The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

I have sometimes gone years at a time without watching a movie. I just don’t get the fascination with them, and I struggle terribly to sit still long enough to actually watch one. Beyond this, I especially don’t get the interest in horror movies and fictional, fantastical stories that are completely beyond reality … like anything to do with zombies.

But zombie stories have captured the interest of the public in recent years. Explaining this phenomenon is American horror fiction writer Julie Ann Dawson, who says …

There is a universal fascination with the living dead. There is more to a zombie story than a bunch of corpses attacking the living. The real power of such a story lies with the undercurrent of hopelessness compounded by a very real instinct to survive.

Wow, really? I would like to think that feelings of hopelessness and an instinct to survive would particularly draw a person to an interest in spiritual/biblical truths. It would be especially powerful if a person came back from the dead, right? Anyone who saw that would run to embrace the power making such a miracle possible … or would they?

Jesus says in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus that such a manifestation would not make the ultimate difference. Mankind now possesses the completed word of God, yet rejects its claims (that Scripture now telling the story of one who rose from the dead and offers life to others). Christ says that if the written testimony is rejected, so too would be someone back from the dead.

It is more than coincidental that it is the raising of an undeniably dead man named Lazarus that becomes the final straw turning point for the Jewish leadership to seek to eliminate Jesus. I am always amazed in that story as to how the religious types of that day simply blow right past this reality before their eyes. But it demonstrates the depth of their disbelief and rebellion, along with their determination to hold onto the system of the world that supported them on the top rung.

Disbelief runs deep in the human heart, along with the aforementioned hopelessness and survival instinct. We are vessels for God to use to point this out to lost people, but this passage along with a myriad of other Scriptures illustrate again that it takes a work of God in a human heart to soften the calluses of sin and turn the internal human lights on to see eternal truth.

Luke 16:19 – “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 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.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

One thought on “The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)

  1. I agree with you that “It is It is more than coincidental that it is the raising of an undeniably dead man named Lazarus…”

    Although I had the timing mixed up in my head, until now, I figured that since this is the only parable that Jesus taught that I can think of that uses an actual name instead of a generic description, that Jesus used his name in a parable about hell to make the relatively rich Pharisees think twice before carrying out a future murder against Lazarus.

    Possibly supporting my idea is that Jesus said or quoted something saying “I lost none of those you gave me [except Judas].”

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