Summary: Sermon to address the fact that the rich man and Lazarus is a parable
THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
A man was walking on the beach one afternoon kicking up the sand, discussed with
certain things. There on the beach was a bottle and as he walked he kicked the bottle into
the surf. POP>>>> Out of the bottle came a mysterious being... a Jeannie. “Because you
have freed me you are granted three wishes...but be advised that with each one your
mother-in-law will receive double what you ask for.”
Thinking seriously the man responded, “ I would like $10,000,000.”
“Granted and your mother-in-law will received twenty million.”
“Next wish”.....I would like 10 new cars, Corvettes, Ferrari, Vipers,
“Granted but you know your mother-in-law will receive 20 new cars.” Great.
“This is your last wish now so think about it seriously”.....
The man thought and thought and finally he responded, “I wish you would beat me half
Is the story true? Could it possibly take place? A silly little joke but many son-in-laws
might say Amen.
We laugh at the story line but in reality the little joke reveals a hidden truth about some
man at least...he really did not care for their mother-in-law. He who laughs the most
probably......I’ll just leave it at that.
Biblical parables are much the same way. They reveal hidden truths concerning the
Kingdom of Heaven, Judgment, behavior and/or Biblical principles. An interesting thing
about the Parables that Christ taught is the fact that what He often seeks to reveal is
masked. What might seem to be the obvious is not necessarily what Christ is saying.
In studying the parables of Jesus it is most important to follow sound principles of
interpretation, of which there are seven.
1) A parable is a mirror by which truth can be seen; it is not necessary truth itself
2) The context in which a parable is given---the place, circumstances, persons to whom it
is spoken, and the problem under discussion---must be taken into consideration and
made the key to interpretation.
3)Christ’s own introduction and conclusion to the parable generally make its fundamental purpose clear
4) Every parable illustrates at least one fundamental aspect of spiritual truth. The details
of the parable are significant only as they contribute to the clarification of that
particular point of truth.
5) Before the meaning of the parable in the spiritual realm can be understood it is
necessary to have a clear picture of the situation described in the parable, in terms of
the Oriental customs and modes of thought and expressions. Parables are vivid word
pictures that must be seen, so to speak, before they can be understood,
6) In view of the fundamental fact that a parable is given to illustrate truth, and usually
one particular truth, no doctrine may be based upon the incidental details of a parable.
7) The parable, in whole and in part, must be interpreted in terms of the truth it is
designed to teach as set forth in literal language in the immediate context and elsewhere
Over the long history of interpretation of parables three major images emerge which
describe the ways in which people have understood the rhetorical functioning of Jesus
parables. They are the CODE, VESSEL, and OBJECT OF ART.
1) The code: Some of the parables if allowed to control the reading process will lead us
to read them as allegories. We will find ourselves saying things like, “The tenants
represent Israel. The beloved son is Jesus” and so on. The figure of speech known as a
metaphor is used. A metaphor symbolizing something. While we must be careful to
avoid reading every parable this way, it is important to note that some parables are
constructed as codes, and these parables themselves steer us in this direction.. EX.
Sower., The Prodigal son.
2) Vessel: Other parables control the reading process by employing the dynamics of the
Simile...a figure of speech in which something we do not fully understand is said to be
like something we do understand. “ She is like a bird.” Does she fly...No. Does she eat
seed...probably not. Is she graceful perhaps. Does she sing like a bird...with
melody...maybe that is the meaning. The simile joins the known and the unknown in one
juncture. Jesus addressed the Kingdom parables this way. “The kingdom of heaven is
like....The response of the reader is “yes I see.”
3)Object of Art: If in the simile one says A is like B, a metaphor says A symbolizes B.
In an object of art parable the reader goes to the parable and is drawn into the story
expecting to experience the claim of the parable itself. The metaphor produces a shock
to the imagination which induces a new vision of the world. The reader of the object of