Summary: Why is it that they won't be convinced by someone rising from the dead? It is the heart and faith, and the Holy Spirit, on hearing the Word, and not great miracles that brings people to Christ.
“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
Let the Words of my Mouth…
This morning, I want to review what we read in our Gospel lesson, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Remember when examining any passage in scripture, context is key.
Our Gospel lesson comes from Luke 16, where we are told that the Pharisees had come to listen and to argue, with Jesus. Now, as you probably can guess, when they come, they are not there to learn. They listen so they can mock, heckle, insult, and as much as possible, get the people who are flocking to Jesus to stop listening to Him.
Time after time they have embarrassed themselves by trying to trick Jesus, trip him up in his teaching, and simply insult Him and anyone who will listen to him.
This morning, Jesus tells a story, specifically as a warning to the Pharisees, but to all of us as well.
The Pharisees, were lovers of money first,
and acclaim second
says Luke, right before this parable, setting the stage, so that those of us who never met them, could have an idea of them.
The story begins with a rich man, and a poor man. The rich man is intended to represent the Pharisees.
They were rich in a number of ways. First, they were big on raising taxes. They would seek high taxes from the people to support their way of life, which was living in the temple and arguing theology all day.
They were rich also in the sense of having at least a superficial knowledge of the Bible. They memorized large portions of the scriptures, used them in their daily prayers, and in a sense feasted on the Bible, but instead of it changing their hearts, they used it as an end in itself, to compete, to argue, but not to repent, nor to share God’s Message with those who did not have that kind of life, the poor in spirit.
Then there was Lazarus. He is described as a beggar covered with sores, who sat at the rich man’s gate. He fed on the crumbs that fell from the Rich Man’s Table. I would see that spiritually too.
They are people who don’t have the opportunity to hear much of God’s Word but when they could, they consume every crumb they can. Kind of like the story of Mary and Martha a few chapters earlier where Mary refused to do anything but sit and listen to Jesus. They were supposed to be fed by the rich, but the rich kept it to themselves.
So both of these men died, the Rich man going to the place of torment, and Lazarus going to sit in the bosom of Abraham.
For the purposes of the story, the Rich Man is able to talk to Abraham, and so he calls out to him, “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.
Two things to pick up here. First, he knows Abraham as “Father". In fact, Abraham refers to him back as “Son” or “child” depending on the translation. One thing this teaches is another concept Christ kept trying to teach the Pharisees, that being a Child of Abraham was supposed to be more than a genetic trait.
Our relationship with God is more than simply following the footsteps of our parents. And being a descendant of Abraham meant pretty much nothing for the Rich Man as far as his eternal destination was concerned.
The Second interesting note is that the Rich Man referred to Lazarus by name. All that time he spent outside his gate, eating scraps, the rich man, who had more than enough to live on, knew who he was, how he lived, and couldn’t care enough to care for his wounds, or even feed him a meal every once in a while.
Abraham responded, saying
‘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. 26 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,
After Abraham refuses his request, the Rich Man suddenly, considering his situation, turns evangelist on us.
He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his brothers, to the other Pharisees who should have known better, having feasted their life on God’s word, but missing its message and point, to warn them so they would not end up in torment with him. “Certainly,” he tells Father Abraham, “If someone were to raise up from the dead, they would repent.”