Summary: "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things , and likewise Lazarus evil things;but now he is comforted and you are tormented" Luke 16:25.
Luke 16:19-31 Theme: Going home
Text: Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 21:1-5
Home is always the best place to be. But many people have a wrong idea about where their home really is. If we would only understand that we are spiritual beings in a physical body we would also understand that just as the physical body has a physical home so also does the spiritual body have a spiritual home. Death releases the spiritual body and is the vehicle that takes us to our real home. We should always remember that here on earth we are pilgrims on our way home. Unfortunately many of us call the wrong place home and live our lives as if everything ends here. This place with so many troubles, pain, anguish and hurt cannot be home. The story is told of a missionary who returned to his country after spending many years abroad only to realise that no one had come to meet him. Tears came to his eyes as he asked the Lord why no one had come to welcome him home. Suddenly, he realised he was not home yet. He had been calling the wrong place home. Our brother Kwame has left us but he has gone home to be with the Lord. When Kwame made the choice to follow Christ, heaven became his home and we are assured that he has returned home. Where is your home? We need to be sure of where our home is and whether we are on the right path to heaven. None of us are going to heaven because we have been good or have lived charitable lives. We are going to heaven because Christ died on the cross for us – because He paid the penalty for our sin. The Word of God assures us all that those who are His will spend eternity with Him. Our relationship with Christ in this life determines our relationship with Him in eternity and will determine where our home is. What is your relationship with Christ today?
In our gospel reading the lives of two men are contrasted before and after death. The first man was rich, feasted daily, and dressed in purple and fine linens. Today it would be silk sheets and designer clothing and a daily life of luxury. However what pointed to the terrible future that awaited him was his life without God that was reflected in his lack of concern and compassion for Lazarus. Lazarus, a poor and destitute beggar was laid each day at the rich man’s gate and he had no choice but to notice him. His body was scantily covered and revealed numerous sores and ulcers. He was hungry, malnourished and sick and longed to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. He could not afford medical treatment and his nurses were the stray dogs in the area that came and licked his sores. In contrast to the rich man what determined his future was a life with God in spite of his poverty.
Lazarus only wanted some of this bread given to the dogs. Eating dog food was considered a disgrace to a Jew as dogs were unclean animals. The rich man could have easily helped Lazarus, but he ignored him completely. He could not deny knowing about his plight because Lazarus was daily at his gate where he could not fail to see him. He thereby missed the opportunity to serve God by meeting the needs of Lazarus. His behaviour confirmed that God had very little place in his life and that he was more concerned about pleasing himself rather than pleasing God. A life without God will inevitably lead to a life of destruction in hell. A story is told of a minister who reported to a new church. Upon arrival some members of the congregation came to see him and asked him “Do you believe in hell”? When he replied that he did not, they asked him to resign. When he asked them for their reason their response to him was “If there is no Hell then we don’t need you and if there is a Hell we don’t want you to lead us astray.” Jesus tells us there is hell and we decide where we are going to spend eternity. Our decision depends on our relationship with Christ. Is Jesus Christ your Saviour and Lord?
There is life after death and our lives decide where we go after death. When Lazarus died his physical body was buried. His burial was probably carting the body away to the rubbish dump and burning it along with the rubbish. But angels were assigned and present to carry his spiritual body to the comfort of Abraham’s bosom. When the rich man died he was also buried. And although we are not told so, we can imagine that he was given a fitting send off with expensive coffin and decorated grave and other extravagant displays of wealth and affluence. But there were no angels to carry him into God’s presence. Rather he finds himself being tormented in hell.