(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
7. Rebuking The Pharisees By The Parable Of The Rich Man And Lazarus
“The Pharisees, who loved money…. Were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”
The rebuke of the Pharisees is that they were not stewards of God’s grace, and were unfaithful to Him in their service especially in their rejection of the Lord Jesus, and in the justification of themselves as they opposed the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord then states: “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John.” Since that time the message has been the “good news”concerning the kingdom of God, indicating that there is now a new way of entrance to the kingdom; affirming, however, that the authority of the Law still stands by His quotation of divorce and the consequences of divorce.
The Lord Jesus then teaches the parable of “…a rich man who… lived in luxury every day.” And “a beggar named Lazarus… longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table….” The rich man valued his riches and the things that his money could buy, giving no thought to the beggar Lazarus who had nothing to live by or to purchase food. Both died, and Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s side (a place of true rest), and the rich man was buried. The rich man “looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.” And requested that Lazarus be sent to the rest of his family that were still alive to warn them to avoid coming to the place where he was (Hell).
The rich man is here reminded that in his lifetime he enjoyed the “good things” while Lazarus “received bad things” and now Lazarus was enjoying the comfort of being at Abraham’s side, furthermore no one can go from the place of agony (Hell) to the place of comfortbecause “a great chasm has been fixed” between the two places making it impossible to go between the two. In addition to that fact, there is no reason to believe that “if someone from the dead” goes with the message that the message will be received, as it is evident that although our Lord Jesus was raised from the dead His “good news” of the kingdom of God is still being rejected by those who prefer to be comforted by the pleasures that their money can buy them in this present world; therefore, all such are still under the condemnation of the Law .
Thus the condemnation of the Pharisees: “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” . Our earthly riches can never purchase the riches of God’s grace! .
8. Warning Against Being Stumbling-Blocks – The Unworthy Servant
“Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.”
Our Lord Jesus is here teaching His disciples one of the main principles of discipleship, warning that such things are sure to come and they should be on guard against being caught up in these sins. The apostle Paul later expanded upon this teaching in writing to the Corinthian Church, stating that as Christians we should “put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” .
It should also be noted that such a sin must be dealt with by both the person offended and the one who is the offender, as our Lord taught , and all disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are warned not to be the offender as it would be better “for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” , (“little ones” referring to children or those who are young in their faith); offending in such a way shows that we are not acting in love . Christian love must also be evident in the manner that the offence is handled, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” , and there should be no limit to our forgiveness to the one who repents .
Upon hearing this teaching the disciples recognized their inadequacy to the standards set by the Lord Jesus, so they requested of Him “Increase our faith!” but He explains that it is not the quantity of our faith but the characteristic of our faith that is important . Our Lord then concludes this teaching with the parable of the Unworthy Servant, in which He shows that the work of the servant (slave) is to be pleasing to his master no matter how difficult the day or the job has been, for this is required of the servant; and the master would not normally thank him for doing what is expected or required of him. So as disciples we too should understand that being obedient to the commands of our Lord is only what is expected and required of us, and we should acknowledge that “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”.