Jesus taught the parable of the unjust steward. The Pharisees heard Jesus’s teachings and ridiculed Him. Jesus then rebuked the Pharisees and taught them the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
Jesus gives the parable of the unjust steward
In the space provided, list a few of the worldly items that people often set their hearts on and try to obtain: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Now list a few of the eternal riches that Heavenly Father wants us to seek (such as eternal families and peace): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
We can enjoy some of these eternal riches in this life. Circle one or two of the eternal riches you listed that are particularly important to you. As you study Luke 16, look for truths that can help you obtain eternal riches.
After teaching the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son, the Savior taught His disciples the parable of the unjust steward. A steward is someone who manages another person’s business affairs, money, or property.
Read Luke 16:1–2, looking for what the rich man in the parable learned about his steward.
Notice what the steward had been accused of doing with the rich man’s goods. As a consequence of the steward’s wastefulness, he would lose his position as steward.
In Luke 16:3–7, we learn that the steward worried about what he would do when he lost his job because he did not feel he could do manual labor and was too ashamed to beg. He devised a plan that he thought might lead to job opportunities in other households. He visited two of the rich man’s debtors and significantly discounted their debts, which he hoped would earn their favor.
Read Luke 16:8, looking for how the rich man responded when he learned about his steward’s actions. It may help to know that “children of this world” are worldly minded people and “children of light” are followers of God, or spiritually minded people.
Note that the rich man commended the steward’s cleverness in obtaining the favor of the rich man’s debtors. He was not commending the steward’s dishonesty.
Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what the Savior was teaching through the parable of the unjust steward: “Our Lord’s purpose was to show the contrast between the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making affairs of earth, and the half hearted ways of many who are professedly striving after spiritual riches. Worldly-minded men do not neglect provision for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while the ‘children of light,’ or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 463).
Read Luke 16:10–12, looking for what the Savior said we must do to be blessed with eternal riches. Note that mammon in verse 11 refers to earthly riches, including money and possessions. It may also be helpful to know that to be “faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10) means to righteously use earthly riches.
From the Savior’s teachings in Luke 16:1–12, we learn that if we wisely prepare for our eternal future and righteously use earthly riches, we can be blessed with eternal riches.
Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How does our righteous use of earthly riches reflect our worthiness to be trusted with eternal riches?
How can you righteously use earthly riches as a youth? How can you do this as an adult? (See Jacob 2:17–19.)
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and teaches the parable of the rich man and Lazarus
As you study Luke 16:13–26, ponder how earthly riches can prevent some people from obtaining eternal riches.
As recorded in Luke 16:13–14, the Savior taught that “we cannot serve [both] God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). The Pharisees heard the Savior’s teachings and “derided” (Luke 16:14), or ridiculed, Him. Search in Luke 16:14 for the word that describes the Pharisees and offers one explanation as to why they ridiculed the Savior for His teachings.
The Pharisees were covetous, which means they selfishly wanted more possessions, particularly items that belonged to others. They coveted earthly wealth and power (see Matthew 23:2–6, 14). Why do you think their covetousness contributed to their ridicule of the Savior?
From these verses we learn that the Pharisees claimed that the law of Moses served as their law, and they therefore rejected Jesus as their judge. Jesus explained that the law of Moses and the prophets had testified of Him. He questioned the Pharisees for denying what had been written and rebuked them for “pervert[ing] the right way” (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 16:21). To help these covetous Pharisees understand their behavior and the consequences of it, the Savior likened them to the rich man in the parable recorded in Luke 16:19–31.
As you read Luke 16:19–31, picture the characters in this parable and their interactions. Consider reading these verses aloud, as if you were in front of an audience, quoting the words of the Savior (Luke 16:19–23), the rich man (Luke 16:24, 27, 28, 30), and Abraham (Luke 16:25, 26, 29, 31). It may help to know that “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) represents paradise in the spirit world and that “hell” (Luke 16:23) refers to the spirit prison (see Bible Dictionary, “Abraham’s Bosom,” “Hell”).
How did the mortal lives of the rich man and Lazarus differ?
How did the rich man’s covetousness, or love of earthly possessions, affect him after he died?
What do you think this parable was meant to teach the Pharisees?
One principle we can learn from this parable is that if we are covetous and do not use our earthly riches righteously, we will eventually experience suffering and regret (see also D&C 104:18).
We can learn an additional truth from this parable. According to Luke 16:30, what did the rich man believe would happen if Lazarus appeared to the rich man’s brothers?
The rich man believed his brothers would repent and be converted to the truth if Lazarus appeared to them. Conversion is “changing one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Conversion, Convert,” scriptures.lds.org).
According to Luke 16:29, 31, why did Abraham not send Lazarus to the rich man’s brothers?
By mentioning “Moses and the prophets,” the Savior was again referencing the scriptures that the Pharisees claimed to believe in and live by but in reality rejected.
From this parable we learn that conversion comes through believing and heeding the words of prophets, not by witnessing miracles or seeing angels.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think conversion comes primarily through believing and heeding the words of prophets rather than by witnessing miracles or seeing angels?
What specific teachings from prophets have influenced your conversion?
On a separate piece of paper, write a goal for how you can better believe or heed specific teachings or counsel from prophets so that your conversion can be strengthened. For ideas, consider reviewing the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Place this piece of paper where you will see it daily to remind you of your goal, perhaps in your scriptures.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Luke 16 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: