THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS:
Today’s text is about two men of opposite character. In actuality, it is about three men – the Rich Man, Lazarus and Abraham. Only the names of two is mentioned – Abraham and Lazarus – becuase they are the only names of eternal worth transcribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Rich Man has no need of a name in Hell.
Though this parable (and perhaps a real event in reality) is meant for all of us, Jesus primarily aimed it at the rich and powerful preachers of His day who coveted MONEY. Do you believe any nature of man’s heart has changed from that day to this! Jesus had just told a parable about another rich steward who used his money to satisfy mammon by sharing the wealth. The Pharisees stood about and jeered Him: “14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.” Luke 16:14 So Jesus related this parable. How many churches can you enter today without hearing an over-abundant plea for MONEY?
The Holy Bible has much to say about riches, and Jesus Christ, who is the Word Incarnate, adds to the volume of commentary on riches:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. Proverbs 30:8-9
Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:23-26
In describing another rich man, Christ refers to Zacchaeus: And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. Luke 19:1-2 But a also was saved in his riches while Dives (the Rich man in today’s text) was condemned.
Our Sermon text for today comes from the 19th chapter of the Gospel of St Luke, beginning at the 19th verse, giving us a picture of the reward of those who consider only riches of worth, and a poor beggar who places his trust in God alone;
The sermon text: (Luke 19:16-31)
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Christ has painted for us a real life scene of two different lifestyles – both on the same canvas:
- He first sketches the contrast between Dives and Lazarus in life, a contrast the more impressive because the painter does not bring his two figures together from the opposite ends of the earth, or even from east and west of the same city only. Lazarus gasping in the shadow of the gateway, and the purple drapery of Dives moving behind the blossom and leafage of the courtyard in the hall beyond, might have been seen by the passer-by from the same point of view; so it is no outburst of eccentric idealism that leads the painter to put two such figures on one canvas.
- Christ now paints another contrast, a contrast dealing not with the things that are seen and temporal, but with the things that are unseen and eternal. The contrast is resumed beyond the grave, but the figures are transposed. The next world has its contrasts as well as this.
(3) A contrast of character underlies this picture. Little is told us of the beggar beyond the contrast in character implied in the name chosen to describe him; Lazarus or ‘God my helper’. The rich man’s life was turned away from God, and turned towards himself; the beggar’s was turned away from himself and turned towards God.
Note the truths illustrated herein:
- A common experience awaits all – rich and poor – the experience of death!
- When death takes us from this life, we carry no riches or acclaim.
- A difference in destinies await the a) lost and b) those who trust in God.
- Our Names (or identities) are only important in God.
- There is a difference in honor and love of those who die in Christ
- We all are aware of our conditions in the afterlife.
- Those in heaven cannot see Hell.
- Those in Hell can see Heaven
- There can be no conveyance between Heaven and Hell.
- If we believe not the full counsel of God, we cannot come to God.
What lesson do we learn from this Parable of our Lord?
- a) What seems most valuable in this life may be the least valuable, or of no value at all.
- b) We must love one another:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:39-40
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 3:34-35
- c) We can take no riches from this world.
- d) we must deposit our riches in love, obedience, and Godliness in God’s Bank.
- e) We must make our salvation certain while life remains. John 6: 1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
- f) Miracles are not what convinces: “….though one return from the dead…”
- g) Failure to decide this day and hour, we may be lost as the rich man and find our graves in hell.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
What? Eternal Life! John 6:53 – Our Holy Communion in Art:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Whose bread do you eat? The Bread of Heaven, or the molded and decayed bread the world offers?
Now is the Time.