The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

It is very important to remember that this parable follows without any break whatsoever the previous parable, the Parable of the Unwise Manager. Thus, the context is still the same. In this one, Jesus is taking His message another step forward for His listeners who consist of the disciples, and Pharisees and teachers of the law. At the end of the last parable, the Pharisees sneered at Him, and then He mentioned their manipulation of the law concerning divorce and how they profited from it…

Lazarus was poor and destitute; he had nothing in this world other than severe hunger and sores. The rich man was loaded and lived the life of luxury and plenty. Lazarus begged at the rich man’s gate, but received nothing. As the story goes, they both died…

Lazarus was gathered to Abraham’s side, while the rich man went to torment. There was a great chasm between them, but the rich man could see Abraham and Lazarus in the distance; who was the beggar now? The upshot of the story is that there is no way to send aid to the tormented rich man, and Lazarus will not be going back from the dead to warn his brothers to change their ways. There is great justice in this, for the rich man had been blessed with much in his lifetime, and now felt the torment Lazarus had felt during his life; their roles had been reversed and the scales of justice were even. The rich man and his brothers had all been able to follow the teachings of Moses and the prophets (the Scriptures) but were living in negligent disregard of them. If they would not listen to the Scriptures, they won’t listen to anyone, and the brothers’ fates will be just like that of the rich man.

I must add that we should resist the temptation to take this as a teaching about heaven and hell, and thus miss the point. This is a parable, not a historical account; it is not a teaching about heaven and hell.

The rich man represents lovers of money and wealth, such as the Pharisees and teachers of the law. They might have a grand time in this life; wealth, position, power, influence and self-righteousness, but in the end they will come to ruin for their folly. As in the last parable, the very part the Pharisees sneered at, they refused to use the assets they had been given for God’s purposes. There were desperate needs all around them and they ignored those needs, and basked in luxury, which is to say that they could not be trusted with “little”.


About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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5 Responses to The Rich Man and Lazarus

  1. My book, LAZARUS: THE SAMARITAN, ends with this story. The entire novel of 450 pages is of Lazarus living through most of Jesus’ parables over 45 years of his life. It’s $3.99 on Amazon Kindle (I try to keep prices low).

  2. Steve B says:

    I disagree Don. Yes it is teaching about riches and loving your neighbour but Jesus used a real name which He never did in any other parable. Using a real name indicates there is more to that parable then meets the eye and guess what – it is a teaching about heaven and hell also.

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