The Rich Man & Lazarus

Where will you spend eternity?

When you take your last breath on earth and step into eternity, it will be too late to make your decision then. You must make your choice while you are living. Eternity is forever. Eternity is too long to be wrong.

Jesus tells us about the rich man and Lazarus.

Luke 16:19-31
19  “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. 20  But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. 21  He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.

22  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. 23  And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. 24  ‘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!’ 25  “‘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. 26  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.’

27  “‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28  because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ 29  “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30  “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31  “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.’”

The contrast. Some of the differences between the rich man and Lazarus are very obvious.

  • The rich man had great wealth; Lazarus was very poor
  • The rich man was covered in fine clothing; Lazarus was covered in sores
  • The rich man feasted at the best banquets; Lazarus longed to eat the scraps that fell from the table

The contrast goes deeper, however. Based on the rest of the story that Jesus tells, Lazarus was a man of faith in Christ but the rich man was not. Lazarus had repented of his sin and trusted in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The rich man had not.

The chasm. When Lazarus died, he was taken to “Abraham’s bosom.” This is one of the terms the Bible uses to describe eternal life in the presence of God. Another such term is “paradise.” Abraham’s bosom was a place of rest, shalom. Lazarus was in heaven, carried there by the angels. Lazarus, who had suffered much on earth and who longed for basic human needs, was now at peace and rest for all of eternity, enjoying the feast around God’s banquet table.

The rich man, however, was in torment in flames. He thirsted severely. He longed for even a drop of water to cool his tongue. He was conscious and in indescribable pain. He was separated from God forever in “Hades.” The rich man was in hell. And between Abraham’s bosom and Hades (between heaven and hell) a great chasm existed, which no one could cross.

The choice. The rich man had made a choice on earth to not repent (see verse 30), which is why he was now eternally separated from God. Lazarus had chosen on earth to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and now he was spending eternity with God. The Bible gives witness of who Jesus is. The phrase “Moses and the Prophets” (v29) refers to the Old Testament Scriptures. You see, there is enough truth about who Jesus is in the Old Testament to lead someone to forgiveness, faith and salvation through Jesus the Messiah.

The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn the rich man’s brothers, so that they would not experience the same eternal fate as him. He wanted them to repent (v30) and be saved like Lazarus. Abraham told the rich man that they had the Scriptures to read and believe. And, he said, even if someone came back from the dead, they would not believe him either.

You cannot read that last sentence without thinking of the resurrections of two people: another man named Lazarus and Jesus Himself.

Tragically, Abraham’s words to the rich man are correct: people not only ignore the teaching of Scripture but they also ignore the most important event in human history — the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Have you made your choice? If you are still breathing, it is not too late for you. Repent of your sin and receive God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus.

The same holds true for everyone else too. Tell them the good news of Jesus. Tell them before it is too late.

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