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Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Sunday after Trinity.
The Rich Man and Lazarus



The First Sunday after Trinity, 2012


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn # 427     How Firm a Foundation                 2:18
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #429            Lord, Thee I Love            2.54

 Faith and Love

The Communion Hymn # 311            Jesus Christ              2:79
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #347   Jesus Priceless Treasure                     2:77

KJV 1 John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

First Sunday After Trinity

Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech Thee so to rule and govern our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Thy word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal as to forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability minister to such as are in need, and not defile ourselves with surfeiting and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Thy fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things, through Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Faith and Love

Lenski:
19) Jesus proceeds to relate a new parable without a break and after the interlude (v. 14–18), the unrighteous use of mammon, presents one who has wealth in his own right, misuses it in utter selfishness all his life, and thus ends in hell. The two parables are thus a pair, the second being an advance upon the first, which take us into the hereafter and thus exhibit God’s final judgment, and do that in full. This parable presents an extreme case, necessarily so, in order to include all lesser cases in which selfishness does not come cut so boldly yet is the mainspring of a man’s life. This parable again strikes the rich, utterly selfish Pharisees; it delivers the final blow. In a marvelous way, as it seems at the spur of the moment, Jesus weaves in what he has just said (v. 16, 17) regarding the law and the prophets (v. 29). So this is another marvelous masterpiece.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 845.

KJV Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

This is a parable, because it starts out with “a certain rich man…” The beauty of God’s Word can be seen in the telling details in this one verse. He dressed himself in the finest clothes – purple (the most expensive dye) and fine linen. The rich man has no name – as Lenski says – he has no name in heaven. The poor man has a name, Lazarus.

Purple was restricted by law to royalty – in some areas. The verb says – he dressed himself, meaning that he chose to wear the finest clothes at all times.

This is not a parable condemning wealth, but one condemning a lack of faith and therefore a lack of love. The most telling detail is at the end – he dined luxuriously every day.

Yes, every day was a feast, so he impressed everyone with the cost of the food consumed and with the value of his clothes. At that time clothing was very expensive. One note from our own history struck me – Civil War soldiers wore their uniforms for years after 1865, because they had nothing else to wear.



KJV Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

The poor beggar has a name. This gives us an interesting contrast. The earliest Christians were the outcasts and poorest in society, although there were also wealthy and influential people as well. The majority were unknown and despised, mocked as Hebrews says. But this parable give the poor beggar a name – he is somebody. And the rich man is anonymous – Dives is not his name. Dives means rich man.

Here is the description of Lazarus – completely different from the rich man. He has a name, although he was a beggar. His name means “God a help.  He was laid at the gate of the rich man, full of sores. That meant his disease or malnutrition gave him constant pain and discomfort. The rich man ate sumptuously, while Lazarus longed to eat crumbs falling from the rich man’s table.

Because Lazarus was at the gate of the rich man’s home, he could be seen begging each day, helpless and slowly dying. The guests and the rich man could see the dogs licking the sores of Lazarus.  Dogs have an uncanny way of finding hurt. They comfort people when they are sad, and they try to care for sores and infections with their tongues. 

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

As Luther states, this is a symbolic dialogue. Now the situation is reversed. Lazarus had faith, for he was carried in the arms of angels to the bosom of Abraham, our example of faith.

KJV Romans 4:20 He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Being carried by angels means that Lazarus was enjoying eternal life. Meanwhile, the rich man was experiencing the power and majesty of God, but none of the comfort.

In eternal life we lose all of our mortal afflictions, if we are believers. The sores of Lazarus were temporary, just as the riches of the wealthy man were – and the clothes and sumptuous dining.

God often allows Satan to tear away the blinders before an unbeliever dies. Robert Schuller has mocked faith in Christ for decades. The more he fell away from the Christian faith, the greater his influence and wealth became. Now it has all been taken away, and the monument to his ego is now a warning Ebenezer, against the Church Growth Movement, which he founded.

KJV 1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Notice that the death of the believer is glorious. The death of the unbeliever is not. Even the language is different – one triumphant, the other brief and hardly noticed.

