What Jesus Really Meant by the Story of Lazarus

Christians who believe in hell like to point to the story of Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) as evidence that hell is real. But that’s like pointing to the story of the Three Little Pigs as evidence that pigs make decent architects. It pretty wholly misses the point.

Here’s the part of the story of Lazarus to which I think Jesus most wanted us to pay attention:

The time came when the beggar [Lazarus] died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

So here we have a guy who’s in hell. Hell! Not good. Mortal agony. Torment.

And in his writhing desperation, this formerly wealthy man looks up to heaven, and says to Abraham, “Abraham! I’m dying down here! I can’t take it. Have Lazarus there bring me some water!”

Look how the rich man can’t let go. Look at no matter how much he is suffering, no matter how busted down he is, no matter how directly horrible the evidence that the way he has always lived and thought has resulted in nothing but pure suffering for himself, the guy still has to be a complete dick. He still has to treat Lazarus as someone not really a man, not really complete, not really worth respecting.

The rich man doesn’t ask Abraham to quench his thirst. That doesn’t even occur to him. Abraham’s too important for that sort of menial task. To his mind, Abraham is more like one of his peers.

But Lazarus? Pffft. That guy’s a bum.

Lazarus can wait on him. Afterlife or not, the guy clearly thinks that hasn’t changed.

The story of Lazarus isn’t about hell being real. It’s about the limitless depth to which we are attached to our egos, to our arrogance, to our stubborn, shameless pride. Through this story Jesus is showing us that the harder we cling to our vanity, and the more blindly we align ourselves with the baseless persona that we believe is essential to our identity and survival, the more we are bound to miss out on the only thing in life that really matters, which is treating and loving others as Jesus commanded us to do.

I think that’s the reason the rich man isn’t given a name, while Lazarus is.

I think Jesus wants us to understand that the rich man is us.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    The rich need nothing.

    Unfortunately, with wealth,

    nothing costs too much.

    • http://luwandi.wordpress.com beth luwandi

      Like, Ric.

      Still, I am confounded with the suggestion Jesus should mention in his parable a state that does not occur in the afterlife. i.e. suffering, flames licking, weeping and gnashing of teeth… Not that this is the point of the story. Avoiding hell has never been a big personal motivator; I’m equally confounded how “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” actually moved people to repentance.

      I like the more important point you illuminate, John.

      • Jeff

        The fact that Jesus died on the cross for me….whether I was going to accept it or not….is what moved me to repentance.

      • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

        The truth of myth, Beth, is that stories are illustrative. They don’t have to actually have happened nor do they have to one day really happen for the truth in the story to be real or have meaning in our lives.

        • http://luwandi.wordpress.com beth luwandi

          Same for me, Jeff! His love drew me to repentance and nothing else.

          I make myth my living, Christy. Seriously. So my point was that I can’t think of a time when Jesus in any of his other parables talked about things that do not exist, or are not states which “universally occur.”

          Fathers, sons, prodigals, peasants, farmers, wheat, fish, pearls, kings, servants,starving widows, debtors, debtors prison, ladies in waiting… all of course, directed at an audience in a particular setting and place to convey a message he himself said was hidden to some. That is, in fact, as he tells the disciples, why he spoke in parables.

          I agree that the main point of this is not as evidence of hell and i think its use has been widely abused.

          I’m merely pointing out I’m confounded by what seems to me an incongruity with His pattern.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

            Thanks for the clarification, Beth. I’ll enjoy noodling on that.

            I’m intrigued recently with the Bible as literature. I’ve heard a few wonderful lectures on this, particularly regarding the stories of biblical women: Rebekah, Judith, the Queen of Sheba. The depth of symbolism and literary technique is terribly fascinating. The stories are so rich with layers when put into context.

            Your blog looks lovely. I too enjoy writing and cooking (and therefore, reading and eating). Thanks for your note. All the best to you. ~ C

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

    I will honestly state that I have never heard the story of Lazurus explained in such a way. I’d always heard it as a parable about heaven and hell. I will also admit that my religious upbringing ignored the story completely. I didn’t even know it is was in the bible until I left that church. Yeah the church of my youth tended to steer members away from any scripture that may counter their teachings, and sometimes made stuff up and strongly discouraged anyone countering the claims.

