“There was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. But at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus whose body was covered with sores, who longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21 NET).
Jesus told a story about two men, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had all that this life had to offer. The poor man had nothing. It would appear that he was not well, as his body was covered with sores and he lay at the rich man’s gate. He would have been happy to have had just what fell from the rich man’s table.
“Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, as he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this fire’” (Luke 16:22-24).
Death comes to everyone. The poor man seems to have died first and later the rich man. Their destiny at death was totally different. The poor man was “carried by the angels to Abraham’s side,” referring to the rest that awaits those faithful to God. The rich man, in contrast, was in torment. He could see Lazarus with Abraham. He longed just to have a drop of water to cool his tongue because he was in anguish. Their roles had been reversed from what they had in life.
“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us’” (Luke 16:25-26).
Abraham explained to the formerly rich man that there was no way that Lazarus could help him. Although it seems they were able to see each other and converse, there was no way from where they were to the torment Lazarus was in. The man seems to have accepted this, although he was concerned about his family who was still alive.
“So the rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father – send Lazarus to my father’s house (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them.’ Then the rich man said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:27-31).
The man did not want his five brothers to join him in this place of anguish. He seems to have known that they were living just like he had lived. He asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn them. Abraham replied that they had “Moses and the prophets” – they had God’s word. If they wouldn’t listen to God’s word they wouldn’t be convinced even if someone came back from the dead!
What can we learn from this story? Although this is a story, keep in mind that this is from Jesus – the stories he told were true. One lesson we can learn is that we only have this life to prepare for eternity and to help our loved ones to be ready.
Are we living so that we will be with Jesus in eternity?
Readings for next week:
26 February – Luke 15
27 February – Luke 16
28 February – Luke 17
1 March – Luke 18
2 March – Luke 19:1-27