Daily Reading: (Luke 16:22-24):
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
“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).
Did you catch that last part? There was a beggar who was in need. His name is Lazarus (not to be confused with Jesus’ friend who He raised from the dead). I imagine where he slept and had his meals he encountered a lot of stray dogs. Have you ever met a dog before that liked to lick you? While Lazarus was ill-treated by man, the dogs showed kindness to him by licking the wounds on his body to help promote healing and reduce pain.
Jesus does a remarkable job of drawing us into the story of a man who is suffering and another who is extremely wealthy “dressed in purple”, the most expensive dye.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 19:22-24).
No matter how much you have there will be a time when death will come for all of us, except for the Rapture, but even then we are separated from our physical bodies. Jesus shows that the beggar is being carried by the angels whereas the rich man ends up in Hades. What is the message Jesus is trying to send? The message is that the blessings Israel had enjoyed in the Old Covenant are for all people moving into the New Covenant. The reason we know this is because we have to ask what do the two characters represent in this parable?
The rich man must be Jewish as “he called to him ‘Father Abraham”. Only a Jewish person would have referred to Abraham in this way. The rich man in the story represents the nation of Israel (Luke 16:24). The nation of Israel had enjoyed dining at the table of the Lord’s abundance. Israel had been blessed because of God’s gracious promises to Abraham.
Abraham in his name reveals who he is. Genesis 17:5: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a “father of many nations” have I made thee.” Abraham would be the father of many nations or as Paul put it in Romans 4:16, “the father of all who believe.”
Now, Lazarus represents the Gentiles who longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table.This should bring our minds to another story with Jesus and a Gentile Caananite woman. “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”
Like the rich man, the nation of Israel had also received good things from the blessings promised to Abraham but they did not receive Jesus. In the story the rich man doesn’t have a name, why is that? The poor beggar is clearly known and Jesus calls him by his name, Lazarus. The reason Jesus does not say the rich man’s name is because he is one to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from me I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). The rich man is not lost because he was stingy with his wealth, he’s lost because he doesn’t know Jesus.
Why does Lazarus end up in a good place? Is it just because he is poor and suffered in life? Jesus provides clues as to why Lazarus’ fate is different. What did Lazarus do or say in the parable? Nothing. He did not say or do anything that would tell us why he was carried by angels. However, his name tells us the whole story, Lazarus means “God has helped”.
Lazarus was found at Abraham’s side, but better yet we will be with Jesus. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).