Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Heeding the Word of God

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them’ ” (Luke 16:29).

Jesus told the Pharisees the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man, said Jesus, dressed in fine clothes and lived in luxury (Luke 16:19). By way of contrast, a beggar named Lazarus sat at the rich man’s gate. He was covered with sores and longed to eat scraps from the rich man’s table (vv. 20–21). Even as people did not take pity on Lazarus, neither did the dogs. Helpless as he was, even the dogs took advantage of him in their licking of his wounds.

The Pharisees complained that Jesus spent time with outcasts. But in fact, Jesus had been speaking to this very issue. The Pharisees, due to their separatist mentality, would not minister to the poor and indicted any who did.

After death, Lazarus was taken to heaven, while the rich man was cast into the eternal fires of hell. He saw Lazarus and Abraham far off, and asked Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water to cool him off (v. 24). Abraham replied that the rich man had enjoyed the good life on earth, and even if he wanted to, he was not able to help him because “a great chasm has been fixed” that no one could cross (v. 26).

Then the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, that they might repent. Abraham told the rich man that the warnings had been given by Moses and the Prophets. The rich man objected and said that the message would be more effective if given by someone from the dead. But Abraham replied that if they refuse to listen to Moses and the Prophets, they would also ignore someone returned from the dead (vv. 29–31).

Jesus makes it plain: Miracles do not convert people. People are saved by the work of the Spirit granted faith. These people believe the Word of God, and heed the voice of Moses and the Prophets—and the New Testament as well. The Pharisees had turned a deaf ear to the proclamation of the Good News and the coming kingdom.

In the Protestant church, the centrality of the pulpit and the power of preaching is rightly emphasized. What is your expectation of your pastor’s sermon? Honor your pastor and God’s Word in your zeal to heed the Word rightly taught this week.