The parables of Jesus modernized for a contemporary audience (Week 3)

June 25, 2020

Jesus’ parables are included in the Synoptic Gospels. (Matthew, Mark and Luke.) A parable is defined as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. If we use the definition of a parable loosely, then it must include all parabolic instructions (e.g. see Isaiah 5:1-7, 2 Samuel 12:1- 4, etc.), not just those in the New Testament. However, for the sake of this series, I am only concentrating on a few of the parables Jesus spoke in the Synoptics. My objective this month has been to place a parable in our contemporary setting to see how these parables speak and are applicable to us even today. The inspiration for this series is Pastor Fred L. Crouther, New Covenant Baptist Church, Milwaukee, and how he is able to take a parable of Jesus and preach on its applicability and usefulness by modernizing it for today’s contemporary audience. Thus, I am devoting this series to Pastor Crouther. This week, I will present a similar modern scenario and/or concept to illustrate the parable concerning the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), followed by a brief discussion:

Every day, an executive of a successful business, who wears nothing but tailor-made suits, walks from the parking structure to the entrance of his downtown high-rise office building. The less than a ½ block walk takes the executive by a homeless man who sits on a bus shelter bench. Every day the homeless man asks the executive if he could spare some change. The executive ignores the homeless man and gives the panhandler the stink eye.

This modern situation is very similar to the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus. While the definition of the rich and the idea of homeless may have changed since this Bible story was first spoken; the perspective has not: It’s about a person with money who walks by a poor person and ignores him. Every day the beggar, named Lazarus, sat at the gate of a rich man longing only to eat what fell from the rich man’s table, literally the scraps that were thrown away. Lazarus was not asking for much, only that which the rich man considered as waste. If the rich man had shared his scraps, it would not have lessened the rich man’s wealth. But even the garbage seemed too much for the rich man to share.

How do you relate to the homeless? Sadly, there are many who regard the homeless as invisible. That desensitization is an attitude that prevails all across our nation.

Beloved, like many major cities in the U.S., Milwaukee deals with a severe case of homelessness and, through research it has been unequivocally established that poverty and homelessness are co-related. A literal homeless person is defined in part as an “individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence which means the individual or family has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation; or is living in a publicly or privately- operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements.”1 With the sizable wealth our nation enjoys, it’s very troubling the unhoused still suffers from a lack of support and, in some cases, resources. May we pray that our local, state and federal governments continue to look for solutions to the underlying causes of homelessness that will truly help our unhoused neighbors. And, may we all pray for the widespread apathy towards the homeless and the desperately poor in our society that we do not become insensitive to the plight of the homeless and poor.

1 Homeless Definition, Dept. of Housing & Urban Development.

Next Week: Series Conclusion

General Disclaimer: The writer has used her best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered. Neither the publisher nor the writer shall be liable in any way for readers’ efforts to apply, rely or utilize the information or recommendations presented herein as they may not be suitable for you or necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. This information is for educational purposes only and in no way is meant as a literal paraphrase of the parable discussed. It is an attempt to aid in understanding and applying the material. In some instances, this article contains the opinions, conclusions and/or recommendations of the writer. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.