7696 - Rich Man and Lazarus


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Only in Luke 16 do we find the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. We learn much about life after death in this passage. It reads:

Luke 16:19-31 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, `Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

"But Abraham replied, `Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'

"He answered, `Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

"Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'

"`No, father Abraham,' he said, `but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'

"He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

What a contrast: The rich man lived in luxury every day.

At his gate a poor man begged. He was covered with sores and hungry. He did not have the strength to keep the dogs from licking his sores.

A second contrast shows their condition after death.

Burial is not even mentioned for the beggar, but the angels did escort him to Abraham’s side. So he was a man of faith.

“Abraham’s side” was the place where righteous people awaited the time of the atoning sacrifice. You see, nothing impure can ever be admitted into heaven (Rev. 21:27), so those who died before Jesus was crucified, could not be admitted into heaven, because the atonement for sin had not yet been made.

When Jesus died on the cross he was the atoning sacrifice (1 John 2:2). His blood atoned for the sins of the whole world. It seems clear that glorified Jesus took a victory trip to the place of the dead and swept all who were in Abraham’s bosom into his arms and soon delivered them to heaven — the first people to enter those portals.

Listen! Things changed when Jesus paid the penalty for sin. Now when a believer dies, he goes immediately into the presence of the Lord (Phil. 1:23). The sacrifice by Jesus cleansed away our sin so we are made holy and free from accusation (Col. 1:22); thus qualified to enter pure and perfect heaven.

Notice the rich man was buried. He was not a man of faith, so he is shown in hell, where he was experiencing torment.

The rich man asked father Abraham: Have pity on me and send Lazarus with a little water for my tongue, because I’m in agony in this fire.

But there was a great chasm, which separated the two abodes of those who had died on earth. No one could go from one place to the other. The choice made by each individual while on earth determined their eternal dwelling.

At the end of time, those in hell will appear before Jesus at the great white throne judgment. Anyone whose name is not recorded in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.

The rich man intercedes for a messenger to be sent to his five brothers to warn them. But those on earth must personally respond to God’s good news message on earth.

Let us pray that each person will give a positive response to the Lord so that they may enjoy a glorious eternity in heaven.