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The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

Sermon on 23th February 2021 by Ps Gaius


Introduction

This is a parable shared by Jesus.


No servant shall serve two masters, for 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 God and money.” The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. – Luke 16:13-14


Work is commanded by God. God wants people to work, and work is a blessing. We do not serve money. We serve God, and God will provide. Jesus was warning the Pharisees and at the same time reminding the disciples not to serve money.


Message

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked the poor man’s sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus by his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ - Luke 16:19-31


This parable is not about the rich man going to hell and the poor going to heaven. Abraham was also a rich man, but he went to heaven. It is not about the money we have but about what we do with it.


To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. - Matthew 25:15


No matter how much we are given at the start, if we use them faithfully, God has the same reward for us at the end.


His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ - Matthew 25:21 and 23


This parable is not about there being communication being heaven and hell. Hell means eternal separation from God. This separation is the worst torment, even worse than the fire.


This parable is different from the other parables. In the other parables, no names were given, but in this parable, specific names were provided. Some wonder whether this is a true story or a parable. Let us not dwell too much on this.


This parable is about:


1. Managing resources well

The rich man wore purple and fine linen. He feasted sumptuously every day. He led a lavish lifestyle. One might ask: if he worked hard to earn this money, why can’t he enjoy it? There is nothing wrong with us enjoying life and blessings, but it cannot be our focus. We must manage our resources wisely. In this story, we know that the rich man could have helped the poor man Lazarus right at this door, but he did nothing.


2. Managing people well

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ – Luke 16:24


Even after death, the rich man was still in the habit of commanding others. He wanted Lazarus to serve him. And he did this more than once.


And he said, ‘then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house – Luke 16:27


The rich man recognised Abraham and called him father Abraham. This tells us that he knew the law of God. However, he did not practise what he heard from Moses and the Prophets. Make sure that when we manage others, we see them as important people.


3. Manage our lives well


But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ – Luke 16:29


We have many resources today. We can listen to sermons, we can listen to audio devotions; many things can be accessed easily. We have Jesus and the Holy Spirit – let us hear them.


And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ – Luke 16:30-31


In Matthew, we see an example of rising up after death, but unbelievers were not convinced. When Jesus was resurrected and the tomb was empty, the Pharisees were aware that Jesus had resurrected. If not, they would not need to bribe the soldiers to lie to the people. They went to great lengths to try to cover up the truth. Jesus had arisen from the dead, but they were not convinced about the truth of Jesus.


While they were going, behold, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the solders and said, “Tell people. ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” – Matthew 28:11-14


In another account, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but the people were not convinced.


When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. – John 12:9-11


So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” - John 12:19


Let us also go after Jesus, and help others believe in Jesus. You can trust Jesus when you have a strong relationship with Him.


Closing


Matthew 22:34-40 tells us about to two commandments which are the basis of all the prophets. Love God with all our hearts, our minds and our souls, and love our neighbours as ourselves. Ultimately, this parable of the rich man and Lazarus is about loving God and loving others.

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