Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. If you were a judge, what creative sentences would you give out to people convicted of the following crimes: spraying graffiti on public property, stealing a library book, bullying someone on social media? Why do you think your sentence is appropriate?
2. Most crimes are acts of commission, illegal acts one performs. Are there crimes of omission, not performing acts you are obligated to perform? Name a few.
Read Luke 16:19-21.
1. The story contrasts the life of someone who lived in great luxury to someone who lived in extreme need. Notice where they lived in relation to one another. Why is that important to this story?
2. Think of some reasons you might give for not helping someone in need. For example, “I didn’t know” or “I can’t afford it.” Why wouldn’t those excuses hold up for the rich man in the story?
Read Luke 16:22-26.
3. Sometimes we refer to a radical change of circumstances as “a reversal of fortune” or “a whole new ballgame.” How would those phrases apply to the rich man and Lazarus in this story?
4. Compare the request of Lazarus during his lifetime (vv. 20, 21) to the request of the rich man after he died (v. 24). What kept the rich man from fulfilling Lazarus’s request? What kept Lazarus from fulfilling the rich man’s request?
Read Luke 16:27-31.
5. How can wealth lead to apathy about the plight of other people? Compare the message of this story with Jesus’ teaching about wealth in Matthew 6:19-21.
6. After his death, what did the rich man think it would take to turn his brothers from an apathetic lifestyle? How did Abraham answer his request? Do you think there is a double meaning to the words of verse 31? Explain.
7. What are some of your “sins of omission”—not doing things you know you should? Can a firm conviction that justice will be done after death motivate us to act today? How can you reach out to those like Lazarus just outside of your “gates?”