I’m telling the story of a different Lazarus than the one Jesus raised from the dead. The Lazarus I’m speaking of is found in Luke, chapter sixteen verses nineteen through thirty one.
Jesus tells the story of a man named Lazarus who panhandled at the gate of a certain rich man in Israel. You’ll notice that Jesus leaves out all the details about Lazarus’ situation – how he became a beggar and how he ended up at the rich man’s gate. The focus of the story is not how Lazarus ended up at the rich man’s gate – why he is there but upon the response of the rich man to Lazarus’ presence.
I went out with our outreach team to feed the homeless this weekend.
I saw hundreds of people who are homeless in our city congregated at a place they thought they might find some assistance. I walked among tents used as living quarters. I stepped around people sleeping on the ground. I saw women, children, seniors, and families among the homeless. I heard their stories. I looked at their wounds. I sought God with them. I handed them some food.
Your mind can’t help but wonder………how in the world did these folks end up here? You can’t help but notice that many are there because they choose to be. You can’t help but see that many are troubled and sick. You quickly notice that many fell on hard times and simply didn’t have any savings to make it through a time without income. You see that some lost loved ones and never recovered from the loss – ending up in a downward spiral culminating in homelessness. Some fled abuse. Some fled oppression. The stories are as varied as the people.
It’s easy for me to take the stance of the rich man in the parable. What was his stance?
To do nothing. To judge the one at his gate. To never step into his shoes for one moment. To consider him a nuisance. To consider his own life as more important than the one sitting at his gate.
Jesus warned against such a response.
What is your response going to be? Judgment? Neglect? Fear? Revulsion?
Jesus is watching our response.
The rich man went to hell for no other reason that we know of than neglecting to help Lazarus. Is that sobering or what!
This year, respond to who is at your gate! You can’t help your “Lazarus” until you make a trip to where he is. Let’s go out and show the compassion of Jesus and maybe, just maybe our lives will begin to look like the One we so desire to emulate. And, in so doing, we will see several of our own “Lazarus'” come forth out of homelessness, addiction, depression, and despair into the glorious liberty of the Lord Jesus!