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The Pastor's Blog

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“The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and scoffing at him” (Luke 16:14). So, Jesus told this story to illustrate that being rich is not necessarily a sign of being righteous. In fact, the unnamed rich man in Jesus’ story was quite compassionless… a mirror-image of the Pharisees.

“There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was lying at his gate. He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’ ‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’ ‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house—because I have five brothers—to warn them, so that they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’ ” (Luke 16:19–31).

Some theologians believe this wasn’t a parable, but a factual, historical account… a series of events that only the Son of God could report. Other Bible commentators believe this was a parable. I agree.

But, if it’s a parable, why did Jesus use the personal name, Lazarus? This wasn’t a reference to the man that Jesus called from the grave (John 11), a member of a moderately wealthy family (John 12:1-3). Perhaps Jesus picked the name Lazarus because it means “God, the Helper.” Lazarus depended on God.

In Jesus’ story, one man was rich, dripping in luxurious living. The other man was poor, apparently homeless and hopeless. But get this… both men died! 100% do.

Lazarus, once impoverished, was “carried away by the angels,” ushered into an opulent eternal home where he was “comforted.”The rich man was cast into hell, a place of endless “agony,” unrelenting “torment,” and infinite regret, remorse and shame.

The rich man could look longingly from hell into heaven. But Lazarus, a resident of Glory, doesn’t appear to see from heaven to hell, nor does he hear the cries for mercy from beyond the “great chasm.” Only “Abraham” hears and responds. In Heaven, Lazarus experiences no pain, nor is he burdened by the pain of the rich man.

This parable, a cautionary tale, warns humanity of the dreadfully horrific eternal destiny of all who reject the saving grace of Jesus. Hell is a real place where real people will spend forever, and ever, and ever…! This parable is also a promise of the unfathomable joy that awaits the faithful.

Today, on this side of the grave, before it’s too late, “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13, NKJV).


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