Bridging the Chasm

We’ve been doing participatory sermons, constructing meaning together. You can listen in here:

These are the notes I prepare ahead of time to have in worship:

Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31


Jesus tells a story today that may keep you awake tonight. It’s not a soothing “I’m ok, you’re ok” kind of story. But rather a “and how are you living today?” kind of story. So, just to get you all situated, in the few chunks of scripture in between last week’s lost son/prodigal God story and today’s story, it seems Jesus continues to talk to the Pharisees, the religious professionals, about money. He holds up a dishonest manager in chapter 16 as someone to emulate; the Pharisees are described as “lovers of money” and get quite defensive at his teaching. Then he launches into this story about 2 men: a rich man and Lazarus. He tells the lavish details of the rich man’s life and the desperate conditions of the poor man. Then they die on the same night and their situations are reversed.

Take a few minutes and walk through this story with those around you.

What are your questions? What are your thoughts? What do you wonder about? What is confusing? Where do you see yourself? What is offensive about this passage?


The chasm seems to be the disparity of who has and who has not. It flips after they die.

CONTRAST: Purple linen, feasting//laid at the gates, hungry and sick

Lazarus is named, which shines a light on who Jesus wants you to pay attention to.

Any good Jew would want to go and be with Abraham in the after life.

Hades is a waiting place – awaiting judgment.

The rich man calls Abraham “Father” which is a signal to Abraham that he is a Jew.

Abraham calls him “Child” which means he acknowledges his identity, but it’s not enough.

The rich man orders Lazarus around in the after life, and never even talks to him directly.

What is the rich man saying “no” to in verse 30?


“…a great chasm has been fixed…” We know that chasm, don’t we? We see it and feel it. The chasm between the kids who eat on the weekends and those who only eat because of the backpack program. The proposed national budget seeks to deepen that chasm. Make no mistake, Jesus is telling a story that asks the Pharisees and whoever else is listening, including you and me, about just how we are living. In what ways do we show love to the poor? In what ways do we actually acknowledge the poor? Because when we do we see God. When we do we love God.

Jesus tells this story to highlight the injustice of his day.

Jesus tells this story to highlight the injustice of this day.

Jesus tells this story as if to ask, “What do I have to do to get your attention?” There’s even a spoiler at the end of this reading today: “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

The thing is Jesus does rise from the dead to convince us. And that is the Good News! Jesus is the connecting point. He is the bridger of the gap. He is the one who shows us just how wide God’s love is. We can put space in between us and others, but Jesus is about filling it and reconnecting us and them. He is the filler of the chasm. He is the one who is there for the rich man and for Lazarus. For you and for me. That is Good News.

The bridge to the altar is always there. Jesus fixes that bridge for us.  It’s the bridges to one another that are troublesome. Connect your sections with your Lego pieces.