Gospel of Luke 16:19-31
Jesus said, “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.'”
Let us Pray: Friends in Christ, God invites us to hold the needs of our sisters and brothers as dear to us as our own needs. Loving our neighbors as ourselves, we offer our thanksgivings and our petitions on behalf of the church and the world. This we pray for all those in need. Amen
Today’s Gospel has a lot to learn from it. In this parable Jesus teaches that heaven and hell are real, literal places. There are some uncomfortable topics we tend to ignore such is there really a hell? Christ spoke about hell a great deal, as did Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews. The Bible is clear that every person who has ever lived will spend eternity in either heaven or hell. Like the rich man in the story, multitudes today are complacent in their conviction that all is well with their soul. There are many people today who are contented with their commitment to Christ and seemingly ignore that their eternity will be spent like the rich man in this gospel lesson. God loves the poor and is offended when His children neglect them. In fact, those who show mercy to the poor are in effect ministering to Christ personally.
We’ve had the parables of the lost and found coin. The lost son, and lost sheep, and then a parable addressed to the ‘lost’ people, the tax collectors, and sinners. Now we have a story directed at those who considered themselves the found, the rich, respected, and religious. Riches, then, were considered a sure sign of God’s favor, and that distortion is still perpetuated on many today. But in the stories Jesus told, it is almost always the poor person who is seen as closer to God. Perhaps this is because they know their need and so have their eyes fixed beyond their own resources. Self-sufficiency is the spiritual downfall of our age, especially if we ignore the Lazarus’s who if we wanted, we could help. Our earthly journey is exceedingly brief. Perhaps the greatest lesson to learn from this story, then, is that when death comes knocking on our door there is only one thing that matters: our relationship with Jesus Christ. “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Eternal life is only found in Christ. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). The truth is, if we wish to live apart from God during our time on earth, He will grant us our wish for eternity as well. As one pastor aptly said, “If you board the train of unbelief, you will have to take it all the way to its destination.”
Today may be a good time to ask ourselves: what are we sowing in our daily lives? Is it love, care, concern, peace, joy, and generosity? Or is it negativity, self-centeredness, greed, and criticism? We all will reap what we sow. Today and tomorrow, what will we choose to sow?
Let us Pray: Redeeming Sustainer, visit your people and pour out your strength and courage upon us,that we may hurry to make you welcome not only in our concern for others, but by serving them generously and faithfully in your name. Amen.