Luke 16:19-31

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Parables - part 2

  1. Eschatology
    1. The purpose of this parable is not to define the cosmology of heaven and hell
    2. Jesus is using widely accepted categories of the afterlife to make his point.
    3. This isn’t to say that the world to come will not be like this, but using this text as a proof text to argue for a particular eschatology is special pleading.
    4. Our goal in this study is the meaning of the parable

  2. Context of the Parable
    1. The Pharisees have sneered at Jesus’ teaching
    2. According to Luke, they love money.
    3. Verses 14-18 set the context and themes for the parable
    4. First theme is the love of money. The parable will counter the notion that being rich means that one is righteous.
    5. Second theme is the persistence and witness of the Law and Prophets. Luke has a theme (that runs through Luke and Acts) which shows that the gospel and the church are consistent with the Law/Prophets and Israel

  3. Mechanics of the Parable
    1. This is a double-edged parable. It makes two points
    2. First Point is the reversal after death
    3. Second point is the Law and the Prophets (and the witness of one returned from the dead)

  4. Reversal After Death
    1. Common View of Hearers/Readers (First Century): God blesses his righteous ones. You are righteous, God will bless you. Turn it around: those who are financially blessed must be righteous. This is the notion of fortune and misfortune
    2. Likewise, if you are wicked, then you are not blessed. So, the poor must be wicked – or someone in their family is wicked. (Compare to John 8 and the misfortune of the Blind Man – “Who sinned?”)
    3. When Lazarus and Rich Man die, the truth is revealed: Lazarus (though poor) was the righteous one. The Rich Man (though blessed) was the wicked one. What was his sin? He ignored the suffering of his brother who was laid at his gate.

  5. The Request of the Rich Man
    1. Send someone to witness and warn my family (this is a not so subtle jab at the Pharisees who sneered)
    2. Abraham notes that the teaching of the Law and the Prophets should be sufficient
    3. The Rich Man wants the “Ebenezer Scrooge” effect – If one from the dead will warn them, then they will change their ways. Abraham disagrees: If they will not heed Moses, then a risen man will not convince them
    4. This is also a comment on Resurrection.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 11 April 2010

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