Lazarus an interesting connection
by Rod Jackson

All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.

There are many parables in the bible, most of them are told by Jesus. It is usual for a parable to not have any names in them. So the prodigal son is not named, the woman who lost a coin is not named, etc. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the poor man, Lazarus, is named. This has led some scholars to believe that it is not a parable at all, but Jesus is telling a real story that actually happened. I personally still believe it is a parable but it is the exception to the rule. In fact, if it is a parable then it is the only one where some participants are named. For the point of this article it is not important if it is or is not a parable, however I will probably continue to write as if it is a parable. If you don't believe it is a parable then just "reword" what I am saying in your head. Here is the parable, as told by Jesus in the gospel of Luke -

"Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house - for I have five brothers - in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’ " Luke 16:19-31

So I want you to notice that this story could have just as easily been told if Lazarus was not named, but if he was just called "the poor man" (the contrast with the "rich man" would still obviously be there). So I must conclude that it is no accident that of all the parables in this one Jesus has chosen to name the poor man. As far as I can tell this parable is told before Jesus raises the real Lazarus from the dead (which seems to be near the time of Jesus' death). I also want you to notice that in verses 14-15a we are told whom Jesus is addressing this parable to -

"Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him [Jesus]. And He [Jesus] said to them [the Pharisees],..." Luke 16:14-15a

So this parable is directed to the Pharisees and at the end of it Abraham says to the rich man [who represents the Pharisees who loved money], "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead." He says this because the rich man has said " ‘Then I [the rich man] beg you, father, that you send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house...' ". So in the parable there is a request for Lazarus to be sent to warn them about going to hell and Abraham says that "they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead." The Pharisees are a sect of religious leaders of their day. Now let us see what happened when the real Lazarus who was the brother of Mary and Martha and is not the person in this parable was raised from the dead.

"The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He [Jesus] was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing in Jesus." John 12:9-11

In this passage we see that the response of the religious leaders, the chief priests, were going to put the real Lazarus to death because many people where believing in Jesus because of Lazarus. There are many passages in the gospels that link the Pharisees and the chief Priests. So the point is this, Jesus tells a prophetic parable where he deliberately names a character in it "Lazarus" at the end of the parable we are informed that people who wouldn't trust the word of God will not trust even if "someone" (Lazarus in the context of the parable) comes back from the dead. Later Jesus literally raises a real person named Lazarus from the dead but the religious leaders are not impressed and not only do they not believe but they conspire to murder the real Lazarus because other people (who do trust the word of God) came to believe when Lazarus was brought back from the dead.

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