Introduction: This is the third Sunday in a row that we have heard a parable in Luke’s Gospel. From the parable of the Loving Father we learn that God is like this loving Father. From the parable of the wise steward we learn that we are to imitate him. We should be prudent and take energetic initiative. From today’s Parable of the rich man and Lazarus we learn that we should not imitate the rich man.
1. RICH AND POOR IN THIS LIFE. (vs. 19-21)
Rich Man Poor Man
Inside “thrown down” at the gate
Clothed in purple covered with sores
Feasted sumptuously so hungry desired to eat
Every day crumbs (like a dog)
(used a kind of Pita bread as a (hunger for discarded Pita bread
napkin, discarded on floor) for sustenance)
Lazarus is licked by the dogs.
2. DEATH OF EACH PROTAGONIST AND THE REVERSAL OF FATES IN THE AFTERLIFE. (vs. 22-26)
was buried (no burial spoken of)
Was carried by angels to
Hades From the abode of the dead Abraham and Lazarus at
Now sees “he raised his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus resting in his bosom.”
Rich man attempts to get help from Abraham through the sending of Lazarus (treats Lazarus as a servant). “Send Lazarus ”
“to cool my tongue”(tongue that had savored sumptuous food daily now longs for a drop of water) .
Reversal of fortunes from beginning of story:
for I am suffering torment in these flames” (dressed in flashy clothes, now clothed in burning flames).
“you received what was good” “while Lazarus received
what was bad;
but now he is comforted
whereas you are tormented.”
Rich man never got across the great abyss between himself and Lazarus at his door.
3. DIALOGUE BETWEEN RICH MAN AND ABRAHAM OVER FATE
OF THOSE STILL ALIVE. (vs. 27-31) Yawning gap between the rich man and Lazarus is sealed by the wealthy man’s inability to see Lazarus as his brother. He turns his attention to his five rich brothers, and wants Lazarus to serve him as his messenger and warn them. The final verse underscores that the rich man is irrevocably blind to the poor man, his brother. Moses and the prophets repeatedly admonish care for the poor. And Lazarus sits at every gate. If one will not heed the Torah and put it into practice when given repeated opportunities, not even an apparition from the dead Lazarus will melt the hardened heart. Right to the end of the parable the rich man continues to bargain with Abraham and to claim a privileged position. What is necessary he cannot do: he must relinquish his status and power and privilege so as to claim Lazarus as his brother. Luke presents the ideal with regard to possessions: all having what they need when possessions are shared. Abraham who figures prominently in this parable was a rich man. But he is remembered as blessed for his generous hospitality. The Gospel parable shows how riches can blind a person not only to the needs of those at their gate, but to the fact that all people are brothers and sisters of the same parent God.
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