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There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16: 19-31)

The parable we have now read, in one respect stands alone in the Bible. It is the only passage of Scripture which describes the feelings of the unconverted after death. For this reason, as well as for many others, the parable deserves special attention.

 

We learn, firstly, from this parable, that a man’s worldly condition is no test of his state in the sight of God. The Lord Jesus describes to us two men, of whom one was very rich, and the other very poor. The one “fared sumptuously every day.” The other was a mere “beggar,” who had nothing that he could call his own. And yet of these two the poor man had grace, and the rich had none. The poor man lived by faith, and walked in the steps of Abraham. The rich man was a thoughtless, selfish worldling, dead in trespasses and sins.

Let us never give way to the common idea that men are to be valued according to their income, and that the man who has most money is the one who ought to be the most highly esteemed. There is no authority for this notion in the Bible. The general teaching of Scripture is flatly opposed to it. “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (I Cor. 1: 26); “Let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knowth me” (Jer. 9: 24). Wealth is no mark of God’s favour. Poverty is no mark of God’s displeasure. Those whom God justifies and glorifies are seldom the rich of this world. It we would measure men as God measures them, we must value them according to their grace.

We learn, secondly, from this parable, that death is the common end to which all classes of mankind must come. The trials of the “beggar,” and the sumptuous faring of the “rich man,” alike ceased at last. There came a time when both of them died. “All go unto one place” (Eccl. 3: 20).

Death is a great fact that all acknowledge, but very few seem to realise. Most men eat, and drink, and talk, and plan, as if they were going to live upon earth forever. The true Christian must be on his guard against this spirit. “He that would live well,” said a great divine, “should often think of his last day, and make it his company-keeper.” Against murmuring, and discontent, and envy, in the state of poverty – against pride, and self-sufficiency, and arrogance, in the possession of wealth, there are few better antidotes than the remembrance of death. “The beggar died,” and his bodily wants were at an end. “The rich man also died,” and his feasting was stopped for evermore.

We learn, thirdly, from this parable, that the souls of believers are specially cared for by God in the hour of death. The Lord Jesus tells us that when the beggar died he “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.”

There is something very comforting in this expression. We know little or nothing of the state and feelings of the dead. When our own last hour comes, and we lie down to die, we shall be like those who journey into an unknown country. But it may satisfy us to know that all who fall asleep in Jesus are in good keeping. They are not houseless, homeless wanderers between the hour of death and the day of resurrection. They are at rest in the midst of friends, with all who have had like faith with Abraham. They have no lack of anything. And, best of all, Paul tells us they are “with Christ” (Philp. 1: 23). (… to be concluded)

(Extracted from Gracegems website)