Faithlife Sermons

NL3 - 31: The Rich Man and Lazarus

NL3  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Can you imagine waking up one day at 14 and not be able to see
It’s not as if he had time to prepare
Life suddenly changed
He was engaged with life and now it was different
It would be so easy to give up
He wanted to be engaged with life [wanted purpose] [found it]
He didn;t want to just exist and neither should we
Do we just go about our daily lives existing
Let’s choose to live [thrive]
God has given us a purpose and we will not truly thrive until we follow that call to live


Luke 16:19–31 NIV
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

The Divide Between Rich and Poor

Ancient Societal Status

The divide between the rich and the poor was different than it is today
Many of the wealthiest people today earned their money
Today wealth can be earned [many
[Bill Gates with Microsoft] [Steve Jobs with Apple]
Some began with humble beginnings
Steve Jobs with Apple
Jesus is talking in a class-system society
The ruling elite were a tiny percentage of the population
Some who served the elite shared in trickle down prosperity [respect]
[tax-collectors] [government suppliers] [priestly class]
The working class were the lower echelons of society
[artisans] [shopkeepers] [lived a life of subsistence]
The peasantry was the largest percentage of the population
[farmers] [laborers]
Daily existence was a struggle against need and starvation

The Rich Man

The first character in the parable was the rich man
He was at the top of the class-system
The Rich man dressed in purple and fine linen
Only the wealthy dressed in purple [expensive]
He was clothed in the best of the best [beyond the means of most people]
The rich man lived in luxury every day
The phrase “lived in luxury” can be translated...
[being glad] [enjoying oneself] [being merry] - and to do so luxuriously
The NRSV translates it [feasting sumptuously every day]
1 pound of meat every day of the year = employing 30 workers
This man did not want - He had everything he wanted - at the top of society


Lazarus sat by the gate to his estate
Every time he left and returned the rich man would see Lazarus
Lazarus was starving and longed for the scraps the rich man threw away
He was starving just outside the house where this rich man was feasting
He was covered with sores that the dogs would lick
People didn’t keep dogs as pets [they were unclean]
Dogs were seen as the lowest form of animal life
To touch one would be seen as unclean [Lazarus is among the dogs]
Lazarus only had want - he had nothing - at the lowest end of society

Going to the Afterlife

Role reversal in death

They both die and he roles are reversed. Lazarus has a place of privilege
Lazarus is in paradise [he’s receiving the promise of Abraham]
Lazarus was in want and now he had everything
The rich man had everything and now he was in want
Luke 6:24–25 NIV
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
Lazarus was carried away to Abraham’s side and the rich man was sent down to Hades

Sheol, Hades, Gehenna

What exactly is hades [hear about it in Greek mythology]
Hades was the Greek god of the underworld, but it was also a place of half light where the dead dwelt
Residents had no memory of their past
They experienced a slowly expiring existence [sadness] [hopelessness]
In the Old Testament the word for the afterlife was Sheol
Sheol was very similar to the Greek concept of Hades
It’s sometimes translated as “Hades” in our English translations
The word for hell is different than Hades [Gehenna]
Hell is a place of supreme suffering for the wicked [lake of fire]
Revelation 20:14 NIV
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
The Great Chasm

The Great Chasm

The rich man was in Hades, a place of suffering and there was a great chasm that separated him from Lazarus in paradise
In life Lazarus was at the gate longing for the scraps
In death the rich man was in hades longing for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his mouth
In life he had the choice to help Lazarus, but now there was no choice


Our Identification

Who do we identify with, the rich man or Lazarus?

Many of us might relate to the rich man

For some, money might be available for us to indulge in
Choosing not to work might be an option
There might not be a care in the world
I’m betting that is not the case for anyone here today
Money isn’t burning a hole in your pocket
You might be thinking that you have nothing in common with this rich man
Money might be something you have to work hard for
The problem wasn’t the money he had but that he didn’t show love to others
He had the capacity to help someone who was hurting and he chose not to
Have we ever chosen to seek our own comfort over loving someone else?

Some of us might relate to Lazarus

There are some of us who are struggling financially [we aren’t beggars]
We have a roof over our head [Lazarus spent his time out at the gate]
We will have dinner today after church [Lazarus longed for scraps]
We don’t consider ourselves as the lowest in our society [Lazarus was]
Lazarus represents something that is a theme throughout the Bible [humility]
He is the opposite of the rich man [someone who had everything]
Have we truly given everything and taken up or cross? [are we holding back]

Our Purpose

We have the choice before us - To be… [Lazarus] [The rich man]

Are we willing to respond to the call of God or see to our own comfort?
God I’m willing to follow you, but I need to see to my family first
Go d I’m willing, but I don’t have the ability
God I’d help this person out, but I have my own problems
It was too late for the rich man, but its not too late for you [for me]

God has called you for a purpose

Do we just come to church, give our money, our time, and then go home to live our lives
We’ve put in our time [our job is done]
I don’t have the money [time]

We end up just existing instead of finding purpose
God has called each of us for a purpose [EXPAND]
I don’t want to just go through the motions
Every morning we should wake up with hope because we get to live
We get to live for Christ [serve others]
We get to serve others
God never promises us a comfortable life, but he does promise us purpose [What is yours?]
Let’s move beyond the excuses [not too busy] [other priorities] [wait for a better time]
The call of God is on your life
He wants you to be what he has called you to be [What is that?]


Respond by listening

How do we know what God is calling us to do? [God’s will]

Responding to the Barbarian Call

Herd of animals
Vultures circling = committee
Rhinos running at full speed 30-miles per hour = crash - see 30-feet


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