Parable of “The rich man & Lazarus”
Instructor: Rev. Mafo’eFa’avae
NEW.122 Understanding the Parable of Jesus
In my own understanding, this parable concludes the chain of parables that Jesus edify towards the disciples and also the Pharisees. It concludes with the rich man and Lazarus, and how their association depicts the relationship that echoes back with a big bang that shocked the crowd. One who is wealthy and have all the riches in the flesh, and one who is totally the opposite of the first. In Latin tradition, “dives” is the Latin term for rich, which their status is upheld in the way they dress. Purple was a very expensive color made from shellfish. This was no ordinary dive, he was extravagantly rich, in our modern age, he is filthy rich along with his beautiful outer garments and soft under garments. So rich!that he “wipes his hands with white bread and threw it on the floor” for the dogs and beggars to eat, that was their tradition or culture. On the contrary, we have the poor man Lazarus covered with sores, laying at the dives gate with his body covered with sores. Now picture ourselves laying at someone else’s gate! It is quite uncomfortable and yet humiliating to be in this predicament. Poor and sick people always wanders around the fences of the rich and famous people, like zombies squandering around a fence filled with fresh human meat! Lazarus in Hebrew is Eleazar which means “God is my help”. Luke enlightened us with this heart felt parable about this poor helpless man covered with sores. In the book of Leviticus, the priest considered this sores unclean, and once you are considered unclean, the only place that fits your status is outside the gate, or out of society. In the present setting of the parable, onelives a life of a dive and the other lives a life of an oppressed, poor helpless sick man. Not one sentence in the parable depicts the rich man trying to assist or help Lazarus. It portrays how self-centered people can get, and how arrogant they be when they put their earthly jewels first instead of reaching out and lend a helping hand. What is the use of all your riches if you cannot share it by saving someone’s life from sickness, or helping someone from their current status of being poor, we cannot help the whole world but at least reach out to your community and the one’s close to you. We don’t know how long this poor man been lying at the gate, but one thing for sure we cannot stay for more than a day at someone else’s gate. The death of the poor man climaxed the story to a sharp u-turn where the poor is now sitting in riches, with Father Abraham ascending towards the kingdom of the Almighty God. The same poor man that was lying at the gate begging and longing for the crumbs of the rich man, even though he was poor and helpless in the sight of men, he was a dive in spirit. At this point of the parable, God placed that poor man at the gate to see if this particular dive has a heart to reach out to the needy.The rich man was blinded by his wealth which turned his heart to stone. On the contrary, the rich man could not believe what he witnessed, he’s in torment and yet his heart is still stone cold. Calling out to Abraham to send the poor man to aid him from the heat of hell, let’s not confused this parable to some kind of procedure to heaven or hell, it is the essence of the parable that Jesus wanted the Pharisees to acknowledge. Again this is a parable, not a teaching passage to heaven or hell. It uses the concept of “Hades or Sheol, (the holding place of the dead which the rabbis said that was divided into a righteousness section called Paradise and a wicked section called Tartarus).”Abraham bosom is an idiom of the Jews welcoming mealin paradise. The idea of heaven and hell can assist the audience in what is negative and positive of the story. The rich man call upon Abraham to send Lazarus to his 5 brothers and let them know the condition his in, for he does not want them to end up in hell like him. The passage is clear, Abraham replies they have Moses and the prophets, if they’re not convinced than Lazarus cannot make them believe. Did we absorb anything vital from the parable? Or are we labeled as the dive that ignored all the signs of being considerate? Being here in this institution, challenges us with a lot of activities such as chores, sports, choir practice, sermons, classes and various fellowships. We can be easily distracted and lured away by being individual that focuses on his/her own gain in this seminary. We don’t want to be considered as the rich man that has a stone cold heart that does not concerned about the well-being of others but oneself. Jesus on the other hand is addressing this parable towards the Pharisees who trusts so confidently in their religious standards with God from the Old Testament. They are considered righteous in the eyes of the Jews in this context and it troubles them knowing that Jesus have more knowledge than them. I can imagine the Pharisees that were present in this scene, on how they took this parable, they were probably heated with rage wanting to put this want to be rabbi on a cross. In Luke we should understand the context, that the rich will stay rich and the poor will be oppressed and be helpless forever, that is the focus of the Doctor who many scholars claims that wrote this Gospel. He focus his writing to the people that are oppressed and live in poverty, by linking that context with our given parable, makes a lot of sense. The story depicts the cries of the people and how concerned the universality love of God is to all, not just a certain group of people but everybody rich poor, sick and in good health. Kananafou! Let this parable be a reminder to us in dealing with our peers and staff. Let go of our arrogance and ignorance against each other, let us not look at each other as enemies but as brothers and sisters in Christ, so that our hearts can be pure in the sight of God. Let the rich man’s request be a wake-up call for us, for it was not granted but we can utilize that request on our behalf, for we will not wait on the dead to come and tell us that the kingdom of God is real, open our hearts and minds to Moses and the prophets for they have been here ever since the beginning. Let us not look at our present pastors and laymen as a regular person, have faith in our leaders so that faith can grow; we tend to ignore the fact that they were ordained by our elder pastors who we entrusted that speaks and preaches the will of God. We need to look at them as Moses and the prophets of the present context. We need money I am not going to lie, but when we have no control over it, it can ruin our being; it can lead us straight to the dive that was taken to hell for being selfish and greedy. No question that we will not have all the riches if we give and provide for the needy and our neighbors, we might end up having nothing for ourselves to move forward as far as money, food, clothing etc. but like the parable, we probably poor in the flesh, but rich in the spirit and in our Lord’s sight. What is the use of having all the riches and wealth if you cannot spend it on a good cause!