Read: Luke 16:19-31
By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. –C. S. Lewis
Herein lies, arguably, one of Jesus’ most striking and eye-opening parables. We find a selfish, covetous, rich man. He dressed in fine linen and dined at a table that was overflowing with fine foods. Luxury was his life and money was his security.
But just outside his gate lay a man named Lazarus. His body was covered in sores and his stomach rumbled. He longed to eat the food that made its way into the rich man’s trash. Dogs were his only friends. They came to lick his sores and offer him a spark of comfort and warmth.
Lazarus passes away and is taken to Abraham’s side. The rich man also dies and is buried. The rich man finds himself in Hades. He looks up to see Abraham with Lazarus at his side. He begs Abraham for Lazarus to bring him water, for he is parched and in agony in the fire that fills Hades.
“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us’” (Luke 16:25-26).
Abraham’s reply to the rich man came like a slap to the face to the man and is probably received similarly to anyone who reads this passage. It makes our eternal destiny real when we see it embodied here in this passage.
Here is a man whose life was void of love and mercy. Whose only god was luxury. Whose only mission was more wealth. And he is now doomed to eternal agony.
On the other hand, Lazarus is a man who lived a humble life. A poor life, but one can only assume that his only God was Yahweh and his only care was a life lived for Him. So, now Lazarus gets to live in eternity with Him.
This is not a happy parable, unfortunately. Unlike the Prodigal Son, this parable doesn’t end with second chances, celebrations, and a return home. It ends with two men with two very different eternal destinies.
Why would Jesus tell such a dooming parable? Jesus is peeling back the curtain of the eternal. He is describing the two realities in which each and every one of us will meet. He doesn’t sugar coat it.
Just because eternal punishments await those who turn from God does not mean that God does not show mercy. I’m sure that God gave the rich man every chance to turn to Him. I’m sure that God called out the rich man’s name. I’m sure that the rich man knew of God and who He was. But ultimately, we each have a choice.
Are we the Lazarus in this story? Do we live a life of love and of mercy? A life that worships only God and follows the path He has set before us? Or are we the rich man in this story? Living a life that ignores God and His voice. A life that serves luxury and the false gods the world sets before us.
There is a great chasm. Where will you be?