THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
Luke 16:19-22 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried. (Also Read Verses 23-31).
Jesus, knowing their hearts, continues to teach andadmonishthe self-righteous Pharisee sect of the Jewish people. In the lesson text, He relates the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. The first verse of this text describes a certain rich man as having the finest of clothing, the best of foods, and other things that brought worldly pleasure and enjoyment. Lazarus, on the other hand, was just the opposite. He was described as a beggar ...which laid at the gate, full of sores, and desiring ...the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Due to their worldly manner of life, the Pharisees admired people like the rich man, but viewed beggars with disdain. From the context of this lesson, we are assured that the rich man was a sinner, while Lazarus, was a poor, but godly, person.
Both died. Death is the end that comes to all, regardless of one's status of life. Whether rich or poor, death is the great equalizer of mankind. Not being told, we can only imagine the stately, well-attended funeral and burial of the rich man, as compared to that of poor Lazarus, who was probably buried in the Potter's Field without anyone in attendance. At death, Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom, while the rich man died, was buried, and was taken to hell (or Hades in the revised KJV). What and where these places are is widely disputed. Whether factual or symbolic language is used, is also much debated. This we know from the context. Poor Lazarus was in a state of bliss, an abode after death described by Jews as Abraham's bosom. The Jewsbelieved that "Father Abraham" wouldwelcome all of his faithful, obedient Israelite children. Hades, on the other hand, is described as a place of torment, awaiting all disobedient sinners. These two places are afar off from each other, and separated by a great gulf fixed. At death, one's destiny is fixed - there can be no transfers from one state of afterlife to the other.
Again, whether Jesus expresses reality or symbolism in this parable, the rich man, from afar, could see the abode of the righteous dead, and he recognized Abraham ...and Lazarus in his bosom (Vs. 23). His first request to Father Abraham was that he would send Lazarus with water to cool his tongue and relieve his torment. The inference in Abraham's reply was that the rich man, during his life on earth, preferred worldliness, and its pleasures, above godliness. Therefore, he was rewarded with earth's pleasures, but, as a disobedient sinner, hr received the torment of Hades after death. Faithful Lazarus, on the other hand, left behind the pain and misery of life on earth andreceived comfort in the bosom of Abraham.
His first request being denied, the rich man then asked that Abraham would send Lazarus back to earth and warn his brothers to change their ways lest they also come into this place of torment. He said further, that if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. Abraham replied to this request by saying, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. If they refuse to hear them, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead (See Vss. 28-31).
Prophetic truth is found in this parable. The vast majority of the Jewish nation refused to hear Moses and the prophets as they testified of Jesus to be the promised Messiah. The Old Testament contains many prophesies telling when, where, through whom, and under what circumstances the Savior would come into the world. Yet their unbelief, due to hard, rebellious hearts, would not accept Jesus as their Messiah. Although He was crucified, buried, arose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, yet most did not believe Him to be their Savior. The same evidence available in the days of Moses and the prophets, and spoken by Jesus, Himself, during His ministry on earth, is available to the world today through the inspired writers of God's word, and yet, like the Jewish nation, most people refuse to accept Jesus as their Savior. We read this parable over and over and over again, and ask ourselves, Why? Why? Why?