Lazarus and the Rich Man

Where are you

They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.

Did you ever drink wine out of a bowl? Did you ever really feast without caring? Have you partied, partied, partied without thought of the consequences?

The situation in Israel was like that. They were living large, lying on beds of ivory, stretching comfortably on couches, eating tender lamb and veal, playing music they improvised, drinking wine from bowls, and anointing themselves with the best oils. They gave no thought to their suffering kinsmen.

Jesus was drawing on this parallel in His parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man lived large, enjoyed his life, went from success to success, and ignored Lazarus as he walked by him every day. He was indifferent, inhuman. On the other hand, Lazarus begged, but while begging he did not bemoan his situation. He was humble and even the dogs tried to comfort him. In his poverty he maintained his humanity.

The conclusion of Jesus’ parable is the outcomes for Lazarus and the rich man. This should prompt us to consider our humanity, where will our way of life lead us?

Today’s Psalm begins: Blessed he who keeps faith forever. This is what we are called to do, to keep faith and to keep it forever. Listen again to Paul’s call to Timothy:

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called.

The question isn’t whether doing a “bad thing” will send us to eternal damnation or punishment. It is bigger than that. Jesus’ parable and the story of Israel are stories of people who have lost their humanity. They didn’t just do “bad things,” they lived lives that totally alienated them from life in God. They wiped the idea of God from their minds and hearts. They made themselves cold, self-centered, selfish and self-righteous, inhuman.

We know we fall in sin, but we have taken hold of the salvation Jesus offers us. We listen to His call to be more and more human, to repent of our sin, to make amends, to accept His grace and live lives in tune with His way. We see our humanity as a gift – and we focus on living humanly as God’s people.

It is not up to us to judge anyone’s destination. We must simply remember that lives lived habitually away from God will lead to an eternity away from Him.