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Sermon : Sodom and Gomorrah

The Rich Man and Lazarus - Luke 16:9-31

Jesus tells many parables through His life. There is one in particular that is quite interesting, provoking much thought of the afterlife. There are many themes to be learned from this story about God's justice, the love of money and serving God. Throughout the next few pages we will examine this passage thoroughly, first beginning with an analysis of the Scripture, then of different authors' vew points.

In verse 19, the story begins with a rich man, who actually is quite rich, and Jesus makes this known. In most versions of the Bible, it states that the rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) asserts that the rich man 'wore expensive clothes.' The colour purple indicated wealth and/or royalty because the process of getting this particular colour from the right shell was costly. The Worldwide English (WE) version states that the rich man 'dressed . . . like a king every day,' while the New Living Translation (NLT) says he was 'splendidly clothed.' Just by reading this first part, we see that this rich man was indeed rich. Jesus goes on to say, in the New International Version (NIV), that the rich man 'lived in luxury every day' and the WE version says he 'lived like a king every day.' In the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Jesus depicts that he 'feasted sumptuously every day", while the CEV states he "ate the best food.' La Santa Biblia reads that the rich man 'hacia cada dia banquete con esplendidez.' This translates to English with 'every day he had splendid banquets.' So, obviously, this rich man was not just rich, he was what one would call 'filthy rich'. He did not live moderately - no, he lived completely like a rich man. He dressed in the finest of clothes, and ate exquisitely, and did this not just every once and a while, but every day. Some people refer to this story as The Show-Off and Lazarus, and this does not go without good reason.

Verse 20 introduces Lazarus, the beggar whose body was covered in sores, and who lay at the gate of the rich man. Each version of the Bible suggest that Lazarus was placed at the gate of the rich man by somebody. The NIV says that he 'was laid' at the rich man's gate, while the CIV reads: 'Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man.' The Amplified Bible (AMP) goes as far as to say that Lazarus 'was carelessly dropped down and left' at the gate. The WE simply says that he 'was put at his door.' Yet, none of the versions indicates who exactly it is who has placed Lazarus where he lay.

Lazarus was quite the opposite of the rich man. He was quite very poor, and had sores all over his body, which the dogs came and licked. Verse 21 in the KJV reads that Lazarus was 'desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table.' The AMP says that he 'eagerly desired to be satisfied with what fell' from the table, and the NLT believes that he was "longing for the scraps" from the table. La Santa Biblia says: 'ansiaba saciarse de las migajas que caian de la mesa del rico' which means that he 'desired to be satisfied with what little crumbs fell from the rich man's table.' In other words, all the versions of Scripture announce that Lazarus never was well fed. Instead, he only longed 'to eat what fell from the rich man's table.' This verifies his poverty because it shows that he could not get food any other way save to wait for what fell and was left on the ground from the rich man's feast.

'The time came when the beggar died' (NIV), this being in verse 22. The angels then 'took him to the place of honour next to Abraham' (CEV), or perhaps he was 'carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom' (KJV), or simply he was just 'carried to Abraham's side' (NIV). The footnote in the CEV informs the reader that the Jewish believe that in heaven there will be a great feast, and that Abraham would be the most important person there. Romans 4:11 states that Abraham 'is the father of all who believe,' so obviously, sitting next to Abraham is quite an honour. The rich man, on the other hand, simply dies and is buried. There is no sign as to how and where his spirit is taken until verse 23, where it says that he is suffering in hell and is in torment there. Some Scriptures allege that he is in Hades, where some believe is where the soul waits for judgement. The AMP states that he is in the 'realm of the dead.' But, wherever he is, he is in agony and misery.