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What solemn lessons can we learn from the Parable of Dives (the rich man) and Lazarus?

"Dives" is the Latin term for "rich man." (Luke 16:19-31)

Luke 16:19 - 31

ESV - 19 There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores.

Clarify Share Report Asked 3 days ago My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Scott Broberg Fig Tree Ministries
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a COMPLEX parable. 

We must first remember that is a parable. Parables are stories told to convey a difficult message. The story draws the listener in and engages them at a deeper level than simply delivering 'bad news' directly. Jesus loves to use parables to deliver difficult messages to those who oppose him. 

The use of a parable in story form allows the listener a process of "self-discovery" as they digest the story internally. 

The message of this parable is directed at the priests who are the religious leaders of Israel and who, at the time of Jesus, were wealthy and corrupt. Much of their wealth was gained at the expense of the people of Israel - the same people the Priests were supposed to be caring for. 

How do we know it is directed at the priests - and in particular - the High Priest at the time of Jesus, Caiphas? 

1. The rich man represents the wealthy priests. The priestly garments contained "purple" and "fine linen" - Exodus 28:5.

2. The High Priest and the temple priests were of the Sadducee sect of Judaism. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead in the afterlife: Acts 23:8. 

3. The name Lazarus is a first-century Greek variant of the Hebrew name Eliezer (see Hebrew scholar Tal Ilan, Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity). Eliezer was the gentile servant of Abraham who would have "inherited" all of Abrahams blessings (Genesis 15:2). 

4. To "recline at Abraham's side/bosom" is an expression that indicates you are the second guest of honor at the "end times" banquet (see Isaiah 25:6-8; Matthew 8:11-12; Luke 13:28-30). The disciple John was the second guest of honor next to Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23). 

- Jesus is indicating to the Priests that they will not take part in any inheritance of Abraham's descendants. Rather, the inheritance of Abraham's blessings is going to go to the gentiles - as represented by Lazarus/Eliezer. 

5. In Jesus' day there was a former High Priest (6 AD-15AD) - Annas - who was still hanging on to power through his sons - who all served as High Priest (Luke 3:2). Annas was like the "Godfather." Annas and his family were wealthy and corrupt. 

Caiaphas, who was the current High Priest, had FIVE BROTHERS. (Eleazer, Jonathan, Theophilus, Mattias, Annus). 
This is why Jesus includes the detail about "five brothers" (Luke 16:28). 

As I stated earlier, this is a complex parable. Jesus includes many details that would have been understood by his first-century audience. It is harder for us to recognize the details. 

The message is a warning to those in power - then it was the Sadducees - but we can apply this to any religious authority at any time that enriches themselves at the expense of the community they are supposed to be shepherding. 

If you hold religious authority - watch out how you wield your power. Do not enrich yourself at the expense of your flock or you will find yourself left out at the final banquet.

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