Summary: This message treats how the quality of life on the other side of death shall be reversed by the soverieng grace of God. It looks at the high becoming low, the rich becoming poor, the diseased becoming whole. On the Other Side of Death is A Role Reversal!
I want to use the platform of this Preaching Moment to highlite this Headline: "ROLE REVERSAL." The Text I have tagged and targeted for Teaching is LUKE 16:19-26.
I agree with Louis B. Craddock, who said in his book entitled ’LUKE" that, ’In the course of teaching and preaching in the Church, it is often the case that Scripture is treated Unit by Unit with attention
given to individual events or teachings. In such a method, context consists primarily of the paragraphs immediately before and after the passage under investigation. Much can be gained by both Preacher
and Parishioner in such a precedure, especially if one is moving thru a biblical book in continuous or semi-continuous readings. However, now and then one comes to a major block of material that demands
some consideration as a whole before attention is given to its parts.Such is the nature of the section before us now.’
Luke 16 falls into the context of what is called "THE JOURNEY NARRATIVE." It commences at 9:51 and ends at 19:28. 9:51 is an expression that breaks from what precedes it, and that has the quality of setting the tone for what is about to come. 9:51 says: "When the day drew near for Him(Jesus) to be received up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem." In 9:51 Jesus sets out to go to Jerusalem but He does not arrive until 10 chapters later at 19:28, which says: "When He had said this, He went on ahead going up to Jerusalem."
Luke reminds us that what takes place between 9:51 and 19:28 is to be understood as occuring on Jesus’ Journey to Jerusalem, and that the fact of that Journey is to influence interpretation of what Jesus says and does.
If the Journey to Jerusalem is understood as Luke’s context for Jesus Preparing His Followers and Us not only for His Passion, but for Discipleship to and beyond the events in Jerusalem, then we can
understand why Jesus told this Parable of The Rich and Poor Man. For between here and New Jerusalem the believer encounters Rejection, Poverty, Sickness and Death.
The Two Parables of Chapter 16 represent a Positive and Negative Use of Material Things. Clearly Luke understood as well as we that the issues of Wealth and Poverty are Complex, that Anxiety about Money is a disease among both those who have it and
those who do not, and that a generous sharing of one’s goods can free one from the danger to the soul which lies coiled in the possession of things. Overall, Luke understood that Prosperity casts a Shadow over human Life, and it is the Poor who are the Objects of God’s special concern. Nowhere is that conviction more evident than in the Story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
The audience is no longer Disciples but Pharisees, who are here portrayed as Lovers of Money who make fun of Jesus’ position on Money. For in Verse 14, they derided Jesus. In Verse 13, Jesus had separated God and mammon and said: "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." This apparently means that theirs was a Theology in which God and mammon were comfortable joined.
Therefore, Jesus and these Pharisees differed on their Theological interpretation of Wealth and Poverty. If the Pharisees misread the Law and the Prophets in justifying a Love of Wealth, and if the Rich Man in the Parable interpreted his and Lazarus’ condition as evidence of God’s Favor and Disfavor according to a certain reading of the Law and the Prophets, then both the Pharisees and the rich man are judged by the very Scriptures they had used to justify their life-styles.
The story is addressed to the Pharisees not simply on the use of wealth and poverty but on a Justification of their view on the basis of the Law and the Prophets.
Now, there are many Applications of this Parable. It could be used as a Commentary on Classical Class Wars. It could be used as a Contrast of Conservative Religion and Politics versus Socialism. Or it could be used as a Commentary on Capitalism versus Welfare.
But I want to view it in the light of the Neo or Modern Gospel of Prosperity juxtaposed to the Gospel according to Jesus.
I perceive TWO POINTS OF EMPHASIS highlited in this Parable of the RICH MAN-POOR MAN.
FIRST, JESUS EMPHASIZES THAT LIFE CONDITIONS DO NOT NECESSARILY INDICATE ONE’S PROPER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
SECOND, THERE IS A ROLE REVERSAL THAT IS YET
In the light of this Modern Gospel of Prosperity juxtaposed to the Gospel of Jesus, this Parable emphasizes the fact that: