The tragic non-hero of our story finally emerges from his selfish bubble and starts thinking of others. But his concern is still limited. He wants to warn only those in his closest circle, his five brothers who are following his path toward destruction. Despite this sudden awareness, however, the rich man still can’t see Lazarus as more than a simple servant made to do his bidding. He can’t grasp the fact that this human, who the rich man considers to be beneath his status, has been elevated above him.
The rich man is the one who looks pitiful in the story, not Lazarus. The standards of God’s kingdom, where the first become last and the last become first, are notoriously hard for us to grasp. The rich man either isn’t capable of understanding the justice of this reckoning, or simply refuses to accept it. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers about their fate.
Abraham’s response may seem a little heavy-handed and unsympathetic to us, but perhaps that’s the point. The reality is that no amount of proof will finally convince us of the things we’re unwilling to see. The brothers most likely passed by Lazarus when he was alive. Did they notice him? Did they heed the warning that his suffering body screamed at them every time they walked past? Or did they turn their heads? Even if Lazarus were to come back from the dead, would the rich brothers even bother to recognize him? Would they care about or listen to what he would say?
How is God trying to speak to you? Have you been paying attention?
God, reveal your truth to us. Give us eyes to see your servants and messengers and ears to hear them speaking. Amen.