Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

Parable of Rich Man and Lazarus


Jesus Christ Messiah-of-God.com

Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31


Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to illustrate the two points he just made, regarding 1) the love of money and 2) the "permanence" (permanent nature) of the law, in Luke 16:13-18.

Another parable that discusses a rich man is the Parable of the Rich Fool.


Context of Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus


In context, Jesus is talking to a large crowd of sinners, tax collectors, Pharisees, scribes, and his disciples, as seen in Luke 15:1-2. Before telling this parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus has told several other parables regarding redemption and money.

Jesus then says, "No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Luke 16:13)

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. (Luke 16:14) Jesus then says that they rationalize and defend their actions, but that God knows their hearts and "what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God." (Luke 16:15)

Wealth, physical appearances, status, etc. are all things prized by humans, but to God these things are abominations. Instead, God values humility, generosity, and the heart. In the kingdom of God, it is more important to desire approval from God, rather than desiring the approval of others.

Jesus then makes his point about the permanence of the law, saying the law is still in effect and "it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped." (Luke 16:16-17)

Jesus gives an example of a part of the law that will remain forever, regarding divorce and adultery (Luke 16:18), and then Jesus illustrates both of these points by telling this parable of the rich man and Lazarus.


Summary of Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus


Jesus begins by contrasting two different people: 1) a rich man who is dressed very nicely and eats very well each day, and 2) the poor man named Lazarus who is lying down at the rich man's gate. (Luke 16:19-20)

Lazarus is covered with sores, and Jesus illustrates his tragic condition by saying Lazarus longed to eat whatever fell from the rich man's table and even the dogs licked his sores. (Luke 16:21)


Both of these men die. Just as it was in life, there is again a huge contrast between them after death. The poor man is carried off by angels to be with Abraham, whereas the rich man is buried and ends up in Hades. (Luke 16:22-23)

While being tormented, the rich man calls out to Abraham and Lazarus, who can both be seen far away. The rich man says that he is tormented in flames and he wants Lazarus to dip even just the tip of his finger in water, in order to cool his tongue. (Luke 16:24)

Abraham responds to the rich man saying that he lived in great comfort while on earth, while Lazarus lived in agony, so now the opposite is true and Lazarus is comforted. (Luke 16:25) Abraham then tells him that no one can cross between the two places, because a great chasm separates them. (Luke 16:26)



The rich man then begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth, so that he can warn the rich man's brothers in hopes that they will not have to come to the place of torment that the rich man is in. (Luke 16:27-28) However, Abraham responds by saying that the rich man's five brothers already have Moses and the prophets, and that the brothers should listen to them. (Luke 16:29)

The rich man still insists that his brothers will repent if someone comes back from the dead, but Abraham responds that if the five brothers "do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (Luke 16:30-31)


Meaning of Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus


Based on the context of where this parable of the rich man and Lazarus is found, it is clear that Jesus is telling this parable to the Pharisees who are like the rich man.

Jesus has just been warning them about loving money, in Luke 16:13-15. In addition, Jesus contrasts their love of money to loving God, making the statement that the truth is that God's law is more permanent than even heaven and earth. It is for this reason, of illustrating these two points in a story, that Jesus tells this parable of the rich man and Lazarus.


In the parable, we can see how it turns out for those who love money and live well, while others remain poor and suffer. As Jesus tells the pharisees in Matthew 23:23, they love their money and neglect the important matters of the law, such as justice, mercy, and faith.

The story also illustrates how God has already warned everyone through Moses and all the prophets by: 1) giving us His law, and 2) Warning us to obey it through the prophets, as well as Jesus Christ and the apostles.

According to the story, this evidence of the law and prophets is sufficient enough that: 1) Those who would listen, do listen, and 2) Those who don't listen, wouldn't listen even if someone was raised from the dead.


Misunderstood Concepts in the Parable


The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a story, and Jesus' primary reason for telling this story is to illustrate his statements about loving money and the permanent nature of the law. Jesus is not telling this story to teach a theology on heaven and hell.

It is possible that Jesus uses truths about the afterlife in this story, but it is also equally possible that Jesus uses elements that his listeners would best understand, even if those elements do not accurately depict reality since Jesus Speaks in Figures of Speech.

If we read this passage and obtain some belief about heaven and hell, then we have missed Jesus' point. The real points are much more significant:

  • "You cannot serve God and wealth." (Luke 16:13)
  • "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter of the law to be dropped." (Luke 16:17)


God's Truth Taught in Stories


Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

God's truth taught in stories: Study the parables of Jesus in this easy-to-read 40 day devotional.

This devotional takes the unique approach of understanding Jesus' parables by examining the genre, scriptural context, and historical culture. Your life will be transformed by studying the parables of Jesus Christ.

Paperback | Kindle

Paypal/Debit/Credit (No Paypal account needed, simply select the "Pay with a debit or credit card")

Kobo | Nook




Share with Others



Go to previous parable: Dishonest Manager

Go to next parable: Master and the Servant



← Back to The Parables of Jesus Christ from Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Go to Messiah of God Home

Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ: Learn from the greatest teacher Jesus Christ. The gospel taught in stories.

Like and Share this Page

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. Does Science Argue For or Against God?

    Probability of the Universe Existing in Coin Flips: Flipping a coin has a 50/50 chance of heads vs tails. How many times do you think you could flip heads in a row with a 50/50 chance?

    Read More

  2. Man Finds Single Ominous Bible Page in Wildfire Aftermath

    Wildfires in Tennessee have temporarily displaced thousands of people fleeing from the destruction. Over 100 homes have been destroyed, as well as hotels and businesses. Thus far, seven people...

    Read More

  3. How to Obey God's Will

    Obeying God's will is actually more simple than it seems. The truth is that some actions are good (holy), some actions are bad (sinful), and the majority of actions are completely neutral...

    Read More

  4. Doubting After God Answers Your Prayers

    Having God answer your prayers can result in overwhelming feelings of joy, relief, and thankfulness. However, sometimes doubt of God's intervention can appear and begin to steal your confidence...

    Read More

  5. How to Prove God Exists

    For unbelievers, there are only a few ways to prove that God exists, depending on how willing they are to accept God's existence. For unbelievers who are...

    Read More


Comments
What do you think? Leave a comment below.