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1 Rev. Dan Welch Pentecost Text- Luke 16: Introduction- Are you listening? That s a question I m sure we ve all been asked before, many times. Moms and Dads have to ask that question of their children when they ve been told to clean their room or do their homework- repeatedly, and the tasks still aren t done. School teachers too, sometimes have to ask their students: Are you listening? Are you paying attention? when their students are starring out the window or talking with their neighbor instead of giving them their undivided attention. Let s not forget about husbands. I admit to hearing those questions more than a time or two. Every so often wives have to ask their better halves, Are you listening? Here s an example: Say the wife is describing her latest idea for interior decorating while husband is deep in thought about football, fishing, or any number of things much more interesting to him than the wife s latest brainstorm which is bound to entail work on his part. Are you listening to a word I m saying? In all these cases, some sort of a wake-up call is in order: Are you listening? Do I have your attention?

2 Today s Gospel does this same job- but in a much stronger, more profound way. Yes, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus gets the point across in a very pointed way, Are you listening to God s Word? Our future, our eternal future rests on the answer. So, are you listening to the Word of God? Now is the time to do it. That s the point Jesus makes in our text today. Now is the Time to Listen to God s Word. I. Listening Means Living A. Now is the time to listen to God s Word. That sounds easy enough- just sit there, don t say anything, don t look out the window, don t think about fishing or football, just sit there and open your ears to listen to God s Word. But is it really that easy? Well, let s see: This is the second week in a row now that our assigned Scripture readings have talked about money and have given us clear instructions about the right way to use it. 1. Last week Jesus message to us was that we should use worldly wealth to gain eternal friends and then added very powerfully that it is impossible to serve both God and Money (Lk. 16:13). And then this week the apostle Paul teaches us that the love of money is a root of all

3 kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). But are we listening? In other words, are we changing our behavior in response to God s Word? 2. That's hard to do when it comes to money, isn t it? After all, there is at least a little bit of truth to the phrase, money makes the world go round. Money is what everybody needs to make a living, really, to live from day-to-day. The person who has a lot of money tends to have it easier in life- he eats better, has better clothes, a nicer home, superior medical care, and more. 3. But is that really why God gives us money? To live better? The rich man in today s parable certainly thought so, he lived large every day. Notice how in our Gospel lesson Jesus doesn t say that the rich man was necessarily living sinfully. Eating good food and having nice clothes are not sins, except when they re enjoyed at the expense of a neighbor in need. 4. So as the rich man enjoyed his money, he ignored the beggar on his doorstep. And what happened when he died? Verse 23 of our text tells

4 us: In hell he was in torment. Could Jesus say it any more clearly? Are you listening? 5. How could anyone miss hearing this? Well, obviously a lot of people would- and a lot of people do. The rich man is one of those who refused to listen to God s Word and now is suffering the consequences of his own sin. So, he pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers. They ll definitely listen to a man who s come back from the dead! But Abraham answers, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. No, father Abraham, he said, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. He said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. (vv ) 6. Now the rich man was listening, but it was too late. Would his brothers listen to God s Word- Moses and the Prophets- before it was too late for them? B. There aren t too many of us, I imagine, who have to deal directly with beggars on a day-to-day basis, but our attitude is often just like the rich

5 man s. Let s look after our own interests, first. Other people s interests later if at all. 2. Our Lord Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but when it comes to money, we tend to draw the line. We find it too hard to listen, to take His command to heart and act upon. 3. Will we listen, will we hear, before it s too late? (That s the hard question we need to consider.) II. Listening is Believing. A. Actually, we would be much better off if we were like the beggar in this parable. He had nothing at all- no food, no companions except some dogs, certainly no money. In fact, about the only thing he did have was a name, Lazarus, a name which interestingly enough means, God helps. 1. And God did help Lazarus. When he died, God sent angels to take him to heaven. The suffering he endured during this short life on earth was all behind him. Now Lazarus is in paradise with God forever. 2. So the Lord is the difference. (He s all the difference!) When we have Him, we have eternity, whether we ve enjoyed good things in this life or not!

6 B. In His Word, God not only reveals the selfishness of our lives but also the selflessness of His Son. 1. Jesus didn t spend money, but His own life on the cross to pay the price for us sinners. 2. In His Word, God gives us a sure testimony of Jesus victory by His rising from the dead. 3. (Do you remember how in the parable Abraham said that )The brothers of the rich man would not repent even if Lazarus came back from the dead. After all, they had Moses and the Prophets. But (what about us today?) we not only have Moses and the Prophets, that is, the Old Testament, we also have the New Testament. We not only have the promise of salvation, but we also have the the fulfillment- the power of God for our salvation. 4. And we have that powerful Word here for us today in very real and tangible ways. Yes, God s Word comes to us in ways we can actually experience and we can see the difference God s Word makes in our lives right now.

7 a. In God s Word preached to us and also in the holy absolution- we hear the absolute assurance that our sins are forgiven, that we have a place with Abraham in heaven. b. In the Word of God made visible in Holy Communion- the Word touches not only our ears but also our lips, the Word made flesh in the flesh for the forgiveness of our sins and to strengthen us in our faith in Christ. 5. In His Word, God gives us Himself- to rescue us from our selfcenteredness. He transforms us into His servants. Much more, He makes us His children, who don t walk over the needy, but walk with them, maybe even carry them, using the gifts God gives us for the sake of others: our time, talent, and treasure. Conclusion- Forgiveness and life, here and for eternity, the power and example of Jesus- God gives all of this through His Word. Now is the time to listen to God s Word. Amen.

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