Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The poor man has a name

Here is an interesting question.
Do any of the characters in the parables of Jesus have a personal name?
The prodigal son, the unmerciful servant, the good Samaritan, ....

I learnt this past week that there is only one: Lazarus, the poor man in the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus recorded in Luke 16:19-31

The Africa Bible Commentary (p. 1263) says
At the one extreme in this story is an unidentified rich man, whose clothing, mansion and lifestyle, mark him as one of the rich and famous. The very idea of such lifestyle might have been amazing to some of the original hearers. But deep in the night, when hunger kept them awake, they may have reflected on why some poeple enjoy life while others have to sweat and scrape just to get by. 
At the opposite extreme is a representative of the poverty of the masses, named Lazarus. All that he has going for him is the fact that he is the only person in all of Jesus' parables with a name, Lazarus. This name is the Latinized from of Eleazar and means "God is my help". Lazarus is a beggar, but he has a name. He is covered with ulcerated sores but he has human dignitty. He does not remain nameless. 
The sin of the rich man is that he has no heart. He looks at a man with a name, but does not ask him his name. He saw Lazarus' hunger and pain, but did nothing about it. He accepted the poverty of Lazarus as part of the normal order of things and thought it perfectly natural and inevitable that Lazarus whould lie in huger, pain, suffering, sickness and ultimately in death while he wallowed in luxury. There are none so blind   as those who will not see.

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