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The Rich Man And Lazarus


mwc
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The Rich Man and Lazarus came up in another thread and it started me thinking.

 

As everyone knows the rich man and Lazarus die. They go to their respective destinations and from there a little conversation takes place. Ultimately the rich man accepts his fate but desires his family get warned so they can avoid winding up where he is.

 

It doesn't really make too much sense. Does it? Am I missing something? I'm not talking about the location(s), how we're privy to this conversation or anything like that. No. I'm talking about how the story ends. Here are the last few verses from G.Luke 16:

28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' 29 But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' 30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' 31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

First things first. In case no one noticed, apparently Abraham was never informed of baby "jesus." Moses and the prophets is the ticket to avoiding this fate. Not "jesus." The Torah. The Law.

 

Moving on. Let's skip to another book. I don't generally like to do this but it's possbly related depending on your point of view. Let me tell you all a story from G.John 12:

9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Laz'arus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Laz'arus also to death, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

Could there have been two guys named Lazarus that died? Sure. Could one been allowed to come back to life while the other kept dead? You bet. Could it simply been a battle of the sects? Probably. So this Lazarus does come back to life. And guess what? He does manage to get people to convert. A lot. Enough to get the people in charge to want to re-deaden him. Looks like coming back from the dead is an effective tool after all. Better than what G.Luke hinted at.

 

Speaking of G.Luke. Maybe he's changed his mind?

24:2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body. [...] 5 [...]the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 [...] 7 that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 [...] 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

Nope. Not quite. The women seem convinced but they only saw some men.

 

24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 [...] 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. [...] 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 34 who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

So close. He appeared. They're very thrilled but it was the breaking of the bread that did it.

 

24:36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [...] 44 Then he said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."

Oh. See? He is what Moses and the prophets wrote about. Didn't see that coming did ya?

 

Rising from the dead never really convinces this bunch. What really gets them is the understanding of the prophecies. All that matters to this crowd is the re-imagining of the Law and prophets. If you don't accept the new teachings you don't get the brass ring. Guess we have to turn elsewhere to find people that actually find this whole "resurrection" thing exciting and worthy of putting any faith into.

 

mwc

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I had doubts with the regular story of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus. Seems a waste of time to me for God to raise someone from the dead and that person later dies. Where is the miracle of the resurrection if the person dies a second time? We can do the same thing with CPR. So, I've never seen anything that special about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

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MWC your post is really interesting, and I'm trying to understand what you're trying to say. Is there a single point you intended to make, or multiple points? (Sorry, I'm easily confused but seriously want to understand.) Thanks.

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He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"

 

Yes, I would say that on the face of it, this is a very questionable statement. I would say for myself that if someone I knew had died suddenly appeared in front of me, it would make more of an impact than some old prophecy I had heard a million times and never quite believed because it seemed quite remote and incredible. Yes, bring on the risen dead! I might even decide I had made a friggin mistake in rejecting Christianity.

 

The idea that only the law and prophets should have weight does sort of undermine the power of Christ's resurrection being something special or something people ought to have paid attention to.

 

I heard this story of Lazarus and the rich man preached quite a lot to illustrate the reality of hell. These Baptist preachers were far from taking this as a parable. The underlying teaching of not neglecting the poor was sort of lost while they were trying to scare everyone in the congregation with hell.

 

As for the other Lazarus story, I wouldn't want to have been Lazarus. He has to be raised from the dead, only to have to die again a second time. However, I would like to have asked him what he experienced on the other side for those few days.

I never really connected the two Lazarus stories, they just seem like separate events.

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The Rich Man and Lazarus came up in another thread and it started me thinking.

 

Can I suggest that you read Listening to the Parables of Jesus, by Edward Beutner?

 

It explains how to try to understand parables.

 

Did you know that Eliazar, the Hebrew version of Lazarus, has a rich history in The Old Testament? Names are VERY important in understanding Jewish mythology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleazar_(disambiguation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleazar_(disambiguation)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarus

 

Oh, and the raising of Lazarus from the dead is only found in The Gospel According to John. A very late first century addition to the early church writings. You certainly would think someone else might have thought it was worth mentioning.

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And you would think Lazarus himself would start a "don't go to Hell, go to Heaven," ministry. After all, he was dead, and he spent time in either one of those places. Why don't have a any records of a Lazarus NDE Cult? Why don't we have any Gospel according to Lazarus? It would be a very interesting read...

