1st December 2019

The Unseen

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.”
Luke 16:19-21 (NRSV)

Jesus is the master storyteller. In the middle of Luke’s gospel, he tells a series of stories to a collective group of religious and non-religious people. One story concerns the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus. It’s revealing how Jesus goes to some length to describe the everyday details.

In that society purple dye was incredibly expensive and a sign of wealth. It served no other purpose except to show people you had wealth and to make an impression. In contrast, Lazarus, someone the rich man would have seen at his gate every day—was poor, dirty, and forgotten. There were many ‘unseen’ in Jesus’ day. Slavery was commonplace, and there were many poor. Not all were abused, but they were all ignored—unknown and unseen. Both die, but Jesus only shares what the rich man says in verse 24, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.”

Right there he’s proven that he still doesn’t get it! He ignores Lazarus, the poor man, as he did every day of his life. He talks over him as he always has done. Then he addresses Abraham as an equal and asks him to treat the poor man as a slave. ‘Tell your boy to do something for me…’ Abraham denies him and the man persists and says, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment” (verses 27-28).

Again, he is giving orders; again he’s ignoring the poor man. He still doesn’t get it: the hierarchy of the world, its social structures don’t apply in the kingdom. Here the poor man, the forgotten man, is no longer ignored. This story begs us to examine who we admire or idolise in contrast with whom we ignore, or leave at the gate. Whom do we walk by in our purple robes?

As we unwrap this parable, notice another detail: Only Lazarus is named. Of the two main characters here, Jesus only gives one of them a name. The poor man, the excluded man, the unimportant man, is made visible. Jesus sees the unseen of this world; do we?

Gracious Father, please help us to open our eyes to see others as you see them, and then to share your love and life with those we see. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Presented by Greg Williams

About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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