Lazarus at the Gate
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     For the purpose of Truth which builds our Faith parables were spoken by our Lord for all to hear.  At times these accomplish more questions than answers, and His symbolic words go beyond the grasp of listeners both then and now.  But His Spirit sheds light on our path even when His parables seem uncharacteristic to the message of Grace He came to bring. Lazarus at the Gate is one of these in Luke’s Gospel which refers to two men within the family of Abraham being judged solely by their earthen wealth.  In this condensed version of their lives, the final destiny of rich and poor is based on having the comforts of life, or lacking them.  Interpreting this passage may be difficult, but it reaches everyone’s personal possessions in whatever measure they are.

     The Lord's message begins in previous verses telling the Pharisees about their love of money.  Further along He explains about a rich man living in luxury every day with Lazarus the beggar at his gate.  When both men died the rich man was sent to a place of conscious torment, but Lazarus to a place of rest. During their lives Lazarus waited at his gate for food, covered with sores, probably homeless and having the outcast position in the world.  The neighborhood dogs seem to be the only compassionate gestures he received.  In general, the subject matter given by our Lord does not cover any good works or bad works, sins to God’s law or of obedience.  The other circumstances are not given as to why angels carried Lazarus to a place of comfort at “Abraham’s side” but for no other reason other than the poverty he suffered. Seems to be left to our rationale as to why Lazarus was deemed righteous, or why punishment is meant for the rich man. In this sermon, that seems to remain with you.

     In this divine lesson Abraham is the after-life speaker and speaks only to the rich man reminding him of the good things he had while Lazarus did not. The end result of his fate is now summed up when he makes two special requests; #1, allowing Lazarus to bring him a mere drop of water, and #2, allowing Lazarus to provide a warning to his remaining family about his unforeseen outcome. This takes place in an eternal setting but the usual definitions of heaven and hell don’t actually fit here. In this here-after realm communication was made across a great divide when Abraham gives the final verdict to all; “listen to Moses and the Prophets”, which is the same as saying, “listen to the Word of God”. He then ends his statement by saying to the rich man; “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead to warn them”.

     Looking with Spiritual eyes we see Lazarus as being symbolic of unfortunate persons in our vicinity. He is a symbol of those lacking in abilities or of having to endure a lowly position in life while stationed often in reach of our door step. The reason for his poverty could very well be his own fault. He could have been lazy or stubborn or ignored scriptural wisdom which is blame for not having a productive life. The rich man could symbolize a respectable person who has earned his way with hard work, had talents put to good use and had God's blessings for most of his life. The fact is - these don’t matter now. The drop of water is now the total value of all earthen possessions. Even though it’s normally deemed insignificant, this drop from Lazarus has a higher worth toward the penalty of sin in this place, and it represents the lack of earthen charity given in their lifetime. The rich man’s request of sending a warning to his family could resemble the same warnings he received deep in his heart while he judged the proportionate measure of wealth kept for himself. His after-life reevaluation is now a powerful eternal regret for what he saw Lazarus as deserving of.

     Looking with Spiritual eyes even deeper; we see Lazarus as being symbolic of the ministry of Jesus and what His own people contribute toward His work while keeping Him at an impoverished distance. The rich man wanting to warn his family of God’s Eternal Word is his responsibility to the ministry left undone all his life. The dogs with barely a contribution represent the unclean sinners Jesus came to save. To the rich man, Lazarus appeared no different than the dogs and his total worth in the world was shrouded by the helpless sub-state of man he saw while wishing he was placed elsewhere. The real reason for the rich man’s doom is ignoring Lazarus as belonging to him in the family of God. This led to a life-long deception of worldly possessions fitting his Godly goodness and choice to minimize the selfless sacrifices in the Name of the Lord. Our Spiritual eyes show Lazarus as representing all in Christ, those He loves and those made eternally wealthy by being buried in His poverty.

AND for those following the Living Word who rewards us for representing Him when blessing others.
He says; “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. It’s because while you did it for others, you also did it just for me”.
It’s our Lord’s teaching of sacrificial love which beckons beyond the natural charity, and reaches to the Spiritual Charity of these same things: Providing not only the bread of Earth, but providing the Bread from Heaven. Providing water for thirst, while sharing from the “Well of Living Water”. Providing relief from loneliness & poverty, while sharing the wealth of our Father's Glorious Kingdom. Laboring for healing; in body, soul and spirit. Aiding prisoners to be freed from the bondage of sin and released from the jail of heartbreak. The meaning of our Lord’s message is clear; when we minister to the needy stationed near our gate, we are also ministering to Him. And He rose from the dead to warn us just like Abraham said. The WORD reminds us of what we have, and it will be remembered what was given in His Name. By His Grace we are convinced of His Eternal Truth and will walk in it. Amen.

Author:
Teaching Staff at Bethany EPC




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