Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seeing the Connections

Our parable for this final week in our journey through the stories Jesus tells in Luke 14-16 is one that has traditionally been called The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (though I appreciated this week one commentator who suggested it should more accurately be called The Indifferent-Man-Who-Could-Have-Listened-to-Moses-and-the-Prophets-and-Followed-God's-Way-of-Life-and-Been-Welcomed-Into-Paradise-by-Father-Abraham-But-Chose-Not-To and Lazarus), found in Luke 16:19-31. Read it here:

I have learned so much this past month on our journey through Jesus' parables together in worship and in our Tuesday night Tea and Parables conversations. I think one of my biggest takeaways, though, has been learning to read Jesus' parables in light of each other. I have always thought of the parables as largely separate anecdotes, certainly all connecting to Jesus' teachings; but I have never really thought about the extensive ways the parables connect to and echo one another.

Take this week's parable, for example. As I read it, thinking about the rich man and his brothers seeing Lazarus in need every day yet refusing to really see and help, I heard incredible echoes of the parable of the Good Samaritan, where the priest and the levite refuse to help the wounded man even when they saw him. I heard echoes back to last week's parable--this as a further illustration of what it looks like to not be faithful with wealth, and certainly to fail to use your wealth to make friends, and to live as if the present world is run by consumer standards rather than kingdom standards. And I heard even echoes of the parables of lost things in Luke 15--perhaps this story is another illustration of what it looks like to be lost? And are more than one character lost in this story, just as in the story of the prodigal where both brothers were lost in different ways? And beyond parables, I hear incredible resonance between this parable and the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus.

I think there are lots of connections to be made, and I would encourage you to hear parables with not just Jesus' other teachings but also Jesus' other stories he told and lived. What bigger tapestry is Jesus trying to weave here? How are these stories not just to be heard as self-contained units but as clues to something bigger than themselves? What have you learned or noticed and what connections have you made on our journey through the parables?

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