The Rich Man and Lazarus

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 • Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16 • 1 Timothy 6:6-19 • Luke 16:19-31

16th Sunday after Pentecost | September 29, 2019

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.

The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke 16:19-31

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.

24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’

27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’

29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’

30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’

31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Luke 16:19-31 New Living Translation (NLT)

In this week’s scripture, Luke continues to record Jesus’ teaching about possessions and our stewardship of them. We have the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

It is a story of two men – one man had everything – the other man, Lazarus, had nothing. The one who had everything lived in luxury. Lazarus lived outside the gate, covered in sores and longed even for the scraps from the table of the rich man. It is interesting the Jesus leaves the rich man nameless, while giving the poor man a name which gives him an identity.

Lazarus sits by the gate everyday and the dogs come by and lick his sore. He is miserable.

The time comes when both men die. We get a sense of the Jewish belief in the afterlife. Lazarus goes to a place of comfort, while the rich man goes to a place of torment. Apparently – at least in Jesus’ story – they could see each other. The tables have now been turned.

It is interesting to note that at least for the purposes of this story, faith doesn’t enter into the equation. I am not saying that it didn’t, but we have no indication of that. We simply have one who had everything and didn’t do anything to help the poor and suffering and one who had nothing and lived his earthly life in torment.

In this story, their place in eternity was based simply on what they did with what God had given them. Again it is a matter of stewardship. Jesus is warning us once again that we must be good stewards with what God has entrusted us. The rich man ignored the poor and his reward was eternal torment.

The rich man even sees if he can do something about it retroactively, but no. Then he asks if his brothers can be warned – again the answer is no. The man pleads to Father Abraham that he send someone to warn them. Father Abraham replies, “Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.”

The rich man is not persuaded…he says, “no, that is not enough, they need someone who has crossed back over from the dead.” Abraham again says, “No, if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen to someone who has come back from the dead either.”

How we handle what God has given us is a matter of the heart. Here we have an indication that they way they were handling money was a sin. But even more there was a heart attitude that was against God – the God of their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

We are reminded of the importance of repenting of our sin and turning back to God – whatever that sin might be – in this case it was their handing of possessions. What are you doing with what God has entrusted you?

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