Summary: The parable of the Rich man and Lazarus brings to light the reality of a need to make a choice for God in THIS life...after which there is no choice!
Date Written: August 20, 2008
Date Preached: August 20, 2008
Where Preached: OPBC (Wed PM)
Sermon Series: A Study of the Parables
Sermon Title: The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Sermon Text: Luke 16:19-31 (HCSB)
19 "There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20 But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21 He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24 ’Father Abraham!’ he called out, ’Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’ 25 "’Son,’ Abraham said, ’remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony.
26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’ 27 "’Father,’ he said, ’then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28 because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ 29 "But Abraham said, ’They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30 " ’No, father Abraham,’ he said. ’But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 "But he told him, ’If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’"
There are many ‘takes’ on this parable and what it means. Some say that it is reveals that there is no place for wealth in the Kingdom of God and that the poor and disenfranchised are those who are going to benefit from the Kingdom.
These people say that this just proves that you cannot have money and serve God, and they attempt to use Paul’s admonition about the love of money as a pillar in their campaign against wealth in the church…
However this parable really has NOTHING to do with rich or poor, but when we look intensely at this parable we find that it has everything to do with the attitude and condition of the heart, and this was not a new teaching by Jesus, but merely a RE-newed teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven from yet one more perspective!
Now when we break this parable out into pieces we find that it has one central character or authority figure (Abraham) who speaks for God and then it has 2 separate subordinate characters (Rich man and Lazarus)that represent the different attitudes of the heart…” This parable is a story of contrast between these 2 subordinate characters and different attitudes of the heart.
In this parable Jesus uses 2 eternal locations that all Jews would have known about and would have understood. Jesus spoke about Hades (which the Jews believed to be the place of the wicked dead) and the bosom of Abraham (the place of the righteous dead)!
Abraham, the central authority figure of the parable, enters into the parable a short time after the opening set up. He explains to each of the secondary characters about the judgments that have been given…but the focus is on the Rich Man and why he has rec’d such a harsh judgment.
But a theme we can gather from this parable is the ‘too late’ theme all throughout the story.
The rich man paid attention to Lazarus ‘too late’,
the rich man finds out about this unbridged chasm ‘too late’,
the rich man discovers he is ‘too late’ to help out his brothers, and
the rich man finds out ‘too late’ that he had not been heeding God’s commands (as they had been given by the prophets)
So many people in our world today, when the face Jesus on that great and final day are going to find out the same thing… that it’s ‘too late’! Jesus even teaches in Matt 7 that many are going to call Him, “Lord, Lord” but He is going to say to them, “I don’t know who you are…throw them out!”
This parable can be used to illustrate the finality of death for the unbeliever as it pertains to their spiritual condition. Once you die, there is no changing… there is no redemption! There are many religions today that teach and preach that there is hope after death for those who are unregenerate.