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58 Luke 16.19-31

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Trading Places

Luke 16:19-31

v    Opening Illustration

Ø     Reversal of Fortunes

§        We love stories like this

·        Where people’s situation is radically changed and we get to see their reactions, how they live, what they do

·         Where people are put in different circumstances

¨     Big, 30 going on 13 (Different age)

¨     My Fair Lady (Pygmalion) (Different social setting)

¨     Back to the Future (Different time)

¨     Trading Places (Different economic circumstances)

Ø     Dan Ackroyd, Eddy Murphy

v    Trading spouses

Ø     Show where people from different backgrounds trade spouses

§        Current show…

·        The Plonskers are a very serious, very successful family of four from San Francisco, California. Mom Patricia, the self-declared ‘hammer’ of the family, rules the brood and always means business. She and her husband Jeffrey head a financial consulting company located in a ritzy high-rise with extravagant views. Patricia begins her day at 4:00 am in order to keep up with the high-pressure financial world and hasn’t had a day off in 15 years! Patricia’s husband Jeffrey is a businessman who has a hard time leaving his work at the office. It is not unusual for Jeffrey to get up in the middle of the night to ‘get ahead’ on the next business day.

·        The Welsh’s are a fun-loving British family from the quaint town of Pleasant Hill, California. When Mom Sheila is not giving career advice to local high school students, she enjoys the crazy adventures Barry plans for her family. The Welsh’s wild activities include white water rafting, bungee jumping, belly dancing, rugby matches, raves and any other outrageous hobbies Barry can think up. Zany Barry is always the life of the party and a constant source of side-splitting humor despite his quite serious day job as a rocket scientist. He keeps the family in stitches with the kind of unpredictable antics you would expect from someone half his age.

v    These two families are going to trade mothers

Ø     Imagine the extremely different experience these two mothers are going to go through

Ø     Imagine the surprises that they are going to encounter

v    Today in our text we have two people who are Trading Places

Ø     The rich man and Lazarus

§        And Jesus contrasts their experiences in life and in death

·        The Here and the HereAfter


READ v.19-31


v    Jesus sets up the story by juxtaposing these two lives and lifestyles

Ø     The very rich and very poor

§        First we have the Rich Man

·        Clothed in Purple

¨     Very expensive dye made from snails

·        Fine Linen

¨     Undergarments

·        Lived in luxury

¨     House, servants, etc

·        Feasting

¨     Day and night

¨     Huge and extravagant

§        Lazarus

·        Beggar

·        Lame

¨     Laid at Gate

·        Ulcerated

¨     Unclean

¨     Touched by unclean dogs

·        Hungry

¨     “Longing to eat the scraps”

Ø     People ate with hands and used bread to wipe them during meal

Ø     Throw bread scraps away like napkins

v    Alas, they both die

Ø     Notice that the rich man is noted as having been buried

§        While nothing is said about Lazarus

Ø     Probably the rich man had a proper funeral

§        Professional wailers

§        Procession

§        An above ground tomb

Ø     While Lazarus, being destitute, probably was thrown into a mass grave

§        No fanfare, not even noticed

v    The next scene we see is startling

Ø     Truly spaces have indeed been traded

§        The rich man is no longer in the lap of luxury…

·        He is in Hades or Hell

¨     He is in utter agony

Ø     So much fire, torment and thirst that a moist finger is longed for!

§        Lazarus, having had a torturous life on earth, is now by Abraham’s side

·        In heaven

¨     We are not told what his experience is like, but from the rest of Scripture we know that heaven is…

Ø     A place of perfection

§        In relationship with God

§        In its creation

§        In our bodies

§        In our righteousness

Ø     A high, holy and everlasting place

Ø     A place of reward

Ø     A place of happiness and joy

Ø     A place devoid of suffering and tears

Ø     A place where there are springs of living water (Rev 7:17)

§        That which the rich man wants but just a taste

v    Thus the parable is divided into two parts

Ø     The Here and the Hereafter

§        And it is interesting what we can learn from both experiences…

In Life - The Here

Appearances can be Deceiving

v    Every parable is based on an unexpected twist

Ø     Here we see a reversal of fortunes, a trading of spaces

§        John Donne ~ “Death is the great leveler”

·        Lazarus now in the luxury of heaven and Rich man in the torment of Hades

¨     That would be a twist because many in the time of Jesus would look at the two and conclude that, in life, Lazarus must have sinned greatly

Ø     And that the rich man was living a Godly, righteous life because of his situation

v    Because…

Ø     The Lord punishes those who sin…

§        And blesses those who are faithful

·        That is the basic theology prevalent of the day

¨     Remember John 9 ~ Blind man from birth

Ø     Disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents”

v    That theology prevalent today…

Ø     Health / wealth gospel teaches that God promises to bless those who are faithful

§        Promises of physical health and material wealth

·        Thus you do for the Lord and he must bless you

¨     No! Not Pavlovian dogs

Ø     That is not the relationship that God wants!

v    Sometimes God does bless you materially

Ø     But for what purpose?

