Luke 16:19-31 “What Will It Take?”
Open your Bibles please to Luke 16. We are looking today at a parable of Jesus that is honestly full of theological truths, it has been really difficult this week to try and discern what to draw out from the text to preach today. I think the overarching question that this passage both asks and somewhat answers is this: What does it take for someone to be convinced of the truth of the gospel and be saved? One thing I have often heard from skeptics is that if they had proof of the reality of God, and of Jesus’ Resurrection, they would believe. At the same time, you will hear Christians use the language of proof when they talk about their faith. “God revealed himself to me” or “When I look at creation, that is all the proof I need. the difference between those people is not what they see, but what has been revealed to them. Simply put, one has faith and one does not. Another question that is posed and answered in this parable is “What does Faith look like?”
Lets read the text, and hear what Jesus has to say in this densely packed parable.
So, we have here a parable of Jesus. Now as you may know, a Parable is a story told to convey some truth that may be difficult to grasp without lots of explanation. You know that Jesus often spoke in parables to His disciples and to the people who followed Him. Now I want to take a few minutes to discuss the content of the parable and then take some time to draw out a few of the truths contained in it.
Lets look at the main characters in this parable. We have a Rich man, and we have Lazarus, and we have Abraham.
What do we know about the rich man? You may or may not notice, but he is the only main character in this story without a name. We do know however that he lived a lavish lifestyle. He had the finest clothes and all the food he could eat. He was clothed in purple, a very expensive color of clothes and also the color of royalty. We know he has a pretty big house, so big that it has a gate of it’s own. We know that he knew of Lazarus’ plight because he knew his name later in the story, and we know that he did nothing to help Lazarus, not even give him the scraps from his table. We know that he is a Hebrew, because he calls Abraham his father, this indicates that he has some type of faith. Its not saving faith, but it is faith. he believes in God, and believed that he was secure by his bloodline.
What do we know about Lazarus? We know he is poor and destitute. He longs to eat the scraps from the rich man’s table. We know that he had sores on his body that dangerous wild dogs came and licked. This man was also a Hebrew, and has saving faith. He dies, and goes to heaven with Abraham, who we know that his faith was credited to him as righteousness.
So, both of these men die, and we have this exchange, not between the two of them, but between the rich man and Abraham.
So, this is an aspect of the story that we should be careful about. There is a ton of truth that is referenced in this story that is explained and detailed in the parts of scripture. We can be sure of those truths. Jesus references them in this story, and we will discuss some of them. This is the only place in scripture that there is a reference to being able to converse with people between heaven and hell. Jesus may be using this as a storytelling device, or there may actually be a way to have conversations between heaven and hell. We can’t know this for sure.
At any rate, We see the rich man being buried and sent to hell and Lazarus dies and is carried by the angels to heaven. You may note here that as soon as they die, they are aware of their eternal state. there is no purgatory, or intermediate place. We know this because the man asks to send someone to his brothers who are still living. What we see here is that hell is hot, and it is torment, and that those who are there are in anguish. This rich man is suffering. Also, he is aware of it and he knows why. Notice he is not asking Abraham why he is being punished, he simply wants some water to cool his tongue. He asks Abe to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and place it on his tongue. That is not possible however as we hear Abe explain that there is a fixed chasm between heaven and hell, and no one can pass between…
Now that we have looked at the characters, lets look at a few of the Biblical truths conveyed in this story.
1.God Has a Heart for the Poor and oppressed. James 2:5-7
2. Faith without works is dead. James 1:22, 2:14
3. Faith comes through regeneration by the Holy Spirit.