A Parable for the Lovers of Money
by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
JESUS KNEW that the Pharisees, for all their church-going and their carefulness in keeping the rules of their law, were in their hearts lovers of money, and were living for the things of this world and not for God. He gave to them a parable about a rich man who suddenly became poor, and a poor man who became rich. It is called "The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus."
"There was a rich man," said Jesus, "who dressed in purple robes, like a king, and lived in a splendid great house, with many servants to wait upon him, and feasted every day upon the finest food. Outside the door of the rich man's house was laid every morning a poor beggar named Lazarus, who was covered with sores and was glad to eat the crumbs and broken pieces from the rich man's table. The dogs of the street used to come and lick his sores.
"After a time, the poor man died, and his soul was taken by the angels to be in heaven with Abraham, the father of God's people; because in all his poverty he had lived for God, trying always to do God's will. The rich man died, too, and was buried. But no angels came to carry him to the land where Abraham was living in happiness. His soul went to the place of woe and sorrow and suffering; not because he had been rich, but because in his riches he had never thought of God.
"The rich man, being in torment, looked up, and far away saw Abraham, with Lazarus in his arms.
"'O Father Abraham,' he called out, 'take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am burning in this flame!'
"'My son,' answered Abraham, 'remember that when you were alive on the earth you had all your enjoyment, while Lazarus in his life had poverty and pain. Now Lazarus has comfort for all his trouble and you are in misery. Besides all that, between us in heaven and you in the dwelling place of the wicked, there is a great valley, a gulf which no one can cross, either to go from us to you or to come from you to us.'
"'If that be so,' said the once-rich man, now so poor, 'and Lazarus cannot come to me, I beg of you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father's house; for I have five brothers; let him speak to them in time, so that they may not come to this place of terrible suffering.'
"'They have the writings of Moses and the words of all the prophets,' said Abraham; 'let them listen to these.'
"'But, Father Abraham,' he said, 'if some one from the dead should go to them, they would turn from sin to God.'
"'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,' said Abraham, 'they will not believe, even if some one should rise from the dead.'"
As the twelve disciples of Jesus heard this parable, they said, "Lord, make our faith stronger!"
"If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed," said Jesus, "you could say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you.
"Which one of you, if he had a servant plowing in the field or tending sheep, when he comes in from the field will say to him, 'Come at once and take your place at the table for your supper'? No, he will say to his servant, 'Get my supper ready; then make yourself ready to wait on me while I am eating and drinking; and after that you may have your supper.'
"Does a master thank his servant for doing what he has been told? Well, it is the same with you; when you have done all that you have been told, say, 'We are only servants; we have done no more than we ought to have done.'"