Dear friends in Christ: Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Are you the Rich Man, or are you Lazarus?
At first glance, the question of who represents you and me in this parable seems a straightforward one. And so does the answer. Jesus, after all, was telling this story to the Pharisees- to hardened hypocrites who thought that God owed them His blessing.
Most were probably better off than most in material things. But more to the point, they were the people who were made much of in Jewish society- the Teachers of the Law, the learned men who were the repository not only of God’s revelation, but of the cultural heritage of the Hebrew nation. These were the people to whom everyone looked up. These are the people with whom everyone was impressed- and the Pharisees themselves not least of all.
These were the people to whom one deferred in public, and whom it was good manners to treat as better than oneself. The Pharisees …
"The law saith to the sinner. Pay thy debt; the Gospel saith, Christ hath paid it. The law saith, Thou art a sinner, despair, thou shalt be damned; the Gospel saith, Thy sins are forgiven thee, be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved. The law saith, Make amends for thy sins; the Gospel saith, Christ hath made it for thee. The law saith, The Father of heaven is angry with thee; the Gospel saith, Christ hath pacified Him with His blood. The law saith, Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction? The Gospel saith, Christ is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction. The law saith, Thou art bound and obliged to me, to the devil, and to hell; the Gospel saith, Christ hath delivered thee from them all.”
--Patrick Hamilton, Scottish Lutheran martyr Burned at St. Andrews February 29, 1528