Gulf is Crossed

Having Words with Jesus

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C

This week, we have a powerful story of reversal, the world turned upside-down. Or rather, right side up. This parable is what Mary sang about in the Magnificat way back at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The poor are filled with good things, and the rich are sent away hungry; brought down the powerful and lifted up the lowly. Here it is acted out in the parable Jesus told to those who were ridiculing him because they loved money more than God’s kingdom.

Week 4: Gulf Is Crossed

Luke 16:19-31

Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal).

Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In pairs or groups of three, discuss the following: Who is the wealthiest person you have met?

Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read: Luke 16:19-31

  • Read I Timothy 6:17-19. What does being rich in the kingdom of God look like?
  • Jesus tells the story of a rich man for the third time. What might it mean that the rich man is not named, but the poor man, Lazarus, is named? [Reverses who is important.]
  • Why would this story have been surprising to Jesus’ audience? (Who would they have assumed to be carried away by angels to be with Abraham?) [The audience would have expected to hear of a lowly Israelite being carried away, while an oppressive Gentile figure would be in Hades. In Jesus’ telling, an Israelite (son of Abraham) is in Hades, while someone of lowly status is lifted up.
  • For whom does the rich man express compassion? [His brothers.] Why is it easier to express compassion for those closest to us and so hard to express compassion for those we do not know?
  • What does it say of the rich man that he requests that Lazarus be sent to soothe his torment? [That’s what poor people are supposed to do – serve the rich.] What does it reveal about the rich man? [He had known Lazarus’s status and did not help, and he doesn’t seem to have changed—even in Hades!]
  • What caused the rich man to be sent to Hades? [His lack of extending compassion and generosity to Lazarus.]
  • John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, commented on this passage, “It is no more sinful to be rich than to be poor. But it is dangerous beyond expression. Therefore, I remind all of you that are of this number, that have the conveniences of life, and something over that you walk upon slippery ground. You continually tread on snares and deaths. You are every moment on the verge of hell!” (Sermon 112: “The Rich Man and Lazarus.” Quoted in the Wesley Study Bible, 1268.)
  • Reflect on this quote as a group.
  • As a result of this worship series, how has your discipleship been impacted or challenged?

Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.

Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:

Gracious God, we desire to be apprenticed in your ways. Continue to prompt us by your Holy Spirit where our lives need amending that we might glorify you in all we do. Amen.


See All the People,

In This Series...

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C - Lectionary Planning Notes