Roles Reversed

Luke 16.19-end

19 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” 25But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” 27He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.”29Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” 30He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” 31He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’

We all know the Lazarus’ of life; those people that sit on the exit ramps with signs, sleep on busy city streets or ask for money when we pass.  Many of us cringe when we see them.  We have an internal unrest.  We know that Jesus wants us to help others, but are these really the “others” that Jesus means?  How do we know their story?  How do we know if they are responsible people?  Is this a scam or do they really need help?  If they really needed something shouldn’t they go get a job?

Jesus tells this parable about the rich man and Lazarus.  As I was reading, I noticed something that I had never noticed before.  It was not until after the rich man needed something that the rich man used Lazarus’ name.  When the rich man was in need, he saw the very humanness of Lazarus.  How many times had he seen Lazarus and not really thought about him as a child of God.

There will always be people that we cannot help, but we should not treat them with less respect than they deserve.  When we are quick to judge them and to make assumptions about them we do the very opposite of what Jesus taught us.  Jesus said that we should love God and love our neighbors.  When we feel that judgmental thought rise up in us, let us remember that the Lazarus of life are children of God, created in the image of God and worthy of respect and love.  We may not be able to help everyone, but we can treat everyone with respect.


Pastor Mandy