Photo Credit: Pixabay/ZERIG
Hey guys, thanks for stopping by and visiting! I am glad you like this site. Please go to my Facebook and like me there. I look forward to seeing you!
Sunday School is a vital part of any ministry. In it, one is able to experience a deeper knowledge of God’s Word. Here at “Word For Life Says,” I want to help you help others. Below you will find resources to help you prepare for your upcoming lessons and my personal summary notes that I use when teaching. May God bless you!
“Reaping God’s Justice”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings!
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2014 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original tounless properly quoted/cited. I am glad you like to read my personal summary notes, musings, and thoughts that I use when teaching, but as always you are encouraged to do your own studies as well. Blessings!)
Also note: Some of the notes found in today’s lesson were discussed in a previous lesson “Instruction on True Wealth.” This lesson is an updated version of that one.
I have often heard many say that nothing is certain in life. While that may be true in some aspects of life, there is one thing certain that I know of and that is no human can live forever on this earth. One day, whether they are raptured when Christ returns or if they go the way of those who have gone on before, through death; every human being will leave their existence here on planet earth behind. And, from there they will meet up with their eternal futures: be it good or bad. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad,” 2 Corinthians 5:10.
Nobody wants to believe the worst is what I wrote in one article. In that, I said,
“Nobody wants to believe the worst of any situation. Think in terms of dangerous weather phenomenon. The warnings go out. Sirens blast. News reports are issued. Every opportunity presented has been employed to let the populous know that something serious is about to happen and people need to get out of the way and try to avoid it by any means necessary. Alas, hope that this or that will not come to pass can almost keep one in a state of denial, refusing the facts; refusing the evidence presented before them; refusing the warnings. This analogy can give us peek of how this can affect us in the physical.
But, what about when spiritual warnings go unheeded…
If I may, there is an even a more dangerous situation than this. Warnings have been blared and people have been urged to take shelter in Jesus Christ. Why? Because eternity is real and where we spend eternity is real. The Bible tells us God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9). I have said this before and I’ll say it again, God is your biggest advocate. He wants you to make it to heaven more than anybody else you could ever think of. He wants to see you in glory. He wants to bless you with all the spiritual riches laid up for you in eternity. God wants us where He is that He might enjoy that long awaited uninterrupted fellowship He has been desiring.” (Nobody Wants to Believe the Worst/Word For Life Says).
With that in mind, in this lesson, Jesus teaches a parable that illustrates the finality of one’s decisions here on this earth. Unlike most of the parables that Jesus teaches in a figurative sense, many believe this parable is a true story with real people. What this parable shows us (no matter what you believe of the story’s origin), is all things outside of Christ that one accumulates while they live, amounts to nothing in the end. All successes, wealth and accolades perish along with the bearer of these things. Too often the whole of one’s life is measured by these temporary things that bring brief satisfaction while keeping the soul thirsty for eternity.
Eternity is the focus of this week’s lesson: Reaping God’s Justice. Usually, when we are discussing the issue of “reaping” we are associating it with crops that are being brought in at harvest time. The reaping here is still a gathering process, but it’s the gathering of results, consequences, and returns on what we have planted in our lives, and how God will justly deal with it all and judge in the end.
Let’s get into it and find out exactly what Jesus Christ Himself teaches us about the reality of our future eternity.
Luke 16:19-21 “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”
Many of us have seen them. There standing on the corner with a cardboard sign held up quoting “Will work for food,” or some other notation declaring their plight. Where I live, driving into the city on almost every corner there are people there who are not as well off as most. They reside under the bridges and overpasses where little camps are made of old furniture and used blankets. Despite the frigid winter temperatures that come during the year or the blazing heat of summer, there are still people who live in the outdoors, not by choice, with only meager things as shelter, if any at all.
While many of us can’t boast of the life of the rich man that we will learn about, many of us are much better off than a lot of people in this world. In an article written by Anup Shah titled “Poverty Facts and Stats,” (this is a really good source of information) it is quoted that “Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day” (Globalissues.org).
The parable that Jesus teaches compares the lives of two very different people. One was placed at the gate every day to beg for just a little bit of food, a little bit of relief and comfort that would ease his daily suffering. His name is “Lazarus.” It is believed that his condition was so terrible that he couldn’t even walk and that was the reasoning for being laid there by others.
The other in the story ignored the plight of the suffering one and went on about his daily affairs and celebration without giving it a second thought. His world revolved around him and his comforts of living. He had success. He had everything he needed, or so he thought. That’s why the psalmist left us with this advice, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them,” (Psalm 62:10b). At another time Jesus is also quoted as saying, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” (Matthew 6:21). The rich man’s heart was on himself not showing compassion for human suffering.
