“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16:19-21
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Although the author of this quote is debated, it may well fit the rich man in Jesus’ parable found in Luke 16: 19-31. Lazarus was a beggar, living in poverty outside the gates of a man who lived in opulent luxury. Lazarus was helpless, covered sores and so weak that he couldn’t prevent wild dogs from pestering him. Of course, the story takes a dramatic reversal upon death of both. Lazarus found himself being comforted in Abraham’s arms while the rich man ended up in hell. (Ok, so Jesus says, “hades” which is a different place altogether- I’ll explain Sunday).
It’s interesting to note that the rich man did not seem to be evil. He didn’t order Lazarus to be cast out, he allowed the beggar to eat his leftovers, he wasn’t cruel to Lazarus, nor did we abuse or hurt him in any way.
So what sin did this wealthy, one percent, upstanding citizen commit to send him to a place of torment? It must have less to do with what he did to poor Lazarus, and much more about what he did not do. His was the punishment of one who never noticed.
“Come on Jesus, this seems a bit extreme!” But it gets worse. To make this parable even more difficult to digest Father Abraham refused the rich man’s request to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers.
So, is this a story about what happens when we die or what do we do while we live? What’s a poor preacher to do with this strange parable and it’s dire warning of hell? Well, I hope to have you some kind of an answer by Sunday, so you’ll just need to ….
Come and see,