luke-16-lazarusWhat’s in a name?

A name means a great many things. It is what we are called, how we identify ourselves. Parents bestow names on their children which they hope will have meaning or perhaps to honour parents. I have seen family rifts develop because grand-parents disapprove of the name given to a child.

Another question we might ask about names, is what does it mean to know someone’s name?

It denotes¬†familiarity, indicating that we know this person. Perhaps as a friend or acquaintance. It means we know and like them well enough to bother learning their name. We’ve made and effort, that this person is important to us. It means that the person matters.

In all of the parables that Jesus told he only ever named one character: Lazarus.

This is not Lazarus the brother of Mary and Martha. This is a fictional character in a parable told by Jesus, the only character that Jesus names.

Lazarus is poor, so poor that he is beneath the notice of the rich man whose gate he lives beside. So poor that he doesn’t even get the scraps for the dogs, he survives on less than that. What we learn is that the dogs lick his sores. Lazarus is the lowest of the low and Jesus names him.

By giving him a name Jesus reminds us that Lazarus is real. That he exists and that he has needs and wants, just like everyone else.

This Sunday we will explore a poor man who is provided with a name and a rich man who is not.

Text: Luke 16: 19-31

Questions for Sunday

  • Why do you think Jesus names Lazarus?
  • What do you take away from this parable?

Prayer for Sunday

Gracious God, I pray that I will be remembered. That people will know my name and that my life will have meaning and worth. I also pray that I will know the names of those around me, that I will not allow ill fortune or bad circumstance to hide the names of those around me. Allow me to treat all whom I meet with compassion and love. In Jesus name, Amen.