There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. (Luke 16:19-23)
My favorite fast-food restaurant is Captain D’s. Feral cats roam the parking lot as I order. They love fish, too, and wouldn’t hang there if some tasty morsels didn’t reach their mouths. This story doesn’t say whether or not the rich man fed Lazarus, but if the rich man didn’t feed him and allow him to sit by his gate, I don’t think Lazarus would’ve stayed there.
In an article at http://www.jeremyandchristine.com/articles/lazarus.html Jeremy Moritz states his article is a shortened version of one written by L Ray Smith. He explains the rich man is Judah, son of Jacob, bearing the line of King David and Jesus. He wore purple clothing, signifying he was royalty (only royalty could afford purple cloth) and fine linen, signifying his family bore a priest (Jesus). We’ll learn day after tomorrow the rich man also had five brothers. Judah’s father, Jacob, fathered the twelve tribes of Israel but had two wives, sisters Leah and Rachael. Leah was Judah’s mother, and he had five brothers: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, and Zebulun.
Ray Smith believes the poor man, Lazarus, was Eliezer, the Gentile who would have received Abraham’s inheritance had God not blessed Abraham and Sarah at an old age with a son. The Greek name, Lazarus, is Elezar or Eliezer in Hebrew. Since Eliezer was a servant and didn’t receive Abraham’s inheritance, he was poor, although cared for and loved by Abraham. He followed God closely, and the Bible tells us it was credited to Him as righteousness. Since Abraham was like a father to Lazarus. It makes sense Lazarus followed God as closely, and the angels took him to be with Abraham.
This parable tells us the rich man (Judah) was in Hades, which was the realm of the departed dead (before Jesus’ death). The rich man wasn’t evil, but Jesus hadn’t died yet to make him righteous. Ephesians 4:10-12 and 1 Peter 3:18-22 elude that Jesus descended into Hades, preached the gospel, and took spirits to heaven. Theological scholar Kenneth West explains: “It is clear that our Lord as the man Christ Jesus went to a place of the departed dead called in the Old Testament ‘Sheol’ and in the New Testament, ‘hell,’ the word ‘hell’ being the translation of the Greek word, ‘Hades.’
Many commentators disagree with West saying the rich man is in hell and Lazarus is in heaven with Abraham. Jesus indicates that’s impossible. He says, “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) Until Jesus resurrected into heaven, Lazarus and Abraham couldn’t have been there. Since the rich man, Judah, (unrighteous) could see Abraham and Lazarus (the righteous), Abraham must have been in Hades also, although clearly there was a separation, one that was removed when Jesus died for our sins.
Father God, guide me through the Bible and help me understand its meaning. Help me look for those outside my front door needing help. It’s easy to take cans to the food bank but perhaps the hungry need more. I don’t know what to do, please show me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.