Summary: Sermon on the story of Jesus in Luke 16 draws lessons from the position of each character in the story and the reversal of their positions.
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS Luke 16:19-31
INTRO.: One of Jesus’ teachings was the impossibility of serving two masters. He declared the absolute impossibility of serving both God and mammon (wealth). The Pharisees scoffed at Him. They were serving both God and money and considered themselves quite successful at it. Jesus recognized the folly of their attitude and exposed it in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
I. Let us notice the character and condition of Lazarus:
A. What sort of person was he?
1. A beggar at this time, but not a habitual vagrant or parasite. The word translated "beggar" is rendered simply "poor" 33 times in the N. T.
2. Name means "God is my help." Only one given by Jesus in a parable.
3. The name is an indication of spiritual wealth.
B. His physical condition as the story begins:
1. Laid at the gate of a rich man because the last person who had him no longer wanted to keep him or could no longer and thought a rich man a good candidate to care for him.
2. Physical need expressed in begging for crumbs.
3. Dogs present sharp contrast to rich man’s friends and to his cold hearted neglect of Lazarus.
C. His death:
1. "Died" with no mention of funeral, burial, mourners.
2. Lived life of saint, so death was fitting that of a saint. Just a passing event leading to better things.
3. His spirit was carried to Abraham’s side by the angels.
II. The character and condition of the rich man:
A. What kind of person was he?
1. Jesus accused him of no crime.
2. His morals are not called into question. Probably not a liar or philanderer.
3. His crime is the neglect of others’ needs when it was in his power to help.
B. He possessed great wealth.
1. His clothing: Purple of royalty. Fine linen worth its weight in gold. Wealth, pride shown in wearing these.
2. Lived in luxury every day. Finest food, Complete comfort. Festivity.
3. Separated from poverty and suffering by a fence and gates.
C. His death:
1. His burial was notable. Probably a splendid occasion.
2. Death is universal. In the end wealth is impotent. Even the wealthiest die.
3. His transportation to Hades was probably not nearly as nice a Lazarus’ ride to Abraham’s side.
III. After death, their positions are exactly reversed:
A. Lazarus in Paradise, the rich man in torment.
1. God has a history of reversing things: Isa. 65:11-14
2. Lazarus was saved by his faith, not his poverty.
3. Rich man was doomed by his selfishness and disbelief.
B. Rich man seeks mercy for himself. Typically selfish.
1. He still trys to use others as servants.
2. "Father Abraham." He trusts in his earthly relationship to Abraham. It only makes his plight worse. He has received much and given little.
3. Has already received his good things. Lk. 6:24-26
C. Then, he finally thinks of others: His father and brothers.
1. He insults the Word of God. Abraham says so.
2. His contempt for godly things followed him in death and he argues with Abraham.
3. Even miracles won’t convince those who reject the Word.
4. Abraham’s response is a prophecy of the rejection of Jesus.
CONC.: It is clear from Jesus’ story that there is no more certain road to hell than living a selfish, godless life. Jesus said, "If anyone would come after Me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Living in Christ means living a life of selfless service to others.