The stories Jesus told were meant to unsettle his listeners. C. H. Dodd defines a parable as 'a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.'
As you read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus what struck you? Surprised you? What was vivid or strange? How does the story challenge or widen or deepen your faith?
We live in a very different context from Jesus. Stories about shepherds and farming are distant, almost mythic. Can you imagine a contemporary setting for the story Jesus told (for example, 'the Kingdom of God is like riding a Trimet bus ... or going to Pioneer Courthouse Square ...').
Feel free to post a response to the parable or to the sermon. I'd be glad to know how the stories Jesus told have teased your mind 'into active thought.'
Peace to you,
Luke 16: 19-31
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’