Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. 22 Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ 27 Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ 30 The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ 31 But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

S - Scripture

20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.

O - Observation

This parable is interesting because it mentions a specific person: Lazarus. No other parable mentions a specific person. Lazarus is poor, helpless, and marginalized. The other man is a man of wealth. Jesus points out that he is not just wealthy, he lives in luxury: he wears fine linen made of purple and he feasted at the table -- Lazarus waited for his scraps.

In the next world the roles are reversed: Lazarus is in glory and the wealthy man suffers. So, what is the sin of the wealthy man? He wasn't mean to Lazarus. He didn't even ask him to leave. His sin wasn't that he offended Lazarus; his sin was that he didn't do anything to help Lazarus. While the wealthy man enjoyed a life of luxury, a fellow human was suffering at his feet.

A - Application

Sin can often be thought of as doing something bad. Doing bad things is only a partial definition of sin. Jesus challenges us that sin is also doing nothing when it is obvious that something needs to be done. In this world and in our city, suffering is all over the place. People mourn, children are hungry, the elderly are sick, the criminal is in prison, the neighbor is heartbroken, etc... And many of these people are at our feet. God wants us to do something about it.

P - Prayer

Lord, thank you for blessing me. I wear purple clothes and feast at the table. In my city are people who are suffering. Help me notice them and care for them. Amen.

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