“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–that he may warn them so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” [NRSA}
The punch line
“A poor man and a rich man each die one and they meets Abraham in heaven..”
This is how most religious jokes start.
Actually they don’t meet at the pearly gates, they meet across a great Grand Canyon. Lazarus is in the Bosom of Abraham. And the rich man is on the other side roasting in Hades.
- Here is the first punch line, in heaven the man who goes to Abraham is known as the rich man and the poor man is known as Lazarus.
- Here is the second punch line, the man who has everything that he needs here on earth, best to make sure, he not only has the faith that Lazarus has but also desires to care for Lazaruses at the doorway.
For those who have seen the Grand Canyon or even Cloudland Canyon, it is just too far of a distance to reach across and hand someone a drink of water.
The rich man pleads to Abraham to send Lazarus on a mission trip. A mission of mercy to those who are suffering on the other side of the tracks.
One of the great things that go on a missionary travel trip beyond what is familiar to us is that it helps us see more clearly ourselves and our home turf and environment. I have had the opportunity to see extreme poverty in slums of Mexico, desert Peru, the rivers in Brazil, the mountains of Honduras, and rural outskirts of Moscow Russia.
Every trip reveals three things:
- we travel to help others outside our own community because we are blessed in ways our neighbors in these lands cannot.
- We meet people of different cultures who love their children and families, enjoy eating food, drinking water and breathing air.
- It sometimes takes crossing great chasms to see we are closer to Hades than Heaven in our daily lives.
There are great opportunities to serve our neighbors in our community and around the world and we can reach in both directions because we have the honor and responsibility to do both as we wear whatever we choose and eat whatever we like.
- The second punch line is that one fellow waiting to late to realize truly how blessed he was living.
- The first punch line reveals how we make a name for ourselves. Not by being poor necessarily, but when we are poor we can more clearly see what we cannot do for ourselves.
One of the great things that he rich man cannot see is that he is asking the poor man to do something for him, the rich man is asking Lazarus to be his servant.
The rich man has lost sight of caring for Lazarus as his neighbor
He has also forgotten that he is to be a servant himself.
The proof is in the pudding.
Scavenger Hunt > searching in the canned pudding story
The rich man asks on behalf of his family.
Abraham’s reply is that you didn’t listen, you didn’t serve, you didn’t believe, neither will they.
The proof is ultimately in our willingness to trust God over the world, wealth and self.
Of course, we have the privilege of hearing Jesus tell this story to disciples like ourselves.
The final punch line is that even though we have 2000 addition years of proof some of us are no closer to god in these days of great division.
Are you on the correct side of the great divide?
There is some assumption about Lazarus feeling snuggly satisfied that the selfish rich man got what was coming to him, but the truth in this story that Lazarus has nothing to say, no comment nor commentary.
- The only one making excuses
- The only one taking and suggesting
- The only one scrambling when that train has gone
- Is the rich man
The man with no name, no hope, no humility, no judgment, no shame, no chance
Is the one on the uncomfortable side of the chasm.
<side note about those folks who ask if their will be Jews in Heaven, ask Abraham>
So what do we do with this parable?
Every parable teaches us about the kingdom of God. If we back up a few verses in Chapter Lk 16:15 “So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.” That is a powerful, powerful declaration.
What is an abomination in the sight of God?
“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings…
- A cup of cool water
- Scraps out of our abundance
- Recognizing we are called to serve nor be serve
- Recognizing there are opportunities at our doorstep and around the world
- Recognizing there is an urgency to serve today, for tomorrow is not promised
What is promised is a place of wholeness and rest in the bison of Abraham in the grace of Christ in the breath of the Holy Spirit and the heart to God.
Just two weeks ago I asked if you were willing to step up and reach someone who is lost 18 of us said yes.
There is a chasm Andre wonder why our church faces a chasm
Why attendance is a conversation
Why money is tight
- If you are ready to offer that cool water to me who thirsts for Christ
- If you are ready to serve the one who you’d expect to serve you
- If you are ready with an assurance that God will save you, bless you, guide and fulfill you.. then get it there and love like Lazarus.