Lazarus (Lk 16:20-16:20)

“At his gate,

Lay a poor man

Named Lazarus,

Covered with sores.”

 

πτωχὸς δέ τις ὀνόματι Λάζαρος ἐβέβλητο πρὸς τὸν πυλῶνα αὐτοῦ εἱλκωμένος

 

This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that a certain poor beggar (πτωχὸς δέ τις) lay at the gate of this rich man (ἐβέβλητο πρὸς τὸν πυλῶνα αὐτοῦ).  He was named Lazarus (ὀνόματι Λάζαρος) and was covered with sores (εἱλκωμένος).  Once again, Luke is the only one in all the biblical literature to use this Greek word εἱλκωμένος that means to wound, to ulcerate, or to suffer from sores.  It was also unusual to give a name to this poor person, since most of the Jesus parables usually had unnamed people.  The rich man was unnamed.  Was this Lazarus connected to the brother of Martha and Mary in John, chapter 11?  From this story, we know that Lazarus was poor and had many sores.  There was no attempt to line him up with the women of Bethany, Martha and Mary.  Do you personally know a poor person?

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The narrow door (Lk 13:23-13:24)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Strive to enter

Through the narrow door!

I tell you!

Many will try

To enter

And will not be able.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς

Ἀγωνίζεσθε εἰσελθεῖν διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας, ὅτι πολλοί, λέγω ὑμῖν, ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to them (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς) that they were to strive (Ἀγωνίζεσθε) to enter (εἰσελθεῖν) through the narrow door (διὰ τῆς στενῆς θύρας).  With a solemn pronouncement (λέγω ὑμῖν), Jesus said that many people (ὅτι πολλοί) would try to enter (ζητήσουσιν εἰσελθεῖν), but not be able to do so (καὶ οὐκ ἰσχύσουσιν).  This saying of Jesus is somewhat similar to Matthew, chapter 7:13-14, where it was part of the Sermon on the Mount, not a response to a question.  Matthew had Jesus go into great detail about the narrow gate and not a door.  Jesus wanted them to enter the narrow gate (ἰσέλθατε διὰ τῆς στενῆς πύλης).  Matthew in his description of the wide or spacious gate (ὅτι πλατεῖα ἡ πύλη καὶ εὐρύχωρος) used two words for wide and spacious, “πλατεῖα” and “εὐρύχωρος,” that never appear elsewhere in the New Testament.  The easy way of the wide gate led to destruction (ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν).  Many people were entering through this wide destructive easy gate (καὶ πολλοί εἰσιν οἱ εἰσερχόμενοι δι’ αὐτῆς).  On the other hand, the narrow gate (ὅτι στενὴ ἡ πύλη) had a difficult way, leading to life (καὶ τεθλιμμένη ἡ ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν).  Only a few people were able to find their way through this difficult hard narrow life filled gate (καὶ ὀλίγοι εἰσὶν οἱ εὑρίσκοντες αὐτήν).  This idea of two ways can be found also in Deuteronomy, chapter 30:15-20, and among other religions with the way of death and the way of life.  The early Christian teachings of the Didache used this concept, as did many other dualistic religions that pointed to the choice of life or death, good or bad.  As you had basic choices in life, God was giving you this choice, life and prosperity with the narrow gate or death and adversity with the wide gate.  You had a choice between two gates.  The choice of path was yours.  Do you prefer the wide or the narrow door?

The Ulam vestibule of the inner Temple (Ezek 40:48-40:49)

“Then he brought me

To the vestibule

Of the temple.

He measured

The pilasters

Of the vestibule,

Five cubits

On either side.

The width

Of the gate

Was fourteen cubits.

The sidewalls

Of the gate were

Three cubits

On either side.

The depth

Of the vestibule was

Twenty cubits

Its width was

Twelve cubits.

Ten steps

Led up to it.

There were pillars

Beside the pilasters

On either side.”

The bronze man brought Ezekiel into inner court, the Temple properly speaking. This vestibule of the inner court was called Ulam. As usual, the bronze man began to measure everything. The pilasters were 5 cubits or 8 feet on each side. The gate was 14 cubits, about 23 feet wide. The sidewalls of the gate were 3 cubits or 5 feet on each side. The vestibule itself was 20 cubits by 12 cubits, about 32 feet by 20 feet rectangular, relatively small. There were 10 steps leading up to it, not just 7 or 8. Besides the pilasters, there were also pillars on either side.

Wisdom and knowledge (Prov 24:3-24:7)

“By wisdom

A house is built.

By understanding

The house is established.

By knowledge

The rooms are filled

With all precious and pleasant riches.

Wise warriors are mightier

Than strong ones.

Those who have knowledge are mightier

Than those who have strength.

By wise guidance

You can wage your war.

In an abundance of counselors

There is victory.

Wisdom is too high for fools.

At the gate

They do not open their mouths.”

You need wisdom and understanding to build a house. You need knowledge so that you can fill up the rooms with precious and pleasant rich items. The wise knowledgeable warrior is mightier than the physically strong warrior. You need wise guidance to wage a war. The more counselors you have, the greater the possibility of victory. Fools think that wisdom is too high and foolish. Thus at the meetings at the gate, they say nothing.

Robbing the poor (Prov 22:22-22:23)

“Do not rob the poor!

Because they are poor.

Do not crush the afflicted

At the gate.

Yahweh pleads their cause.

He despoils of life

Those who despoil them.”

Simply put, do not rob poor people because they are poor. The point is that poor people have little chance to resist a robber. You were not to crush people at the gate because that is where the accusations and trials took place. Yahweh will plead the case of the poor. If you plunder or take advantage of the poor, Yahweh will take advantage of you.

Wisdom cries out in public (Prov 1:20-1:23)

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street.

In the squares,

She raises her voice.

At the busiest corner,

She cries out.

At the entrance of the city gates

She speaks.

‘O simple ones!

How long

Will you love being simple?

How long

Will scoffers delight in their scoffing?

How long

Will fools hate knowledge?

Give heed to my reproof!

I will pour out my thoughts to you.

I will make my words known to you.’”

Wisdom is personified as a female here. She cries out in the streets and raises her voice in the city squares like a prophetess. She cries out and speaks at the busy corners and at the gate to the entrance to a city or town. She calls out people for being simple. She wanted to know why they were deriding her. How long would these fools hate knowledge? There is a lot of mention of scoffers in these proverbs. A scoffer is someone who mocks others, a kind of a cynic. Why would they not accept a criticism? Nevertheless wisdom was going to pour out her thoughts and make her words known to them.

The difficult situation of David (Ps 69:9-69:12)

“It is zeal for your house

That has consumed me.

The insults of those

Who insult you

Have fallen on me.

When I humbled my soul with fasting,

They insulted me for doing so.

When I made sackcloth my clothing,

I became a byword to them.

I am the subject of gossip

For those who sit in the gate.

The drunkards make songs about me.”

David explained his situation. He had great zeal for the house of Yahweh that he was about to construct. However, he felt that the insults against Yahweh had fallen on him. He had fasted but people insulted him for doing that. He was wearing mourning sackcloth, but all they did was gossip about him in the public meeting places at the gate. Even the drunkards were making up songs about him.