“Jesus said, ‘There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores’” (Luke 16:19-21, NLT).
Did you ever notice that there are two people in this story, but only one of them is mentioned by name? Why does the “certain rich man” remain anonymous, while Lazarus gets identified? Was Jesus protecting the privacy of the rich man?
I don’t think so. Instead, I believe it’s because this wealthy individual could be any of us. This parable invites us to do some soul searching. Specifically, it invites us to think about whether there are people right outside our door that are needing what we have.
Their needs may be material, like Lazarus’ were in this passage. Are there individuals that we pass every day that are hungry? Or… their needs may be emotional. Is there someone living right nearby that is lonely and longs for a friend? Or… their needs may be spiritual. Is there someone at work or at school that desperately needs to find out that Jesus loves them?
Here’s another thing to consider about this parable. Lazarus did have a name. Why? Because that person that we see every day has a name too. God intimately knows their name and their story. And He loves them deeply. There is a reason He planted you and me where He did. There is a reason that He caused our path to cross with that precious soul that He cherishes.
Do you notice, also, that the rich man also knew Lazarus’ name in this story? A few verses later he was asking, by name, to have Lazarus come to him to cool his tongue with water. He knew his name; Lazarus was a very familiar face to him. He could not even attempt to claim that he’d never seen him before.
God had intended him to be responsible for this poor man that was a part of his neighborhood; part of the world around him; part of his immediate surroundings. The Almighty had not expected him to take on all the world’s problems – that’s on God Himself – but He had expected him to do something about Lazarus’ needs.
Our loving Father expects the same of us. You and I cannot tackle the weight of the entire world. But God is indeed calling us to help that one within our reach.
Who is the Lazarus that He is bringing our attention to right now? What is the need that we could meet, if we open our eyes to see it? What is Holy Spirit calling us to do?