Jesus' story about the Rich Man and Lazarus must have truly shaken Jesus' audience, especially the Religious Leaders. At the beginning of the story, the religious leaders are feeling great about themselves as they identified with the rich man. The rich man was the one helping the poor, sick, needy man named Lazarus. They thought God must have blessed the rich man, knowing that he would help those in need. But, then Jesus did the old switcheroo; He flipped the tables on them. He pulled the rug our from underneath them. He knocked over three false ways of salvation.
False way number one - being blessed and doing good works.
False way number two - being born into a Christian home.
False way number three - being religious, knowing Scriptures.
Again, why did Jesus tell this story?
I believe He told it to clearly communicate with everyone, that Jesus does not want anyone to go to hell.
"The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." 2 Peter 3:9
"This (praying for all leaders) is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone." 1 Tim 2:3-6
So, if Jesus confronted three very common false ways of salvation, what was Jesus saying is the true way of salvation? Great question.
What does Lazarus mean?
Do we pay attention to the details of Jesus' parables?
Lazarus means "whom God helps."
Jesus is communicating that there is no name under heaven which we might be saved except God's name. "Jesus" means Jehovah is salvation. The angel defined Jesus' name and purpose when he instructed Joseph to name his stepson "Jesus, who will save people from their sin."
Jesus communicated that we, humans, need to call on God to help us with salvation. That salvation is a miracle work of God. No one can remove their sin and the stain of sin from their lives. No amount of good works, not being born into the right family, not being religious enough knowing all of Scripture are ways to remove sin from our lives. Only Jesus' perfect life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection can remove sin, the stain and effects of sin from our lives.
Now that I know the definition of Lazarus, I love that name. I want that name to be my name. I need Jesus to help me for salvation. I am so grateful that God helped me by adopting me into His family by the work of Jesus. How about you? Have you adopted the name Lazarus? Have you received God's help for salvation?
How about the people in your life, do they know this story? Are they relying on false ways of salvation? Do they know and understand the true and only way? Have you loved them enough to actually talk to them about this? Maybe Jesus wants you to buy them their favorite coffee in order to have a wonderful spiritual conversation.
Praising Jesus and seeking to share Jesus' story.
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.