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THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

Luke 16:19-16:31
Key Verse: 16:25

Last week, we have studied about the shrewd manager, and learned that we must handle our worldly wealth as shrewd managers to prepare ourselves for eternal dwellings. True shrewdness comes when we love God instead of money. The Pharisees who loved money sneered at Jesus when Jesus told them that they cannot serve both God and money. In today’s passage Jesus had in mind the Pharisees who loved money. The parable in this passage was given to them as a warning for their love of money or worldly wealth. As we study this passage, let’s think about three important lessons through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

First, Do not follow the lifestyle of the rich man.(19-21) Look at verse 19. “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.” This rich man had a great wealth, and he dressed himself in purple and fine linen and had luxurious parties every day with full course gourmet meals. It is not wrong to be rich and to have worldly wealth. In fact, being rich was considered God’s blessing especially among the Pharisees at that time and the present time as well. But this man’s problem is that he used his worldly wealth for his pleasure and self-indulgence. As a result, he wasted all God’s given blessings and also wasted his life with worldly wealth. God gave him worldly wealth so that he might handle it as shrewd manager and to serve God and neighbors. But he used his money only for his own pleasure and self-satisfaction, and did not care about God or neighbors who were suffering in hunger and poverty. But when he loved worldly wealth more than God, the love of money smeared into his soul. That is why 1 Tim 6:10 says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Many wander from faith in God because of the love of money. It is easy to follow the lifestyle of this rich man while living in this materialistic world. But we must remember that we cannot serve both God and the money. We must love God and learn how to handle worldly wealth to serve God and serve our neighbours.

But there was another man whose life had so much contrast with the rich man. Look at verse 20. “At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.” Lazarus was the only man whose name is mentioned in all of Jesus’ parables. So some say that this is not a parable, but a real story. The name ‘Lazarus’ means ‘God is my help.’ We do not know anything about him except that he was very sick and he was a beggar. But his name shows that he put his hope in God and lived as if God is the only help in his life. In his extreme human poverty, he humbly depend on God and his help. Jesus said in Luke 6:20, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Even though he was poor bagger, he is really blessed man because he had God, and God was his only help. This is the way God wants us to live. This is the lifestyle God wants us to follow whether we are in wealth or in poverty.

Second, See your life with eternal perspective. (22-26) Look at verse 22. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.” The rich man and Lazarus lived very different lives in great contrast. But one thing was same. Both of them dies. Death is the universal truth for all people. Everyone dies whether he is wealthy or poor. When Lazarus died, no one cared about his death, but the angels came and carried him to Abraham’s side. When the rich man died, surely there was a great funeral. But what happened after their deaths? The situation of the two men was abruptly changed.

Look at verse 23 and 24. “In Hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity 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 fire.” Here, we see the situation was completely changed after death. The rich man was in torment of hell while Lazarus was in Abraham’s side in paradise. What was Abraham’s answer to this rich man’s request? Look at verse 25 and 26. “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 fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” This conversation between Abraham and the rich man shows us that our life in this world is not everything. There is a life after death, that is, eternity. The rich man received good thing in his lifetime, but he now he is in agony. But Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted. Here, the point is that life in eternity can be quite different and beyond expectation.

Therefore, it is very important to see our life with eternal perspective. Then we can truly know how we should live our lives in this world. It seems irony that we can live the best life in this world when we have eternal perspective. But when we have eternal perspective of our life, we begin to realize that our life on earth is very short, but also very precious gift of God. Our life is too short and too precious to be wasted away. Each day is the precious gift of God. There is a famous Latin phrase, which says, “Carpe Diem.” It means to seize the day or make the most of the day. When we have eternal perspective of our life, we begin to learn how to make the most and the best of each day and invest our life for eternity. We begin to learn to be like the shrewd manager in handling worldly wealth for eternal dwellings. When Jesus talks about worldly wealth, it does not mean material possessions only, but also our ability, our youth, our health, and our life itself. Our life is too short. Young people here may not agree with that. But that is the truth of God whether we agree or not. May God help us to live each day as precious gift of God and invest our worldly wealth and our life to prepare for eternity.

Third, Repent before it is too late. (27-31) Look at verse 27-28. “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” When his first request to Abraham was not answered, this man made another request. This time he asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his unbelieving brothers. He knew that his brothers would also have the same destiny with him because he knew their lifestyle. He thought if Lazarus go and warn them, they would not make the same mistake he made. What was Abraham’s answer to this request? Look at verse 29-31. Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” Here, ‘Moses and the Prophets’ refers to the word of God. Abraham told him to let them listen to God’s word. But the man thought listening to the word of God is not enough. They needed a strong measure. So he insisted. “No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” It is proven that miracles, even someone rising from the dead, do not help people to repent and turn to God. For example, in John 11, Jesus raised Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead. But the religious leader began to plot to kill Jesus, and even they made plans to kill Lazarus as well.

Here, we can see the agony of the rich man. While he was in the world, he never thought he would come to this place of torment. Possibly, he thought that God would bless him and bring him to heaven because God blessed him on earth with worldly wealth. That was what the Pharisees thought about themselves at that time. He had many opportunities to hear the word of God while living on earth. But he never listened it from his heart. But now when he realized that he was wrong, it was too late to repent. It was too late to repent and get things right. It is true that there is time for repentance. In fact, now is the time of repentance. Tomorrow never comes. Now is the time of salvation through faith in Jesus. At that time, people had only Moses and the Prophets, which means the Old Testament. Still, Abraham said that is enough because Moses and the Prophets point to Jesus. What about now? We have even the New Testament, which revealed God’s full plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” In Acts chapter 2, Peter after being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost delivered the gospel message to the huge crowd of people. When people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Then Peter said in Acts 2:28, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The rich man thought people will repent if someone from the dead goes to them. But repentance is the matter of heart. It is only possible when we listen to the word of God, and the Holy Spirit works in our hearts through the word of God.

This passage also teaches us the important of those who preach the word of God. People can hear the word of God only when there is someone who preach them. So Jesus commended all believers to preach the gospel of Jesus to all people of all nations. We are the people whom God called to share this good news to our family members, friends, and our neighbors. We must let them listen to the word of God and repent before it is too late. In this way, we can be the light and salt of the earth. In the Book of Daniel, God told Daniel in Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Amen.

Thank Jesus who gave us the life-giving word of God through this parable. May God bless us to see our life with eternal perspective and use our worldly wealth and even our precious life to prepare for eternity and also help others be prepared for it through our life of mission.

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