. . . they shall mount up with wings as eagles . . . Isaiah 40:31

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

A certain rich man. This is evidently a true story. He was a CERTAIN rich man. And he was clothed in garments of costly purple cloth and fine linen made from byssus (biss’-us), or flax fiber, very soft, and he delighted himself every day with splendid and luxurious living.

My Brother’s Keeper

Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

Here is a certain destitute one named Lazarus, who was discarded at the gate of the rich man’s palace, and his body was covered with discharging ulcers. Who discarded him there? Probably his family members, with the hope that the rich man might give him some kind of care for his condition and possibly feed him each day.

Of course, it wasn’t this rich man’s responsibility to provide care for this down-trodden beggar, or was it? Based on the eternal reward he later received, it must have been at least to some extent his responsibility. The Bible has much to say about those who are prosperous and well off helping those who are less fortunate.

Luke 16:21 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 he, Lazarus, longed to be satisfied with the morsels of food that fell from the rich man’s table, though it doesn’t say that he actually received any of those morsels. It is likely, based on the context, that the rich man gave him nothing. And it says that in addition to that, the dogs came and licked his ulcerous sores. He was in quite a predicament, enduring a miserable existence.

Both Men Die

Luke 16:22 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;

Lazarus died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s front garment pouch, referred to as the bosom: and the rich man also died and was buried. They went to different places. Lazarus was transported to Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man was buried and descended into the torture of hell. And, as a side thought, though it’s been a lon time since this took place, that rich man is likely still there in that awful place of anguish, having been there now for several thousand years.

Luke 16:23 And in hell he [the rich man] lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

The rich man raised up his eyes, lifted up, which comes from a Greek word that implies arrogance, being in torture and agony, and he saw Abraham from a distance, and also Lazarus in his garment pouch, his bosom.

Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

He still views Lazarus as a lesser human being than himself. Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and have Lazarus carry something over here to me, let him dip his finger in water, and cool off my tongue with it, for I am in great pain and anguish in these flames of fire.

But did that rich man come to Lazarus’ rescue when he suffered such a hard and torturous life as a disease-ridden beggar? No, instead he lived his luxurious lifestyle day by day, ignoring him.

Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Remember that in your lifetime, your period of life on earth, that you received your good and pleasant things, and in the same way, Lazarus received his bad things: but now he is consoled and comforted, and you are distressed and put into anguish and torment.

Do the things we do in life count toward something? Apparently, they do. Is it important to help people who are not as well off as ourselves? Evidently it’s very important to do what we can to help them. It’s important to the Lord.

Proverbs 28:27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

The Lord blesses those who help the poor, but there is cursing for those who turn their eyes away. Evidently this rich man had turned his eyes away from Lazarus when it was within his power to help him.

Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

There is placed firmly between us a chasm, a great opening: so that those who desire to pass from here over to you cannot do it; neither can they pass over to us, who would desire to come from over there. But who would desire to pass from Abraham’s place to the place of the dead? No one. Who would desire to pass from the place of the dead to Abraham’s bosom? Everybody in there.

Notice that the great gulf had been fixed between them. It had been placed there by design, to keep the two realms separate, the realm of blessing or paradise, which Jesus spoke of, and the realm of torment. Hell was prepared for Satan and his angels, not for men. Yet men may choose to go there by following after the flesh all their lives, by not being born again from above, by not receiving the free gift of righteousness given through Christ, and by not being led by the Spirit of God.

Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:

Then send him to my father’s house, my family members. The rich man remembered his family, who were evidently living their lives the same way he had lived his.

There is an interesting side trail we could take at this point. And that is that, though this man’s physical body had been buried, and was decomposing, he still had his memory, he had his feelings, he could feel pain and torment, He somehow recognized Abraham, whom he had never seen before, and he knew who Lazarus was. And now he’s going to mention his five brothers. So, he is fully conscious and aware of what’s going on.

Even though he no longer has his physical body, nor his brain, because both are dead and in the grave, he still has all of the memories of his life, and in recognizing Abraham, he must have super human awareness of things.

The point is that consciousness and awareness and memory do not diminish when one passes to the next life, but instead they are greatly enhanced.

Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.

He wanted someone to go to them and tell them of the error of their ways. Let Lazarus go back to life on the earth and let him go and testify to them, to tell them how things really are.

Would they have listened to Lazarus? No, of course not. They were too busy living sumptuously to give him any consideration. There are testimonies of near-death experiences all over the Internet. Does anybody pay much attention to them? A few, maybe. But for the most part, no.

Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.

In our day, we have Moses, we have the Prophets, and we have all of the New Testament. There is more word of God in the earth today than there was even in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

He said, if one was raised from the dead and told them the truth, they would listen to him and repent of their ways. There is no excuse for us to not know the truth.

Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

During Jesus' ministry, there was more than one who did indeed rise from the dead, and one of them was a man named Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany. And as a result, did the wicked ones of that day believe and repent of their sins? The Bible says that some did, but, for the most part, the truly wicked ones wanted to kill Lazarus to keep other people from believing in Jesus because of him.

Today we have all the testimony we need in the word of God. That’s why we need to read it and get to know it, and believe it, and live our lives accordingly.

The scriptures bear out that helping the poor is a priority of God. There are many scriptural references to it. Let us make it one of our priorities to do what is near and dear to the Lord’s heart, and find ways to regularly help those who are less blessed than ourselves, and great reward will follow us, both in this life and in the life to come.

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