§        To be more of a blessing

·        And that is where the rich man failed

v    To look at the rich man was to look at apparent faithfulness

Ø     But appearances can be deceiving

v    We are not told about the rich man’s spiritual life

Ø     He might have been a real letcher, a real atheistic Jew

§        But I think that Jesus is cutting a little closer to the bone, don’t you?

·        I imagine that this rich man was like most Jews of the time

¨     He went to synagogue

Ø     He heard the Scripture

Ø     He maybe even had memorized parts of it

¨     He observed the Sabbath

¨     At Passover, all yeast was taken out of his house

¨     He brought sacrifices to the temple

¨     He made the 3x pilgrimages

Ø     He looked from all outward appearances like a pious Jew

v    But looks can be deceiving

Ø     Each and every time he left the house…

§        He had to take a great step over Lazarus

·        Here he had a person laid at his door who was in dire need

¨     A neighbor who needed to be loved

Ø     And the rich man did not even notice it

§        Literally stepping over him every day to go out

§        Jesus when answering the Pharisees question about what is the greatest commandment said

·        Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind soul and strength, and the second is like it, Love you neighbor as yourself

Ø     The rich man found hell not because he didn’t know what to do…

§        But because he didn’t act on it

·        Sitting in my office this week, I began wondering…

¨     Who are the Lazarus’ that have been laid at my door?

¨     What Lazarus’ do I have to step over each and every day

¨     What Lazarus’ have become part of my landscape

Ø     I encourage you to do the same

v    If you are anything like me, you still ask…

Ø     Why does this man deserve hell?

Ø     Is the sin of omission that bad?

§        Yes!

·        Jesus wants us to be a people who are just like him

¨     Merciful

v    And this rich man was…

Missing Mercy

v    Why was the rich man so deserving of such a terrible punishment as hell?

Ø     Not that he kicked and abused Lazarus

Ø     Not that he objected to Lazarus feeding on the scraps

Ø     Not even that he had Lazarus forcibly removed from his presence

§        In fact, it was just the opposite…

Ø     It was that he never noticed him!

§        He allowed suffering Lazarus to become part of the landscape!!

·        It was not what the rich man did that got him into hell…

¨     It was what he did not do!

Ø     He was not merciful…

Ø     He was not about his Father’s business!

v    Brothers and sisters, we are to be about our father’s business

Ø     And our Father’s business is MERCY

§        Think of it like going into the family business

·        A Bakery ~ you are expected to mix dough, make the various desserts, ice and decorate cakes, etc

Ø     Our Father’s business is mercy

§        Everything we do has to do with mercy…

·        Sharing Christ

¨     Sharing Christ out of mercy because of the dire peril people are in

·        Helping with the sick

¨     Showing the purest form of mercy

·        Encouraging others

¨     Seeing state of despondency and reacting out of mercy

·        Admonishing others

¨     Recognizing the danger they are in and mercifully warning

·        Teaching, serving, praying all have to do with mercy

¨     That is our family business

Ø     So many Christians say…

§        I’ve said the sinners prayer...I’m in

§        I believe in Christ as my savior…I’m in

·        That’s like saying you are in the family bakery business and never doing anything, sitting around, watching everybody else working and taking credit for being in the business

¨     That’s ridiculous, isn’t it!?

·        2 Peter 1:10

¨     Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure

Ø     RQ: How do we do that…

§        By working in the family business

·        READ James 2:14-18

¨     It is not what the rich man did that landed him in hell…

Ø     It was what he refused to do

v    Next we move in the parable from the here to the hereafter


In Death - The HereAfter


v     This parable is one of the starkest pictures of the reality of hell

The Reality of Hell

v    The rich man is clearly portrayed in agony

Ø     3x the word torment is used

§        There is fire and thirst

·        Perhaps worst of all there is realization

¨     Rich man sees Lazarus in paradise with Abraham!

v    This parable pictures hell as an awful, awful place

Ø     John Piper (Brothers, we are not Professionals)…

I must feel the truth of hell, that it exists and is terrible and horrible beyond imaginings forever and ever…Even if I try to make the "lake of fire" or the "fiery furnace" a symbol, I am confronted with the terrifying thought that symbols are not overstatements but understatements of reality. Jesus did not choose these pic­tures to tell us that hell is easier than burning!

