Here we will present a different, much deeper meaning of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Our hope is that this will help with further understanding of the spiritual intent of the Bible.
Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: (Luke 16:19)
This “certain rich man” represents the Jews; they had the birth-right inheritance. They were “clothed in purple and fine linen” and “faring sumptuously every day.”
Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper unto royal estate. (Ezekiel 16:13)
As we see in Ezekiel, Jerusalem was described as royalty that “fared sumptuously.”
and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, (Luke 16:20)
This “certain beggar named Lazarus” represents the Gentiles. He “laid at his gate, full of sores.” So outside of Jerusalem, where the Jews lived luxuriously and were treated like royalty, this beggar had nothing, nor anyone to help comfort his sores.
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. (Luke 16:21)
The children’s bread
Before we go on, let’s examine the account of the woman with a sick daughter.
Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)
Jesus didn’t answer her because He said He “was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Only Jews can receive the eternal blessings from God. The natural Jews regarded all non-Jews as dogs.
But then something incredible happened. This non-Jewish woman acknowledged, in utter helpless desperation, her powerlessness, His superiority and demonstrated faith that she, being a “dog” in the eyes of the Jews, had faith that if she could but feed off of the crumbs from His table, that her daughter would be healed.
Not only did Jesus laud her for her great faith and heal her daughter, He demonstrated through what initially looks like a callous disregard of compassion, what Paul would later reveal:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28-29)
Back to Lazarus
The only comfort Lazarus received was from dogs (non-Jews) who came and tended to his sores. The Jews walked by him and neither fed nor comforted him.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. (Luke 16:22-25)
The Jews were proud of their “father Abraham.” If they saw a “dog” (Gentile) resting on Abraham’s bosom (chest/heart), they wouldn’t be happy, but full of jealousy. This time, the rich Jew wanted help, even though Jews didn’t even think they should speak to a Gentile, just as Jesus at first refused to answer the woman with the sick daughter. Even in this parable, the rich man still wouldn’t talk to Lazarus. Instead, he said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus.”
And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. (Luke 16:26)
The “great gulf fixed” means that once you enter the lake of fire, there is no return.
Jews for Jesus
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:27-31)
The Jews must receive revelation through the Old Testament, the Law and the prophets to open their hearts to Jesus because “neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Let’s look at the name Lazarus. It means “God has helped.” The Jews were in by birth-right but gave it up when they gave up Jesus. But because of that, the Gentiles came in by the mercy and help of God.
I say then, Did they stumble that they might fall? God forbid: but by their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? (Romans 11:11-12)
Before there is a “great gulf fixed,” repent.
if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them that are my flesh, and may save some of them. For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (Romans 11:14-15)
Grafted in again
And they also, if they continue not in their unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wast cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and wast grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree; how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:23-24)
Don’t think you are better than they were. Be grateful for crumbs.
For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; (Romans 11:25)
The first (natural Jews) shall be last
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life. But many shall be last that are first; and first that are last. (Matthew 19:28-30)