Summary: In the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, death changed the rich man mind about a great many things.
“The Stories that Jesus Told”
Sermon # 4
“What Happens When We Die”
The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Sometimes “The Stories that Jesus Told,” which he called parables, relayed uncomfortable and even unwelcome truths. Such is the case today as are going to look at the subject of “What Happens When We Die.” The story we are going to examine today has come to be known as the “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.” We find this story in Luke chapter sixteen, beginning in verse nineteen. The real subject of the story is found in verse twenty-two where we read, "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.” Death is never a very pleasant subject, and perhaps it is our reluctance to discuss it that causes so many misconceptions about what happens when we die.
Over the last twenty-four years of ministry I have had the occasion to be involved in over 118 funerals. I have to admit that I have had some pretty interesting experiences, but nothing as funny as the true story of the experience young preacher I read about. “A man died who had no friends and only distant relatives who lived in another state. The funeral home called this young preacher and requested he do a simple graveside service. They told the preacher that nobody would be present at the service except the funeral home directors and the men who worked at the cemetery.
On the way to the unfamiliar cemetery, the young preacher got lost. Finally, he saw a little church with a cemetery and he assumed it was the right place because he saw three guys leaning on their shoves next to a large pile of dirt near the back of the church. The hearse was nowhere in sight, so he figured they has already given up on him and left. He quickly got out of his car and walked to the grave. He said to the workman, “I see that you’ve already buried the vault, let’s pause and let me say a few words and pray.’ The workmen removed their hats, and he began the service. Afterwards, one of the workmen smiled and said, ‘Preacher, I don’t know who you are but that’s the best funeral service for a septic tank I’ve ever heard.” [David Dykes. “What Happens After You Die.” www. GreenAcresBaptist]
But honestly when I preach a funeral message, it is always with the realization that it is a great responsibility, for I realize that I represent Jesus Christ and am charged with the responsibility to proclaim the good news of the forgiveness of sin and the salvation that is possible to all that call upon him.
The story I want to share with you today begins by contrasting the difference between the lives of the two men, one rich and one poor; it is not only a contrast between their circumstance in this life but of their destinies in the life to come.
In verses nineteen and twenty we are introduced to two men, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.” (20) “At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores (21) and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.”