Luke 16.19->

“There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen; and who feasted sumptuously every day.

“And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.

“The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things; and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, where I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them!’

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

“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead..”

2 responses

  1. This is a very popular story!!! Maybe it shouldn't be popular (or not with us) but there's something about it that appeals to our sense of poetic… fairness? Despite that nagging awareness that we aren't about to empty our pockets trying to feed all the Lazari of the world…William Herzog: "How did a beggar like Lazarus come into such desperate straits? There is a familiar social script behind the parable. The Lazaruses of Galilee and Judea most likely began their lives as the third or fourth son of a peasant family. When they reached the age where they began to consume more than they could produce, they were turned loose on the streets to become day laborers. Day laborers lived just at or below the threshold of survival, dying slowly from the complications of malnutrition. When a day laborer, like Lazarus most likely had been, scratched or cut himself, his wounds would not heal, and he became like a leper, unclean and likely to transmit his uncleanness to others. This left begging as his last resort, but begging left one more destitute than working as a day laborer. So beggars ended up like Lazarus, too weak to move. He was too weak to fight off the random street curs who licked his open sores. Lazarus lay down at the gate of a rich man's house to eat the garbage thrown into the streets for the beggars and dogs to fight over…"The beggar has a name, Lazarus, which means, somewhat ironically, 'Yahweh helps'… In fact, J. Duncan M. Derrett has argued that Lazarus is actually Abraham's steward, Eliezer. According to rabbinic tradition, Abraham would, from time to time, send his steward among his people to see how well they were fulfilling their obligations to show hospitality."[rearranging Herzog's order]: "It is important not to identify Hades with the Heaven and Hell of later Christianity. Hades is the place where all the dead go, rich and poor alike. But the geography of Hades is still important, for the rich man resides in torment in flames while Lazarus reclines on Abraham's bosom like the honored guest at a banquet."Both, as Herzog says, are children of Abraham. But Dives doesn't see the kinship. He doesn't ask Abraham to come fetch him water– but to order Lazarus to do it. This illustrates the great divide which Dives imagines to exist between himself and his destitute brother. He wants Abraham to send Lazarus on an errand to his brothers, worshiping mammon diligently on Earth, lest they come to the same torment. But they didn't see Lazarus when he was there before, why now? Abraham tells him that Moses and the prophets should tell his brothers all they need to know."The rich lend a deaf ear that utterly fails to hear the prophetic words of Moses and the Torah. The family who claims Abraham and Sarah as honorable ancestors has been fragmented and broken… By providing a view from the afterlife, Jesus comments on what is needed to heal the present, namely, a new reading of Moses and the prophets. This may be, in part, what Jesus means when he speaks of fulfilling the Law and the prophets, not abolishing them."

  2. Wright likewise reads this story as commentary on a fragmented Israel."The parable is not, as commonly supposed, a description of the afterlife, warning people to be sure of their ultimate destination…."The welcome of Lazarus by Abraham evokes the welcome of the prodigal son by the father, and with much the same point. The heavenly reality, in which the poor and outcast would be welcomed into Abraham's bosom (as everyone would know from the folk-tale) was coming true in flesh and blood as Jesus welcomed the outcasts, just as the father's welcome to the returning son was a story about what Jesus was doing then and there… Jesus' welcome of the poor and outcast was a sign that the real return from exile, the new age, the 'resurrection', was coming into being; and those who wanted to belong to it would (as in Deuteronomyand Jeremiah) have to repent… The story takes for granted that the poor and outcast were rightly being welcomed into the kingdom, and it turns the spotlight on the rich, the Pharisees, the grumblers… They were refused the extra revelation of someone coming to them from the dead; the message of repentance was clear enough in Moses and the prophets."———What strikes me as wonderfully ironic: "If they do not hear Moses and theprophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."Jesus says this. Who sees Jesus rise from the dead?– Who is this a sign for? Paul speaks ofseveral hundred witnesses at one appearance… Not all Israel, not even close.Pilate and the High Priests don't rate a visit. It evidently wouldn't have helped.Herod is said, in some gospels, to wonder whether Jesus might be John 'returned from the dead.' He doesn't repent, would just as soon kill this inconvenient prophet a second time.For people who wanted reassurance that Jesus had not been forsaken, but rathervindicated by God– rising from the dead could be a useful sign.—And for us? If someone should rise from the dead, would we believe, and do anything at all differently?How much of the wild and crazy Truth can we find room for?

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