There is not one atom or molecule God didn’t create. What makes people believe anything different. If we can’t be trusted with God’s creation here in our short life, how is God ever going to trust us with eternal life?

I really feel sorry for those preachers hiding the full cost of Heaven. And those preachers who steal from God, thinking God owes them those funds. What lessons are they teaching this world? I’m not sure. I don’t want to hear their excuses. I’ll leave them in God’s hands.

No One Can Serve Two Masters

Luke 16:13-14 NLTse “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (14) The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him.

Jesus couldn’t have made this message any clearer. If preachers learned how to look at entire chapters, they’d be able to explain what this means. It really doesn’t need any explanation. Either you love God or money. Period. But when we look back at those previous parables, we see deeper lessons. Either you trust God, or you don’t. Either you can be trusted, or you can’t. Either you appreciate the work of God’s Spirit, or you don’t.

Jesus laid down a take it or leave it choice. Are you going to Heaven or not. Are you taking your share of the inheritance here, or in Heaven. It shouldn’t be a difficult choice. But those Pharisees made fun of Jesus because they loved money too much.

I can hear those people I have to content with from time to time trying to put their own spin on this parable, saying I am going too far by saying Jesus offer a choice. Jesus isn’t giving a choice. Jesus is demanding a choice. Jesus said, “no one.” He didn’t place this decision on people who didn’t like Him, or people who didn’t know Him. But people like to think this parable applies to someone else, or everyone else but them.

Divorce is Adultery

Luke 16:15-18 NLTse Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God. (16) “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. (17) But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. (18) “For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

These by far have to be some of the most segregated verses in the Bible. Except for maybe a few other verses about divorce. Since we’ve learned about context, we know, we have to look at the chapter to find out why Jesus used this example at this time, and how He used divorce as an example. That’s the main point. Jesus wasn’t teaching a lesson or creating a doctrine about divorce, He was using it as an example.

Why did Jesus group divorce with the other two subjects, appearing righteous, and God’s law is still in force? These seem like a strange combination of lessons to teach in one setting. This is one of those times we have to pray about the situation and allow God’s Spirit to put us in the middle of the discussion as Jesus taught this lesson. As we know, there has to be a relationship between these three subjects.

In the beginning of the chapter, Luke pointed out, Jesus was teaching His disciples. Later, when Jesus said, “no one can serve two masters,” Luke chose to indicate the presence of some Pharisees. In the texts that immediately followed, Jesus indicated one of those reasons people can’t follow two masters. As we’ve seen, those Pharisees believed their outward dress was a symbol of God, His presence, and favor. This is the opposite of what Jesus taught. No wonder Jesus and those Pharisees were at odds. That would be like asking a modern man to give up his fancy car, big screen TV, cell phone, and his trophy wife all at once.

Jesus was short and to the point. Time was running out and Jesus knew it. Jesus said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.This takes us right back to Jesus telling them to give up everything, take up their cross, and follow them. We have to keep in mind, Jesus is speaking to the disciples, as well as the Pharisees, and all the other people listening.

The mixed group of people drew closer to Jesus when He paused to a long time. People discussed what Jesus told them about the choice about serving God and money in a whisper among themselves. Jesus could see those Pharisees did not agree. He saw the look on their faces. An expression like they bit into a sour lemon, or bit into a date pit, expecting something sweet and easy to chew, but hitting an unexpected obstruction. Other people hung their heads. Jesus could feel some of their prayers. Some prayed they could overcome the temptation of money while others prayed their masters and employers could understand the message.

When it was the proper time, Jesus addressed the Pharisees who disagreed with His lesson on money. Jesus knew they’d disagree with anything He taught. So Jesus pointed out their pride and joy and how it effected them. Jesus pointed out their traditional manner of dressing, which not only tied up a great deal of money, but time. It also repulsed a lot of people. Which in some cases, their traditional dress was designed to do. Jesus added another long pause. He looked around the group. Pharisees stuck out their chests in the form of a challenge to Jesus. The designed pause wasn’t for them, but for the people standing around listening. Jesus gave them time to compare His cloths to those of the Pharisees. The scene spoke for Jesus.

Jesus knew those Pharisees didn’t get the lesson, no matter how long He paused, no matter how God’s Spirit tried to reach them. So Jesus gave them the answer. “What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” Then Jesus began the new lesson.

“Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides. But now the Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in.” Jesus defined a new guide to the law. In addition to Moses’ books and the prophets, the world now had the Good News of the Kingdom of God to interpret and explain God’s law. Nothing has changed except for what had to change. Jesus pointed out the things most cherished by those Pharisees, money, the respect their clothes brought them, and their private interpretations of the law.

Those Pharisees spent so much time reading and memorizing books written about the law, they forgot how to go back to scripture to confirm or test what they or other people taught from their books, which were often misquoted. They couldn’t see how hundreds of different interpretations from their books divided their own people and isolated many others.

