As I consider the story of Lazarus and the rich man, I am struck by one thing. Yeshua never called the rich man by name. The poor man is named Lazarus. The rich man has no name.
The Rich Man and the Skeleton Houses
I was riding the bus today through Lake Oswego, an opulent, wealthy suburb of Portland. I saw all the “castles” which people build for themselves and I thought, “What is it really all for? I’m sure not impressed.”
In the midst of my thoughts, I passed by a house under new construction. It was gigantic, sprawling, imposing, and… a skeleton. Just a mere skeleton of wood and concrete. Wooden beams stretching to the sky, wooden beams dividing rooms, wooden beams shaping a staircase and a floor. It was not at all impressive. I suppose people will ooh and ahh once the carpet goes in, the windows are filled with glass, the walls are painted a trendy color, and the outside is decorated with expensive stonework.
This house made me think. Who owns the trees which were killed and cut down to make beams for this skeleton? Did anyone ask the trees if they wanted to give their life to become a house? And if so, did they want to become mere property of another rich person? And how did that person come to own that piece of land? Didn’t YHWH intend the land to be shared by all of his creation? Did YHWH ever say one person should get a castle while another person sleeps on a concrete slab under a bridge?
A Bible Story About the Rich Man
Luke 16:19-24 (NIV)
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
As I consider the story of Lazarus and the rich man, I am struck by one thing.
Nowhere did Yeshua ever gave the rich man a name.
The poor man has a name, Lazarus. But the rich man has no name. Was this accidental? Perhaps Yeshua just drew a blank at that moment. I doubt it. I think Yeshua was making a point. In this world, the rich reduce the poor to a mere number, a nameless face in the “rabble” on the street, a piece of refuse they pass by on the sidewalk which messes up their day for awhile.
The rich man buys all the land, leaving nowhere for the poor man to build his house. The rich man builds a castle and takes all the wood for himself, emptying the forests so the poor man has nothing left to build his house. The rich man heats that castle, taking all the energy for himself and driving utility costs so high that the poor man is forced to shiver in the cold.
The Poor Man Has a Name in Heaven
YHWH sees all this. It happens every minute of every day on earth. YHWH knows that poor man. The poor man cries out day and night for justice. YHWH comforts that poor man, adopts him as a son, invites him to His home in heaven, and gives him a name.
YHWH does not know the rich man. The rich man never has time or need to call out to YHWH. The rich man is proud, and he runs the worldly justice system for his own gain. YHWH judges the rich man in the heavenly justice system, and finding him wanting throws him into hell. The rich man is no adopted son of YHWH, and the rich man has no name.