The Rich Man And Lazarus Essay
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The rich man and Lazarus
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Jesus uses this parable to stress the evils of wealth, particularly towards the Pharisees who believed that riches bought righteousness. Patrick Hogan believes this parable is a statement that the very life of wealth is damnable, and that the poor deserve to be raised up. He believes the parable is a harsh condemnation of those who perpetuate a system of wealth and poverty. In this dialogue, Plato is describing a cave and the elements of the place, which closely parallel the rich man and Lazarus parable. Plato mentions a fire burning, the recognition and sight of each place-heaven and hell, he also describes the cave as a prison, and he continues the journey through the cave describing and instructing Gluacon as to the philosophies of life.
This parable is separated into two themes, verse nineteen through twenty-six and verse twenty-seven through thirty-one. The first theme contains two main characters, the rich man and Lazarus, and their subsequent deaths. Upon their death, the rich man knows who was righteous and who was not. The second theme is about the after life. This section speaks of Moses and Abraham, and perhaps as if looking into the future, Jesus speaks of a resurrection.
The setting and audience for this parable is important to understanding the first theme of the parable. This parable comes right after a parable about an unjust steward and how you cannot serve two masters, you are either righteous or you are not. In the rich man and Lazarus parable, Jesus speaks to the Pharisees concerning their love of money. In fact, throughout his ministry, he constantly warned of evil following wealth. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites in the New Testament, and stated they had more care and concern for their livestock than human beings who were suffering. The Pharisees believed that riches meant righteousness. The poor were sinful and wicked.
When Lazarus had lain at the rich mans gate, the rich man gave no thought or concern for the possible lame wicked beggar. The Pharisees belief was because they could physically connect themselves to Abraham, they were guaranteed entrance to heaven. Jesus meant to show them there is only one way to enter the gates of heaven. It is not for certain if the rich man is indeed a Pharisee, although the audience of the parable was the disciples and the Pharisees at the time. In the parable, the rich man broke the rule about loving thy neighbor as Jesus taught in the parable about the Good Samaritan.
In Micah chapter six, verse eight it tells what it means to be good-to do justly and to love mercy. The rich man showed Lazarus no mercy and did him no justice leaving him out on his gate steps with the dogs licking his sores. The rich man rejected the truth about Jesus and about the prophecies being fulfilled as he walked the earth, no riches could save him from his denial of the truth. The name of the beggar Jesus used in the parable has brought about some questions as to whether this is a parable or a real story. Critics of the passage being considered a parable argue that in no other parable is a real person named as a character. He had a soul and a body that is full of the grace of God and not burning in eternal flames, and the rich man was separated from his earthly body and did not have God therefore, there is no mention of his name.
The Lazarus in this parable however, is not the Lazarus of Bethany that was raised from the dead in John. This Lazarus was poor, a beggar and possibly lamed and diseased. There may be truth to the fact Jesus was calling attention to the fact he knew he would raise a man name Lazarus from the dead. Knowing that Jesus is an all-knowing God, he would know that a few years later he would in fact raise Lazarus from the dead, but even then, the Pharisees would still not recognize him as the messiah. The rich man wants Abraham to send one from the dead to his brothers, but does not mention whom Abraham should send.
Abraham replies to the rich man, stating if he did not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead. The fact that the rich man prays to Abraham to save him shows the Pharisees misguided reverence to God . Abraham answered the rich mans prayers in verse twenty-five, although he was in Hades and had not yet received his reward for his faith. This shows the truth in the statement of Jesus in verse fifteen, where Jesus says they, ;Justify yourselves before men. So, of course, we should expect to learn new things, even about old books, like the Bible. Now there was a certain rich man , and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. Five verses before the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man, we see religious leaders being identified with greed and interpreting the story of the Unjust Steward as hostile to them. Greed and religious status are linked. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money , were listening to all these things , [Parable of the Unjust Steward, JB] and they were scoffing at Him.
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. Now there was a certain rich man , and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen , gaily living in splendor every day. Verse 19 emphases mine. If purple and fine linen seem familiar to you, it might be because those exact words are used to describe what the high priest was to wear according to the Torah:. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.
And they shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet material and the fine linen. They shall also make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen , …— Exodus —6 emphases mine. Of course, the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Greek, so the way to match up the words is to look at the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament made by a group of seventy rabbis known as the Septuagint.
The words used to describe purple and fine linen in the Greek New Testament are exactly the same words used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament when describing the garments of the high priest. Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. But you shall seek the Lord at the place which the LORD your God shall choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. And there you shall bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first-born of your herd and of your flock.
And at that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores,… Verse 20 emphasis mine. The Greek word there is twice used elsewhere in the New Testament for the entryway to a temple. First to the temple itself:. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates , and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.