Body and Blood of Christ

Dives and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, 'Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's  house-- for I have five brothers--that he may warn them, so that  they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' 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.'"

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Dives and Lazarus



f the Astute Manager (in its extended form 16:1-13) is to teach the disciples the proper use of money, Dives and Lazarus (16:19-31) is to point out to the Pharisees the danger in which they stand by selfishly hoarding their wealth (v 14) - Luke has Christian 'Pharisees' in mind. Dives (the man is anonymous; the traditional name comes from the Latin dives; rich man) was a worldling who did not look beyond the good things of this life (v 19). In sharp contrast is the crippled beggar Lazarus. He would have been glad to eat - if they had been offered to him - the pieces of bread on which the guests wiped their fingers and then dropped on the floor (vv 20-21). The rich man might (according to Luke's understanding of v 9) have made of Lazarus a friend to welcome him into the eternal habitations. It is important to observe that nowhere is it suggested that Dives' wealth is ill-gotten nor that Lazarus was his victim. The sin of Dives is that, cushioned by his lavish life-style, he was simply oblivious to the presence of a beggar at his gate. The contrast between the two in the next life is more pronounced - but they have exchanged roles.
 Jesus' story reflects the current development of the Jewish notion of Sheol (abode of the dead) in the wake of belief in resurrection and retribution after death. In this Jewish scenario reflected in vv 22-26, we are not given anything resembling a 'topography of hell.' Similarly, in the second part, the reaction of Dives is described from an ordinary point of view: his present sorry state had at last opened his eyes and he was understandably desirous that his brothers should escape his fate (vv 27-28). Abraham answered that the five, who evidently led much the same sort of life as their unhappy brother, have 'Moses and the prophets,' that is, the Old Testament. A text of Isaiah meets precisely the situation in question: what God asks of his people is 'to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him (Is 58:7). The man made one more bid (Lk 16:30). Surely, if Lazarus were to come back from the dead his brothers would at last be moved and repent. The reply is that a miracle will not help those who have made no use of the means God has put at their disposal.

Wilfrid  Harrington




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This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists


Unfolding the Story of jesus

Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries

Unfolding the story of jesus