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MWC your post is really interesting, and I'm trying to understand what you're trying to say. Is there a single point you intended to make, or multiple points? (Sorry, I'm easily confused but seriously want to understand.) Thanks.

It was just some observations that came to mind when I looked at the story as a result of the other thread. Some musings if you will. :)

 

The main things were that G.Luke says that someone coming back from the dead won't help. G.John disagreed since his Lazarus story has people believing because of his being raised.

 

Also, G.Luke sticks to his guns with the raising of "jesus" because, while people are happy the text says they still disbelieve. It is the associated signs (the breaking of the bread aka communion) and the fact that "jesus" finally explains the teachings of Moses and the prophets to them in hindsight (in relation to his whole death/resurrection) that is what matters. For G.Luke the actual "jesus" is just something to explain the whole Moses and the prophets thing. He's a prop.

 

The early church never (rarely) mentioned a resurrection. The always used the OT as a set of proof texts for all things "jesus." If there had been a "jesus" that did A, B, C then you just name those things. They went about things backwards. Why? G.Luke offers an explanation. He has "jesus" do A, B, C and then explains that these things aren't important but rather the teachings of Moses and the prophets are what matter. So people should look there. It's not coming back from the dead that matters since that won't convince anyone but the old writings. So he explains those to his apostles and flies away never to be seen. From then on people use the writings to spread the news and not the amazing words and works of "jesus" to do that job (not for quite some time at least).

 

mwc

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And you would think Lazarus himself would start a "don't go to Hell, go to Heaven," ministry. After all, he was dead, and he spent time in either one of those places. Why don't have a any records of a Lazarus NDE Cult? Why don't we have any Gospel according to Lazarus? It would be a very interesting read...

 

I guess with all those dead people (zombies) wandering around Jerusalem after the crucifixion people kinda forgot about Laz.

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I guess with all those dead people (zombies) wandering around Jerusalem after the crucifixion people kinda forgot about Laz.

Imagine the scene:

 

Zombie1: Hey, isn't that our bro' Laz?

 

Zombie2: Oh, where? Oh yeah, it's him alright.

 

Zombie1: Yo Laz! Wazup? How's undead life treating ya'?

 

Lazarus: It's all good. Jesus brought me back, and now I have a few more years to live. But my sister is complaining I smell putrid, and I my arms keep falling off and she has to sew them back. But other than that, I'm cool.

 

Zombie1: Wow, that must be a stink. As you can tell, I've been dead for over a hundred years--well, you knew that already since we last met in Hell--and only bones left. So at least I don't reek as much.

 

Zombie2: Have you noticed any weird behavior with the living? They seem to run away when we come? Any idea why? I mean, we were sent by God to tell them the good news that they can live forever, and get in shape. Just like at how slim I am. I used to be 500 lbs, but now I'm probably not more than 100.

 

Lazarus: Well, they keep on telling me it's "freaky." Dead people shouldn't be alive, that's what they say. Btw, how's Donny? He still like the fire-pit he's in? I remember he compared it to his vacation in Egypt. The heat was unbearable, but yet, he likes it.

 

Zombie1: Sure, Donny is doing fine. He's getting a bit crisp though, but I'm sure God will give him a new skin to burn soon. Anyway, dude, it was great seeing you again.

 

Lazarus: Yeah, absolutely. We'll meet again soon. Until then, don't lose any limbs!

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I heard this story of Lazarus and the rich man preached quite a lot to illustrate the reality of hell. These Baptist preachers were far from taking this as a parable. The underlying teaching of not neglecting the poor was sort of lost while they were trying to scare everyone in the congregation with hell.

 

 

I never really connected the two Lazarus stories, they just seem like separate events.

This was the way I was taught to interpret the story. That this wasn't a parable but a literal event that happened that proves hell is eternal and I had always thought the Lazarus in this parable was just another different guy with the same name. How do Christians come to the conclusion this is a parable? In Jesus' other parables, he always made it clear that he was speaking in a parable. Like, he would start it off by saying something like "the kingdom of heaven is like..." and then afterward he usually explained the meaning of the parable. But with this story, as far as I'm aware, there's nothing to indicate that it's a parable, unless I'm missing something from the original Greek text. Is the belief that this is a parable a relatively new belief or have Christians always interpreted it as such?
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As a Christian, I didn't interpret the Lazarus story as a parable, but rather one of those miracles Jesus would do to impress the people. Jesus way of saying: "Look what I can do." (in the voice of Stuart from MADtv)

stuart2.jpg

 

Oh, sorry, we're talking about the rich man and Lazarus, I always get those two confused.

