Messages from Pastor Raddatz

Sunday September 25, 2022, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Houston TX, Other texts: Amos 6:1-7 and 1 Timothy 3:1-13


The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

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

Dear People of God,

After hearing the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus some of us can be confused.  Is Jesus talking about money?  Does Jesus want us to be poor?  The point of a parable or story is there is one point.  If you get that one point you get the “moral of the story.”

            The point of this Parable for us this morning is Jesus is not talking about money, but he is talking about people who love money more than anything else.  God wants us to love him first and love him more than anything else.  He calls us today TO LOVE THE WORD OF GOD.



Using stories or picture words is a wonderful way for us to get a point across.  It invites the listener to respond and to answer questions.   Engaging the listener is key understanding any parable.

Luke 16 is full of parables:  Verses 1-13 speak of the proper use of money or Mammon. Verses 14-18 show the Pharisees' displeasure and Jesus' answer to them. Verses 19-31 speak of the improper use of money due to lack of hearing the Word of God. -Bul’s Notes

So let’s ask this question:   Who is Jesus speaking to in this passage?  He is speaking to the Pharisees who loved their position, but who loved money (see vv. 14-18 of Luke 16). We could call them “entitled.”   This term means that the Pharisee’s think they “deserve” their riches and/or their position.  IT IS NOT MONEY THAT IS EVIL, BUT THE LOVE OF MONEY THAT IS EVIL (1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (KJV).



            So you have a rich man and a poor man.  Why did the poor man lie in the rich man’s doorstep?  Well, if you need to beg you go to where people have money to give.  The rich man and his family had to step over Lazarus because he was laying in his doorway or gateway.  Lazarus seemed abandoned except for dogs.  They were his only associates.  “They licked his wounds,” v. 21.  I can just see when the rich man left his house, he would probably have to step over Lazarus.

            Then it happens, death comes to both the rich man and Lazarus.  Death is the great equalizer.  No amount of money can save anyone from death.  Both people are judged.  The rich man goes to hades or hell.  And the poor man goes to “the bosom of Abraham.”  In Jewish terms this was paradise or our interpretation of Heaven.   The rich man is in Hell and the poor man is in Heaven.  

There is an imaginary discussion” between Abraham and the Rich Man.  He is now in a place of suffering.  He is so thirsty that he begs for a few drops of water to calm his thirst.  He also asks if Lazarus could be resurrected from the dead so he could tell his five brothers.  

One of the misconceptions that this story lends itself to is that the people in Hell can see the people in heaven.   This is not the purpose of the story.   Between the two there is a “great chasm.”  You cannot cross over from one to the other.

In other words, the Rich Man thinks his brothers will remember Lazarus and if he were to appear to them he thinks they might believe in God and not their riches!  The problem with this thought is that when Jesus raised the real-life Lazarus, it caused a great conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders.  

Abraham answers them by saying that if they do not hear Moses and the prophets they will not hear a man who they know who is raised from the dead.

The emphatic point is made. It explains itself. Jesus was speaking to the self-righteous, avaricious, adulterous Pharisees who were not listening to Moses and the Prophets, the Old Testament which was not making them wise until salvation simply because they were not listening. -Bul’s Notes



            Jesus desires that we listen to him.  That we cannot serve two masters.  The sole purpose of verses 27-31 is simply that a person must hear the Word of God so that the person might live in constant repentance, before it is too late. -Bul’s notes

In his book Directions, author James Hamilton shares this insight about listening to God:  Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.

One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn't find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.

Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.

"I closed the door," the boy replied, "lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking."


Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are still enough and quiet enough to hear. Yes, Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father always listens to us, but do we really listen to Him? Do we follow the instructions of Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God?"       


God calls to us through the Bible, today there are so many convenient ways to listen and read the Word of God.   There are Apps, and electronic services where we can access the Bible.  It has never been easier than today.  We must listen, before it is too late.  May we Love the Word of God, read it and apply it to our lives.

Pastor John Raddatz

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