    When I finally discovered this story, I think I was hearing it read in my new church at the time, I was shocked as it seemed to invalidate what I had been taught about heaven or hell. What I was now being told about it, seemed to confirm the theory was that it was about heaven and hell and activities on earth that determine us getting there.

    Still, the jury was still lingering somewhat on that, at least how I was thinking about it. I’d been duped before, so I have learned that keeping an open mind when it comes to interpretation of scripture is often a good thing. And as people have been misunderstanding Jesus’s parables for generations, I can see how such a very important point could have been missed by many.

    At the risk of swelling your head, I will enthusiastically say, brilliant insight there John.

  • http://www.twitter.com/aaronpminton Aaron

    Very Robbellian. The explanation holds water (pun intended) especially regarding how important “getting water” for someone was in first century Palestine. But I still don’t understand why the rich man was in torment in the first place. Anyone have a take on that?

    Love the Blog, will probably buy your books.

    AM

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      *Shrug* Torment comes when one who’s built their life on having the most toys realizes that money doesnt’ bring meaning?

      Or perhaps, when one gets used to a certain lifestyle, having it taken away is agonizing. Out to dinner with my guy after a sudden flush of money, celebrating his having a new job, at the dinner table, I said “Yeah, we’ve been eating well this week. Let’s not do this too much. I don’t want to get used to it.” He asked, “Why not?” and I said “If things go south for us again, I don’t want to feel like something’s being taken away. Right now, this is awesome – because it’s not something I’m used to and I appreciate it.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

    verse 25 reads “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish.” which is always the way i remember the story being explained (i don’t go to a church which makes all that big of a deal about heaven and hell, and i interpreted this as about the failings of mortal things) . your analysis is a fresh look at it. thanks.

  • vj

    One of the things I like most about your writing is that you always make me THINK!

  • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

    Bravo, John. Nicely done.

    Ever notice how Jesus goes out of his way to make the marginalized person the hero in his stories…it’s a pretty cool “A-ha” as you run through the list.

  • http://www.stlukesdurham.org/ReasonsVideo/index.html Peach McDouall

    I had been given this insight the last time we heard about Lazarus & Dives in the lectionary, and I remember being HUGELY grateful at the time. This lesson isn’t about heaven/hell as real geographic locations, it’s about hell of seeing our brothers and sisters as implements/objects to be used for our own gratification.

    This is why it’s so hard for a rich man to get into heaven; to amass that much stuff one has to get in the habit of unthinking, selfish use of fellow children of God, and of thinking of oneself as somehow estranged from most of humanity. That habit is as hard to shake now as it was in 1st c. Palestine.

    The Good News: We are Beloved Children of God, every one of us.

  • Jeff

    There is so much to this story, that it’s a shame to limit it to two verses. Let’s look at the whole story (Luke 16:19-31)

    “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

    “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

    “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

    “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

    “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

    The point here is that Jesus had already commanded his followers (and us) that we have a responsibility to take care of the poor. In this story, and in our world today, the poor are just outside of “our gate,” and we are doing nothing to take care of them as Jesus commanded. Current numbers suggest that there are more than 140,000,000 orphans worldwide. Nearly 30,000 children die EACH DAY from hunger or preventable diseases. When the rich man arrives in hell and realizes that his earthly status as a rich, religious leader didn’t do squat to get him into Heaven….that he failed to follow Jesus’ commands, he pleads with Abraham to send someone to warn his family so that they don’t make the same mistake.

    This is an illustration for us to not make the same mistake. When we fully accept Jesus into our lives, there are natural responses and reactions to that relationship; taking care of the poor is one of those responses. For some more background, grab your bible and look at Matthew 25:31-46.

    Also, note that this is the only parable told by Jesus where he uses a name. Lazarus literally means: “God is my helper.” I think we need to place far more emphasis on the fact that Jesus used the name Lazarus in this parable than we need to place on the fact that the rich man remains nameless. None of the other parables uses a specific name.

    • Christie

      I agree with you, Jeff.

      John- Great post.

      Is anyone else terribly uncomfortable with the lifestyle they live now?

      I am.

      I have SO much and there’s still so many MILLIONS (if not BILLIONS) of people worldwide who do not have a chance at even surviving through this year (thousands won’t make it through tomorrow!) because they lack BASIC necessities. Food, clean water, and shelter/clothing.

