Summary: This is the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Jesus helps us understand the there is life beyond this earthly life. The message compares some quotes by Dr. Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross and Fidel Castro and their opinion about life after death verses the word
In Jesus Holy Name September 30, 2007
Text: Luke 16:22-23, 26…. between…, 31 Redeemer
“When Life on Earth Ends – What’s Next?”
In our gospel lesson today, Jesus pulls back the curtain to help us catch a glimpse of life on the other side of death. This story is unique to the Gospel of Luke. The target of Jesus’ story is the self-righteous Pharisees (Luke 16:14). The Pharisees were “lovers of money” and sought to justify their own behavior, but God knows their hearts
One of the bible studies I enjoy doing is to take the High School youth group to the cemetery. While there, they look at the names, dates, and epitaphs on the tombstones. We then talk about the “dash” and study the promises of God and the resurrection of Jesus.
Perhaps you have heard the story about the message one man left on his tombstone. It said, “Consider, young man, as you walk by, as you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you soon shall be, so prepare, young man to follow me.” That sounded very profound, but one fellow took a knife and scratched a response that read, “To follow you is not my intent; until I know which way you went!” There are only two directions you can go after death. (from David Dykes Sermon Central Luke 16:19)
Jesus introduces us to a rich man, one who is extremely wealthy. He lives in a home with a gate to keep others away from him. His clothes were made of the finest purple. The process to get purple dye from shell fish was very expensive. The color was usually reserved for royalty. He had the very best.
His linen was produced from the flax that grew along the Nile River. It was white, very soft, and kept him cool in the warm weather. It was very expensive.
In contrast to the rich man, Lazarus was in need of everything. He had no home. His health was failing. He was an outcast. His only food is what was thrown out. His only companions were the stray dogs, who came and licked his oozing sores that covered his body. The rich man ignored his plight.
Rev. George Truett was a well known Texas preacher. He was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy oil man. After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area. Pointing to the oil wells dotting the landscape, he boasted, “twenty-five years ago I had nothing; now as far as you can see, it’s all mine.” Looking in the opposite direction at the sprawling fields of grain, he said “That’s all mine.” Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, “They are all mine.” Then pointing to the west and beautiful forests, he exclaimed, “That’s all mine.”
The man paused and expected Dr. Truett to compliment him on his great success. Truett, however, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other simply said, “How much to you have in that direction?” (from Farewell Ave Christian Church)
Notice that Jesus does not condemn the rich man for the money he had but for the compassion he did not have. He was guilty for a long time and failed to believe what his O.T. scriptures had said about the two choices beyond this earthly life. The rich man was condemned for his sin of omission, for what had not been doing. Blessed by God he failed to give God credit. He failed to care with acts of kindness and charity. His money bought lots of things but there are things that money can not buy.
A contrast in death.
While there was an obvious contrast in how the rich man and Lazarus lived, there was also a difference in their deaths. When Lazarus died, no one offered a proper burial or even a memorial service. He was simply carried by angels to heaven.
When the rich man died, the family provided a fantastic funeral. The family, as was the custom, hired professional mourners, purchased costly spices and used an elaborate tomb for burial. No doubt the whole town turned out for the funeral and listened to the countless eulogies offered. But he learned too late …… in hell, where he was in torment. He called to Abraham; he begged for just a drop of water to cool his tongue. Imagine the agony, the fire, an eternity without hope.
Jesus uses the words of Abraham to explain that it was absolutely impossible for Lazarus to come and help him now. There is a great chasm between heaven and hell that is fixed so that no one can cross over to the other side. The lost and redeemed are separated forever. There are no exit signs in hell. It is a place reserved for Satan, his demons and all who reject Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. It is a place of everlasting punishment.