The rich man “clothed in purple and fine linen,” (expensive garments of luxury/royalty which also signified his personal wealth), whom many refer to as “Dives,” (an interpretation of the word “rich” in Latin) had more than enough. He “fared sumptuously” every day. He never worried about where his next meal was coming from. Opposite of that, Lazarus was “desiring to be fed with the crumbs.” He just longed for the least. The least here wasn’t even scraps or leftovers but some believe this bread was used to wipe dirty hands on. Surely it would not have taken too much effort for the rich man to send out food to the gate to supply nourishment to this wanting soul. Yet, he received nothing.
Worse still, the “dogs came and licked his sores.” These were not the household pets we view today. These were pack animals that rummaged in the garbage and were unclean and considered a great humiliation to be licked in the sores by them. In his weakness, did he try to muster enough strength to push the animals away or did he welcome even the littlest bit of kindness that he couldn’t find from a human counterpart?
Luke 16:22-23 “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; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Though both lives were lived very differently the one thing they both had in common was they died. As stated in the introduction, “every human being will leave their existence here on planet earth behind.” Yet, when they left this world behind how they lived in it marked them for eternity.
Look at their very different endings. Lazarus was “carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” When one is carried it is usually a sign of love and devotion. It’s wanting to lift one up out of misery to a place of comfort and peace. And, this is exactly what he experienced. His days of suffering were behind him. No more did he have to suffer indignity and hunger. No more did he have to depend on any person to supply him with his daily basic needs, for now, he was in a place of paradise and rest. He was in the care of God. He was ministered to and held on to with love and concern; those very things he sought while he was alive.
“The rich man also died, and was buried.” While his prestige and wealth held him through his life and probably offered him the best of burials in his death, what does that mean for his eternity? Absolutely nothing. He could have had the longest funeral procession known out of those of the day with the most elaborate of everything, but what did that count for his eternity? We’re about to find out.
Of this man (and all of us), we read the burial was NOT the end of his story. In fact, the true end is much worse. “In hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments.” Too often many are convinced that the graveside is where it all stops. Yet, here we see Jesus Himself tells us that there is more to come, be it good or bad. The way the rich man lived and the decisions he made while alive awarded him (if you would want to use the word awarded) with “torments.”
There is no way to make that word sound good. It is as bad as it sounds. Torments mean torture! It’s not a glorious time rather it is a time of suffering, oppression, pain and sorrow. What’s worse about his torment is that it is never-ending. It will go on through all eternity, forever and ever, without ever experiencing any relief. The next verse tells us of his cry and that he was SUFFERING!
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.”
Hell is real!!!! We must never lose sight of that. The pain and the suffering of hell are real! It was not a place where this man or any person wants to be. There’s not a party going on down there as some claim. It was a place that made him cry out for mercy. He cried out for meager relief, just a tip of his finger in water to cool his torturous state (remember Lazarus just wanted less than meager food). It was an everlasting flame that tormented him day and night without relief. The decisions that got him there are permanent. There was no turning back. There were no do-overs. This was his final destination. I can’t overemphasize this enough. THIS WAS IT!!!
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.”
“Remember.” Sometimes to remember is a good thing. But, when this man is instructed after his death to bring back to mind the way he lived his life it did not bring back fanciful memories. I believe it added to his torment because he now realizes how frivolous everything was. He probably would now readily agree with Ecclesiastes where it says, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever,” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4).
All that he invested in to make his life on that side prosperous didn’t amount to a hill of beans in eternity because all he invested in was himself. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
In my opinion, it wasn’t his being rich but what he did with it that shortsighted his eternal perspective. Psalms 112 speaks of the man that fears the Lord and delights in His commandments. In verse 2-3 it says the “generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth forever.” But, verse 5 goes on to say of this same man, “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion;” and verse 7 says, “his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.” Finally, verse 9 tells us, “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor.” Though this man that the psalmist speaks of is rich he also knows how to use it to think of others also. After all, Abraham himself was rich (see Gen. 13:2; 24:35) but Abraham lived a life of faith (Heb. 11:8-19).
These things the psalmist spoke of are not what the rich man in Jesus’ parable was doing. Also, when I look in Galatians 5:22-23, I see the fruit of the Spirit the Apostle Paul taught to Christians. In that, what I also saw was what this rich man WAS NOT doing. In these verses, the fruit of the Spirit is listed as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” How many of those fruits were missing in operation in this man’s life (This is just a thought of mine J)? If he had shown “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness or temperance” would they have led him to relieve the suffering of Lazarus (and others in his condition) while he was alive? What if he would have displayed the characteristics the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 112? Would that have made a difference? We cannot judge rather use this as a time for reflective contemplation.
