Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly conveys a warning to those who find themselves in power but wield that power incorrectly.
The message of those ‘in power’ vs. those ‘out of power’ is particularly focused in Luke’s gospel. More than Matthew, Mark, and John - Luke emphasizes that those in power must take responsibility to act on behalf of the poor and disaffected.
Into this motif comes the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
The parable is a masterpiece of storytelling. Jesus uses a framework that would be familiar to his listeners in his first-century Israeli culture (see here or here – are the examples cited most by scholars).
The familiar folklore surrounds two common themes:
1. The theme of a “role reversal” or a reversal of fortunes – Rich v. Poor.
2. The living receiving a message from beyond the grave as a warning.
Jesus then adapts these common themes to his message and imbues it with references from the Old Testament and cultural thinking from first-century Judaism.
These combine to create a pointed warning for those in charge - “repent,” or you will lose your inheritance.
Join me for this two-part series as we explore this parable.
To help you with your studies, see the lesson plan below:
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Scott Broberg - I have a Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from Bethel Seminary - San Diego.
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