Those that take this story literally point out no other parable gives characters a name ~~ Lazarus. So what! Many healing miracles of Jesus have unique elements different from any other healing miracle like the time he used his spit to make mud and put on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus taught in many ways, wisdom sayings, hard sayings like it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man making it to heaven. This story adds to the depth of Jesus method of teaching. Jesus is using known fictional characters everyone understood. In our culture, if I tell a story about Robin Hood, you now it is a fictional story with a true to life message: a man striving for justice by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The characters in today’s parable:
- Lazarus seems to be a known character, poor on this earth but honorable.
- Father Abraham seems to be a character based on the real life Abraham, depicted as a patriarch of heaven, similar to our fictional Peter standing at the Pearly gates. Nobody believes heaven has Pearly Gates or Peter is the one that admits/rejects people.
- The “rich man” in Luke stands for a class of people, a person that is greedy only living for himself.
Some of the lessons from this story:
- Now is the time to live for Christ.
- Do not take the blessings of life or the needs of others for granted.
- We have everything we need right now to make a decision for Christ.
Now is the time to live for Christ. There is an urgency to this story. We accept or reject Christ on earth. The message over and over from Father Abraham to the rich man: it is too late. The Rich Man lived for himself on earth and rejected Christ; the decision was made…Don’t wait till it’s too late. May this be our priority in Sumas, our message to the community. Heed the warning of the story: go to the Lord and live for him.
- Now is the time to set your life right.
- Now is the time to get your house in order.
- Now is the time to start serving Christ.
Do not take the blessings of life or the needs of others for granted. Sometimes we take the blessings of life for granted because they are so common. One person summed it up well: “The more often we see the things around us - even the beautiful and wonderful things - the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds - even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” ( Joseph B. Wirthlin,)
Sometime we take people around us and God for granted because we imagine we deserve it, we are superior, greed. The rich man takes Lazarus for granted. On earth, Lazarus is outside the Rich man’s gate but invisible. Only when it is too late does the rich man want the company of Lazarus…. “can you send Lazarus to me” he asks Father Abraham. Jesus is urging us to open our eyes to the people, the blessings, the needs right under our nose. Going to the other side of the world to share the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth is a privilege, but it starts by looking around…We don’t need to go far…
Regrets come when we look back and become aware of the people and blessings we took for granted; now they are gone. REGRETS ARE A KILLER…. The rich man in his eternity of suffering is a man of regrets. Ask the Lord daily to open your eyes to the blessings, little things, the people at your front door that need to be blessed. At the end of the story, the Rich man asks for the spectacular: raise Lazarus from the dead and send him to my brothers… Abraham says the little things are where you find wholeness. One of the amazing things about Lazarus: We think the Rich Man was supposed to help him overcome his poverty, yet the Rich Man asks Father Abraham to be blessed by Lazarus. You could argue he is being selfish as he asks for Lazarus to give relief to his thirst, but I see him as desiring the blessing of Lazarus… the Rich man knew the character of Lazarus. At the time the Rich man did not see it, but even on earth Lazarus had something to offer…
May we learn to not take people or blessings for granted, but enter into the lives of people. One of the great ironies is that when you seek to bless others, when you look to help people overcome their need, you will be immeasurably blessed. I love spending time with raw, real, crazy people. They think I am helping them, but I am the one that is honored….(Right TJ)
Open your eyes to the everyday blessings, dig in your heals refusing to take anything or anyone for granted. Look under your nose. One person wrote a list of things he was going to try to not take for granted… He told story of a Christian couple in Pakistan, wife pregnant, they were beaten to death by a crowd for being Christians. First on his list: religious freedom.
- Do you make your own decisions? There are 29.8 million people living as slaves today including forced laborers, forced prostitutes, child soldiers and child brides in forced marriages.
- Do you own shoes? About 300 million children around the world don't own a pair of shoes.
- Do you drink clean water? About 1.1 billion people in the world don't have access.
- Did your mother survive when you were born? Approximately 800 women die every day.
- Did you live past age 5? Some 21,000 children die every day around the world.
- Do you eat 3 meals a day? estimated 1/3 of world's people overfed, 1/3 underfed, 1/3 starving.
- Do you enjoy reliable electricity?
- Do you have a roof over your head? 100 million homeless people in the world.
- Do you have a flushable toilet?
- Can you read? Nearly a billion people unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Do you have health care? 1 billion people in the world have no access.
- Ps. 103:2: "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits".
The sin of rich man is to think he deserved his wealth. While he lived in luxury, he took for granted the needs of the poor man at his gate. When you know God, your life is changed to see others as the Lord sees them. No longer do you take blessings for granted, but you become appreciative, accepting of others. The book of Luke teaches us that the way to serve God is by serving others. The way to enter the kingdom work of God is to bless others…. The sin of the rich man is not his wealth, it is living for himself.
You have everything you need right now to make a commitment for Christ. How many people put conditions on God before they commit? ~~ answer this question God and then I’ll think about giving my life to you. I don’t understand why there is suffering, war, poverty, injustice… Resolve this or that issue… prove to me that you are real…
The rich man says to Father Abraham, at least make Lazarus alive again on earth and then my brothers will REPENT. (Repent, means, to change, to be a different person, to change patterns, priorities…. ) Father Abraham says, “are you kidding me? Even the resurrection of a dead man will not convince them. They already have Moses and the Prophets” (by that, he means the Hebrew Bible since the New Testament did not yet exist). They have everything they need and still they reject the truth of Christ. Spectacular miracles are not needed, amazing earth shaking answers to prayer are not a requirement. Your brothers have the word of God already. We live in a world where people don’t know their Bibles, so that is part of our mission, to share the word of God with those who will listen/receive…
Father Abraham says Moses and the Prophets is enough for the brothers of the Rich Man to make a commitment to God. Obviously the Rich Man had the same advantage. But there is also at least one more way the Rich Man could have seen God but chose to ignore: Lazarus himself. Only when it is too late does the Rich Man regret not inviting Lazarus to bless him. Lazarus is the message of Christ. It says in Matt. 25:35-40: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Lazarus with his open sores that the dogs lick clean, the broken people of this world, they are the message of Christ. Maybe because we learn from them and are forced to confront what is most important. Maybe because we cannot take anything or anyone for granted when you love the hurting people of this world. Perhaps Lazarus is your name, a broken person. The way I see this: YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO OFFER.
I am all about the ministry of small things, the cup of cold water… last Tuesday several of us sat in the office at the Sumas RV Park with only a few residents. I judge nobody, it is a free country, but there we were from the church outnumbering a few from the park…. We tried, We won’t give up… those that came enjoyed for a lot of reasons, it was good, the ministry of small things…
You already had the words of Moses and the Prophets Father Abraham said…the Word of God. Lazarus was at your doorstep. If you would have shown kindness to Lazarus, you would have seen something of Christ. You would have see realness and figured out what was most important. Many people will be reached for Christ through the kindness of those that love the Lord, they will be reached for Christ by knowing somebody cares. Someday I will hold a class in how to listen… that is what the world needs. I went to an Opioid in the Foothills seminar… brainstormed ideas. I’m not against that… but I told the moderator I have my answer. I don’t know how to create systems, social programs to transform the next generation…. So my answer is to go into homes… My answer is to make friends, person by person, to love people.
Now is the time to give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t wait till it’s too late. Now is the time to live for Christ. Do not take the blessings of life or the needs of others for granted. You have everything you need right now to make a decision for Christ. Amen.