Sermon for Pentecost 16 – 9.25.22

+ 16th Sunday after Pentecost – September 25th, 2022 +

Series C: Amos 6:1-7; 1 timothy 3:1-13; Luke 16:19-31

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA


“The Rich Man and Lazarus”


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


When you read the Scriptures you quickly find out that God’s ways are not man’s ways. When God in the flesh comes to save he’s born in a manger in Bethlehem. When Jesus begins his ministry he is known for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. When Jesus conquers sin and death, he does it on a cross.


God’s ways are definitely not man’s ways. That’s evident in today’s parable in Luke 16 as well. Jesus begins his story this way.


“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.


Which of these two men would you say was blessed by God? Be honest. Our gut reaction would be to say the rich man. He could count his blessings on his hands and toes and still keep going. Good things. Lots of stuff. And the poor beggar named was Lazarus, he had nothing. Blessed by God? Hardly! We might suspect he was cursed by God, that he did something to deserve this lot in life. And there we would be very wrong.


Remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways. Jesus goes on to tell his story. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades.


Abraham’s side, or Abraham’s bosom is a Jewish way of referring to heaven. Like when Jesus tells the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Lazarus is in a good place. He’s comforted, whole, happy, at peace, and hanging out with father Abraham.


Not so for the rich man. The rich man is in Hades. A place of torment. Suffering. Separation. The worst torment of all is that he can see Lazarus resting in comfort next to Abraham. He longs for relief, but like Tantalus, it’s out of reach.


Father Abraham,” the rich man cries out, “have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”


The rich man is a Jew. He calls Abraham “father.” He appeals to his ancestry and his status in life – he wants Lazarus to serve him up a cool drink of water. But his ancestry and status are meaningless. It’s a reminder that not only are God’s ways not man’s ways, but man’s ways are not God’s ways. In the face of sin and death what is our relief? Where is our rescue? Not in our heritage or family tree. Not in our status – whatever it may be. Relief. Rescue. Redemption. These all come from outside of you. Gifts of God to you, just as they were to Abraham.


Abraham replies to the rich man, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’


It’s a complete reversal. The kind of which Mary sings in the Magnificat. The low are raised up. The high are brought down. The beggar is made rich and the rich man a beggar.


And that’s what he does. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers, presumably as rich and as self-righteous as he was. ‘I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house to warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’


‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’


‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”


Moses and the prophets. The Scriptures. What we call the Old Testament. God’s Word. God’s promises to rescue, redeem, and bring relief in Jesus the Messiah. This is what saves you no matter how rich or poor you are. God’s promises are the relief. God’s word brings rescue and life.


Remember, God’s ways are not man’s ways for God ways are the ways of promise. Grace. Mercy. He gives faith by his word. He brings you into the family of Abraham, that is the family of all believers in Christ – not by your blood-line, or brains, or brawn, or anything. Solely by grace in Christ.


God has spoken to us; told us of his love and mercy, revealed it to us in Jesus life, death, and resurrection; given promises. And when he gives us these promises they work faith in us and then rich or poor, high or low, we go to Abraham’s bosom. You seem the point of this story isn’t that the rich go to hell and the poor go to heaven, nor is it about the rich who are blessed more by God and the poor are cursed by him.


It’s about the word and ways of God that save. Faith comes by hearing, Paul says. Hearing the Word of Christ. Receiving the joyous rescue of God’s promises to you in Christ crucified and risen. This is what Moses and the prophets say with a unified joyful voice. Jesus is telling us, as he was telling his disciples and the pharisees to listen to, hold on to, and rejoice in his saving Word and nothing else.


Why did Lazarus go to heaven and not the rich man? Not because he’s poor, but because he believed the word of Moses and the prophets.


And the word of Moses and the prophets is full of promise for you. Unlike the rich man in the parable, Jesus joins us in our poverty. “Though He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor that we through His poverty might become rich.” He came to us in the poverty of our sin and death. He came to us when we were unable to help ourselves. He took on our weak and diseased and fallen humanity, and He lifted us up from the curb and brought us to His house and washed our wounds with His Baptism and gave us a seat at His table, not as beggars but as beloved friends, not as strangers but as one of the family, not to eat the crumbs that fall from the table to feast on the abundance of salvation that Jesus has won for you.


It’s a good thing – a blessed thing – that God’s ways are not our ways.



In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977