The Rich Man and Lazarus
Jesus was teaching his disciples about money when some Pharisees overheard the conversation. They began mocking his other worldly teaching on the matter because they loved money. Money has always been and will always be a way of life for people who try to assert their value to others through their wealth. Jesus continued to teach and the Pharisees continued to listen.
Shortly Jesus began telling a story about a rich man who had everything he could ever want in life. He lived a life full of luxury and even had a gated community all to himself but there was a problem. The rich man always dressing himself in the finest of clothes, would routinely ignore Lazarus just outside his gate. Lazarus suffered from the misfortune of being clothed in open sores brought on by a hard life. He was so pitiful that even dogs would come and lick his open wounds.
The rich man knew who Lazarus was but he had no need for him. Lazarus could not bring the rich man any sort of wealth or value for this life. To the rich man, Lazarus was not even worth giving leftover scraps from the dinner table. As Jesus continued to unfold this story, it was becoming obvious that Jesus was comparing the Pharisees and their love for money to the rich man.
What came next in the story must have changed the Pharisees outward sneers and jeers to flat out internal outrage. Both the rich man and Lazarus die. The rich man finds himself in Hades while Lazarus finds himself by Abraham’s side. It’s only when the rich man had lost everything and Lazarus had gained everything that Lazarus had any value to the man who found himself now in Hades.
But still, the rich man didn’t value Lazarus. He valued what Lazarus could do for him and his family. Let Lazarus give me something cold to drink while I sit here in anguish. Let Lazarus warn my family. Even Hades had not changed the rich man’s heart. The rich man, now a man with nothing, was still focused on what he could gain. The rich man did not apologize. He did not beg God for mercy. He did not turn from his ways. The man’s heart was truly a reflection of the uncrossable chasm between heaven and hell.
Jesus told this sad story about a man who was living life only for himself even after death. The saddest part of it all, it was more than just a story. It was and is a reflection of real people in real places whose highest life goal is to live only for themselves. Jesus was teaching his disciples that we don’t find our worth in money or possessions or titles. We find our true worth through the Gospel, the good news that money, possessions, or titles won’t stop Jesus from giving his life in exchange for ours. We find our true value in God’s love for us.
This is a retelling and storyline commentary from Luke 16:19-31.