Summary: Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to show that being rich should not be equated with being righteous. The rich man had everything he wanted. But he didn’t have what would get him to heaven.
LUKE 16: 19-31 [PARABLES IN LUKE]
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
[John 11:45-53; 12:10-11]
After challenging the pharisees and scribes Jesus told the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to show that being rich should not be equated with being righteous. The rich man had everything he wanted. But he didn’t have what would get him to heaven. [This parable further illustrates the point made in the previous about the money manager about preparing for the future here and now.]
The parable is about two contrasting individuals. One material possession and the other served God in this life (16:13). It depicts the permanent reality of the hereafter in contrast to the temporary present.
The details in the story are colorful and the contrast is sharp. For the rich man earthly life is a daily feast. For the poor man, clothed in running sores, who lies among the dogs, life is torturous. Both die but only the rich man is buried. In eternity their roles reverse and the outcome is unalterable.
[The second parable raises the question of stewardship versus entitlement. We are in a time in America where we all think we are entitled. Charles W. Bray III as Deputy Director of the U.S. Internal Communication Agency, wrote something perceptive about entitlement in Quote magazine (Jan. 15, 1981). “We have come to a time where we say, ‘You deserve a break today.’ Too many of us believe that. If we’re poor, we deserve welfare; if we’re rich, we deserve a tax break; if we are workers, we deserve better fringe benefits; if we own Chrysler or GM, we deserve a bail-out; if we are a special interest, we deserve a special hearing.”
The Pharisees thought they were entitled. They had the strange idea that money was deserved. Money was a sign that they were blessed by God, and poverty was the result of God’s curse. Jesus repudiates that whole idea. [Larson, Bruce, The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 26: Luke. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1983, S. 244.] All of us are stewards of what we have, and we are to use it to bless, to bring life, to bring health, to bring hope and to bring salvation to others (CIT).
Let’s use the following outline to help us work our way through Jesus’ story.
I. A SUMMATION OF TWO LIVES, 19-21.
II. A TRANSITION TO THE NEXT LIFE, 22-23.
III. TWO DESTINATIONS IN DEATH, 24-26.
IV. A PLEA FOR GREATER PERSUASION, 27-31.
The parable begins in verse 19 by contrasting two lives. “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.
Both the clothing, made of purple cloth, and the fine linen, worn for underclothes, were expensive. Both are indicative of opulence in antiquity. For the rich man, dressed in robes of royalty and fine Egyptian undergarments, life is a daily feast and party. He is a picture of a rich, indulgent, care-free lifestyle.
In verse 20 a poor man was daily laid just outside the rich man’s gate. “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,