      I have these things in EXCESS. I am overweight from too much food and much too comfortable with the availability I have to “the finer things in life.” I call BS on myself. If my actions are representing my beliefs.. well damn. I am one heck of an unbeliever.

      I feel guilty for the good life I have. I have problems, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t have a reason to think I’ll die because of starvation, malaria, diarrhea, or other horrible diseases anytime in the near future.

      My problems are luxuries! If I was struggling to survive, day-to-day, I wouldn’t have time or energy to worry about the “problems” I have now. I’m pretty sure I’d live my life in a much more grateful state of mind. I try to remember to be grateful, but if I prayed before bed each night that I would wake in the morning to have one more day, I wouldn’t have to “try to remember” to be thankful.

      So what do we do?

      I keep thinking about this type of phrase I hear from all sorts of places…

      “Take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else.”

      Well, my question becomes, “At what level do I consider myself taken care of?” Right now my basic needs are met. Billions of others do not have that. But then again, I depend on help from others to have those needs met. But am I taking advantage of that help because I don’t help others who are less fortunate with every thing and in every way I can?

      We are conditioned to go after wealth and status and to have the very best, to look out for #1.

      I’m coming to feel how UN-Christian this is.

      Do more people feel like this?

      • Jeff

        If the Lord didn’t bless us with the tremendous wealth we have as individuals and as a nation, so that we can be a blessing to those who have nothing, why did He do it? So that we can gather more and more for ourselves? So that we can grow fat and complacent? I don’t think so….I don’t think so. It is time that we all look as sacraficially giving to our brothers and sisters in need.

  • Deanna

    John: I really enjoyed reading your take on it — it opened up some new lines of thought for me.

    This is what I had thought: the real point of this story comes in the versus after you leave off above: Luke 16: 27-31 — The rich man answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

    Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

    “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

    To me, this was foreshadowing Jesus’ death and was a way of Jesus saying that for some people, even a man coming back from the dead wouldn’t be enough. The people of that time had Moses and the prophets and hadn’t listened to them. And for many of them, even Jesus rising from the dead wasn’t enough to get them to believe.

    That’s what I always took away from this parable. That there were always be unbelievers, no matter what miracles are performed.

    • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      Okay, the situation is this: In a modern hospital somewhere, out of the morgue, some poor murder victim who’s been in the morgue for a few days, getting autoposied and so forth gets up, starts walking, starts talking, the blood’s flowing again and they’re quite alive.

      Assuming that this incident is not covered and is leaked to the press…

      What do you suppose would happen?

      Of course there will be people shouting “Oh, Lawd, it’s a miracle!” and say “Take that, skeptics!”

      How long before, after the “he wasn’t really dead” stuff is ruled out, before people start saying “Wow, spontaneous ACT OF NATURE!” or, “Death went into remission!” and start studying the guy for the pure-scientific, materlaistic basis of “reversible death?”

      If it happens, that’s what will happen. This speculative-fiction writer’s mind predicts it.

  • dana111

    I like this post, John. In my opinion, I think the reason why the rich man went to Hell and why Lazarus went to the Bosom of Abraham has less to do with having correct theology and more to do with having love and compassion for others and seeing oneself as completely broken with out the love of God. In my opinion, Lazarus knew that he was not worthy to be in the presence of God. Not because he wasn’t “saved,” but because he knew his frailty and his brokenness. Because of his poverty, he lived a life of humility and was forced to depend on God for his every need. The rich man, on the other hand, was used to servants catering to his every whim and expected to be a “chosen one” because of his pride, his money, and living his life the “right” way. Jesus said that, at the end of everything, the last will be first and the first will be last. Those who, in their arrogance, believe that they will be first because they said a correct prayer and believed a correct theology and hated the right people may be sadly surprised when the heathens, the poor, and the so-called “heretics” enter the Bosom of Abraham before them.

  • Wayne Johnson

    While the story itself is a parable, I understand this Lazarus to be the same Lazarus who was sick, who died, and was raised from the dead in John. And I understand the rich man to be his uncle Caiaphas, who was rich, had five brothers, and was the high priest. I understand Lazarus to be the man whom Jesus loved, the narrator of most of the gospel of John.

