Sermon – Luke 16.19-31 (Trinity 1 – 2019)

“The Riches Given Us In Scripture”

Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, we beseech You so to rule and govern our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may not, like the rich man, hear Your Word in vain, and become so devoted to things temporal that we forget things eternal; but that we readily and according to our ability serve those who are in need, and not defile ourselves with carousing and pride; in trial and misfortune keep us from despair, and grant us to put our trust wholly in Your fatherly help and grace, so that in faith and Christian patience we may overcome all things; through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen. 

Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.

 20 “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,

 21 “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

 22 “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

 23 “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

 24 “Then 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 in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.

 26 `And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

 27 “Then he said,`I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,

 28 `for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’

 29 “Abraham said to him,`They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’

 30 “And he said,`No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

 31 “But he said to him,`If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'”

These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Hear Moses and the Prophets, and their fulfillment written for you in the New Testament writers. Hear them for there you find the source of your faith and life.

The rich man, living his best life now, is an example of one who would not hear the Scriptures. As a result he lacked repentance and faith, as well as fruits of faith.

He was clothed in purple and fine linen, both his inner and outer garments were of great value. Each day he ate the most superb food and ate it in plenty. It was not his wealth that made him a sinner; the problem was that he idolized his wealth. His money was his god. In it he found his joy and comfort. His heart was set upon it as his greatest treasure. And with it he availed himself to his every desire and pleasure. 

But then there was Lazarus, who was dropped off at this rich man’s mansion. He was abandoned. It appears that he wasn’t able to walk well, or if at all. He was very ill, having sores that the scavenger dogs would lick. And in stark contrast to the rich man, he had nothing. He only wished for the crumbs leftover from the lavish feasts of the rich man.

Nothing says buzzkill to your selfish enjoying of your riches than seeing a man in such need at your doorstep. The rich man ignores Lazarus, and doesn’t lift a finger to help him.

It is evident that the rich man took no heed of Moses and the Prophets. He did not repent of his idolatry and lack of love toward his neighbor, Lazarus. Nor was his trust in God and His promises, but rather it was placed on his riches, and what his riches got him.

So, nothings says buzzkill to our selfish enjoying of our earthly riches that God has given us than the law. Yet we need to hear it, lest we too be overcome by an idolatrous love for money. Whether we have plenty or little, we are susceptible to this.

So we must consider our attitude toward the earthly riches that God has given us. Now, God has given us such worldly riches for our good, and even for our leisure and enjoyment. That is fine, but does it go beyond this? Do you put them in the place of God, finding your peace, comfort and joy in them rather than in God? Do you take care of those in need in your own home? Does your love for money keep you from helping your neighbor in need. Does your love and trust in money keep you from giving as much to the Lord for the work in the church, in the school, or in the Synod, so that you help your neighbors, young and old, far and near, not just with bodily needs, but also with their spiritual needs? Instead, shouldn’t we give to Him, trusting Him to provide for us. Because He does.

The rich man did not hear Moses and the Prophets, and what happened to him? Well, he chose his treasure, which was only for this life, and did no good for him after death, for because of his sin and unbelief, he suffered the torments of hell.

It is not safe to ignore the law of Scripture. How strong is that attachment is to riches that would tempt us to excuse ourselves from the law’s condemnations. If the love of money is not the big temptation for us, there is another sin that we try to exempt ourselves from the law’s condemnation.

And so hear the law and repent. But then hear the gospel and rejoice. For Christ has gained for you heavenly treasures, that await you and are yours to endure eternally.

Scripture says, “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He dwelt upon His heavenly throne enjoying the fellowship of love with the Father and Holy Spirit, ever one God, surrounded by the praise of the angels. Yet, he was willing to become poor, to become a lowly servant. At one point, the devil tempted him with all the kingdoms of the world and all their riches, if he would only bow to Satan, but Jesus would not. All the kingdoms of the world and all their riches were not the riches He was seeking. He was seeking to win forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and eternal life for us unworthy sinners. And for this joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame. (Hebrews 12:2).

And so hear the precious Word of God, and partake of His most blessed Sacrament, and receive from them the most wonderful heavenly treasures that they give to you! You are forgiven of your idolatrous love for money! You are forgiven of every sin! You are reconciled to God! You have eternal life! When you die, the angels shall take you to be with Abraham and Lazarus and all the hosts of heaven. What a treasure trove of heavenly gifts there are in the Word and Sacraments! How blessed it is for us to be in them regularly, and we will be in them regularly because we know that our heavenly treasures are to be most valued. Though, we do not experience these heavenly riches right now like we might right now feel fine linens on our skin, or a sumptuous meal in our stomach. Yet, we know these heavenly treasures are ours by faith, with them we will be comforted like Lazarus was comforted.

The rich man was blinded by unbelief and his love for earthly riches, did not see the true riches there promised in Moses and the Prophets.

But the Holy Spirit has granted you faith to know and value above all the heavenly riches that Jesus has won for us by His blood and life. Nothing on earth has that value, does it?

And it puts our earthly riches in the proper perspective, that we no longer attach ourselves so firmly to them, that we do not put our trust and hope and joy in them. But by the power of the Word, we use them for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of our neighbors. We love and help and befriend our neighbor in need. We give generously to the Lord, that His Gospel may continue to be proclaimed in our churches, in our school, and in our mission fields at home and around the world. All this, we do, for the glory of God, who gave His own Son that we and as many as hear His Word may enjoy eternally the bliss of living in His heavenly mansions! Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.

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