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Summary: THE ACCOUNT OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS HAS BEEN A POINT OF GREAT DEBATE IN CHRISTIAN CIRCLES FOR A LONG TIME. A GREAT PART OF THE DEBATE HAS RESULTED AROUND OUR TEACHING ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL,

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LESSONS FROM LAZARUS

THE ACCOUNT OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS HAS BEEN A POINT OF GREAT DEBATE IN CHRISTIAN CIRCLES FOR A LONG TIME. PART OF THE DEBATE HAS RESULTED AROUND OUR TEACHING ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL, AND PART HAS RESULTED IN DETERMINING THE LITERARY STYLE THAT LUKE WAS USING IN THIS ACCOUNT.

WE ARE GOING TO START BY LOOKING AT THE LITERARY STYLE AS THIS WILL HELP US TO DETERMINE THE MEANING JESUS WANTS US TO HAVE FROM THIS ACCOUNT.

THE ACCOUNT OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS IS A PARABLE, THE LAST OF A SERIES OF FOUR THAT LUKE RECORDS BEGINNING IN CHAPTER 15. THE MAIN THEME OF THESE PARABLES CAN BE SUMMED UP IN LUKE 16:13 WHERE LUKE WRITES:

LUKE 16:13: “NO ONE CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS. EITHER YOU WILL HATE THE ONE AND LOVE THE OTHER, OR YOU WILL BE DEVOTED TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER.

JESUS IS USING THESE PARABLES TO SHOW US THAT WE MUST MAKE A DECISION IN OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES. WE MUST EITHER CHOOSE TO FOLLOW CHRIST, OR WE CHOOSE TO FOLLOW SATAN. WE CANNOT CHOOSE BOTH. JESUS CONTINUES THIS THEME IN THIS ACCOUNT.

THIS ACCOUNT HAS THE DEFINITIVE CHARACTERISTIC IDENTIFYING IT AS A PARABLE IN THAT IT DOES NOT IDENTIFY THE RICH MAN, BUT IT IS ALSO CONFUSING IN THAT IT IS THE ONLY PARABLE IN THE BIBLE THAT IDENTIFIES ONE OF THE CHARACTERS IN MENTIONING LAZARUS’ NAME.

JESUS OFTEN USED PARABLES TO ILLUSTRATE A POINT THAT HE WAS MAKING. A PARABLE IS A FICTICIOUS STORY WITH A LIFE LESSON OR LESSONS TAUGHT THROUGH IT.

SOMETIMES WHEN WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE A POINT, WE WILL TELL A STORY TO ILLUSTRATE, USUSALLY USING SOME ASPECT OF THE PERSONS LIFE THAT THEY CAN RELATE TO. IF JESUS WAS TALKING TO FISHERMEN, HE WOULD ASK PEOPLE IF THEY WANTED TO BE “FISHERS OF MEN.”

SO WHAT LESSONS DOES JESUS WISH TO TEACH US IN THIS PARABLE? I HAVE NOTICED THREE THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU.

1. LESSONS ABOUT DEATH

2. LESSONS ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL

3. THE NECESSITY TO BE PREPARED FOR DEATH IN THIS LIFETIME

POINT ONE: LESSONS ABOUT DEATH

JESUS USES THIS PARABLE TO TEACH US THAT DEATH IS A UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE. IT WILL HAPPEN TO ALL OF US, SAVE FOR THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH, WHEN ALL CHRISTIANS WILL BE TRANSFORMED AND TAKEN INTO THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST.

1 THESSALONIANS 4:15-18:

ACCORDING TO THE LORD’S WORD, WE TELL YOU THAT WE WHO ARE STILL ALIVE, WHO ARE LEFT UNTIL THE COMING OF THE LORD, WILL CERTAINLY NOT PRECEDE THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP. 16 FOR THE LORD HIMSELF WILL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, WITH A LOUD COMMAND, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL AND WITH THE TRUMPET CALL OF GOD, AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST. 17 AFTER THAT, WE WHO ARE STILL ALIVE AND ARE LEFT WILL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR. AND SO WE WILL BE WITH THE LORD FOREVER

AT THIS POINT WE WILL HAVE OUR ETERNAL BODIES, THAT ARE NOT TAINTED BY SIN. THIS RESURRECTION IS ONLY FOR BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS.

OUR PARABLE SPEAKS OF TWO MEN.

THE FIRST IS A RICH MAN WHO IS UNIDENTIFIED. HIS DRESS INDICATES THAT HE IS WEALTHY, POSSIBLY ROYALTY, AS HE IS DRESSED IN “PURPLE AND FINE LINEN.”

THE COLOR “PURPLE” WAS A DYE THAT CAME FROM A SPECIES OF FISH CALLED “THE PRUPLE FISH”, A SPECIES OF MUSSEL THAT WAS VERY COMMON IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA. IT WAS VERY COSTLY TO PRODUCE AND SO WAS ONLY NUSED FOR THE WEALTY OR ROYALTY.

THE PURPLE WAS A DEEP COLOR OF THREE SHADES.

1. A DEEP VIOLET

2. A DEEP SCARLET OR CRIMSON

3. THE DEEP BLUE OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

THIS IS THE COLOR THAT THE PROPHET ISAIAH SPOKE OF WHEN HE SAID:

ISAIAH 1:18: COME NOW, LET US SETTLE THE MATTER,” SAYS THE LORD. “THOUGH YOUR SINS ARE LIKE SCARLET, THEY SHALL BE AS WHITE AS SNOW; THOUGH THEY ARE RED AS CRIMSON, THEY SHALL BE LIKE WOOL.

THE FINE LINEN PROBABLY CAME FROM EGYPT. IT WAS EXTREMELY SOFT AND HAD THE TEXTURE OF SILK. IT WAS SOMETIMES CALLED “WOVEN AIR.”

WHAT A GREAT CONTRAST BETWEEN THE RICH MAN AND THE SECOND CHARACTER OF OUR ACCOUNT. LAZARUS WAS A NAME THAT CAME FROM THE NAME “ELEAZER” WHICH MEANS “GOD IS HELP.”

LAZARUS WAS A PERSON WHO REALLY NEEDED GOD’S HELP. VERSE 20 SAYS HE “WAS LAID” AT THE GATE, BUT THIS IS NOT A GOOD TRANSLATION. THE GREEK READS THAT HE WAS BASICALLY THROWN DOWN AT THE GATE BY HIS BEARERS, MUCH LIKE YOU WOULD DO WITH TRASH, AND LEFT THERE TO BEG.

LAZARUS HAD SORES OR ULTSERS ALL OVER HIS BODY. THEY WERE EXTREMELY PAINFUL, AND VERY DIFFICULT TO GET RID OF ONCE YOU HAD THEM. THEY WOULD OFTEN BECOME INFECTED.

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