Trinity 1 Sermon
Rev. Ed Maanum
Is the Gospel this morning a parable or a story of warning told by Jesus? Does it matter? Not really. What matters is what Jesus teaches the Pharisees and us this morning. And to get a better understanding of what Jesus is teaching we need to back up our lection a few verses. Beginning at verse 14, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
How do these verse help us this morning? They help us understand what this mornings teaching from Jesus is actually about. For starters, it’s not about a Social Gospel and how we are to help the poor. The Gospel Message is not about what heaven and hell are going to be like. It’s even not about the Baptifundegelical “gospel” of a generic God putting people in our lives that if we help, or given enough money, food or stuff to, in the name of Jesus, that God’s grace and favor will shine down upon us and bless us. This thought boiled down means that we can bribe God with our external behavior to turn a blind eye to our degenerate and self-loving, Hellenistic thoughts and attitudes.
The Pharisees, being boiled down to this rich man, needed to repent of their love of money more than God. They needed to repent because they did not understand the Law or the Prophets properly. They did not recognize that the Law does not save you, no matter how well you think you keep it, because in the end you don’t. The Law does not save. With a view of the Law that says if I keep it I’m saved, the Pharisees divorced God and sought their bridegroom to be something easier to control.
You are the Pharisees. You are the rich man. You need to repent for you own love of money, or food, or clothes, or sex, or self more than God. You try to divorce yourself from God, like just the Pharisees and leaders of Israel did. Repent. Recognize that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets promised from Gen 3 to crush the old serpents head for you.
The rich man, we’re going to simplify this morning and refer to him here on out as Rich, Rich finds himself dead. Now Rich isn’t dead because he was wealthy. He was dead because he didn’t believe what Moses and the Prophets wrote about the Messiah. Words from Moses like Dt. 18, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers––it is to him you shall listen” … and “the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”
They ignored words from prophet’s like Isaiah who said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give a sign. The Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel (ch. 7).” and “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy (ch. 35)” They abandoned God’s Word and His promise to Abraham of an heir.
Rich was not like Lazarus, the poor, pitiful beggar that he was. A man whose only friends were dogs who licked his wounds but provided him with no food. Lazarus was a man of faith and trust in God, who no doubt had words on his lips like “Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word! Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.” (Ps 119:160-170).
With saving faith, that sweet heavenly sent gift from God, Lazarus dies, alone with only those dogs to buy him like a bone they are saving to devour later. Rich sees Lazarus with Abraham and wants Lazarus sent back to speak with his family, to warn them, to tell them that they need to repent and stop living their lives just like he did thinking that God’s Word was not enough, a thought that leads to death. Rich knows this. Rich, like Jacob Marley, wants to save those whom he loves from the same fate worse than death. Rich is dead proof of this torment.
What does Abraham say? “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.”
What? Father Abraham you can’t be serious. People need more than God’s Word don’t they. After all, that’s a thought that is prevalent in many pulpits, and on many church stages today. False preachers tell you that God’s Word only gets you so far. You need to finish your salvation yourself if you want to be saved. You can’t preach the cross only. Don’t you know that’s foolish? It doesn’t put butts in the seats and pieces of silver in the coffers.
The same truth runs behind any ‘church growth’ movement, modern evangelism, works-righteous attitude, or magical new idea in bringing others to church. Following these plans says that God’s Words isn’t enough. Preaching Christ and Him crucified isn’t working, and Paul was a fool for doing only that in Corinth (1 Cor 2).
The old man inside each of us has thoughts that the liturgy is boring, it’s the same thing every week. Hearing the Word of God read and preached is boring, especially by this sinful bag of rotting flesh and blood in the pulpit. You sit there quietly mumbling old hymns that proclaim Jesus’ suffering, death resurrection for you from our hymnals all the while saying they aren’t enough to grab the youth, or the unchurched, instead of singing them and showing their true beauty. Preaching on how you are forgiven by Christ alone isn’t interesting. God’s Word isn’t enough. The Holy Spirit isn’t enough. I need to take matters into my own hands and do something about it.
But Father Abraham disagrees. “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Rich and his ideas of needing more that God’s Word is put down. That idea is put down, not into where Rich is, but to Gehenna, the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, because that is what this self-centered view of salvation leads you to.
Thank God that we are put back in our place this morning. We are reminded of what we are to be … receivers of salvation instead of finishers. The Word always works. We don’t know how or why, and don’t need to know. Just know that God’s Word always works for what He wants.
Isaiah 55 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
For this Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4)
In this Word of God, you are exposed to the very Word of Life Himself and what He has personally done for you. You no longer thirst like Rich, eternally separated from the fount of living water (Jer. 17:13). Instead Jesus thirsted for your liberty upon the cross (Paul Gerhardt in the Hymn “O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?”), shedding His blood to quench your thirst eternally. (Rev. 7:16).
And as you come up and feast on the Lord’s Supper, just like little chicks receiving nourishment from their mother hen, Jesus gives you His sacrificial and atoning blood for the forgiveness of your sins. You drink from the fount of every blessing and will never thirst again. You leave as a forgiven and redeemed child of God.
This drinking of the Word began in your baptism when you first sipped of Christ’s righteousness and cross-bearing forgiveness. As Jesus says in John 4, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The Word of God is more than enough. Remember this when your own flesh is telling you differently because the church isn’t growing as the lying world told you it should.
This is all I’m going to speak on this topic this morning. Before I end, I leave you with some words penned by Martin Shalling in the Hymn “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart”
“Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram’s bosom bear me home,
That I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awake me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior and my Fount of grace,
Lord Jesus Christ,
My prayer attend, my prayer attend,
And I will praise Thee without end.”