§        And perhaps that is why it is not preached on very much

·        It doesn’t increase giving

·        It doesn’t leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling you want as you leave church

·        It doesn’t engender warm feelings toward your pastor

·        It doesn’t make guests feel comfortable

¨     In fact, mentioning hell does not do any of the things that the church growth movement tell you to do

v    And that is why…

Ø     Many want to dismiss all together

Walter Hooper, CS Lewis’ secretary laughed when he read the following gravestone inscription:

Here lies an atheist, All dress up and nowhere to go

Lewis did not share his laughter and responded

I’m sure he wishes now that were true

§        Many pastors dismiss the doctrine of hell as well

·        Kenneth Kantzer

¨     The last sermon I heard on hell I preached myself, and that was nearly thirty years ago.

·        Rev Mary Kraus – Methodist, DC

¨     My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell

Ø     Many couch hell in other terms so as not to deal with the reality of the word HELL

C. S. Lewis once went to hear a young pastor deliver a sermon. Very much in earnest, the young man ended his message like this: "And now, my friends, if you do not believe these truths, there may be for you grave eschatological consequences:'

Lewis, while greeting the young minister, asked him, "Did you mean that they would be in danger of hell?"

"Why, yes," said the pastor.

"Then why in the world didn't you say so?" Lewis replied

Ø     Many avoid the doctrine theologically

§        Universalism = all make it to heaven eventually

·        Lean too heavily on the Love of God

·        Ignore the justice and wrath

Ø     Many want to soften the doctrine

§        Purgatory ~ a second chance

·        Heb 9:27

·        The chasm is unbreechable, cannot be crossed

¨     Your position is permanent

Ø     V. 24-26

Ø     Many want to remedy the doctrine

§        Annihilationism

v    John Piper ~ Brothers we are not professionals

Ø     Chapter entitled ~ “Brothers, we must feel the truth of Hell”

§        2 ways the doctrine of Hell helps us as Christians…

·        1) When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the Gospel passes from good news to simply news

·        2) Our power to love our neighbor will be proportionate to the felt fearfulness of our nearness to destruction

John Piper

v    I know for myself that in order to be a true shepherd and not a hireling, in order to grieve over the straying lambs, and in order to summon with tears the wild goats, I must believe in my heart certain terrible and wonderful things. If I am to love with the meek, hum­ble, tender, self-effacing heart of Christ, I must feel the awful and glorious truths of Scripture.

Ø     The amazing thing to realize about the doctrine of hell is that it is not there to scare us…

§        It is there to spur us on to be more Christ-like

·        love the lost, show mercy toward those who are headed to hell

¨     And that is exactly what we see happening in our parable today

v    V. 27 ~ The rich man’s experience in Hell makes him sensitive to the plight of his 5 brothers

Ø     Asks Abraham to send Lazarus to them

Ø     But Abraham refuses, instead saying that they have Moses and the Prophets

§        In essence saying…

Scripture is Sufficient

v    But the rich man disagreed, insisting that if they witness someone from the dead they would repent

Ø     Oh, how subtle!

§        Even in hell, the rich man is excusing himself, isn’t he?

·        He had the Scriptures, but he did not believe them

·        He had the Law and the Prophets that Jesus himself said all pointed to faith in the Messiah

¨     Luke 24

Ø     The Road to Emmaus with 2 disciples

Ø     Yet, he still feels that the Scriptures are not sufficient for salvation

§        So he pleads…

·        Do something amazing

·        Do something spectacular

·        Perform a miracle…

¨     And they will believe

v    Isn’t that what our culture screams today?

Ø     Show us a sign

Ø     Show me proof

Ø     Let me see you God work a miracle in my life

§        And I will believe

·        Show me a sign and the result will be faith

v    Well, do you remember, another Lazarus in Scripture?

Ø     He did come back from the dead and do you remember what the reaction was?

§        Jn 11:53; 12:10 ~ They immediately plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus

v    Jesus himself came back from the dead

Ø     A few believed, but the vast majority didn’t…and still don’t

§        In fact they have been killing those who do believe for 2,000 years

v    Miracles are not what they need…

Ø     It is Scripture

§        Scripture is sufficient, it is all we need

·        So many times we think we need something more

v    But we have to remember that Scripture is…

Ø     A mirror to show us ourselves James 1:23

Ø     A hammer to break the will Jer. 23:29

Ø     A fire to melt the heart Mal. 3:2

Ø     A sword t pierce the conscience Heb. 4:12

Ø     A seed to quicken the soul 1 Peter 1:23

Ø     A soap to cleanse the way Eph. 5:26

Ø     A light to show the path Psalm 119:105

v    Notes:

·        Remember what Jesus said last week

¨     Luke 16:10 ~ Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much

Ø     If you are faithful with little Jesus may trust you with more in this lifetime

§        And you are to prove trustworthy with it

¨     Are you serving others with it or yourself?


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