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

The rich man now knows the difference. He used to look down on the poor beggar at his gate. Now he looks up from Hell at Lazarus next to Abraham. “In his bosom” refers to the way people reclined at dinner together. It is meant to show that this believer is at the head table now, a great honor.

People are sometimes troubled about salvation in the Old Testament or before the death, resurrection, and Gospel preaching. Many people believed in the coming of the Messiah. Although this parable is not fixed in time, it would just as true 1000 years before Christ as it would be today. Abraham was the first man justified by faith. He was a great, powerful, influential and weathy man, but his works did not save him. The law did not save him.

KJV Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. [reckoned means counted or judged as righteous, forgiven]

KJV Romans 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Therefore all the Biblical references to the saints, to the holy, Old and New Testament – are about believers. As a child I wondered who all the righteous people were. That seemed to be very limited because we heard about sin in church – in those days. The righteous, the holy, the saints – they are the believers of the Bible, the believers of the coming Church.

The rich man has none of this, although he was praised and flattered for his good works during his lifetime. Now he wants the simplest of relief, to have the man he despised dip his finger in water and give him some. That is easier to imagine in a desert climate than where we have fresh water on tap or in bottles, a few inches away. In Phoenix, when I took or taught classes, I used to think about ice water, sitting down with a quart of water in a large plastic cup, sipping water and swirling around the ice chips. Thirst is harder to ignore than hunger.

Therefore, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They hunger and thirst for the Gospel and are blessed by that longing.

I am working on people longing for more Luther. When I post his sermon on the text ahead of time, people want to read even more – and so do I. If I assign homework on the text and Luther’s sermon, people respond with their insights.

Fast food in the Gospel arena makes people hungry for more fast food. Try that if you have not already. Heavily sugared food makes us want more heavily sugared food when we get hungry, and it spurs insulin production, so we get especially hungry for more cheap energy. Fast Gospel food is really the Law disguised as Gospel, so people get works-righteousness, which satisfied them for a time – then they want more. They get spiritually malnourished but long for more spiritual junk food.



25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Abraham explained the impossibility of the rich man’s request. The rich man did not protest when the scales of justice went the other direction, and he did nothing to change Lazarus’ condition. Lacking faith, he had no love.

Luther wrote, quite humorously – If the rich man had known what a treasure Lazarus was, he would have carried him in his arms and kissed his wounds. If he had remembered the needs of this poor man, whom he saw daily in misery, he would have been transported by angels too. Instead he dwelt upon his great luxury and enjoyed showing it off. What better way than with banquets daily and royal clothing. Who could possibly miss that?

God sees the inside, not the outside. Inside, Lazarus believed in the Messiah and was justified by faith. Inside, the rich man trusted in his wealth and his showy good deeds.

Notice too that there is a great gulf created by God, so that spirits do not pass back and forth from the netherworld. Even today the spirits of the invented Purgatory are used to scare and entice Roman Catholics.

27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

Now the rich man feels the torment so much that he wants Lazarus to be the evangelist to his brothers, so they do not suffer the same pain after death. One must wonder, where was his concern before he died?

Many people, fearing rebuke, will never say anything is wrong. This is not love, as the parable shows, but coldness of heart.

A self-righteous but kindly man said he would not go to church because of all the hypocrites. I asked him to define hypocrite. He said, “Someone who says one thing and does another.” I said, “That describes me too.” The man’s head fell down and he said, “I am one too.” He came to church to enjoy the Means of Grace from that time on. And because of that, he decided to be the man who kept the church lawn perfect – and he did. He was old but he could do that, and he wanted to. He enjoyed doing that job.

One person said, “That hypocrite is closer to God than you are, because you have let a hypocrite come between you and God.”

My favorite rejoinder came from a lady I visited. She told people, “So you are better than Jesus?” They backed away from that. “No, I am not better than Jesus.” She jumped them again. “You must be, because you are too good to worship. The Bible said that Jesus was worshiping in the synagogue every day. So you are better than Jesus.”

One way the Roman Catholic church appeals to people like the rich man is to take money to help those in Purgatory. The more money given, the more masses said, the less time they serve. However, the time may add up to thousands of years anyway. It has been a gold mine ever since Purgatory was borrowed from the pagans.