    As the nephew of the high priest, Lazarus would have access to the court in order to tell us what was going on inside (John chapters 18-19), while Peter and the rest stayed outside.

    http://thegospelofjohn.com/

    According to Orthodox Church tradition, Lazarus became bishop of the church of Cyprus, and Mary the mother of Jesus and came to visit him in Cyprus. Remember that Jesus asked them from the cross to treat each other as mother and son. In this understanding, the first ten chapters of John may have included stories she told Lazarus, like the wedding at Cana.

    http://www.serfes.org/lives/stlazarus.htm

    • Amy

      I thought the Lazarus who died and came back was the brother of Mary and Martha, not a beggar…

      • JohnShoreFan

        I believe that from the cross it was John the beloved disciple whom Jesus instructed to care for Mary, not Lazarus. This John would NOT be the same as John of Patmos who had the revelation of “heaven” or John the brother of James. Or John Shore. :D Scholars are divided about whether or not Lazarus the beggar and Lazarus of Bethany, brother to Mary and Martha, were one and the same. I tend to think they were not, but I’m a liturgy scholar and not an historian of early Christianity. Just my two cents.

  • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

    John said it right in the first line….without using the hitting us over the head with a frying pan way of saying it. Writers like to do that: make us think, that is….kinda like the original storyteller.

    Folks, it’s a story about how to live here and now. It’s not about the afterlife.

  • http://mrhackman.blogspot.com Andrew

    I have heard that story countless times and never caught that point. Thanks John!

  • Don Rappe

    Perhaps errant thinking can be driven out by better thinking. I hope so!

  • Amy

    I just heard a reflection very similar to this on a silent retreat I was on a couple of weeks ago. Cool.

    • JohnShoreFan

      I think it’s funny that you “heard” something on a silent retreat! Well done!

      John, have you by any chance been reading Rob Bell? Cuz he makes this exact point in Love Wins. Nicely done, to him and to you. I pointed this out to a woman in my congregation in support of my belief that hell exists only insofar as we create it for ourselves, and she was desperate for me to give her some sciprtural substantiation for such a belief. But her rebuttal was to say, “Well, that’s just someone’s interpretation! That’s not what the bible actually SAYS! It says the rich man was in hell, therefore hell exists according to the bible.” Sigh. Because of course, reading the bible literally word for word makes perfect sense, right? Do we read other books literally word for word? Of course not! Anyway, THANK YOU for this insightful exegesis. As always, I think everyone in the world should read your stuff. We’d be a “hell” of a lot better off, IMHO!

      • Amy

        Ha Ha, very funny. It was during the time of reflection. At the retreat there are 3 prayer times where we sing some taize song (quietly), read a prayer of the hour (quietly), say an echo prayer (quie…you get it). My friend Padraig runs these retreats and gives a 10 minute reflection in the morning.

        Anyhoo, I had never heard this story explained this way until Padraig.

  • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

    Quick question: Is this Lazarus the same Lazarus whom Christ resurrected?

    • vj

      Seems very unlikely to me. The Lazarus resurrected by Jesus was the brother of Mary & Martha, who we know lived in a house large enough to accommodate Jesus, the disciples and various other people, as well as having the means to feed them (which is why Martha felt so hard done by when Mary wasn’t helping…). It seems unlikely that they would also have a brother who was a starving beggar (if they loved him so much that they were distraught when he died, why wouldn’t they take him in, feed him, attend to his sores etc if he were the beggar in this story?).

      I think it far more likely that this particular story is just that : a *story* Jesus told to illuminate His message – as with the man who found a treasure in a field, or the woman who lost a coin, or the servant who buried the talent entrusted to him by his employer, or the debtor who failed to forgive the debt of someone indebted to him…. It is interesting that this is the only such story in which Jesus names a character, but I suspect this made the story easier to tell (and may also be related to the meaning of the name, as pointed out by Jeff).

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Anyone whom Christ has resurrected is everyone that’s truly Lazarus. Notice how Abraham says, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” How could he know? Do you think our Father in Heaven would really fail to show the rich man the mercy he begged not for his own sake but for his family?

      • http://www.BuzzDixon.com buzz

        I’ve wondered if Christ’s “rises from the dead” remark was in reference to His own upcoming death & resurrection, indicating some will not believe not matter what.

  • Michael Eric Hund

    Great post, John. Thank you for the wisdom!

  • Jeremiah Christian

    Huh? getting that conclusion is like reading the story of the three little pigs and coming to the conclusion that the wolf is the victim because society has failed him and not provided him welfare and food stamps driving him to the vicious act of attacking the antagonistic pigs, who brought it on themselves anyway. Every child knows the moral of the story comes at the end, but you stopped right in the middle. The end of the story is: If you can’t read God’s word and see the truth there is nothing that can help you and there will be no mercy for you. He is saying: You better get it right in life or you will be trapped in eternity!

    • DR

      Jeremiah,

      You’ve entered a blog where people are actually thinking openly as well as critically. OK? Not everything is black and white when it comes to our very broken, shattered glass. Your need to be cut and dry is far more about your need to control your own world and possibly, a great fear of being wrong about something that validates you so completely. Consider opening your mind to the idea that you can actually, open your mind to another way of looking at this account at the Bible without immediately concluding that the person suggesting the alternative view are under delusion, a watered-down Christian or “doesn’t have the Word of God in him”.

      • Jeremiah Christian

        I am familiar with your viewpoint. the difference between you and I is that you believe we are in the middle of discovering something (open mindedness, not knowing the eventual conclusion), I believe that the truth (conclusions) were established before we ever existed. All we have to do is ask God what they are, not ‘figure them out’ by logic and reasoning, because somethings God does do not make sense. And that is the danger in your line of thinking. You throw out the truth and actions of God because you cannot reconcile them with your logic or perspective, which all our perspectives are limited being mere humans, “If it doesn’t make sense, God must not have done it, or He meant something completely different than what is the obvious conclusion. Coming up with conclusions that were not apart of the orginal ‘moral’ at the cost of the original ‘moral’ doesn’t make you clever or insightful. It makes you oblivious: -Merriam-webster, Oblivious: lacking remembrance, memory, or mindful attention.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Jeremiah: You’re welcomed to comment on this blog. You’re not welcomed to do things like call people “oblivious.” That’s childishly ungracious (and hardly reflects the patient love of the Christ you so passionately claim to emulate). I’ll let your snarky insult stand this time, but do anything like it one more time and I’ll block you from this blog. Thanks for understanding. (Extra points to you if you apologize.)

          • Jeremiah Christian

            I did mean exactly what I said, though not in a baseless mean way. Uncovering ‘hidden truths’ is often heralded as insightful, throwing out the meaning of a story because it doesn’t agree with you is willful blindness. Hence, the word as a describing word, not an insult.

            “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you .” John 14:26

            Our logic and reasoning is not only unnecessary, but counter-productive. Your conscience bears witness against you when you read a passage like the story in Luke in that it says, “This is not like me, this is not how I think or feel.”, but rather than to feel guilt and change your ways you replace it with despise, malcontent, and rebellion for the One who put it there.

          • Jeremiah Christian

            as far as, “That’s childishly ungracious (and hardly reflects the patient love of the Christ you so passionately claim to emulate). “you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”

            That comes from the man I so passionately claim to emulate. Patience and Love are only two of His attributes along with Wrathful, Jealous, and Ruler with and Iron Rod.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            You’re blocked, you self-righteous twit.

          • DR

            Part of me wants to believe that the Jeremiah Christians of the world just don’t exist. But they do in massive amounts and they’ve held Jesus Christ hostage for years. That’s changing now, has to be freaking them out a little.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

            John, who am I going to write sermons for now?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Gee, and here I thought for sure you’d apologize. What a surprise that you didn’t.

          • DR

            I am always disappointed. But I’m never surprised anymore. I expect that kind of thing from that kind of Christian.

          • http://leap-of-fate.com/ Christy

            You should know that I have a bruise on my forehead from today. Still digging the opera analogy though. Thanks for that. It has been comfortingly peace inducing.

        • Jeremiah Christian

          Though your point about the rich man is true, he did still see Lazarus as still a servant to himself.

        • DR

          You are actually totally inaccurate about what it is that I believe, so I’ll correct you. The full revelation of Truth is found within Jesus Christ. We are just in process of discovering it.

          It is always so fascinating to watch Evangelists like yourself ascribe such malicious intent and interior experience when your cage gets rattled. It doesn’t affect me (not anymore). It doesn’t really bother me, it’s just so weird to watch.

          If you are going to come to this blog with something to teach all of us about what it means to be willfully blind then go for it. In my two years here, each time I’ve seen someone with your same posturing, tone and attitude? They left as a student, not as a teacher.

