Please note: I actually began working on this sermon three months ago. I plan out my sermons three months in advance. So one day during June I planned out July, August and September. Then last Sunday I looked at my text and my sermon and wondered what I was thinking. I really thought about changing the title and going a different direction but God said no these are the words I want you to share. So I went along and the sermon started to take shape and came to realize what the Lord intended for this sermon.
In the bulletin I included an insert. This was not just for those who were here on Sunday but for all who missed I pray you would use this tool as well. As you read through the sermon please write out three things that you found out or discovered from this sermon hat you did not know before. Then share just one of them with a friend family member or co-worker. Tell them that you learned this in Church and invite them to come and learn for themselves.
Three Things I learned from Todays Sermon
Let us Pray: Dear Lord, this morning we seek you in the same way Lazarus sought you, and receiving, peace and comfort only after his death. Allow us to learn that we are to do everything we can to live the way you would have us live. Help us to give to others in your name not to earn some heavenly reward but just to have a life worth living. Lord we thank you that our first and foremost example comes from your Son who for us gave all and stands ready to give all to us. Help me this morning to share a word that comes from you. One that will make us understand that we work not for coin but for your glory. This I share not for reward but so that we can live in a way that is worthy of you. Help us to all look at our hearts and find in them the hope that comes from you. All of this I pray in Jesus holy and precious name. Amen
This Morning I would like us to think about what makes up a church. In a word Volunteers! What do they have to do with each other? The first thing is without the gift of volunteers no church could possibly exist. There is no way we could afford to pay all of the people who do so much for this church. I wish I had the time this morning to thank each and every one of you but I do not have the time to read all of your names it would go into the hundreds for all you have done in this last five years. Should I try and list them I would leave out some so please know if you have given, changed a light bulb, (sometimes acrobatically), built or installed a shelf, cooked food, worked a bake sale, served, greeted, or were a liturgist, taught, conducted repairs around the Church , served on a committee or as an elder or deacon you have been a blessing to God and in the same way He has and will bless your actions. All of this is done for one reason we did it for God because in our hearts we felt it was the right thing to do.
The problem is so many in our society, so many outside of our Church home do not see what all of you do here as relevant. They see a waste of time in the service of God and none of you receiving anything for it. What they do not fully understand is “our reward”. They can’t because to them it seems like a flight of fantasy and foolishness.
So to help all of us understand I would like to turn to our text this morning.
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. So we have a nameless faces less rich man but how is he dressed? In Purple! So what? Well purple was a very significant color.
Purple is often called the royal color. Have you ever wondered why? Not just the fact that so many of the kings wore robes of purple but it signified their tasks and responsibility.
Let’s begin with how purple is made. Purple is made of red and blue. In Jewish thought the blue represented upholding the law and the red represented war or battle. So a king would at times have to rule in matters of law but at times would also have to call up forces for war.
Jesus as the King of Kings came as an eternal fulfillment of God’s Law his life was the (Blue) and he kept it to the letter and through His blood (red) he won the war over sin and death. Thus Jesus is the living embodiment of Purple.
The color, purple, is found in many things pertaining to the tabernacle and temple. Often it is used in combination with other colors such as blue, red, gold, and white. The following items in the tabernacle and the clothing of the high priest contain such combinations including purple: curtain of the tabernacle, veil of the tabernacle, hanging for the door of the tent, hanging for the gate of the court, the ephod of the high priest, the curious girdle of the high priest, the breastplate of the high priest, the hem of the priests robe. The color, purple is also the color of the covering of the brazen altar. The combination colors will be dealt with in another section of this study on colors.
So when it is all said and done Jesus saying the rich man was in purple was no slip but a very carefully placed fact.
Then Jesus introduces us to our second main character. A beggar named Lazarus. Now in his 46 parables one time and one time only did he give a person in his story a name. Now I know what some will say what about the father or about the son yes he often puts in title but as for an active name Lazarus is it.
Often times people put credit when a text is in Matthew, Mark and Luke instead I put credit in in something that is unique. If Jesus one time in 46 choose to name a character take notice.
