August 07, 2022 | Mike Avato
Passage: Luke 16:19-31
The Rich Man and Lazarus
This parable (Lk 16:19-31) follows the thoughts of the previous stories that speak of how some people mistreat others and misuse wealth (e.g., the Prodigal Son and the Dishonest Manager). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus combines these two ideas to point us to a better way to treat others and better uses for our wealth. The story is the only story in the Bible that depicts a person in the torment of hell. There are many other places where hell is spoken of, but this describes what it is like for a person experiencing it.
In the world’s eyes Lazarus was poor and wretched, but when he died, he was carried to heaven and comforted in the bosom of Abraham. On the other hand, the rich man had many blessings of wealth and pleasure in his life, but when he died his body was placed in the ground and his soul immediately found its way to hell.
Of the three main characters in the story, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man, the most interesting of the three is the rich man. This man wore purple, the color of royalty, and feasted sumptuously every day. And he wasn't just rich. One commentator said, "He belonged to that class of people to whom the epithet filthy rich is often applied, and not without reason. His living day by day in dazzling splendor marks him as a show-off, a strutting peacock. He wanted everybody to know that he was rich. He was in love … with himself." It isn't that being poor and afflicted like Lazarus gets you into heaven. Nor is it necessarily true that having wealth and dressing nicely like the rich man will keep you out of heaven. It is the mistreatment of others and the misuse of wealth that reveals the fallen nature and the sin-loving heart. The Bible tells us that a new heart is utterly necessary for heaven! You must be born again! As the story progresses we will see this ring true! And we will see that the main thrust and teaching of this parable is that hell is real and the chance to repent and receive a new heart has past when we leave this life and go into eternity. Even the grace needed to repent is gone when we die. Notice that the rich man did not repent even in torment! For Lazarus the change from this life to the next was comforting and exactly what he longed for while on this earth. For the rich man the change from this life to the next was shocking and miserable. The things the rich man longed for had no eternal value. But Lazarus longed for the comfort of his heavenly Father...and he was not disappointed! Neither will you and I as we long for the presence of our heavenly Daddy and His eternal weight of glory as we sing "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!" We will not be disappointed! Amen!