Lazarus And The Rich Man

In Luke 16, Jesus emphasized the importance of God’s law and the preaching of the gospel. Right after that, He told a story of two men, one called Lazarus and the other a rich man.

People have made a doctrinal issue about the afterlife around this story. Jesus, however, revealed the story’s point when He quoted Abraham’s following statement.

Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead. Luke 16:31

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus told a parable that made the Pharisees very uncomfortable. It says they heard what He said and scoffed at him because they dearly loved their money.

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At that point, Jesus told the story of Lazarus and the rich man. This was probably a true story and not a parable because He used the actual names of two of the men involved.

Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. Luke 16:19-20

Why do you think Jesus didn’t use the rich man’s name? Calling him “certain” could have applied to the rich men listening to Him, including the Pharisees.

Because of his wardrobe, the rich man would have stood out in a crowd just like the Pharisees did. Jesus also included these religious leaders when He described the man’s compassion. 

As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Luke 16:21

Lazarus and the Rich Man

Lazarus Died followed By the Rich Man

He went on to say that Lazarus died followed by the death of the rich man. End of the story, correct? Not by a long shot. When our physical lives end on earth, we start anew in eternity.

Jesus said when Lazarus died, angels carried him to sit beside Abraham. But when the rich man died, he went to the place of the dead.

Jesus wanted us to know where these two men ended up in eternity. Lazarus went to a heavenly banquet while the rich man suffered eternal torment. A far distance separated them.

The rich man could see across to the other side and recognized Abraham. Because he was used to giving orders while on the earth, he bellowed out for some relief.

The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames. Luke 16:24

Will the saved and the unsaved continually see each other in eternity? I don’t think so. I believe, however, this is a true story that happened before Jesus died and got the keys to death.

Abraham’s response reminded the rich man of what he did and didn’t do during his earthly life. His actions determined his eternal destiny.

But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. Luke 16:25

Abraham continued by telling him that even if they wanted to give him some relief, they couldn’t.

And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there. Luke 16:26

Lazarus and the rich man

The Rich Man Became Compassionate

Realizing that Lazarus could do nothing for him, the rich man changed his attitude and his tune. Since he caused this dilemma for himself, he began to think some compassionate thoughts.

Then the rich man said, Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment. Luke 16:27-28

During the Christmas season, I like to watch the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. In real life, though, people don’t come back from the dead to warn or advise anyone.

Abraham told the rich man that Lazarus couldn’t help them. He said his father and brothers had everything they needed to avoid ending up in the same place as him.

But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote. Luke 16:29

He didn’t accept Abraham’s answer. This rich man believed if Lazarus was raised from the dead with a message for them, they would believe it.

I’ve heard of people who had died and come back to life. Some get popular for a while. Some even have movies made of their story, but these stories eventually fade away.

While some of us believe what the Bible says about the afterlife, others don’t. In the parable Jesus told before talking about Lazarus and the rich man, He backed up what Abraham said.

The Good News of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone is eager to get in. But that doesn’t mean that the law has lost its force. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest point of God’s law to be overturned. Luke 16:16-17

Hear the Voice of God  Lazarus and the rich man

Preach the Good News

In other words, the Word of God is powerful. It doesn’t try to convince or manipulate anyone. Instead, because of its power, it changes lives.

A person can read the gospel’s message, which points them to new life. Or they can read the Old Testament, considered our schoolmaster, which points them to the gospel.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

This brings us back to where we started with what Abraham said. “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, why would they listen to someone raised from the dead.”

What main lesson did Jesus want us to learn from this story of Lazarus and the rich man? That the choices we make while living on this earth will affect our eternal destiny.

Jesus died and rose from the dead so we could spend eternity with Him. The Bible says you must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

The Lord also told us that if we love Him, we will do what He asks us. So, as we read His Word, it instructs us on how to live as Christians.

The Rich Man Regretted Overlooking Lazarus

When the rich man looked over and saw Lazarus, he regretted his earthly decisions. If you also end up in eternal torment, you will regret ignoring all the opportunities you had to accept Jesus.

Lord, thank you for the eye-opening stories in the Bible like Lazarus and the rich man. Help us to effectively share your life-changing Word with others.

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