Hurlbut's Story of the Bible  by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut

The Poor Rich Man, and the Rich Poor Man

Luke xvi: 1 to 31, to xviii: 1 to 34; Matthew xix: 13 to 30; xx: 17 to 19; Mark x: 13 to 34.

dropcap image NOTHER parable that Jesus gave was that of "The Rich Man and Lazarus." He said,

"There was a rich man; and he was dressed in garments of purple and fine linen, living every day in splendor. And at the gate leading to his house was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores, and seeking for his food the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs of the street came and licked his sores.

"After a time the beggar died, and his soul was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and his body was buried. And in the world of the dead he lifted up his eyes, being in misery; and far away he saw Abraham, and Lazarus resting in his bosom. And he cried out 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 suffering in this flame!'

"But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you had your good things in your lifetime, and that Lazarus had his evil things; but now here he is comforted and you are in sufferings. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that no one may cross over from us to you, and none can come from your place to us.'

"And he said, 'I pray, O father Abraham, if Lazarus cannot come to me, command that he be sent to my father's house, for I have five brothers, and let him speak to them, so that they will not come to this place of torment.'

"But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them!'

"And he said, 'O father Abraham, if one should go to them from the dead, they will turn to God.'

"And Abraham said, 'If they will not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not believe, even though one should rise from the dead!' "

And this was true, for as the people would not listen to the words of Moses and the prophets about Christ, they would not believe, even after Jesus himself arose from the dead. There was another parable of Jesus, called "The Unjust Steward."

"A certain rich man had a steward, a man who took the care of all his possessions. He heard that his steward was wasting his property; and he sent for him, and said, 'What is this that I hear about you? You shall soon give up your place, and be my steward no longer.'

"Then the steward said to himself, 'In a few days I shall lose my place; and what shall I do? I cannot work in the fields, and I am ashamed to go begging from door to door. But I have thought of a plan that will give me friends, so that when I am put out of my place, some people will take me into their houses, because of what I have done for them.'

"And this was his plan. He sent for the men who were in debt to his master, and said to the first one, 'How much do you owe to my master?'

"The man said, 'I owe him a thousand gallons of oil.'

"Then said the steward, 'You need only pay five hundred gallons.' Then to another he said, 'How much do you owe?'

"The man answered, 'I owe fifteen hundred bushels of wheat.' And the steward said to him, 'You need pay only twelve hundred bushels.'

"When his master heard of this which his steward had done, he said, 'That is a sharp, shrewd man, who takes care of himself.' "

And Jesus said, "Be as earnest and as thoughtful for the eternal life as men are for this present life."


The unjust steward

Jesus did not approve the actions of this unjust steward, but he told his disciples to learn some good lessons even from his wrong deeds.

Jesus spoke another parable to show that people should pray always, and not be discouraged. It was the parable of "The Unjust Judge and the Widow." Jesus said:

"There was in a city a judge who did not fear God, nor seek to do right; nor did he care for man. And there was a poor widow in that city who had suffered wrong. She came to him over and over again, crying out, 'Do justice for me against my enemy who has done me wrong!'

"And for a time the judge, because he did not care for the right, would do nothing. But as the widow kept on crying, at last he said to himself, 'Even though I do not fear God nor care for man, yet because this widow troubles me and will not be still, I will give her justice, or else she will wear me out by her continual crying.'

And the Lord said, "Hear what this unjust judge says! And will not a just God do right for his own who cry to him by day and night, even though he may seem to wait long? I tell you that he will answer their prayer, and will answer it soon!"

And Jesus spoke another parable to some who thought that they were righteous and holy, and set others at nought. This was the parable of "The Pharisee and the Publican."

"Two men went up into the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are. I do not rob, I do not deal unjustly. I am free from wickedness. I am not even like this publican. I fast twice in each week. I give to God one-tenth of all that I have.' But the publican standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me, a sinner!'


The Pharisee and the Publican

"I say unto you," said Jesus, "this man went down to his house having his sins forgiven rather than the other. For every one that lifteth up himself shall be brought low; and he that is humble shall be lifted up."

And at this time the mothers brought to Jesus their little children, that he might lay his hands on them and bless them. The disciples were not pleased at this, and told them to take their children away. But Jesus called them to him, and said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it." And he put his hands on them and blessed them. And a certain young man, a ruler, came running to Jesus, and said, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may have everlasting life?"

"Why do you call me good?" said Jesus. "No one is good except one, that is God. You know the commandments; keep them."

"What commandments?" asked the young man.

"Do not kill; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor thy father and mother."

The young man said, "All these I have kept from my youth up. What do I need more than these?"

"One thing more you need to do," said Jesus. "Go sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."

But when he heard this he turned and went away very sad, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw this, he said, "How hard it is for those that are rich to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

At this the disciples were filled with wonder. They said, "If that be so, then who can be saved?"

And Jesus said, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God."

And Peter said, "Lord, we have left our homes and all that we have, and have followed thee."

And Jesus answered him, "Verily, I say to you, there is no man who has left house, or wife, or brothers, or parents, or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not have given to him many more times in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting."

Then Jesus again told his twelve disciples of what was soon to come to pass, even in a few weeks. He said, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and there all the things written by the prophets about the Son of man shall come true. He shall be made a prisoner, and shall be mocked, and treated shamefully, and shall be spit upon, and beaten, and shall be killed; and then the third day he shall rise again."

But they could not understand these things, and they did not believe that their Master was to die.