A Clay Jar

Encouraging, comforting, and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Thess. 2:12 NIV)

A Parable of Role Reversals

Luke 16:19-23

Published on:

Last updated on:

In Luke 16:1-9, Jesus told a parable about using worldly wealth wisely, using it in a way that would produce a welcome into our eternal home. In Luke 16:10-12 he encouraged us to be faithful with what we have, still referring to how we handle worldly wealth. He went on to tell us we cannot serve both God and money (Lk. 16:13) and that “what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight” (Lk. 16:15).

And then, to illustrate the contrast between what men prize and what God detests, Jesus gave us another parable–a parable of role reversals.

There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores.

Luke 16:19-21 NET

This parable begins by describing two men. One was rich and had everything he could have desired, living in luxury. The other was a poor beggar who had nothing. The beggar did, however, have one thing that the rich man lacked. He had a name. He was known by God.

A Dramatic Role Reversal

Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side.

Luke 16:22-23 NET

As the parable goes on, we find the two men have died. And the contrast between them is just as great as before. Except that their roles have been reversed. Lazarus was not buried. Instead, he received an angelic escort to Abraham’s side. His days of torment were over.

Unlike Lazarus, the rich man was buried and found himself in Hades, a place of torment and anguish. And it was likely made worse because he could see that the one who had sat outside his gate, covered in sores and begging, was now in a place of honor at Abraham’s side.

God’s Perspective Is Not Our Perspective

Jesus did not tell this parable to describe heaven and hell. It is, instead, an illustration to show that “what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight” (Lk. 16:15). This nameless rich man thought he had it all. He had the kind of life that is highly prized in this world. But, in God’s eyes, he was a nameless nobody who found himself cast out and in torment.

This parable illustrates the importance of using our worldly resources wisely. Not for our own comfort and benefit. But by investing them in the kingdom of God by caring for those less fortunate. Be careful to evaluate the “goodness” of your life through God’s eyes rather than by the standards of this world.

Additional Related Posts

If you have found value in this post, please consider sharing it with your friends.

Subscribe to A Clay Jar

If you have found value in this post, please consider subscribing to A Clay Jar so that you don't miss any other posts. 

Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

Leave a Comment