29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

This is a brief but powerful witness to the Gospel in the Old Testament. Salvation comes from hearing Moses and the prophets, according to Jesus, because the Promises of God are found there in abundance.

The First Promise, called the Proto-Evangelium, is found in Genesis 3:15, when Adam and Eve were expelled from paradise. Therefore, the Gospel was taught and believed from that time forward, although not believed by everyone.

The rich man’s objection is ironic, because the audience in the apostolic era knew that Jesus rose from the dead. If that would make everyone a believer, the entire world would be blessed by the Gospel and know its fruits.

Moses and the prophets are enough. This is the efficacy of the Word. No visible proof is necessary. God provided that anyway, because of man’s hardness of heart, establishing the Church with miracles from Jesus and later from the apostles.

The Word is more powerful because it goes out in every direction and cannot be stopped, even if it is stopped for a time, persecuted, and subverted.

The Reformation was far more than Luther preaching. The Word gathered many powerful and faithful teachers, and they trained the next generation. Luther and Melanchthon gave us the Reformation. Their students gave us the Book of Concord and the King James Bible (since the KJV is a version of the Tyndale).

The students of the Concord generation gave us another generation of orthodox scholars, such as the Leyser clan and Hunnius, father and son.

The Synodical Conference never tires of praising itself, but most of those great European theologians have been ignored and left untranslated in favor of Fuller Seminary professors being promoted and sold as worthwhile for Lutherans to emulate! Why? Lack of faith in the Word of God. The genius class of today thinks that God’s Word needs help, with rock music, liturgical dancing (not kidding), and puppets – everything but the Gospel itself.

Faith and love go together, but love is the fruit of faith, not its cause. If we see church leaders showing no mercy toward their own members, that is proof that they have no faith.


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Quotations
             
"But Christ was given for this purpose, namely, that for His sake there might be bestowed on us the remission of sins, and the Holy Ghost to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness [to manifest Christ in our hearts, as it is written John 16:15: He shall take of the things of Mine, and show them unto you. Likewise, He works also other gifts, love, thanksgiving, charity, patience, etc.]. Wherefore the Law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Ghost is received through faith...Then we learn to know how flesh, in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are regarded by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we experience that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when, on hearing the Gospel and the remission of sins, we are consoled by faith, we receive the Holy Ghost, so that now we are able to think aright.
            Augsburg Confession, Article III, #11, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 159.

"Therefore, do not speak to me of love or friendship when anything is to be detracted from the Word or the faith; for we are told that not love but the Word brings eternal life, God's grace, and all heavenly treasures."
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1411f. Ephesians 6:10‑17. 

"In matters concerning faith we must be invincible, unbending, and very stubborn; indeed, if possible, harder than adamant. But in matters concerning love we should be softer and more pliant than any reed and leaf and should gladly accommodate ourselves to everything."
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 412f. Galatians 2:8.

"Doctrine is our only light. It alone enlightens and directs us and shows us the way to heaven. If it is shaken in one quarter (in une parte), it will necessarily be shaken in its entirety (in totum). Where that happens, love cannot help us at all."
            What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 414. Galatians 5:10.

"The Christian doctrine of Purgatory was not finally worked out until the sixteenth century by the Council of Trent. Rejected by Protestants, it was an exclusively Catholic doctrine. After Trent, Bellarmine and Suarez, who were responsible for Purgatory, put forth several Biblical references in support of the newly approved doctrine." [references: 2 Macc. 12:41-46; Mt. 12:31-32; Lk. 16:19-26; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; the Corinthians passage played a crucial role in the development of Purgatory, p. 43]
Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammar, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, p. 41f. 

"All believers are like poor Lazarus; and every believer is a true Lazarus , for he is of the same faith, mind and will, as Lazarus. And whoever will not be a Lazarus, will surely have his portion with the rich glutton in the flames of hell. For we all must like Lazarus trust in God, surrender ourselves to Him to work in us according to His own good pleasure, and be ready to serve all men."
 Sermons of Martin Luther, IV, p. 24.       

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