In the middle part of Luke chapter 16 (verse 14) the audience is described as “Pharisees, who were lovers of money”. If we identify with them (and if money is one of our great loves) then we might not love this parable:
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He 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.’ But 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. Besides 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.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 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 listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I first learned this parable in a song that was sung at church fellowship suppers. (The time was the 1960’s. The setting was First United Presbyterian Church in Olney, Illinois. The song leader was our pastor, Rev. David McNabb. I can still sing portions of “Hi Ho Jerum”.) In this loosely adapted retelling of the parable we sang
“The rich man died, but he didn’t fare so well-ium
He couldn’t get to Heaven, so he had to go to Hell-ium.” (We whispered that last word).
The last verse said “The moral of this story is that riches are no joke-ium,
But we’ll all go to heaven ‘cause we’re so stony broke-ium.”
This parable challenges us to take our material blessings seriously and to invest them for the benefit of the kingdom.
Dear God, inspire me today to give something to someone in need, and thus close the gap in the kingdom as I love one of Your children more than money. Amen.