I’ve been reading through and thinking about the story Jesus tells in Luke 16:19-31. It’s commonly known as “The Rich Man and Lazarus.” It’s a story about…a rich man and a guy named Lazarus. Gotta work on better titles for Jesus’ stories.
Lazarus was a poor, disease ridden beggar who stationed himself right at the edge of the rich (unnamed) man’s driveway. In a strange turn of events, they both kick the bucket. Angels deliver Lazarus first-class into Abraham’s side (the word “bosom” makes me uncomfortable). But the rich man was simply “buried.” Guess he had to take a ride in coach for the first time ever. The rich guy wakes up in Hades.
Upon waking up, the rich guy set about doing one thing rich people do really well – he started complaining. It’s hot. I’m thirsty. Send someone to serve me right away.
It takes him some time, and a stern lecture from “Father” Abraham, but the rich man finally realizes his fate. He had enjoyed all the comforts of his earthly life by stepping all over people like Lazarus. Now it’s his turn to suffer. This realization hits him in waves.
Then he poses another request: “Send Lazarus back to my brothers to warn them not to do what I did.” Noble enough.
But Abraham’s response is the final burst of the bubble. “They have Moses and the Prophets to listen to. If they won’t believe them, then they won’t believe even if someone is raised from the dead.”
(Insert creepy Twilight Zone music here.)
But in a strange, roundabout way, the warning is made, the request fulfilled. Sure, it’s doubtful that the rich man’s brothers were in the audience when Jesus was telling this story, yet the warning was issued to all those who would listen. Jesus is playing the part of Lazarus, and we’re all brothers of the rich guy.
Hear the warning from beyond the grave: Don’t love the comforts of this world so much that you become blind to those who are perpetually uncomfortable.