Listen to Today’s Lesson


In last week’s lesson, you may recall that while we were learning about humility and those that will accept God’s invitation, I brought up the rich man and Lazarus.  Our lesson this week brings both men into the light as we are going to take a look at Jesus’ parable of the rich man and the beggar.  In this parable, we will see that one received the reward of paradise while the other received the reward of torments.  Which reward would you rather receive?

Lesson of the Certain Rich Man

Prior to the telling of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus had been teaching the twelve about the unjust steward.  The religious leaders, of course, were nearby to listen in on Jesus’ teaching of the unjust steward and began to deride Him.  Why?  Because the conclusion of the Parable of the Unjust Steward concludes that one cannot serve God and mammon (money/wealth).

The Pharisees, Luke pointed out, were lovers of money – this is why they mocked and derided Jesus because He was teaching against such love.  As one who teaches today that you can’t find happiness today through worldly riches, I certainly know what it’s like to have others scoff at that notion.  Jesus, however, responded to the religious leaders, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15).

So, before we even get into the rich man and Lazarus parable, we can see that Jesus had already been warning them about their love of money over the Lord.  Many people believe that scripture says, “money is the root of all evil”, however, they always miss the one key word in that statement.  Paul stated, “ ‘the love of money’ is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10).  Again, you cannot serve God and mammon at the same time.

The life of the rich man and Lazarus

With this in mind, Jesus began to teach the parable to the disciples and the religious leaders as they stood nearby.

“There was a certain rich man,” Jesus began, and this rich man, you will notice, was clothed in purple and in fine linen; he fared sumptuously (in luxury) every day (v.19).  The fact that Jesus mentioned the color of the man’s linen, I believe, is significant; it’s significant because the color purple represents royalty.  I believe this man, if he wasn’t a king, was royal in some kind of manner and he lived a very comfortable life.

In the next couple of verses, Jesus tells us that there was a man that lived in the complete opposite manner of the rich man.  Jesus tells us that this man was a beggar and his name was Lazarus (not the Lazarus raised from the dead).  Lazarus was in poor shape, physically, as he was full of sores from laying on the ground outside the rich man’s gate.  Lazarus was in such bad shape and was so starved that he would have settled to eat the crumbs from the table of the rich man (vss.20-21).

Now, I want to tell you that I believe this parable was about two real people – the parable was a real life story.  I say this because Jesus actually tells us the name of the beggar rather than going the route of just telling us about “certain kings” and “certain men” and “certain servants”.  Honestly, I believe that many of the parables that Jesus shared were real life stories, but I don’t think there is any question about this one.

The scene shift after death 

After giving us a very brief background story about the two men, Jesus takes us down a road to show us a reality that is hidden from many of us.  The rest of our lesson gives us insight on the true reality of life – the world that is invisible to our eyes but is there.  So, if you have not been already, let us pay very close attention to all that Jesus shares with us from this point forward.

Jesus tells us that the beggar died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom (v.22).  Let us understand, the angels did not carry his physical body, they were carrying his soul.   How do we know this?  The physical body would simply be unable to go to the place where Lazarus was carried to after his physical death.

I remember on one very scary occasion, after we found my dad passed out, he came to and he told me that he saw an angel; I believe he said it was Michael but I could be misremembering that part.  Honestly, I thought my dad was talking crazy at the time, but literally, a month later he passed away.  I always think back on what my dad had shared with me and how he lived the month after and it was like he knew he would be leaving this world.  So, I share that brief thought because I do believe Jesus gives us insight to another role that the angels serve towards us and the kingdom of heaven.

Now, in that same verse, Jesus tells us that the rich man died and was buried.  After he died, the rich man ended up being in torments in Hades (v.23).  Hades is Greek for hell; it is actually a waiting place after physical death.  We often think of this place as “hell” but in actuality, the hell that we think of is not yet occupied.  Hell’s first occupant will be the devil after his great defeat (Rev. 20:10), and then “the lost/convicted sinner” along with the beast, the false prophet, Death, and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire as well (Rev. 20:11-14).

Something that you may have not caught as well when speaking about the rich man and Lazarus after death is how they were both treated by the world.  We were told that the rich man was buried but that statement was not made about Lazarus.  Why is that?  Well, because he was poor, Lazarus’ body was likely dumped in a field to never be seen again.  Because he was rich, the rich man had a funeral, his life was celebrated, and he was placed in a tomb.

