Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 16:19 Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
Today we will look at the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.
“Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain 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 it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And 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, 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, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may 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—that he may warn them, lest they 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, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.” Luke 16:19-31.
This is an account of a very rich man who lived a life of extreme luxury. However, outside the gate of this man’s house was an extremely poor man named Lazarus who only hoped “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.” Luke 16:21. The rich man was completely indifferent to the struggles of Lazarus, showing him absolutely no love, sympathy, or compassion. Then a time came when they both died. Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man found himself in hell. Calling out to Abraham, whom Lazarus was with, the rich man requested that Lazarus come to him and cool his tongue with a drop of water to lessen his agony in this fire. He then asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brothers to repent so that they would not join him in hell. Both requests were denied. Abraham told the rich man that if his brothers did not believe in Scripture, neither would they believe a messenger, even if he came straight from heaven.
There is some question as to whether this story is a true, real-life account or a parable, since two of its characters are named, making it unique among parables. But real or not, there is much we can learn from this passage. First, Jesus teaches that heaven and hell are real, and He spoke of both throughout His ministry here. Second, He shows that once we die our destination, and these are the only two places we could ultimately end up in, will be permanent. There are no more chances. The decision we make in this life, to truly accept Christ as Savior or not, is fulfilled with no opportunity to reconsider after we die. And it is either heaven or hell, with no other possible destinations.
We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He called this the most important or greatest commandment. Then He said a second is like the first, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. These two commands are the basis of all the Law and the Prophets. And true followers of Christ will exhibit these two things: loving God and loving others. They will give themselves completely to God and His service. Also, they will not be indifferent to the plight of the poor like the rich man in this story was. God loves the poor and is offended when His children neglect them. “He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 17:5. In fact, those who show mercy to the poor are in effect ministering to God personally. “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40.
James wrote the following regarding our lives, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” James 4:14. Our time here on earth is exceedingly brief. Perhaps the greatest lesson to learn from this story, then, is that when death comes knocking on our door there is only one thing that matters: our relationship with Jesus Christ. “For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? ” Matthew 16:26. Eternal life is only found in Christ. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” 1 John 5:11-12. The truth is, if we wish to live apart from God during our time on earth, He will grant us our wish for eternity as well. As one pastor aptly said, “If you board the train of unbelief, you will have to take it all the way to its destination.”
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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