Luke 16.19 There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
John Gill's Expositor has the following to say about verse 19:
**************************************************** "Ver. 19. There was a certain rich man, &c.] In Beza's most ancient copy, and in another manuscript of his it is read by way of preface, 'he said also another parable': which shows, that this is not a history of matter of fact, or an historical account of two such persons, as the "rich" man and the beggar, who had lately lived at Jerusalem;..." ****************************************************
Whether this is or is not a parable, one expects, and rightly, that The Messiah would have never lied about anything in principle or otherwise. However, to call a legitimate tool of the language a lie is not correct either. According to the definition of <parable>, it is: A simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson. In other words, in order to illustrate a principle, a story is created to fit the circumstances.
Beginning with chapter 16 of Luke, The Messiah is giving a series of parables that have to do with money, riches, etc. The parable of the unjust steward: the proper use of money; In verse 14, Yhashua begins to rebuke greed; then in verse 19 He gives the story of the Rich man and Lazarus.
It is not considered a lie, in a parable to create a simple story for purposes of illustration. This is only a language tool to get- across a lesson. In addition, a parable was not given to cover many different doctrines, rather, a simple lesson. Of course, there should be nothing in the story to contradict the truth in any case.
If we accept this to be a parable, we see a rich man who was doing quite well. In fact, he had need of nothing, or so he thought!
Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
Why did The Messiah name this poor man <Lazarus> in His parable? The definition of Lazarus given below is revealing:
Lazarus = "whom God helps" (a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar) 1) an inhabitant of Bethany, beloved by Christ and raised from the dead by him 2) a very poor and wretched person to whom Jesus referred to in Luke 16:20-25 ****************************************************
Lazarus = "whom God helps". Right away, the Pharisees would make the following connection: The Rich Man, of whom they were a type, had need of nothing and yet they would not help "whom God helps". Here the Pharisees are shown in the light of disagreeing with God in their life view. God is helping this poor human being but they disdain him. What an indictment this is against the Pharisees. No wonder they hated the Master.
Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man's table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.
This beggar man was what we would call today, a street person who had become terminally ill. He had nothing. He saw a means of existence outside the home of the rich man. If the rich man obliged the poor beggar, he no doubt felt he had done his duty by throwing him the scraps from his table. Perhaps he felt he was being more than righteous for giving this man an existence, as this poor man was doing nothing to earn the scraps that came from his table. Moreover, was the rich man not allowing this man to sit outside his gate? He could have had him hauled away, but he did not stoop that low. It could have been the rich man's dogs, which used their antiseptic tongues to lick the man's sores.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
In time, probably because of his sickness, the beggar died. The rich man also died. By analogy (another language tool, which we must conclude is being used if a statement seems to be contrary to known specifics) in the story, the beggar was "helped by God" while the rich man was just buried.
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
We now come to the part of the story where the rich man is resurrected. Of course, this is all an analogy, otherwise the resurrection has already taken place and we are all lost, or will not have a chance, or the whole thing is a lie to begin with. This also helps us to see that we are dealing with a parable. In the story, there is Lazarus "whom God helps" perhaps leaning on Abraham's breast. Obviously, Abraham and Lazarus had already been resurrected, in this part of the story, ahead of the rich man – and they have developed a close relationship. That would seem to fit what we understand in this connection with the resurrections. In other words, Lazarus would have been raised in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the righteous, and the rich man, in another resurrection. The rich man is tormented because he realizes the doom that is upon him.
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Seeing Lazarus now in close association with Abraham, and considering that he (the rich man) had in his lifetime given (allowed) Lazarus a place to stay (at <his> gate) and perhaps food (crumbs) to eat he appealed to Abraham that he would send Lazarus to cool his tongue with a drop of water. The rich man begged for a drop of water and had no scruples at receiving it from the tip of Lazarus’ finger. What he gave Lazarus would surely be worth a few drops of water. Here The Messiah is relating the shocking difference in the rich man's plight in this part of the story and the immensely different plight of Lazarus, the one “whom God helped”. It is obvious that we are reading a parable because, how would the rich man know that this was Abraham. In addition, it would be difficult for the rich man to recognize Lazarus who had been an emaciated pile of bones and flesh, full of sores and now a glorified body. The difference would have been appalling. However, in a parable, one does not concentrate on the details of the story for the story's sake, but the overall lesson being given. This part of the story is showing that the roles of these two men have changed. The rich man was without need of help before and Lazarus was in a crisis. Now, Lazarus is without need and the rich man is in a crisis. In effect, Yahshua is giving a warning to the Pharisees that their state in life could quickly change therefore they should not be so smug and looking down on others.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
In the story, Abraham is stating the change of roles for the two characters. By using Abraham as this character of the story, The Messiah got the attention of the Pharisees fast, because they considered themselves the sons of Abraham. Their ears, no doubt, perked up when they heard Abraham speaking in the parable.
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
In the story, Yahshua is now creating a situation that one needs to live his life correctly today, not wait until the next life to make amends. This verse shows that it was impossible for Lazarus to do the rich man's bidding because of the circumstances. This turns the story in such a way that the rest of the story will bring out what The Master had in mind for His audience. Of course, what Yahshua said here would be true. There is a vast gulf between the righteous spirit being and the pathetic unrighteous human being.
Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
In the above two verses, we see the rich man in his torment trying to reach out to others. He feels lost himself, so at last, though he did not reach out to others before, he now sees this as his only possible last wish before he dies. To think that the rich man is taking in the whole scene and realizing where he is in time is not rational. In his thinking, a moment ago he was rich and had need of nothing. Now he is as good as dead, but his brothers are still alive. He wants to save them from this place, if possible.
Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
For those hearing the story, the purpose of the lesson is always in the present – to see if we can figure out what principle of wisdom is being expounded. In essence, what The Messiah was saying here is, "You (Pharisees) have Moses and the prophets and therefore no excuse for your approach to life.” This is a part of the meaning of the lesson.
Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
In the story, the rich man argues to the contrary, but through the mouth of Abraham, whom the Pharisees would believe, Yahshua is showing the hopelessness of the rich man's (a type of the Pharisees) future. They could not see the truth even if miracles were performed to try to convince them.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man is given to show that no matter how much we think we have it made in this life, there is another life to come in which we can loose it all and wind up a pathetic mess, even loosing our life. We are to understand that riches cannot take the place of righteousness (living our lives in the right way). We need to give and it will be given to us. Look out for our fellow man as we have opportunity, not look down on him. We need to realize that those who know our destiny have only this one chance for life. There will be no possibility for a "recall to life" in the future if we blow it in this life.
In understanding parables, we have to focus on the lesson of the parable, rather than looking at it as though it is history. A parable is a story that is created specifically to explain something which needs explaining now. Perhaps, as in this case, a wrong attitude needs to be brought to the attention of the hearer. Undoubtedly there are other lessons that can be drawn from this parable, but perhaps we have brought out the most obvious ones. The End Home