Reflecting Our Treasure
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,
Why did the rich man go to hell? He went to hell, because he was an unbeliever. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” Unbelief condemns.
But Jesus doesn’t really focus on the unbelief does He. He doesn’t have to. He’s pointing out the sin of the rich man. He’s talking about what the unbelief of the rich man looks like. It’s not the possession of riches that is the mark of his unbelief. Believers, like the patriarchs of the Old Testament and David, can have riches. Rather the rich man’s unbelief looks like the love of money, greed, and lovelessness.
This shows us the importance between faith and life, and exposes the disconnect that so many have. They think that they can believe in Jesus, but then go on living greedily, being uncaring towards their neighbors in need, holding grudges against their neighbor, neglecting the hearing of God’s Word, or having sex outside of marriage. This is hypocrisy. St. John writes, “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:8-9 ESV). They may say they know Jesus, but their unrepentant sin, like that of the rich man, shows their unbelief. And Jesus will say to them, “I do not know you. You are of the devil.”
But by God’s grace, you have come to know the treasure of Christ, and His riches of forgiveness and eternal life. Look at the precious righteousness He has obtained for you. His perfect life, a pure white robe without blemish for you to wear, that you may sit blameless at the heavenly feast in the rejoicing in the presence of Christ.
See what His suffering and shed blood has won for you? In Him you have forgiveness for every sin. He has even answered for your original sin. You are freed from all guilt. You are cleansed. You are washed. You are justified.
And see where this treasure is to be found, it is found in Moses and the Prophets. There you find Christ, who is the answer to your sin, death, and condemnation. There you find the heavenly treasures of Christ for you hear, to be washed, and fed, to be received by faith.
And there is nothing greater than this! No greater treasure! And that is why we repent daily. Repentance is to turn from our sins, turn from our love of money, and love for the world, and to turn to our true and eternal treasure, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We turn to Him to receive from Him the forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life that He has won for us by His grace.
So we examine our own lives and repent of the sins and guilt. And we especially look for those sins our sinful flesh loves and wants to hold on to and continue in—the sins which we are most hesitant to turn from, or least willing to admit. How dangerous these sins are!
But flee to Christ, for in Him there is forgiveness for those sins. With one brief word that He has given His Church, He takes them all away, and removes from you that one thing that stands in the way of the heavenly treasures He has won for you. That word: “I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Dear friends, forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life are yours, the most priceless treasures, purchased by the blood of Christ are given as a free gift to you!
So, since by God’s grace, Christ is our portion and heaven is our inheritance, our hearts are set upon these precious treasures, and this shapes our confession and lives in the world. It effects the decisions we make, how we treat our neighbor, the stewardship of our time and money, our attitude toward Christ’s ministry and Christian fellowship, how we raise our children, and so on.
But also consider also another way . The rich man in death wished that he could warn his brothers. Abraham said that the only thing that could prevent them from the torments of hell is Moses and the Prophets, namely, God’s Word.
When the time comes that you die and enjoy the riches of seeing Jesus face to face, you leave behind you one major opportunity to share God’s Word with those who mourn your death. You have a prime opportunity to testify to your family and friends of Christ, their Savior. It is in your obituary and in your funeral. In these, proclaim Christ who has obtained for you life in paradise, and the work that He has done in your life to finally bring you to heaven, such as your baptism, the Word and the Sacrament of the Altar. In your funeral, let it be all about Jesus! For hymns, instead of having hymns that are of a more sentimental nature, have hymns that clearly proclaim Christ crucified, and the treasures that He has won for all those who attend. To ensure that this happens, especially if you have family that might be involved in planning your funeral that doesn’t see the proclamation of Christ as the highest priority, I can help you get these things in writing.
Dear friends, you are the richest people in the whole world, even at this very moment, because you have Jesus and His forgiveness. And through Him, you also have God as your Father, and His heavenly mansions are your inheritance. 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.