Now people had Jesus, God’s Son to explain the law. When Jesus told them about the Good News, many of His disciples understood. Jesus looked around at smiles on their faces, while others still looked bewildered. Many people knew how Pharisees used the law to impose unnecessary burdens. Jesus spent some time looking around. He smiled as He saw the expressions change on faces once they began to clearly see what He was teaching. And they felt a release from those Pharisees.

Jesus had to wait for people to understand He was explaining God’s law the way it was originally given before He could continue. “But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned.” Jesus wanted them to know two things. He wanted them know there is a right way and a wrong way to look at God’s law. Imposing additional restrictions, then allowing certain people to ignore those restrictions was not the right way. People were beginning to understand why Jesus pointed out a few of those rules the Pharisees had on the Sabbath and how they taught people how to get around them. But those methods of getting around laws was reserved for influential people. So Jesus pointed out, there is no reason to bypass any part of God’s law.

Many people saw both sides of Jesus’ statement. God’s law never lost its force. It is the same today as it was when Moses took those stone tablets down that mountain, and when God spoke each word to Israel. What changed was the way the law has been taught, and altered for a few influential people. Those people, including the Pharisees, were beginning to see what Jesus meant when He told them, “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against–or two in favor and three against. ‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.'” (Luke 12:51-53 NLTse). Now they could see how they’ve been divided over God’s law all their lives. Now Jesus was bringing that to the surface.

Jesus knew people needed a moment to think. He could see a hundred forms of anger burning in their eyes. Some realized how religious leaders had taken advantage of them all their lives. Some of those Pharisees looked scared. Emotion stirred. As voices began to raise, Jesus seemed to have changed the subject to calm the crowd.

“For example, a man who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery. And anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” This made everyone stop and think. What did divorce have to do with how God’s law has been distorted and split to please two different groups? That was is. A divorce is a split. People split away from God’s law for an affair with a new set of laws. Jesus just called that man made set of laws adultery and those who teach it adulterers.

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Luke 16:13-14 NLTse Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. (20) At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. (21) As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. (22) “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, (23) and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. (24) “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ (25) “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. (26) And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ (27) “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. (28) For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ (29) “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ (30) “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ (31) “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

This may be one of the strangest summations in the Bible. Talk about people split of the subject of the law. People are just as split on the subject of death. This goes way back before Christianity. Paul took advantage of the split view on this subject at one of his trials. Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees, so he shouted, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, as were my ancestors! And I am on trial because my hope is in the resurrection of the dead!” This divided the council–the Pharisees against the Sadducees– for the Sadducees say there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, but the Pharisees believe in all of these. (Acts 23:6-8 NLTse).

To understand this parable about Lazarus and the rich man, let’s look at how Jesus led into the story. Jesus pointed out how the Pharisees dressed. This was a tradition Pharisees invented to separate themselves from the common people. No wonder Jesus used a rich and poor man in the parable. Jesus introduced a lesson on the law. Another set of traditions Pharisees used to separate rich from poor.

To emphasis the theme of separation, Jesus introduced a story about divorce. This was also a subject Pharisees used to divide rich from poor. Then Jesus introduced another story about division. This time Jesus used a subject the Pharisees agreed on. When Jesus looked at their faces, He recognized the discontent on their faces while He was trying His best to reach them.

Those Pharisees disagreed with Jesus on the subject of money. They thought they served God by being rich. They felt offended when Jesus pointed out how they dressed. They are confused when Jesus talked about divorce and weren’t sure how to react. So Jesus put them at ease for a moment.

Pharisees could agree with the beginning of the parable. After all, some of them fed beggars with scraps of food from their table, no matter how disgusting they appeared. And there was a chance a poor man could go to Heaven, if he followed their rules. That was a part of their job. Share a little with the poor and tell them how to get into Heaven.

But how could the rich man go the hell? They still listened because Jesus identified him as a rich man. So they continued to listen. Jesus introduced another division the Pharisees didn’t think about until that point. The gulf between Heaven and hell. If that didn’t open their eyes to the separations those religious leaders created, would. Now it was time for the rich man to ask Lazarus, the poor man for help. But Abraham pointed out, Lazarus couldn’t help the rich man. But the rich man made one more request. He asked Abraham to send someone to warn his five brothers. “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Jesus made a clear and distinct reference to the Pharisee’s constant request for another miracle, then another, and one more. Nothing was enough for them. Jesus healed a woman bent over for eighteen years in front of them. They complained He healed her on the Sabbath. Jesus healed a man with swollen arms and legs in a Pharisee’s house. They still complained He healed on the Sabbath. During the rest of the week, those Pharisees saw Jesus heal hundreds. That wasn’t enough. They accused Him of healing with Satan’s power. So Jesus told them a parable to get their attention and told them, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.” What else could Jesus do?

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