<< Luke XVI: The Rich Man and the Beggar >>
THIS parable is about a rich man in his beautiful house, wearing soft white robes, and robes dyed with the costly purple which the people of Tyre knew how to make from a little shell-fish. There was feasting in the house every day. But no one pitied the poor beggar asking for crumbs at the gate, except the dogs that ran about the streets without a home.
The parable tells us that when the rich man and beggar died, the beggar came into heaven, but the rich man was in torments. It does not mean that all who are poor in this world’s goods will go to heaven, and that those who are rich here will not. All will go to heaven who make good use of what they have whether it is much or little. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Those who are humble, who know how weak they are, who trust in the Lord and do good, are the poor who come into heaven. Those who think that they are strong and good, and that they know best without learning from the Lord, are the rich who cannot enter heaven. Our happiness or unhappiness in the other world is determined by our life here; our essential character is fixed and will not afterwards be changed from good to bad or from bad to good.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. —Luke XVI. 19-31.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The rich man >> The Jews and others who have precious knowledge from the Word but keep it selfishly to themselves
The purple and fine linen >> The knowledge of things good and true possessed by those who have the Word
The sumptuous fare >> Hearing much wisdom from the Word and yet becoming even more proud and selfish
The beggar at the gate >> The Gentile people ignorant but eager to be instructed
The beggar’s sores >> The many falsities which the Gentiles were in from ignorance
The dogs’ licking of the sores >> The sympathy of simple good people like themselves and their effort to heal the errors as far as possible
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob >> The Lord in His human development, on the planes of love, understanding and life
To be carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom >> To come in heaven into very loving nearness to the Lord, and into consciousness of His love
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead >> It is not useful that people shall be compelled to faith in the Lord and to good life by miracles or signs or by one rising from the dead because the faith would not be real and lasting, and good and true things would be profaned
Pictures: James Tissot —-Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum