The story of the rich man and Lazarus is one of the best-known of Jesus’ parables in the New Testament. But what is it about? What is the point?
It seems quite clear: the story is about hell. Perhaps every sermon I’ve ever heard on this passage has zeroed in on verse 24, and specifically the words “agony” and “fire.” Whole messages have been built on those two words.
But as I’ve reflected on this story, I think that focus actually misses the point. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it isn’t about hell. But I am suggesting that it’s not mainly about hell. And like Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken,” if you listen carefully to what Author of this parable says—not only within the text itself but also in its context—you might discover the main point makes Jesus’ words about hell all the more vivid.
Text: Luke 16.19–31