Summary: More than any other teacher who ever lived, Jesus was qualified to provide a glimpse into the scenes that shall unfold in eternity.
ECHOES FROM ETERNITY.
Int: The verses that are just before this story, contain an emphasis that Jesus placed upon the importance of making provisions for the day of death. He showed that it is possible for a person to make friends that will be of use to him when death sweeps him out of this life. The following verses show the contrast between our Lord’s teachings and the response of His hearers.
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other,
or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God
and Money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering
at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes
of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable
in God’s sight.”
In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus has drawn back the curtain that separates us from eternity and has pictured life, before and after death. As the Son of God, Jesus is able to see the unseen as well as the seen. He takes us into a place that no man had ever been able to intelligently describe.
Since Lazarus is named in the introduction to the passage it appears to be not a parable, but rather an account of the different fates of two men who had actually lived on earth. It is clear that this passage teaches punishment after death for an unsaved person.
This is possibly the deepest and most soul-stirring of all the utterances of our Lord Jesus. Down through the ages, Bible scholars have drawn out, new and ever timeless truths from its clear, tremendous depths, yet, in no way has its meaning been exhausted. This voice from the other side of the veil that separates time from eternity, has in it a certain charm and yet, a certain terror. It touches all ages, every social level of men and women and every culture. There are many wonderful blessings suggested as well as many absolutely shocking realizations. Among the blessings is the notice given to the life of a believer when he enters Heaven. Those who die in the the Lord immediately become a part of a wide family circle. Abraham is pictured with Lazarus in his bosom. This image is taken from the way that guests used to sit at a banquet. At the Last Supper, John had such a position with the Lord. It suggests the picture of a most tender friendship. On the other hand, the rich man finds himself in total desolation and loneliness. He found himself in a place where there was nothing to live for, nothing to hope for, but he was condemned to go on existing with nothing but his painful memories.
It has been said that anyone who is not moved by this story of Jesus, must be in a deep sleep.
I. JESUS’ DESCRIPTION OF THE DAYS OF TWO MEN.
Although the length of their days was exactly the same, the circumstances of their lives made them see them differently.
A. The Man who never seemed to have enough hours in the day.
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.”
The word “luxury” could also be translated flamboyantly or extravagantly. That is the one outstanding fact that is given concerning him. We are not told that he was guilty of any sin, but it is obvious that he was self-centered. He lived a life of royal magnificence. He had an abundance of everything that could possibly make his life one of excellence. Purple was an especially expensive form of apparel. Purple dye was made from a form of sea life that was very rare. Because of this, the dye was quite expensive, and was used by people who were very wealthy.
Because of his wealth, his home was filled with important people on a regular basis, and his daily schedule was always full of what he considered important. Although this man may have become rich by immoral means (as people often did). The only crime Jesus attributes to the rich man is that he let Lazarus starve to death when he could have prevented it.
B. The Man whose days seemed as if they would never end.
Lazarus was a man who was totally unable to provide for himself. He suffered constantly, was covered with sores, and was afflicted with an incurable disease. The dogs came and licked his sores. These were scavengers, street mongrels that people looked upon as if they were rats or other unhealthy creatures. They were unclean, and their tongues would have stung his sores. They licked his sores as if they would have licked their own.