Is Lazarus cursed? Certainly not, Lazarus has a name. He may bear the humiliation of Christ in this world but he does not bear the curse, his Lord bore that for him. And if you are in Christ, the same is true of you. If He knows your name, then you are not cursed. You are known. I don’t know what could be more refreshing than to be known by the living God. Lazarus has a name.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 is well-known. So well known is it that we read over the details without giving them much thought. So, let’s slow down. Let’s linger over a few details and in the process, we may find ourselves spiritually refreshed. But how might we approach the text? Well, if we were going to look at the whole, we might break it up this way:
1. Ante-death (vv. 19-21)
2. At death (v. 22-23a)
3. After death (vv. 23b-31)
What is more, each part is worth an extensive look, and we may take that look over the next couple of posts. However, for this post, I would like to look at the first several verses or what I have called, Ante-death. Of course, this simply means that we are going to look at the rich man and Lazarus before or prior to their deaths. But how? How shall we make such a comparison? The answer is in the text. Luke nicely breaks down the comparison for us. For example, he compares these two men on the basis of life’s necessities: Clothes, food, and dwelling.
Clothes, Food, and Dwelling
It is the case that in the first century, whitened wool was exceedingly costly because it was time consuming to make. The same could be said for the purple worn by the rich man in the story. But he didn’t simply wear purple. He also wore fine-linen. Now, this is interesting because this word meant under-garments. In fact, this was the Calvin Klein of undergarments in the first century! In other words, the rich man was fantastically adorned and comfortable. By contrast, Lazarus’s clothes are not mentioned. Instead, we are simply told that the man was covered by or clothed with sores. He was not comfortable.
When it came to food, the rich man was not lacking in extravagance. The rich of the first century enjoyed occasional feasts but this man feasted sumptuously every day! However, by contrast Lazarus longed to eat what fell from the table of the rich man. Joachim Jeremias, in his book on the Parables, suggests that this was not crumbs that fell from the table, but a loaf of bread was kept on the table for guests to use as napkins. When finished with a piece, they would simply cast it to the floor.