In all of this, let us remember this key point: if he had a solid relationship with God in the first place he would have been producing those fruits of the Spirit and would have been generous and kind and willing to give to those in need. It is evident by his actions and his final destination that he did not have a real relationship with God, and that’s what matters most. When one is in faith, it in turn, will produce works and choices that honor God.
Instead, as he looks back he remembers he lived for himself and didn’t bring any glory to God in the process, therefore he reaped the rewards those choices bring. His destiny was reversed from the life he lived. He now suffered while Lazarus was at peace. The temporary decisions of yesterday now become their permanent eternity. This is a very real and thought-provoking lesson.
Every day, while they both were alive, they had a choice to honor God or not, to enter a saving relationship with God or not. That choice, although it is theirs and ours to freely make, will come with some results to reap in the end.
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.”
This is the part that should bring a tear to every eye. We have said several times in this lesson how permanent this is, and now we see it plainly and clearly here in this verse. Words like “fixed” and “cannot” show the non-reversibility of their lives and decisions made. Once we leave here there are no more chances to get it right with God! This cannot be overemphasized enough! A lot is spoken of on heaven and how to get there, but what about hell and how to avoid it? Sometimes we have to get off the happy Christian prosperity train and tell it like it is. Just as heaven is real, so is hell and the choices we make here can and will affect where we spend our eternal time.
Luke 16:27-31 “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is a phrase we often hear. It means the rich man knows where he comes from. He has probably adopted his earthly, self-sufficient, doing it all for me mindset from those whom he grew up with and from his parents. He probably learned in his father’s house how to operate his wealth without lack of compassion for his fellow man. Because of that, he seeks for them to avoid this same outcome. He wants a special testimony to go to his father’s house, one that he is sure that would convince his family to avoid this place of torment.
Abraham’s response was they have an equal chance as anyone else on this earth to listen to the Word of God and make his decision to live right. They have Moses and the prophets; they have what God has divulged through and to humanity by His chosen mouthpieces just as anyone else does and they are to trust in that word for themselves to live right.
God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He gives us His word to help us along the way. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The rich man’s brothers have the same opportunity to learn of the Word and must choose for them to obey or disobey it for themselves. They have to be persuaded by the Word, and not by someone rising from the dead.
We will all have to answer for the choices we make. Again, taken from my previous article Nobody Wants to Believe the Worst, I wrote: “Although God has been patient with us tomorrow is never promised. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior today I urge you to take shelter in Him for there is a far greater and more dangerous storm coming. It speaks of eternal devastation in hell. Hell is real, and Jesus spoke of it often (see Matthew 10:28; 13:42; 25:41 and Luke 16:24, just to name a few).” And, it’s still true for this lesson.
The rich man lived for himself and he reaped the rewards of that life. How must we now realign our lives to live as God instructs us? Money is one of the leading things that pull man outside of the will of God and takes him on the wide path to destruction, but it’s not the only thing. What can we take away from this lesson that will help us to live like Jesus wants us to live?
Remember, there is one thing that is certain in life and that is we can’t live here forever. We all have an eternity to face. What are we sowing into our eternity now that we will reap of God’s justice later?
Standard Print PDF: Reaping God’s Justice Sunday School Lesson Summary Standard Print
Large Print PDF: Reaping God’s Justice Sunday School Lesson Summary Large Print
Below you will find activities to help support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!:
Draw the Scene: Reaping God’s Justice Draw the Scene
Below you will find Links/Resources/Activities to help support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!:
“The Rich Man and The Humble Begger Coloring Sheet” (This coloring sheet is ideal for older students)
“Rich Man, Poor Man Colored Story Powerpoint” (This powerpoint is a great idea to use as a digital storybook for this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Rich Man, Poor Man Coloring Book” (This is the same as the powerpoint above except this is in coloring book form for your students to color themselves. Enjoy!)
“Bible Story Craft for Lazarus and the Rich Man” (This is great and has printables of food and the dog to help students illustrate this week’s lesson for themselves. This is a simple project that any class can benefit from. Simply follow the instructions and enjoy!)
“The Rich Man and Lazarus” (This easy to print and make project perfectly illustrates this week’s lesson especially for teachers short on time and resources. Enjoy!) – Pictured Below
“Lazarus and the Rich Man” (This one has a great object lesson to get the point of the lesson across in a visual representation. Enjoy!)
“The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Ok, this object lesson is GREAT! Balloons, salt, pepper and paper plates. Oh yeah, this goes well with any age group and a definite must try. Go to page 4 to find. Enjoy!)