However, when the scene shifted from this world to the spiritual plane, notice the difference in how both were treated.  The angels waited on Lazarus and carried (ushered) him to “Abraham’s bosom” – they were like his pallbearers, right?  Whereas, I don’t see a mention of the angels handling the soul of the rich man; he just was there in torments!  Abraham’s bosom, I want to point out, was a place in Hades (the waiting place) for the righteous soul.

Consequences of the life we live

While he was in the place of torments in Hades, the rich man lifted up his eyes and saw Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom.  So, something to point out here is that while they lost their physical bodies, in the spiritual plane, they still had their identities.  What I mean by this is that the rich man could recognize the soul that was Lazarus.  Honestly, that should be very fascinating to all of us considering that we believe that we’re only able to recognize each other, today, by our physical traits.

Now, while he was in torments, the rich man cried out, “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 (v.24).”  After all of these years, something that I find very interesting about the rich man’s request is him specifically asking for Lazarus.  

Why did he not ask for somebody else?  Why Lazarus?  I believe the answer is not because he viewed Lazarus as some kind of servant but because Lazarus may have been the only soul he was able to recognize in Abraham’s bosom!  Just think about that for a moment:  anybody in his house could have helped Lazarus but nobody did!  The rich man, I don’t think, was surrounded by any good people and that’s honestly very saddening to consider.

To his request, Abraham said to the rich man, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented (v.25).”  This was a reminder to the rich man how Lazarus spent his days just begging for a crumb in the world and never received anything.  As the old saying goes, “my, my, my, how the tables have turned.”  Now it was the rich man pleading for help rather than living a sumptuous life. 

As Lazarus was not helped while outside the gates and being able to see the rich man living comfortably, the rich man was now not going to receive help.  Abraham said to the rich man, “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us (v.26).”

In Hades, the place of waiting on God’s judgment, there was a gulf fixed between Abraham’s bosom and the place of torments that separated the two.  This is interesting because since they were no longer in the flesh, we would think there would be no limits nor bounds in the spiritual plane.  However, there very clearly was a block set in place that did not allow the righteous and the wicked to intermingle as they do while living in the world.  That gulf will be even further apart when sin is cast into the lake of fire and is no longer in the presence of the Lord.

After listening to Abraham’s response, the rich man then asked for a warning to be shared with his five brothers and the rest of his house (vss.27-28).  The rich man did not want those he loved to end up coming to the place of torments.  You see, it was only after death that he realized the heavy consequences of his actions while living in the world.  I would tell you that the rich man simply waited until it was too late to realize that there are consequences for the life we live.

Heed God’s warning today

The fact that the rich man wanted this warning to be shared with his loved ones, to me, testifies to the fact that he was surrounded by good people as he lived in the world.  Abraham said to him that they, just as he did, had God’s law and the prophets to heed (v.29).  In another statement that speaks of who he was surrounded by, the rich man said to Abraham, “‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent (v.30).

The rich man knew that his folks would ignore the word of God because they had been doing it while he was in the world!  I tell you, if all of us could talk to the dead today, the world would come up with another reason not to believe.  The scary part about that thought is that if the dead could talk to us, we would hear some absolute horror stories from those lost souls waiting for God’s judgment in Hades today.

Yet, it is not permitted for the dead to come and talk with us about their after life experiences.  As Abraham said to the rich man, if his folks didn’t listen to Moses or any other prophet, why would they listen to someone else (v.31)?  Along those same lines, Jesus came from heaven to let us know about the heavenly kingdom and guess how many have received His word?  More have ignored Christ than actually received Christ!

Christ has come with warning after warning about the day of God being at hand; it is coming.  Yet, many people choose to be hard-headed and ignore His voice, the voice of the apostles, and all of the voices in the world today standing as living testimonies of the Lord.

This parable, to me, is one of the most significant parables because it gives us insight on the things to come.  The lake of fire – outer darkness – is going to be even worse than the place of torments that the rich man went to in Hades.  Jesus shared this parable for a reason and that reason is because it is another warning from the Lord.  As I preach about a month ago in my sermon – The Dressing Up Room – now is the time for us to get right with the Lord.  Don’t you wait until it’s too late and end up like this rich man.


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