“‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—-for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:26-31) (ESV)
The above is an excerpt from the parable of Lazarus and rich man. The parable had been a follow up to Jesus’ teachings against the love of money: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13) (ESV).
While Jesus sought to bring across the principle of God’s Kingdom, there were those unable to accept that teaching. They despised it, as not identifying with the proud of society. See [The enemies of change are the proud people].
“The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God’” (Luke 16:14) (ESV).
The rich man, as compared with Lazarus, was obviously, held with high esteem for his riches. Lazarus was a disgrace. In simple terms, Lazarus was a lazy man—no different from a vagrant scrounger. There was no time for him to even wash himself—attracting sores on himself. Because of his smelly condition, only the dogs served to clean his sores by licking them.
That kind of life-style is obviously, unacceptable to humanity—just as it was unacceptable during Jesus’ time. The rich man is the one who lived a lifestyle that was acceptable to humanity. But Jesus had said, “…For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:14) (ESV).
The most unpalatable development is that it was Lazarus who, after his death was carried to Abraham’s side and not the rich man, living a humanly respectable lifestyle. I would be surprised if many Christians are just as well not disturbed by this anecdote? “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money heard all these things, and they ridiculed him” (Luke 16:13” (ESV).
The behaviour of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time cannot be different from those considered as respectable people in society, even today. In fact, the referred rich man must have been considered kind, for tolerating Lazarus—coming to pick up morsels of food, fallen from his lavish table?
There probably were many rich people who could not tolerate such disgusting behaviour—especially when considering the smelly condition—as described of a man like Lazarus? The rich man, endeared himself to the poor man, Lazarus—yet unable to access the pleasure of being on Abraham’s side, at death?
We have to analyse the behaviour of both men, before discussing the chasm that cannot be crossed from either side. I suppose, the rich man felt he was practicing what was considered as charitable to the poor of society?
That obviously provided the rich man with high respect from ordinary people. As far as the rich man was concerned, being spoken of highly, by society, gave him some high sense of worth. See [Christianity serves to invalidate God’s Kingdom].
But there is something that probably misses many religious people—calling themselves Christians—just as the rich man could not observe it: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12) (ESV).
Here is the crux of the matter, as far as goodness is concerned. If the rich man had been in Lazarus’ poverty condition, could that have been how he would have desired to be treated? If that was the case, chances are that the rich man would have been like Lazarus and not associated with the rich status that he was in.
Or, at least, the rich man could have sought to raise Lazarus, to also access the lavish lifestyle of being rich? Obviously, the rich man desired to be treated with more respect, as compared with others.
Could it have been possible for the rich man to expect the same dignity to be accorded to those of the likes of Lazarus? This is where the effects, descriptive of works—referred to, by Paul—come into being:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife jealously, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21) (ESV).
The rich man was comfortable, being seen providing for the poor people like Lazarus. But the rich man could certainly not have felt comfortable being equated with the vagabonds of society.
Treating other people as one would like to be treated, can be musically rhymed. But putting that into practice, can certainly not be possible for those under the yoke of works. Why should lazy people like Lazarus be treated with dignity?