 

The rich man story I learned was also supposed to be taken literally, and to show how important it was to become a Christian in this life, or you'll go to Hell. In other words, an early version of the wager. "You better believe in Jesus, or else..." But then again, it doesn't say the poor man was saved because he believed in Jesus, but because he was a good person. In other words, the story tells us that good people go to Heaven, and bad people go to Hell. Nothing about Jesus, salvation, and all that stuff. Then the preacher would tell me that it was "before Jesus, but now after Jesus it is different." In other words, before Jesus died, people got to Heaven because of merits instead of belief. Now they can live immoral, but believe right, and get a "get-out-of-jail" card, while the good people, who believe wrong, will go to eternal torture. Amazing Gunk...

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But with this story, as far as I'm aware, there's nothing to indicate that it's a parable, unless I'm missing something from the original Greek text. Is the belief that this is a parable a relatively new belief or have Christians always interpreted it as such?

 

I don't know Neon. I was always told it was a real event, but some liberal churches now take it as a parable. I think the idea that it is a parable is new.

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I was taught that the rich man story was a parable because the teachers couldn't reconcile the idea that God wouldn't let someone warn family of Hell thus dooming them to Hell, but if you look at God's actions all throughout the buy-bull, you will see that doing such a thing is not beyond his character.

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Interesting thread. I always understood the Lazarus stories to be seperate events. I never questioned if the Lazarus in the Rich Man's story was the same Lazarus that was related to Mary and Martha. As far I remember, the Catholic Church always preached it as a multi-layered story: the poor are to be cared and your life must be in line with what Jesus taught or else you get eternal punishment. Looking back on it now, I assumed that Lazarus laid outside the gate of the Rich Man's home in the hopes that the Rich Man would have pity on him. Since this poor man became an active part of the Rich Man's routine, the Rich Man was expected to do something about it. Since he chronically ignored Lazarus, the Rich Man's punishment seemed justified to me.

 

As for the last verses as MWC cited, I always assumed it was a case of "I should have taken that advice when I had the chance". I assumed the story was a real event as well because the Catholic Church is very literal when it comes to the existence of Jesus.

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Interesting thread. I always understood the Lazarus stories to be seperate events. I never questioned if the Lazarus in the Rich Man's story was the same Lazarus that was related to Mary and Martha...

 

Couldn't be the same Lazarus. Mary and Martha wouldn't have let their beloved brother go begging for crumbs from a rich man.

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How do Christians come to the conclusion this is a parable? In Jesus' other parables, he always made it clear that he was speaking in a parable. Like, he would start it off by saying something like "the kingdom of heaven is like..." and then afterward he usually explained the meaning of the parable. But with this story, as far as I'm aware, there's nothing to indicate that it's a parable, unless I'm missing something from the original Greek text. Is the belief that this is a parable a relatively new belief or have Christians always interpreted it as such?

 

 

Are you asking how is it a parable? If you notice, the story is out of context with the rest of the chapter... it is not a continuation of the chapter, but an insert.

 

Dead people talking and suffering physically... how are you going to do that when you are dead?

You can see from heaven down in to hell and vice versa... how is that gonna be possible?

 

OF COURSE it is a parable. There is NO WAY it could be meant to be anything else.

 

The Hebrews didn't believe in heaven and hell, and used the phrase "in Abraham's bosom" as a metaphor for being in the community of Abraham's descendants. (One of the children of Israel, A Hebrew, a Jew... whatever)

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Interesting thread. I always understood the Lazarus stories to be seperate events. I never questioned if the Lazarus in the Rich Man's story was the same Lazarus that was related to Mary and Martha...

 

Couldn't be the same Lazarus. Mary and Martha wouldn't have let their beloved brother go begging for crumbs from a rich man.

 

Lazarus was a common name for the everyman stories... (The name means "God will help"... as in: Only God can help this poor creature)

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I hadn't intended things to head this direction (I wasn't sure what direction they'd go) so good enough.

 

Stealing from the wiki on parables:

A parable is a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a moral or religious lesson. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human characters.

 

Some scholars of the New Testament apply the term "parable" only to the parables of Jesus, though that is not a common restriction of the term. Parables such as "The Prodigal Son" are central to Jesus' teaching method in both the canonical narratives and the apocrypha.

