October 25, 2017
Luke 16:19, 20
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Jesus told a parable in Luke 16:19 through 31 from which we can learn some valuable lessons! Actually, it may not be a parable. If it is, then it is the only parable in the Bible in which proper names are used! It involves a poor beggar named Lazarus and a another main character identified as a certain rich man. Tradition has it that his name was Dives (pronounced dye-vees, dee-vays, or dee-wees). Dives, a Latin word, simply means “rich man.” If it is not a parable, then it is an incident that Jesus divinely knew about, since it involves the afterlife of these two men! Here are the first two verses of the incident:
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen
and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named
Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate.
Who was rich and who was poor?
• Obviously Dives was the rich one!
✞ He “…was clothed in purple and fine linen….”
▸ Garments that were dyed purple were reserved for kings, high officials, and the very rich! Purple dye was very expensive! Why? Because it was derived from tiny shellfish of the Mediterranean. When these shellfish were crushed and left to putrefy in the sun for a week or more, their glands would produce a minute drop of liquid turned purple or red by the process. The smell of rotten sea life was overwhelming! That may be why the city of Sidon located their processing facility almost ten miles to the south! It took about 10,000 shellfish to produce one gram of dye! Toward the end of the third century AD, one pound of Tyrian Purple dye cost three pounds of gold – over $61,000 today!
▸ Fine linen was probably Egyptian linen, produced from flax grown along the Nile River. So fine could be the weave that it was known as woven air! It is said that a robe of such fine linen was worth twice its weight in gold!
This Scripture gives us the idea that this was the everyday wear of this wealthy man!
✞ He “…fared sumptuously every day.” Literally, Dives was ‘making merry’ (see Luke 15:23-32) in a splendid way! And not just occasionally, but he fared this way every single day!
• Also obviously, Lazarus was the poor one!
✞ He “…was a certain beggar….” He had no means of supporting himself other than begging for meager handouts from other people! (See Mark 10:46; Acts 3:2-5). The word beggar has a connotation of poor, and is in contrast to Dives who was rich!
✞ He “…was…full of sores….” Whether Lazarus was a leper or not, we don’t know. But obviously, he was sick! He was covered with sores as was Job! (See Job 2:7, 8). Such a condition could be the result of malnutrition. It tells us in Luke 16:21, “…and dogs came and licked his sores.” Apparently the only creatures that could tolerate this man’s pitiful presence were dogs – unclean animals to the Jews!
✞ He “…was laid at his [Dives’] gate.” The beggar must not have been able to walk! Being laid at his gate implies someone had to carry him there!
✞ In Luke 16:21 it says Lazarus was “…desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.” It does not say that his desire was ever fulfilled! He was hungry to the point of starvation all the time!
But this is only the view from the temporal side of life! Both of these men died and found themselves in eternal afterlife!
• Apparently, Lazarus was first to die – perhaps from disease and/or starvation. But what does it say of him in Luke 16:22? “So it was that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.”
✞ Abraham’s bosom was a Jewish term for their concept of paradise! Abraham was the Jews first patriarch – the father of all Israel (and, by the way, of faithful non-Jews also – see Romans 4:11, 12).
✞ Lazarus was carried by the angels – a big difference than being carried by those who laid him at Dives’ gate! That was probably a disgusting and begrudging task! The angels carried him willingly – in love and joy! We are told in Hebrews 1:14, angels are “…all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation.”
• It says of Dives in Luke 16:22, “The rich man also died and was buried.”
✞ No angelic escort to paradise! Instead all it says is, he died and was buried !
✞ No comfort of resting in Abraham’s bosom! Instead we are told in the next two verses, “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes…cried and said…‘I am tormented in this flame.’ ” He was fully conscious and in agony!
So now who is rich, and who is poor? Let’s continue this on Friday.