THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Probably the hardest to read parable of Jesus Christ is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. That is because it jars us with a uncomfortable picture of what can happen after death. What does happen to a man or woman after they pass from this life? Jesus tells us this story to help us understand;
“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Luke 16 :19-31
This parable is a conversation. It is a conversation between the patriarch Abraham, who is in a place where angels carry the righteous dead and a rich man who is in hades. Abraham is not alone but is with a poor man named Lazarus. They are in comfort but the rich man is in torment. He feels the fire and thirsts for water. In his lifetime he probably did not expect his terrible end. We are not told much about him. We are not told that he was a murderer or that he was considered to be evil by the society that he came from. He may have been a pretty ordinary rich man. We can be sure of one thing, he did not have faith. I imagine him mocking God in his lifetime as I have heard others do. Perhaps he was vulgar and cursed God. Perhaps he boasted that he did not need God. Perhaps he heckled those who believed in God and lived sacrificial lives for Him. He may have been a God mocker in life but listen to him in hades. He is not mocking. All pride is gone, shattered. He has one request, he wants his family to be warned. I believe that this man’s desire is not unique in hell. In the coradoors and caverns of that awful place I imagine cries like “Someone tell John. Someone tell Suzan. Someone tell Marry. Someone stop Scott and Mike from coming here. Someone warn Jennifer, Tim, Violet, Ben, Cindy, Alex and Chris. Someone tell my mother. Someone tell my little boy!” Desperate cries, no mocking there. In this parable the rich man’s request is denied. Abraham answered back “‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’” Moses and the prophets is a reference to the Old Testament, the first half of the Bible. Friend, do you have a Bible? Is it sitting on a shelf collecting dust? I am asking because that book has everything that you need to know about your standing before God, your future judgement, your future place of abode with God or in hades. It has what you need to know if you are to go to heaven and also how to live in this life, in a way that pleases God. It has both warnings and good news. If you are not in the habit of reading it I would strongly urge you to begin studying it with a humble and submissive heart.
Friend, if you are not a Christian, why are you not a Christian? God has provided a way of escape for you. Jesus has gone to incredible lengths to save you from this fate. What has Jesus done to save you? Some have talked of Jesus’ death as being simply a great example of obedience to God, it is this and more. Jesus’ death was not just an example; it was an atonement. The word “atonement” means “ … to forgive sin, to discharge from punishment; in its noun form, an expiation, a propitiation, a redemption.”12 This is precisely what Jesus did, that is, He provided an atonement. The penalty which we deserve for our sins, He suffered in our place, that we might be forgiven.
Jesus is the Savior Who takes our sins away and brings salvation to our souls. That is why the Bible records the angels’ announcement; “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ” (Luke 2:10,11).
Atonement is the basis for God’s forgiveness. God is a God of great forgiveness. His Word teaches us;“ “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”” (Hebrews 8:12). Probably the best Old Testament scriptures which show us Christ’s death as being on our behalf are in Isaiah 53:5-6:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
We transgressed the laws of God – He was wounded. We committed iniquity – He was bruised. He was chastised for our peace. We had gone astray and the LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all. This is atonement.
It is because Jesus’ blood was shed that our life can be spared. It is because His blood was poured out that our sins may be forgiven and washed away. That is why the Scriptures say; “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:9) and; “ For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; ” (1 Peter 3:18). Another scripture which shows the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood reads; “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).
Jesus was condemned and, through what He has done on our behalf, we may receive pardon. Pardon is to be acquitted of guilt and penalty. This is man’s greatest need. We can receive pardon because Jesus’ death has power to take away our sins. Again, the Scriptures say; “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. ” (1 John 3:5).
Friend, the reason Jesus came to this world, was to take away your sins and mine. We read; “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:8).
Friend, one day, around two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ drank a very bitter cup. It was the cup of God’s wrath. He did not deserve this wrath, but drank it on your behalf and on mine. He was accused falsely. He was sentenced to death. He was mocked. He was whipped and beaten. He, Himself, carried His cross part of the way to Golgotha’s hill. He was nailed to it. From the cross he did not utter threats or hate. Instead, He offered words of hope and forgiveness. Now that same forgiveness is offered to you. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The atoning sacrifice has been made for our sins. If you don’t know what it is like to have your sins forgiven by God, then come to Him today. What is needed is your response of having the atonement applied your own sins, personally. Friend, you do not need to share an eternity home with the rich man in hell. He wished to warn his brothers and no doubt would warn you to if he could. It is the scriptures which can bring us warning but also bring you hope. Heaven waits, God the Father waits, and Jesus Christ waits, for you to surrender your whole life to Him and His will, and for you to repent and put faith in Him and His sacrifice. Jesus has suffered for you and for me. We committed sin and He was totally pure. Yet He suffered, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, that we would be brought to God for forgiveness, restoration, healing, deliverance and a new life of following Him. It is right for the person who realizes his or her guilt and sin to cry out to God for forgiveness. Cry out to God in your own words.
I would like to pray for your soul:
Lord Jesus, today we have come once again to remember Your sacrifice of love and atonement for us. Lord, You did not come to this world to be served but to serve others and to give Your life a ransom for many. Your blood is precious. The shedding of Your blood at Calvary was the only sacrifice worthy and sufficient to atone for human sin. Your blood washes sin away. Lord, I pray for this reader as they desire to be free from the curse of sin, guilt and judgement. They have gone astray; we all like sheep have gone astray, we have turned, every one, to our own way and the LORD has laid on You the iniquity of us all. Lord, the sacrifice of Your life was a substitution for ours. We transgressed, yet You were wounded. We committed iniquity, yet You were bruised. You were chastised for our peace. I pray for this soul, that they would know the peace of having their sins taken away, that they would know the peace of pardon. Lord, You are a very forgiving God. As they call out to You in surrender and ask for Your forgiveness, be merciful to their unrighteousness and remember their lawless deeds no more. Lord, You not only died, You rose again and conquered death. You won the victory over sin, death and evil and You are triumphant. As this one cries out to You, committing to repent of their self-rule and give their life to follow You, let faith rise up in them. Let this be the moment of faith and belief that You call for. Let this be the moment that You establish a relationship with them. Hold them in Your arms and may they know in their heart Your great salvation. Amen.
Cantelon, Brent. Who Cares. Audiocassette.
Cantelon, Brent. The Cry of the Mocker. Audiocassette.
Cantelon, Brent. What Does God Want From Me? Audiocassette.
Cantelon, Brent. Run For Your Life. Audiocassette.
Cantelon, Brent. I Want It My Way. Audiocassette.
Cantelon, Brent. Specks and Planks. Audiocassette.
“Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)