I took that much since it noted the Prodigal Son. In G.Luke 15 he tells that story. Then right after he tells of the Unjust Steward (another parable). Then there are some tidbits on Serving Two Masters and some one liners about divorce. In the midst of all that is this long story about the Rich Man and Lazarus.

 

And to tie it back into what I had initially said the point of the whole thing was to tell the reader/listener was that someone coming back from the dead would not convince anyone of anything but only the Law and prophets could change a person. It's not really about the afterlife at all. That's just the setting. It is a parable.

 

In fact, my take on the gospels are that you could envision the whole of any one of the texts are a giant book length "parable" starring "jesus." Then contained within that "parable" you have these parables. If you're an "outsider" you see the story of a man wondering around telling these stories (which are sometimes explained) and if you're an "insider" you were told what the larger story meant. Over time (a fairly short time) the larger story was "lost" and we have what we have today. In this sense "jesus" is just another "Lazarus." The star of a "parable." But the interpretation is long since lost so he became a real man.

 

mwc

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Are you asking how is it a parable? If you notice, the story is out of context with the rest of the chapter... it is not a continuation of the chapter, but an insert.

 

Dead people talking and suffering physically... how are you going to do that when you are dead?

You can see from heaven down in to hell and vice versa... how is that gonna be possible?

 

OF COURSE it is a parable. There is NO WAY it could be meant to be anything else.

 

The Hebrews didn't believe in heaven and hell, and used the phrase "in Abraham's bosom" as a metaphor for being in the community of Abraham's descendants. (One of the children of Israel, A Hebrew, a Jew... whatever)

It's religious mythology. How does any of it make sense? I'm only explaining how I looked at it as a Christian. But looking at the verses, I can see how some people could take it as a parable as before hand, there's a parable about another rich man and an unjust stewart that starts off with the similar phrase "there was a certain rich man."

 

And to tie it back into what I had initially said the point of the whole thing was to tell the reader/listener was that someone coming back from the dead would not convince anyone of anything but only the Law and prophets could change a person. It's not really about the afterlife at all. That's just the setting. It is a parable.
This makes me wonder. If the dead coming back to life wouldn't convince anyone, then why did Jesus resurrect himself knowing that nobody would believe it? But then some people did believe in the resurrection of the dead anyway in spite of this parable.
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This makes me wonder. If the dead coming back to life wouldn't convince anyone, then why did Jesus resurrect himself knowing that nobody would believe it? But then some people did believe in the resurrection of the dead anyway in spite of this parable.

If you look at the end of the G.Luke. The women essentially believe because of the resurrection. In a way. But it has to be explained by the men. The others don't believe the women on this "hearsay" though. It's no good.

 

So then you have the two disciples on the road that "jesus" appears to. So what does he do? He does this:

16 But their eyes were not open that they might have knowledge of him.

...

22 And certain women among us gave us cause for wonder, for they went early to the place where his body had been put, 23 And it was not there; then they came saying that they had seen a vision of angels who said that he was living. 24 And some of those who were with us went to the place, and saw that it was as the women had said, but him they did not see.

 

25 And he said, O foolish men! how slow you are to give belief to what the prophets have said. 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to go through these things, and to come into his glory? 27 And he made clear to them all the things in the Writings, from Moses and from all the prophets, which had to do with himself.

They explain the whole coming back to life thing. But they're skeptical. Just like the the rich man and Lazarus predicted. They're not convinced. So they get chastised and then they get taught Moses and the prophets just as the rich man and Lazarus said was the proper course of action. That's the way to explain "jesus." Not the resurrection. That's silly.

 

So even "jesus" had to explain himself to his own disciples using Moses and the prophets. Are you kidding me? And he waited until after he died and came back to life to clue them in to this whole thing? He didn't sit them down on a couple of occasions and say "Now let me show you, using the Law and Prophets, what I'm all about so when it all goes down you'll be ready." No. It seems that they weren't privy to that. Need to know basis with "jesus" was pretty strict. So he gives a "communion" and they then "get it" and they figure something was up all the time and run and tell the othes.

 

At the last appearance they still don't believe (the Greek word literally mean "believed not") out of their "joy." So even though they see him out and about and are happy about it they're still not willing to believe. How odd. So what does "jesus" do? He gives them a lesson in Moses and the prophets. Now they're on board. They can tell that he was the one that the "OT" spoke about and they're willing and ready to go.

 

Dead people coming back to life don't convince people of anything. Moses and the prophets do. And they only speak of one guy..."jesus." "Jesus" came back to life. Believe it.

 

mwc

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