Luke 16: 19-31
Christ Jesus talked about two men who could not have been more separated in life and death.
A certain rich man “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.” Jesus did not explain how the man amassed his wealth, nor did He condemn the man for being so prosperous.
The rich man loved to make a display of his wealth, dressing like a king every day. His table was always filled with the best food. When a man enjoys making a big display of his prosperity, he wants to host well-to-do guests and this meant frequent visits by those guests.
There was another man, said Jesus, who “was laid” at the entrance of the rich man’s magnificent estate. The beggar was unable to work, and this place, the one where the rich man lived and where wealthy people came and went, was the place where he was likely to get food. His only desire was for “the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table.”
The beggar’s body was covered with sores, and dogs licked the lesions on his arms and legs. His name was Lazarus, a name meaning “God is my help.”
One day, Lazarus died and was “carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” The rich man also died, and Jesus only said he was buried. The rich man went to hell where he was “in torments.” He saw Abraham and Lazarus in paradise, and he asked Abraham for mercy. Send Lazarus, he pleaded, to touch his tongue with a moistened finger because he was tormented by the flames of hell.
In life on earth, the rich man had every comfort while Lazarus was miserable. Now, Abraham said, the rich man was tormented and Lazarus was comforted. A great gulf separated the men, preventing any help for the rich man.
Seeing there was no help for himself, the rich man pleaded again with Abraham. Send Lazarus to his father’s house where he had five brothers whom he did not want to end up in torment as he did.
“They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them,” Abraham said.
“If one went unto them from the dead, they will repent,” replied the rich man.
If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, Abraham said, they will not be convinced even by a man who rose from the dead.
In this narrative, Christ Jesus lifted the curtain to make visible the things that are presently invisible to us. Life does not end at death. Where we will spend eternity is determined on this side of death. A great gulf separating heaven and hell makes it impossible to change our minds once we have passed from this life into eternity.
We, too, have the testimony of Moses and the prophets. We also have the testimony of One who has arisen from the grave and lives today. The issue before every person is what we will do with this testimony. Does Jesus live and reign in your heart? Believe in Christ Jesus, the only way to salvation and eternal life in heaven.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at [email protected]