Summary: This message is about reaching out to those who lie outside of our gates - be they Lazarus or the Rich Man. As Jesus reached out so too should the Body of Christ. May it be ever be so true today!
Title: Who Is At Your Gate?
This message is about reaching out to those who lie outside of our gate - be they Lazarus or the Rich Man. As Jesus reached out so too does the Body of Christ. May it be so today!
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sins of the world!
You can learn a lot by eavesdropping. Individually we all do it to a certain degree. We can justify it by calling it "Social Listening". Sometimes it just happens by accident. We are on a bus, sitting in a coffee shop, eating in a restaurant, walking down the hallway, standing in line and you begin to pick up bits and pieces of someone's conversation. At times we can't help but overhear a conversation. We may not want to hear what is going on but the conversation is either so loud or so heated that we can't help by hearing what is being said.
Other times it happens by design. We deliberately try to listen in on what someone else is saying. How many of us at one time or the other tried to put a glass cup against a door to try to hear what was going on in the other room? Or we tried to be as quiet as possible so we could pick up every sound going on in the next room or office? In years past some people had to share a common telephone line called a party line. It enabled a person to be able to pick up the phone and listen in on the other person's conversation. Party lines provided a hot bed for gossip and entertainment.
Our nation prides itself in its ability to eavesdrop. We do it in both times of peace and war. Our military spends billions of dollars on what it calls "electronic intelligence". In fact, there is a whole center devoted to eavesdropping located right outside of Salt Lake City, Utah called the Utah Data Center. It cost over 2 billion dollars to build, spans over 1 million square feet and uses 65 Megawatts of power ( enough power as 115,000 plus homes). Big brother has big ears and is constantly eavesdropping on all kinds of communications and conversations.
Our passage opens up this morning with the Pharisees doing some eavesdropping of their own. They have been listening in on Jesus' conversation with his disciples concerning money and stewardship. They have been listening but they have not be agreeing. In fact, verse 14 tells us that they did more than just disagree, they made fun of Jesus and his theological views concerning money, resources and stewardship.
They contended that one can equally love money and God at the same time. It was their opinion that one's abundance or even lack of abundance may in fact be in direct correlation to one's spirituality. They would say if a person was truly obeying God and His Laws then they would be naturally be enjoying a life of prosperity. They believed that Godliness and riches went hand in hand. They also believed that sinfulness and poverty also went hand in hand. The lack of resources or the experiencing of financial difficulties more often than not had to do with a person's right standing with the LORD. Poor people, poverty stricken people were simply people who were under the curse of God for their unrighteousness.
Jesus confronts this misguided theology by sharing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus It is a much traveled parable. Similar forms of it have been found in many different cultures. Some place its origin in Egypt1 while others say it originated with one of the ancient rabbis. We don't know where Jesus heard the basic parts of this parable but we do know that Jesus puts his own twist on the Parable. Possibly he could have heard it as a child during his family's time in Egypt. Then again he could have heard it from one of the local rabbis around Nazareth where he grew up. Wherever Jesus heard it the truth remains that the version that we find here in Luke 16 has the unique fingerprints of Jesus. He uses it to teach us some very important truths.
1. The truth that there is an existence beyond the mere physical
We are to understand that the Parable is more than just a teaching lesson on money and stewardship. Jesus reminds us in this Parable that our lives are going someplace. Jesus teaches us that there is an existence beyond that which we are already experiencing in the here and now. There is something more.
At some point just like the Rich Man and Lazarus we too will have to lay down our own physical bodies. We will all experience a physical death. Our physical bodies will no longer be able to function. Our hearts will no longer be able to pump blood, our lungs will no longer be able to receive oxygen and the billions of neurons in our brains will fizzle out. We will die but we will not cease to exist. God's Word makes it crystal clear that we are more than mere bones, tendons and flesh. Along with our physical body we all have been given a spiritual body. Listen to what God says: