Lazarus and the Rich Man

By Rev. Eric Brown

“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

I'm guessing you probably want to be successful. End up with a big house, nice cars, all that sort of stuff. I'm guessing you probably don't want to end up a beggar. And yet, in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man – things don't turn out so well for the successful fellow. The person with the happy ending is the miserable beggar.

Now, no, this isn't where I tell you that you can't have nice things, or that you shouldn't work hard or anything like that. Rather, consider the the main sentence of the story – the rich man wants Abraham to send Lazarus back to the Rich Man's brothers to warn them of sin and hell and all that, and the Rich Man doesn't think mere Scripture is good enough. And he was wrong (which isn't surprising as he's in Hades in torment) – the Scriptures simply point to the truth that Christ Jesus will die and rise for sinners.

For sinners. The Bible tells us some truths that are quite uncomfortable to our sinful flesh. It shows us our sin. It tells us we will always remain sinful in this life – that no matter how “successful” we are, this will remain the case. Isaiah was a priest and a prophet, yet he still knew that he was a man of unclean lips who dwelt among a people of unclean lips. The Bible reminds us that our wants and desires are corrupted, to where we will turn even the blessings that God freely gives into weapons we use against Him.

And there are two responses one can take to hearing this Word. You can ignore it and focus on all your own successes and strength – see how I am a good person! Or, you can admit that they are simply beggars in need of rescue.

There's a reason our worship service begins with Confession and Absolution. All our members, whether they are rich or poor, successful or broke, happy or miserable, we all together begin service saying that we are beggars before God, that we are poor miserable sinners, and that we need mercy from God. Mercy which He gives on account of Christ Jesus, who died and rose for you. This is the truth that we live in, that we have life in. It's not about our successes, but rather it's always about the gifts of both life and salvation that God gives to us poor unworthy sinners. 

Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.

Created: June 14th, 2017