        • DR

          Isn’t it fascinating that if someone like Jeremiah can’t control the conversation on his very specific terms, he says I’m “throwing the truth away”? It makes me kind of sad for these people at this point.

    • Sebastian

      “The end of the story is: If you can’t read God’s word and see the truth there is nothing that can help you and there will be no mercy for you.”

      No, not really. Read gospels, look how Christ acted towards people of pretty much different religions like Samaritans, or towards prostitutes. Is God really saying what you imply by crying out to Father from the cross “forgive them”? No mercy for them just because they “didn’t get it right”? I think you need to read the bible once more, because that’s not even close.

  • Jeremiah Christian

    And you really think Jesus would name places and describe them as a made up story without saying, “I’ve got a story for you”. He just says it like it is a fact.

    • Allie

      And without a parable came he not unto them.

      You can’t tell this is a made up story? Really? Because it’s been traditional church belief for a couple of thousand of years that this is a made-up story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bert-Gagnon/731901646 Bert Gagnon via Facebook

    “…the limitless depth to which we are attached to our egos, to our arrogance, to our stubborn, shameless pride.” Isn’t that just another deffinition of hell?

  • Judy Volkar

    I like to think that the Bible is rich enough to have more than one meaning to a passage. So for me, this passage is where Jesus set in motion the fact that He was “laying down his life for a friend” By raising Lazarus from the dead, he attracted the attention of the Sanhedrin. In doing so, they started to pay heed to Him and plan His death.

  • Chad Holtz

    As someone who lost his pulpit for not believing in hell, I would have loved this rendering. But I think Its wrong.

    I believe the point of the rich man now begging for even a drop of water off the dirty finger of a poor man illustrates how dreadful hell truly is. It is so awful that pretense is gone, and he would now gladly beg for just a drop of water to quench his thirst from the one he ignored in his life.

    Lets not forget the plea as well. He wanted his family to change…to know that this hell is real and to repent lest they all join him.

    Hell is real. Woe to us who have lost all fear of God.

    • Melody

      Chad, you are truly sick. The so-called “rehab” brainwashed you and turned you into a robot. I pray you recover from your programming.

      • Diana A.

        I think he will. But it’s not going to be pretty or pleasant.

    • Mindy

      Chad, you lost your pulpit because you stopped using fear to “control the masses,” i.e., your congregation. You preached a God of love. How dare you!

      And now you’ve given in to the brainwashing of those who want to control you – through, of course, fear. I wish only for your strength in overcoming those who have hijacked your brain.

  • Martin

    I believe in Hell and the Devil. They exist without a doubt in my mind. Our God, however, is superior to the Devil and to Hell in every way, and can destroy them with a snap of the fingers. I believe they are here to test us; to tempt us with actual sin, and not the conservative view of “everything that is fun is sin.” And if we, during our time on Earth, decide to forget about God, denounce Him fully and lead a life of actual sin, we’d go to Hell. Now, I don’t know if Hell is the burning place or just a state of limbo – nor do I care, since I don’t see forgetting about God or denouncing Him as an option. I love Him too much.

    Now, about fearing God. I am not entirely sure what people mean with that, but in the traditional meaning of the word, I don’t fear God. I see God as my EVERYTHING. He gave me this life. He didn’t have to, but He did, out of love. I can’t every really pay Him back, but all He wants is my love. Not my fear. I believe in God, I love God and I have my personal morality, enforced by God. That’s all I need. :) But I don’t for a second think bad of Chad or the comments he made. I don’t see Christianity as black and white. I believe each person has his own way of essentially “getting” to God. The conservative viewpoint (to an extent), is valid, but it should only count for them and they shouldn’t try to make it universal. We all believe in the same God.

    • Greg Owens

      “Now, about fearing God. I am not entirely sure what people mean with that” Therein lies the problem; lack of understanding causes us to have incorrect perceptions.

  • js121

    There is NO Heaven/Hell. The Jewish invented those terms because they needed to have a reward/penalty for social behavior. If you believe it, then, it proves the point. If not? Well, you must live life as if there really is because we need social laws, social graces…to live together in peace; but, again….there is NO heaven/hell.

    • people’s views changes god doesn’t

      people have had near death experience and have experienced the smell, torment, fear, complete separation from god, fire etc, they were revived by the doctors.

      a person had this experience and they had no knowledge of hell, nice try troll!


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