Throughout the first three gospels, Jesus uses short stories to illustrate or teach the truth known as parables. A parable is simply an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. In Matthew chapter eight verse ten, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” Jesus replied, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the heaven, but to them it is not given.” There have been many discussions about the meaning of these parables as ministers and religious leaders have continued to spread God’s word. A parable, not so well known is about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Jesus uses this parable to stress the evils of wealth, particularly towards the Pharisees who believed that riches bought righteousness. Patrick Hogan believes this parable is a statement that the very life of wealth is damnable, and that the poor deserve to be raised up. He believes the parable is a harsh condemnation of those who perpetuate a system of wealth and poverty .
Systematically, the disabled citizens were excluded from religious affairs and functions by Jewish leaders and other religious leaders. Lepers were often required to separate themselves completely from the community at large . This is why so many parables and teachings of Christ focused on the sick and the poor; they were outcast by religion and the rich. Some believe that there are many parables that are like so many folktales and fables. Many fables, especially Greco-Roman Jewish fables are closely parallel with the gospel parables and that perhaps when Jesus spoke the parable he was pulling from the original Egyptian Fable about a rich man and a poor man . Fables typically have a moral to learn and usually end in irony. Mary Beavis states the moral of the parable is bad people will suffer and good people will be rewarded, and the ironic part is in verse twenty-five where Abraham points out the role reversal.
Critics are quick to point out how Jesus taught parables that parallel traditional fables, however, there are fables that parallel Jesus’ stories as well. For instance, in Plato’s fable The Allegory of the Cave, Socrates is speaking with a man named Glaucon about the symbolic predicament men find themselves in and he proposes a way to salvation . In this dialogue, Plato is describing a cave and the elements of the place, which closely parallel the rich man and Lazarus parable. Plato mentions a fire burning, the recognition and sight of each place—heaven and hell, he also describes the cave as a prison, and he continues the journey through the cave describing and instructing Gluacon as to the philosophies of life.
This parable is separated into two themes, verse nineteen through twenty-six and verse twenty-seven through thirty-one. The first theme contains two main characters, the rich man and Lazarus, and their subsequent deaths. Upon their death, the rich man knows who was righteous and who was not. The second theme is about the after life. ...