This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Luke. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.
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Luke 16:1-31 (NIV)
1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ 3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg–4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ 5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 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. 16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law. 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
As we continue our study of Luke in chapter 16 remember the concept we introduced in chapter 15 that for God people are the prize, people are the objective. The Pharisees have lost the heart and compassion of God and they just don’t care about people, they only care about themselves. They use people to gain things. Jesus is straightening out this situation by teaching on the value of people. Here is the thing you need to see:
The Pharisees used people to gain things, the disciple of Jesus would use things to gain the good for people. With this understanding the story of the shrewd manager makes sense. The shrewd manager is commended in the story not because what he did was right, but because his perspective was right. Rather than using people to gain things, he was using things to help people. The point is, we need to figure out what is to be used and what is to be gained. In every situation we always need to be motivated by the understanding that people are always of greater value than things. You cannot serve two masters. You will either be mastered by your love for others, or your love for things. If you are mastered by your love for things, you will end up using people to gain them!
The Pharisees got the message, but they ridiculed Jesus because they were lovers of money, not people.
Jesus then turns the discussion to the law. The Pharisees took pride in themselves because of their stand on the law of God. And yet they had completely missed the heart of the law which Jesus had expressed as loving God and loving others. It is the law that the Pharisees claimed to uphold and defend which ultimately condemned they because they missed the heart of it. It is not about rules, regulations, form, it is about love.
Jesus also says that the way they were taking pride in the law was like trying to force their way into the kingdom of God, look at us, we are the ones who are living according to the law, and yet Jesus points out with another illustration that they are missing the point of the law in the statement about adultery and divorce. You have to take this statement in context. The Pharisees knew that adultery was against the law. So, they couldn’t just go and sleep with another woman. What they did was to decide that they could just divorce their wives with no good reason and then they could go and sleep with the woman. Jesus said that it was still adultery because they had missed the heart of the law.
Love God. Love your neighbor.
The chapter finishes with the story of a rich man and Lazarus. The rich man never displayed the love of God by helping the beggar Lazarus. In death, the rich man faces torment and Lazarus is experiencing blessing. In a sort of Christmas Carol moment, the rich man asks that Lazarus be returned from the dead to warn his brothers. Surely if someone were raised from the dead they would have to listen. The answer from Abraham is clear:
Luke 16:29 (NIV)
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
We know that this statement is true because the resurrection did not change the heart of the Pharisees. Consumed by their own selfishness they miss God in their midst and all that He had come to do for them.