October 6, 2022

I Wish I Were A Rich Man?

By Glenn

I am always struck when I come to the end of the Good Samaritan parable in the gospel of Luke. The parable ends with the rich man begging Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham ridicules the rich man.

Abraham said “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  For me, this line summarizes the entire Gospel and the meaning of faith.  It lays out clearly the consequences for a believer.

The rich man was a Jew.  He had heard the Law of Moses and the warnings from the prophets. Presumably, like other rich men mentioned in the Gospels, “he kept the faith.”  He said his prayers.  He made his sacrifices.  He ate the right food.

When the rich man died, however, he found himself in hell instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is precisely, the fate another rich man wanted to avoid.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a man asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  He then boldly told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments, and then asked “What do I still lack?”  Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”    

There you have it.  If you are a Christian, these words come straight from a man that was raised from the dead.  The Jesus of the Gospels links Jewish law and eternal life.  Unlike today’s preachers, however, Jesus wasn’t running around casting stones at people having sex. Jesus saved his anger for selfish rich people.

Jesus saved the poor.  Lazarus was a poor, sick man.  Lazarus was so poor, he longed “to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”  None ever fell.  Luke tells us that Lazarus found his fill at the side of Abraham.  Matthew also tells us what happens for people who help and care for a “Lazarus” in our lives.

“Then the King will say… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

Why is it then that Conservatives, who claim they want a Christian nation, always act like the rich man in the Gospel of Luke?  They ridicule school lunch programs.  They ridicule public health programs.  They ridicule immigrant programs.  They ridicule prison programs.

I understand why conservatives don’t listen to the research that shows these programs work.   They are drowning in a world of lies created by Fox News and Talk Radio.  But why don’t conservatives listen to the one who rose from the dead?  I guess Luke told us when he said “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

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