The Comfort of God’s Promise

Pentecost 19 Monday
Luke 16:19-20
“There was a rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen and lived every day gloriously and in joy. But a poor man named Lazarus laid at his door covered with sores.”
In his poverty, Lazarus comforted himself by God’s promise of eternal life in Christ. We see that he did this, first, because of his name. For Lazarus goes back to the Hebrew name Eliezer, which means God helps. Thus, he put all his trust only in God’s eternal help, not in men. Second, the evangelist also shows this in that he says that Lazarus was carried into Abraham’s lap. This simply means that Lazarus had put his trust in the promise made to Abraham when God promised him that all generations of the world should be blessed in his Seed, Genesis 22:18. Lazarus clung to this promise and took comfort in it: Although the whole world may consider him to be a cursed man because he is poor and miserable, he
would still enjoy the blessed Seed and remain, not under God’s curse, but in his eternal grace. And such faith preserved him so that, when he died here on earth, the angels carried him into Abraham’s lap. Now Christ, our dear Lord, wants us to contemplate and learn this example well. For his Christians must expect that they must suffer want and all kinds of misfortune here on earth. Now, those who do not have the comfort Lazarus has have no help; they become impatient and finally despair. For flesh and blood do not change. Unless God’s Word steps it, when people fare badly, they think that God has forgotten them and does not want them; otherwise he would help and not leave them in their misery. Looking to what is to come and taking comfort in it–that never happens. This is why many inexperienced people become impatient and think: If God does not want to help, let the devil or anybody else do it. This is how falling away from God looks like and becoming his enemy and no longer expecting from God all good things; this is how you, in addition to temporal suffering and need, place yourself under God’s eternal wrath and condemnation. Let us guard against this most diligently and not forget poor Lazarus. He is a poor, miserable man; yet since he firmly clings to the promise concerning Christ and the future life and surrenders in willing obedience to God, he will be richly compensated for such suffering and has exuberant, eternal joy and comfort instead of a small amount of suffering. This is the example of poor Lazarus all Christians ought to follow and comfort themselves in their sadness likewise.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:700-702.

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