Why did Jesus tell the story of the rich man and Lazarus?
Why is the rich man not named and Lazarus is named?
Who was Jesus talking to and what was He confronting?
Jesus preached dozens of stories and parables. What is it about stories that capture our attention? Why do we love a good story? Why would the greatest preacher of all time use a story to be one of His greatest ways to communicate?
Jesus knew that we naturally remember stories. He intentionally communicated powerful truths through the details of His stories. He always confronted misconceptions that were ingrained in people.
Jesus cared so much about the religious leaders that He started with His story about a rich man, knowing that this would instantly connect with His audience. When the religious leaders heard about the rich man, heard he was helping a poor, sick, needy man, they instantly thought the rich man is the hero of the story. Jesus wanted the religious leaders to identify with the rich man. In their eyes, the rich man was the true servant, helping the needy. The rich man must have been blessed by God in order to meet the needs of others. Later in the story, Jesus reveals that the rich man is the one who is calling Abraham, "Father Abraham," revealing that they are in the family of the Nation of Israel. Jesus also reveals that the rich man knows the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets. So, Jesus is using the rich man to be a metaphor for the religious leaders.
Then Jesus does the great reversal. He uses the heart, mind and identity-shocking preacher's tool. He flips the story. The hero is in hell. What? The blessed man is in hell? The servant is in hell? In other words, the religious leaders might possibly go to hell?
I wonder what this did to the hearts and minds of the religious leaders?
I think Jesus was clearly communicating to all the religious leaders that He does not want anyone, not even His enemies to go to hell. I think Jesus was trying to wake them up to their misunderstandings on how to connect with God and get to Heaven. "Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekial 18:23
-Rich man, blessed by God for the purpose of serving people in need is not a reason and the way to get into Heaven.
-"Father Abraham," revealing that the rich man was born into the family of God, the Nation of Israel, is not how anyone can get into Heaven.
-Knowing the Scriptures, "Moses (author of first 5 books of the Bible) and the prophets," does not get you into Heaven.
Jesus confronts these three common ways of getting into Heaven as false ways of salvation.
How do you know that you are going to Heaven?
What truths are you standing on in order to know that when you die, you will go to Heaven?
What is Jesus saying to you in this story?
Next Encourager we will continue with this life-changing story of Jesus.
Praying for Jesus' story to change our lives.
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.