Lazarus, come forth.

(Thanks, Geertgen tot Sint Jans. You were about my age when you made this insanely awesome painting of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (early/mid twenties, 1480's). I am the same age, and barely have enough talent to save a picture of it to my desktop and publish it on my blog. Hehe.)

Last night, Danny and I took a break from the Book of Mormon, and instead read the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16:20-31).

Me: "Yeah, when I was in Seminary, I thought this was like, the lamest parable ever."
Danny: "Why?"
Me: "I mean, most parables use object lessons, things from every day life. But this one was just about two people who die and what happens to them after. I mean, it's totally different from all the others!"

We decided to read it. I'm a little stumped on how to make this into a Quiet Book page. My dad emailed me about this one, and said it was the only parable that uses someone's first name. If I'm remembering right, not only was Lazarus some kind of cousin to Jesus, but they were also good friends. Lazarus means "helped of God" according to the Bible Dictionary.

Anyway, it was a neat experience to read it, because we actually did learn something fascinating.

Turns out, the parable is not just about Lazarus and the Rich Man, and it actually is an object lesson. A freaking amazing one.

What happens in the parable is there is this beggar named Lazarus who wants to eat the crumbs from the Rich Man's table, but instead the Rich Man's dogs come and lick him. Then they both die, and Lazarus goes to heaven with Father Abraham, and the Rich Man is in rags and is tormented by the flames of hell (a.k.a. spirit prison).

The Rich Man calls out to Abraham and is like, "Hey! Can you please send Lazarus over here to dip his finger in some water and cool my burning tongue!" Abraham is like, "Hey, you had your reward while you were alive, and Lazarus' life sucked, but now Lazarus is getting his reward, and you're tormented. Anyway, there's a huge gulf between us, and there's no way he could go over there anyway, and no way you can get here."

Then the Rich Man is like, "Please, please, can you send Lazarus down to visit the people in my father's house? I really don't want my five brothers to suffer my same fate."

Abraham says, "They have Moses and the prophets, they should be good enough."

The Rich Man says, "But if someone came back from the dead, THEN they would for sure repent!"

This next part is powerful, so I'm going to quote it for real. Abraham says, "If they ahear not Moses and the bprophets, neither will they be cpersuaded, though one rose from the dead."

Danny suddenly said, "Hey, I never got that before. Lazarus DID rise from the dead."

We were then intrigued about whether it was before or after Jesus told this parable. We looked it up in the Harmony of the Gospels in the BD, and we found out that first Jesus told the parable, and then a little later Lazarus was raised from the dead, after four days of being in the tomb. He was dead dead, totally dead according to Jewish law.

And Abraham was totally right. Even though Lazarus rose from the dead, it didn't persuade people to follow Christ. In fact, that was one of the last miracles Christ performed before his crucifixion. Danny said that it actually contributed to his death; it was an act that was too big to be ignored.

What I mainly learned from this was that the parable actually is an object lesson from real life. To me, that makes the story much more powerful. It's not just a, "how could anyone even know that," type thing. In fact, the main point of the story doesn't actually have that much to do with Lazarus. It's to teach us that miracles cannot be a basis for our faith, because guess what, they obviously weren't! Jesus must have known that he would raise Lazarus from the dead before he told this parable. He knew it would be a real-life object lesson.

On a different note: does anybody else find it super weird that Lazarus being raised from the dead is only found in John? Why didn't the other gospels include that huge, huge story?

I remember being in Lazarus' tomb in the West Bank. I was skeptical, since you know, there are probably dozens of caves called "Lazarus' Tomb." I remember it was kinda spooky. Even if it wasn't the exact place, it was still chilling to think about. One of the more interesting places I've been.

Danny's idea for a quiet book page has to do with moving felt doggies over to "lick" Lazarus. I think that's hilarious. What would YOU do to illustrate this story?


  1. Here is my interpretation. Lazarus does not refer to the brother of Mary and Martha. It is just a name. Lazarus represents all of us who are beggers on earth because without God we can accomplish nothing, not even feed ourselves because it is God who makes the rain to fall and the seeds to germinat. It is God who provides the food we put on our tables. So Lazarus is an Everyman.

    The rich man represents the ungodly who lay snares for the righteous and think only of themselves. The take more than their fair share of the bounties that God has provided and will not give to anyone else. Their lot is to inherit Shoel or hell.

    The bosom of Abrahm represents heaven or paradise. The gulf between heaven and hell where the ungodly are represents the gulf that until the resurrection could not be crossed. That is why Lazarus could not go to the ruch man. The ressurection had not yet taken place. The reference to the a man being raised from the dead is about Jesus who will die, visit the spirits in hell (spirit prison) and bridge the gulf that is between the two places thus making it possible for them to be taught the gospel and repent.

    The part that is says the ungodly willl not repent if a spirit visits them is an observatiojn about the nature of mankind and where they tend to put their faith. The rich man and his brothers put their faith in material things. They do not believe in eternal life or the resurection and they are not prone to change. The, too as reoresebtatives of their own class are Everyman.

    To illustrate the story I would do something with building a bridge.

  2. The tune we use for "If You Could Hie to Kolob" was originally the melody of a ballad version of this parable. Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote a piece called "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus," which is awesome:



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