Several men went on a weeklong fishing trip. Each day they would stop for bait and ice, there was an old man sitting on porch and the first day he said, “It’s going to rain today.” And sure enough it did. The next day, the men asked, “Is it going to rain old man?” “NO Fair all day, but a might chilly”, sure enough fair all day, a little chilly. All week they went to him to find out the weather. On the last day, “what’s the weather?” “I don’t know,” the man replied. “Don’t know?” “No my radio is broken.” He only spoke of what he knew.
In our parable Jesus moves beyond the range of our experiences into the world of the unknown. He speaks of the visible and invisible equally and open. He is just as familiar with heaven and hell as we are rich and poor. It is what he knows because Jesus is God.
Jesus starts the parable “A certain rich man,” and describes common characteristics of a wealthy lifestyle at that time. He then contrasts him with a poor man and common characteristics of what the poor would deal with.
Why the opposites? Some thought that this was directed to the Pharisees and Sadducees who taught and believed that riches meant you were blessed by God and poverty was a curse, sickness was the judgment of God, it meant you were being punished. Have you ever heard this? It is not true. That is why Jesus went around healing everyone to show God’s compassion. He had to even correct his disciples. Whose fault is it this man is blind his or his parents, Jesus said neither. Jesus is showing them the opposite can be true.
My status in society does not determine my status before God
My life on earth will end.
No matter how many medical advances we come up with, the death rate is still and will always be 100%.
Lots of people have their whole lives mapped out before them of where they would like to be 10, 20, 50 years from now. But not very many have taken time to consider and prepare for where they will be 1,000,000 years from now. Have you? Are you prepared to face death?
Both men died, this is their only similarity. The inevitable happened both died it was the mercy of God in the order of their deaths. Lazarus died first being delivered from his miseries on earth, the rich man dying second with God giving him longer period that he may repent and turn to Him.
“The time came when the beggar died” (vs 22a)
“The rich man also died and was buried (vs. 22c)
In that culture, when wealthy people passed away, the family hired mourners, purchased costly spices for the body and used an elaborate tomb for the burial. The whole town probably turned out for the funeral of the rich man and listened to the shrieks and lamentations of the professional weepers and the litany of praise heaped upon the rich man by countless eulogies. The rich man has a burial, professional mourners and a fancy procession, flags at half-mast. It probably made the Jerusalem Headline news. Today he would be mentioned by all the major news outlets. He was laid in a tomb, in a cave, carved into a hill, which was very expensive.
On earth wealth is a big deal. We know the name of the rich and famous
Here the names of the rich are known and when they are talked about they are designated by name. Who owns the Dallas cowboys? Microsoft Corporation? Who’s the queen of England?
But the poor are not known or considered worthy of being noted unless they commit some crime. In this story it is totally opposite of life on earth. No name for rich man. A “certain” rich man, but the poor man is called by name. Lazarus. This is the opposite of the way it normally is.
No Burial for Lazarus. No pomp on earth, since he could not afford a burial plot he was probably throw in the city dump, a place called Gehenna or Hinnom where they would throw trash, dead animals and bodies of malefactors, outcasts and lepers. That’s why when Jesus was crucified they asked Pilot for his body for burial. If the family didn’t ask for the body it would be thrown in the dump.
No earthly burial, but look what happens. The poor man that no one served and only dogs attended to is carried by ANGELS to Abraham’s side. What is that? This is to represent the best place of honor. For Jews Abraham was the father of their race and their faith. To be considered a friend of Abraham was the highest honor possible and true happiness would be to spend eternity at his side.
I will end up in one of two places.
- Heaven (Paradise)
(Lazarus) the angels carried him to Abraham’s side (vs 22b)
- Hell (Hades in the Greek)
In hell, where he was in torment (vs. 23)
We may not like the topic of hell but Jesus didn’t beat around the bush about the subject.
The majority of Americans believe in hell, a poll conducted by US News and World Report (2000) reveals that more Americans then believe in Hell than they did in the 1950’s. [US News and World Report. “Hell Hath No Fury.” January 31,2000. p. 46]
I decide my destination by my faith
This is a story about faith, when Jesus said “Abrahams side.” We think “big deal.” Abraham is mentioned in the New Testament 72 times. Abraham is regarded in Scripture as being not only the great patriarch (Hebrews 7:4) but also the father of all believers (Romans 4:11). He was the father of the faith. So to say Lazarus is leaning against Abraham is to say he is the son with the most faith of all!
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus… If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26&29
If you have ever traveled out of the country you will need a passport. In order to get into heaven we will need a heavenly passport. The bible records in Revelation 20 that our names get written in the “Lambs Book of Life.” This is your passport to heaven. Do you have your name written there? I am not talking about intellectual assent. “Yeah I believe I need a passport.” Have you gotten it? “No I haven’t gotten around to it. In order to get one you have to sign up, fill out the paperwork and pay the fee. Well our heavenly fee has been paid but we need to sign up. We need to say, “Thank you Jesus for dying for my sins, I turn from them and invite you into my life.” You need to do this not just think about it.
We must not forget that the primary intention of the parable is about the consequences of unbelief. Remember…
- Riches do not equal hell. Unbelief = Hell
Have you noticed every parable we have looked at, the stories Jesus tells deal with money? It is because money is the acid test of your faith.
- Selfishly living for me with little concern for anyone else is a RESULT of unbelief.
If we spend all our money on ourselves and God gets little or leftovers, I hope we see that we have unbelief. Our belief is that our money is our security and our faith is in that. We are no different than the rich man. I am not talking about religion. The rich man had religion, “Father Abraham” he said. Jesus says, “not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father.” Matthew 7:21 It’s more than talk. It’s more than belief. James says, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)
As a pastor I must urge you to examine the faith that you claim. Examine your actions. What do they reveal? I don’t want you to end up like the rich man, deceived by a false faith.