This man was a wretched sole. He was so weak that he could not roll over and where he lay developed sores. He was so weak that he could not fight off the dogs when they came and licked his sores.
He was so hungry and longed to eat even the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.
A number of people in our church have begun watching a show called the artful detective. This is a police show on the ovation Network set in Toronto in the turn of the century. About now you are wondering if I am having an amorism what does this have to do with our text today? Well one episode the police inspector was in Buffalo New York. He was in a restaurant and asked what they had and was told we are out of everything. How can a restaurant be out of food? Then he noticed a worker carrying a bucket with wings in it. He said what about them and they said that is just bones and gristle only garbage. So he told them to fry them up. Then he got some spicy dipping souse and the buffalo chicken wing was born. Yet what was the response of the restaurant owner? He said to his wife, “Look the Canadian’s are eating our garbage”! In the same way Lazarus would have loved to eat the garbage that came from the rich man’s home. Yet no one gave him anything.
Lazarus died angels received him and carried him to Father Abraham. Near the same time the rich man also died. He was buried and did not receive a guided tour did not receive a trip to Father Abraham. Instead he was in Hades where he was in torment.
He looked up and saw Father Abraham far away and called to him, Have pity of me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tounge because I am in agony
Yet Abraham replied remember during your life you received good things, while Lazarus received bad things now he is comforted while you are in agony.
Besides this between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot nor can anyone there cross to us.
Jesus was reinforcing the truth that we all are terminal. We will live our lives and then after go to our eternal destination. How we live what we do for others how we care for others will help determine what station we will be leaving from. After all we are terminal but our lives can determine if we like Lazarus will leave from the airport taking Angel Air or like the rich man depart from the subway.
Yet the rich man was not done yet he called on Abraham not for himself but for others. At least his predicament made him look outside of his life and his concerns and asked that Abraham would take care of his five brothers.
Now at the start we noted that he was in purple a sign of wealth or royalty. This is something that tends to run in families. Along with this folks like this also tend to have an overly arrogant attitude that he first showed. If this was the case the rich man would have grounds for worrying about his brothers.
He begged Abraham send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
Yet the problem was Abraham was not in the business of let’s make a deal. He told the man ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ Yet the man in his pain and anguish gave one last please “No, Father, but if from someone the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
So I ask how many in our world today are like the five brothers. Going about their day to day lives focusing only on themselves. If Lazarus rose from the dead and went to them calling them to repent they would not be convinced.
So this morning what it comes down too and what we are faced with is how can we properly live our lives and what we will we receive for our actions.
Well first and foremost I want to make sure none of us think that we gave earn our reward by our work.
No the cost of our souls is so high we could never earn enough to pay it. Thankfully for any who believe in the son and call on his name we do not have to. He paid the price for us.
Does this exonerate us in any way? No we still need to strive to live our lives the way God would have us live. We need to follow His teaching care for the poor, the sick and the homeless.
As I draw to a close I want us to consider one last thing. That is itching in the back of my mind about Jesus naming the beggar Lazarus. We know that Jesus knew about Lazarus dying while still in Bethany he told his disciples that Lazarus has died and we are going to wake him up. Since he knew before being told before seeing His friend dead my last questions for us today is how long did he know? How long before his friends illness that this would not result in death but show the power of God.
How many of the people in Jerusalem who were like the five brothers not listening to Moses and the Prophets were convince by seeing Lazarus come back from the dead. Now once again I need to make the statement that Lazarus in our story is not the Lazarus who was the brother of Mary and Martha but may have been a reason that Jesus used the name in his story.
Now I asked how many believed because of this miracle but the question that is so much more relevant is how many refused to believe.
Today we have empty seats while we have a message that is need by so many in our society. Yet how many will refuse to hear, refuse to believe even if a man came back from the dead.
This morning I want to tell you the teller of this tale is a man who came back from the dead. He came back for one reason to show us the way the truth and the life and to show us our reward. So volunteer but more to the point learn and like Jesus fish for men and love one another. Amen!