THE RICH MAN & LAZARUS
I. Background of the Parable
a. In the midst of a crowd, Lk 15:1-2, 16:1, Jesus has just taught his disciples to act shrewdly. The details are in Lesson 6.
b. The Pharisees, who Luke says are lovers of money, were listening to this lesson and scoffing at Jesus’ teachings, Lk 16:14.
c. Jesus then said the Pharisees’ problem is that they like to justify themselves in front of people, Lk 16:15.
2. Definitions/Cultural Insights
a. Scoffing: literally, to turn up the nose at; hence an intense form of mocking, Lk 23:35.
b. Justify: to deem or show to be right or righteous, Lk 18:14.
c. Highly esteemed: literally, high, lofty, elevated; highly exalted, Heb 1:3.
d. Detestable: denotes an object of disgust, an abomination, Mt 24:15.
II. Understanding the Parable
1. Dramatic contrasts between the lives on earth of the rich man and Lazarus are briefly shown, :19-21.
a. Rich man - fine clothes, joyful, splendid living, feasting implied, :19.
b. Lazarus - covered with sores, no food, dogs for friends and medical help, :20.
2. Death takes all, poor and rich, but even the “taking” is contrasted, :22.
a. Rich man - died and buried.
b. Lazarus - carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.
3. The 2 men’s “after-life” is as different as their earthly life, :23-25.
a. Rich man - torment, agony, flame.
b. Lazarus - being comforted.
4. The gate separated
the rich man and Lazarus in life, so the chasm separated them
in the after-life, :20, 26.
5. Too late… the rich man learned that people can change their eternal ending by changing the way they live, repent, :30;
and that how to live (caring for the poor) is found in the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, 31. Hopefully, his brothers,
and the Pharisees will not be so slow to listen and learn.
III. Consideration and Application of the Parable
1. Listen & Respond… repent if necessary
We need to listen and respond to God’s spokesmen - Jesus, Heb 1:1 and His messengers, Mt 28:19-20. The rich man
refused to listen to God’s prophets, especially regarding care for the needy. Are you listening to God’s message or
waiting for some spectacular sign to “show “ you the way, :31? Are you listening to God or the traditions of men,
Mt 15:1-9? Are you seeking God’s wisdom or earthly, human wisdom, Js 1:5, 3:17?
2. Seek God’s… values and priorities
The Pharisees and the rich man valued and loved money, clothes…, Lk 16:14, 19. God detests those things and
loves people, especially the needy and defenseless, Js 1:27. God exalts the humble and the servant-minded,
Lk 18:9-14, 22:25-27. When you study ask yourself, “What is important to God?” or “Who and what does God value?”
3. Please God…
Don’t live to please, impress, or look good in the eyes of others. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for justifying
themselves in the eyes of others, Lk 16:15, 18:9, 14. Are you doing what is right to impress the preacher, spouse,
father-in-law, official… or because God saved you, says its best for you, and commands it…?
4. Today… live to please God, don’t wait
The rich man had no tomorrow’s. Once dead, you cannot change your destiny, nor can you help anyone else
change theirs. In contrast to the rich man, the unjust steward was shrewd, in part, because he acted promptly,
Lk 16:6. Are you doing what good you can today or waiting until you’re richer, wiser, healthier, more experienced…?
IV. Memory Verses - Lk 16:15, 31