S (Scripture): Luke 16:19 Jesus said, “There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, 21 who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And in hell, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. 24 So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. 26 Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father – send Lazarus to my father’s house 28 (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’ 30 Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
O (Observation): Jesus is playing at a double-meaning here. He tells a great parable, and includes a reference to his future journey of death and resurrection.
Jesus tells this story to point out that God has been speaking to the world since the beginning of the Law and the Prophets. The scriptures point to God and God’s ways. And soon, Jesus himself will be pointing to God.
One element of scripture is that we are all called to care for the poor. This unnamed rich man is scolded for not learning this.
God has always been present, and the scriptures have pointed this out. And even Jesus’ own death and resurrection will not convince some.
The call to live a life of mercy, now, today, is our path.
A (Application): I’ve spent plenty of time looking back at my past mistakes. Like all of us, we can learn. We don’t have to dwell in the past. As a song by Tenth Avenue North points out: you are more than the sum of your past mistakes. You have a way forward as you learn from your own mistakes and the mistakes of others. We have a way forward in Christ.
(Check out “You Are More” by Tenth Avenue North.”)
As a pastor, I’ve made plenty of mistakes…and I know I’ll make a ton more…but they are made (typically) with the best of intentions and a bit of naïveté.
We have been given a warning, a word of encouragement to know that the Lord still reaches out to us in love and mercy. I will take that love and mercy and do my best to lead in the same way – with love and mercy.
P (Prayer): Lord, when we make mistakes, help us to repent and begin the reconciliation process. Amen.