The Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31

The Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31

This well known parable presents a theological problem because it seems to say that those who enjoy this present life go to hell and those who suffer on earth now enjoy heaven in the afterlife.  But this is not Jesus’ purpose in telling this parable.

Charles Dickens takes this parable and turns it into “A Christmas Carol” As the rich mans talks to Jesus you can almost see old Jacob Marley wrapped in chains saying “Mankind should have been my business”.  Jacob Marley represents the rich Jewish man, lost in his chains. Ebenezer Scrooge represents Christians. Ebenezer is a memorial stone showing Gods’ deliverance, scrooge means to squeeze. Scrooge’s life is a memorial to squeezing people for money.

The true center of this parable is Jesus saying “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

The Jews will have both Moses and the Prophets and someone who will rise from the dead. True to Jesus’ words the vast majority fail to repent. It is not that they are rich and pampered that results in their condemnation, it is their failure to live in accordance with God’s Word. They will not follow Moses and the prophets, and they will not accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness.

You and I are so blessed. We have Moses, we have the prophets, and we have Jesus risen from the dead, to teach us the way to live. In our Bible we have all we need to know to avoid the Rich Man’s fate. We have what we need to unwrap Jacob Marley’s chains.

James 1:27 tells us that true faith is “look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the worlds values.”

Micah 6:8 says “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Isiah 1:16-19 says “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient,”

Will we the church today suffer the fate of the Jews who are wrapped in Jacob Marley’s chains of death? Will we listen to the one who has risen from the dead? Will we receive the Joy of living in heaven with Jesus? We must ask ourselves; are we about our Fathers business?

The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32

This is one of the most well known of the parables in the new testament.

The one son works hard and stays on the farm while the younger one parties all the time. The younger one takes all his money and trashes his life. Now he is willing to come back as a servant. The Older son is indignant and will not join the celebration of his brothers return.

Both sons fail to understand what they have. The younger one does not realize the value of his life at home until he is wishing to eat with the pigs. The older fails to value what he has in his fathers love every day. Both fail to understand and accept the joy of being part of the family.

The father has to tell the older son “look everything I have belongs to you. If you wanted to celebrate with your friends, the goat belongs to you!

The church is often like this family. Those who have been there all their life have trouble with those who come late. New people come and start changing things and the others resent it. Their comfortable place is upset.

The person who never strayed to far experiences the love and care of the father everyday. The younger son missed out on the love and care of the father during his time away. The younger son goes through life’s troubles alone.

In our lives and in the Church there are givers and takers, those who always do the right thing, sacrificing for others. Then there are those who just take and never give. People who are like leaches sucking the life out of the givers. The givers pour out all their energy even while they resent having to do it.

I think it starts early in life. The ones who follow the rules on the playground resent the laughter of the naughty ones who break them. The naughty ones resent that they are not loved like the ones who can behave.

What does this parable tell us about Jesus? What is important to Jesus? The money is not important to the Father, his sons are. His goal is not to have the biggest ranch and be the wealthiest person in town. The Fathers goal is that all of his son’s are safe at home and loved.

Do we share the Fathers values? Is our position and status more important then a lost persons soul? If we do not share the Fathers values it doesn’t matter what we have done or where we have been, we do not understand God any more than the person who does not know Him at all.

The church and each of us must value the lost being found, the dead being made alive. The most important thing is that as many as can be saved are saved. 2 Peter 3:9 says “God is patient with you, not whishing that anyone should perish, but that all should have eternal life.” The challenge for us is to share the heart, mind and values of Jesus. The goal of the church is that the lost are found and the dead brought to life. For this is the heart of what Jesus is all about.

Who is my neighbor?  Luke 10:25-37

Just an outline, I was out shoveling snow.

Who is my neighbor?  Luke 10:25-37

Jesus distills the law down to something so simple.  Love God with all you have and all you are and love your neighbor as your self. Then the lawyer asking the questions wants to know who is our neighbor. What are the limits to this love we are to pour out? Jesus’ response is interesting.

Their world and ours are not far removed are they? The priest got as far away as possible from the trouble, The Levite does the same. This is not their responsibility, I don’t know what the situation is, don’t get involved in things that don’t concern you. I would stop and help but I’m busy today. The good excuses are as thick as misquotes on a Minnesota summer day. But this Samaritan is as far from a neighbor as a Jewish person would think of.

Who is your neighbor? The questions goes back to when God ask Cain where his brother able is and Cain responds “Am I my brothers keeper?

Some look at Jesus’ answer and will say anyone who helps me is my neighbor.

The better interpretation is that anyone I see in need is my neighbor.

This parable tells us that our we are our brothers keeper.

Marvel Comics. Who will stand up for the hurting people?

Who needs our help?

How much help do we give?

You can be a hero! You don’t need a mask or a cape, not even a fancy logo, all you need is to stop walking by and get down on your hands and knees and lift the broken among us up.

New Wine Matthew 9:16-17

There was a couple getting ready to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They were digging through boxes of picture in the attic when the woman came across her wedding dress, and he his old army uniform. They snatched them up and headed for the bedroom. As the both try to wiggle into them it’s very apparent they will never make it. They catch sight of themselves in the mirror and begin to laugh so hard that soon the whole family is in on it. Their present life just will not fit into their old clothes.

We like old things, the old quilt, our well worn jeans, our old chair that should have been thrown away long ago. They make us feel comfortable and connected with our past. There is a sense of security in them. And it can be the same in life.

This parable has much to say about trying to fit our new life in Christ into our old way of thinking and living.

This parable about Cloth and wine is given to the disciples of John and to the Pharisees in response about fasting. Fasting was a practice of devout Jews. Apparently Jesus did not push His followers to fast. The new wine is faith in Jesus, the old wine skin was the Jewish system of religion.

One of the things that will not fit is grace. The Jewish religions tow the line or pay the price. Has no room for forgiveness. Obedience of the rules is all they have, and while obedience is important, there must be room for forgiveness. Jesus is teaching that God forgives, God heals, and God renews those who have fallen or strayed.

Another thing that will not fit is relationship. The Jew related to God through the rules and rituals of religion. Jesus related to God personally. The followers of Jesus learned that they could talk to God, both listening and hearing. He taught them that God knew and cared about their personal struggles in life. He taught them that God knew their name who they are and loved them personally. God was not a distant and detached ruler, He is a close friend.

Amy has a husband who abuses her. For ten years she has been beaten, physically and verbally. Amy lives in a constant state of fear. The only time she feels good is when he is at work. Despite all the trips to the hospital and visits from police, she keeps going back to her husband.

Don’t shake your head at her, for we are all like her in some ways. We will go back to that drinking that has destroyed our life. We go back to the same way of treating people though it has ruined all our friendships. We return to the same habits with our spouse even though they have destroyed our first two marriages.

Even though we repent and are forgiven by Jesus we try and take that new grace right back into our old life where it will never fit. We try to fit our relationship to God back into a system of does and don’ts that will never take the place of a God who personally loves us.

The Bible teaches us “That if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has passed away and a new life has come.”

Faith is not about fitting Jesus into or attached to our old life style and values. Faith is about taking up the new life Jesus has given and leaving the old life that has done us so wrong behind.

Have you been trying to fit your faith into that old life sewing that old piece of cloth on only to have your life torn apart time and time again?

It’s time as a person and as a church that we drop that old life behind and live the new life Jesus has given us.