Friday 04 September 2015

Bible Book:

“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 listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (vv. 30-31)

Luke 16:19-31 Friday 4 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm 82


Today's parable raises an interesting question forus. The rich man (who is not named) ignores the suffering ofLazarus and lives in luxury while Lazarus suffers outside his gate.Jesus deliberately underlines how wealthy the rich man is incontrast to Lazarus. His clothing is the most opulent possible(verse 19); producing purple dye was difficult and time-consumingand so dying your clothing purple was regarded as a striking luxuryin the ancient world. According to Jesus this rich man ate dailywhat most people would consider to be a feast. Even in death therich man fares better. He receives a burial (which was a mark ofrespect) but we are not told the same for Lazarus (verses22-23).

Then they both die and, in a shocking reversal offortune, Lazarus is with Abraham while the rich man is tormented inHades. Almost more shockingly (this is a story and not meant togive us a literal picture of hell) Abraham and the rich man areable to see each other and talk together from their differentsituations. What we may miss is the way in which even when he is inhell, the rich man still assumes that he is worthy of specialprivileges (verse 24). He still refers to Abraham as "father" -compare this with John the Baptist's statement that only thosewhose lives reflect their repentance may do so (Luke3:8). He still wants his family to be treated differently, itis not enough that they (like all Jews) have Moses and the prophetsto tell them what God asks of them, his family should be granted amiracle to ensure they get the message. What is more, he wants tosend Lazarus as his messenger. Clearly, in his mind, Lazarus isstill less important than him and his family.

Even the great shock of ending up in hell has notcaused this man to fundamentally rethink his values. It is,perhaps, no wonder that Abraham argues that members of his familyare no more likely to change, even if they see a man risen from thedead.

To Ponder

  • The rich man cannot let go of his sense of privilege andrights. What does this say to us about how difficult human beingsfind it to change?
  • Looking back over your own life, was there something which didhelp you to see life differently, even let go of a sense ofprivilege? What was it and how did it help you?
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