Pastor Weise’s Sermon – The Lazarus in YOUR Life

Pastor Weise's Sermon - Remember the Sabbath, to Keep it Holy

Pastor Weise’s Sermon – The Lazarus in YOUR Life

St. Luke 16.19-31

Trinity I/June 23, 2019

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd/Good Shepherd Community Chapel, Sauk Rapids, MN

Rev. Keith R. Weise, pastor/chaplain



Prayer of the Day

O God, the strength of all who trust in You, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do no good thing, grant us Your grace to keep Your commandments that we may please You in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

St. Luke 16.19-31

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”                                                                                                                              NKJV









Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

I          All day long

poor Lazarus sits on the sidewalk

just outside the rich man’s home.

The rich man wears purple and fine linen—

Lazarus wears what’s left of his filthy rags.

The rich man dines sumptuously—

Lazarus’ stomach rumbles with hunger.

The rich man has

everything he needs

everything he wants

and then some.

Lazarus only has dogs that lick his festering wounds.

Lazarus needs food.

Lazarus needs clothes.

Lazarus needs medicine.

He needs LOVE—

But he gets NOTHING from that rich man

who has to know he’s there.

Lazarus is practically sitting on his front porch.

II         Well—they both die—Lazarus and the rich man.

Lazarus is carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom in heaven.

There—in heaven—

he receives everything

he never had on earth.

The rich man?—

He doesn’t make it to heaven.

He ends up in hell

longing for one, single drop of water

to cool his burning tongue

in the torment of the unending flames.

Abraham tells him:

Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.        (St. Luke 16.25)



III       Jesus tells us this story today to make one simple point—

There is a Lazarus in YOUR life.


            Right before your very eyes—

maybe even sitting right at your front door—

is someone you can’t help but see.


who needs clothes and food.

who needs medicine.

who needs friends and love.

who needs YOU!

Maybe it’s your neighbor next door or across the hall.

Maybe it’s your old friend who just moved to the Apartments

or your old neighbor who now lives over in the Nursing Home.

Maybe it’s the new resident who just moved in

and now is on her deathbed.

Maybe it’s that new widower down the hall

who just buried his wife.

Whoever it is—

God has placed a Lazarus in YOUR life.

And today

God is calling you—

however you can—

to serve them when they need it

to help them in their time of trial


to love them as you love yourself.


IV        What if you don’t?

What if you ignore the Lazarus in your life


continue to

eat your good food


wear your nice clothes


take all your medicine


just take care of all your business?

What happens  if you enjoy al the blessings God gives you—

and ignore those in need?


That’s what happens.

And once you’re in hell—

there’s no getting out.

Between us and you, [Abraham says to the rich man]

there is a great gulf fixed—

                                    so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot,

                                                nor can those from there pass to us.                                   (St. Luke 16.26)


V         So open your eyes and look around.

See the Lazarus God has put in your life.

That person is there so YOU can help them!


Feed them.

Clothe them.

Pay for a prescription if you can.

Pray for them.

Befriend them


Spend time with them.

Acknowledge their existence

Empathize with them in their suffering


LOVE them however you can.


VI        When you open your eyes to the Lazarus in your life—

no matter who it is—

you see Christ—

Christ who became poor for your sake.

[He] did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, taking the form of a SLAVE(!), and coming in the likeness of men.                                                                                                                          

(Philippians 2.6-7)

He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.                                                                                                                           (Philippians 2.8)


Jesus became poor for you.

Jesus became a Lazarus for you.

Jesus gave up everything in heaven

to come to earth for you

In the end

he had no place to lay his head

he had no possessions of his very own

he gave up even his life on the cross.

Jesus died







on the cross.

Jesus died alone on the cross—

so that no one should ever have to die

poor/naked/broken and alone


Jesus died on the cross

for all the world to see—

that we might see in him the one who saves us from

our greed

our indifference

our covetousness

our stinginess


our wastefulness.

Jesus died on the cross to save us FROM all those sins—


He died on the cross

to save us FOR

                        a life lived for others.

a life lived

in service to the poor

in loyalty to the forgotten


in love for the outcasts of our communities.


VII      In every Lazarus—

in every person who is


In every one of them

we see Christ.

Every good deed done to for

a sick man

a poor woman


any suffering soul—

is a good deed done to Jesus.

Every bit of




given to the Lazarus in your life

is a gift—

an offering made unto Christ himself.

Assuredly, I say to you, [says Christ] inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me.                                                                         (St. Matthew 25.40)


VIII    Now perhaps YOU are a Lazarus.

Maybe you’re

dependent on others for almost everything in your life.

you’re no longer in control of

your finances

your health


any of the important decisions that must be made in life.

Perhaps YOU sit waiting

day by day

hour by hour

minute by minute

waiting on some rich neighbor

to acknowledge you


comfort you


help you


love you.

I know it’s true for some of you—

You know exactly how Lazarus felt

while the rich man

sat in his mansion


ignored Lazarus in his need.

For the many times we’ve ignored you—

we owe YOU our heartfelt apology.

For the many times we’ve acted toward you

like the rich man did to Lazarus—

we owe GOD our contrition and repentance.

And we pray the Holy Spirit to lead us anew

into faithfulness to God


into love for you that helps you when you need it.

To you—who ARE Lazarus—God has this to say to you today—


Maybe by a neighbor

who finally sees you and your need

Maybe by one of us

here in this chapel today.

Certainly by God

in the life of the world to come.

Angels will carry you into Abraham’s bosom.

Christ himself will receive you into heaven.

And Lazarus will be there to show you around.


IX       Brothers and sisters—

you may not see him yet—

but there IS a Lazarus in your life.

Look for him.

Pray about it—

and God will open your eyes—

and he will open your heart, too.

When you see your Lazarus—

Love him as you love yourself.

Love him as you love Christ.

Acknowledge him.

Clothe him.

Feed him.

Comfort him—

Just as you would do for Christ

if you saw him sitting destitute by your front door.

X         Do it because the prophets say so.

Do it because the apostles and the evangelists say so.

Do it because GOD SAYS SO!

But most importantly—

Do it because CHRIST

has risen from the dead

and made you a new creature by his grace

who does

the good works of God

for the people of God.

XI       Open your eyes.

See the Lazarus God has set before you.

And love him as you love Christ—

because Christ

has died and risen again

so YOU


your Lazarus

can live with him in heaven forever.

God grant it for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Invocation    In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Hymn of Response:  Create in Me



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