On the surface this story seems to be a dire warning about the horrors of the eternal fires in hell which will claim the rich and uncaring, the arrogant and the selfish. It’s the classic stuff of medieval paintings and the diabolical and terrifying sermons of old.
But it is all too easy to focus on the great chasm, mercilessly and irrevocably separating the rich man in torment from Lazarus and Abraham in heaven. The key point is the question of what it will take for a person to heed to the warnings of Moses and the prophets.
Luke 16:19-31 NLT
Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”
I think the origins of my faith date back to my fathers conversion when I a child of about eight years. I remember my father began to act differently and he told me all about his faith in Jesus and I saw him reading the Bible everyday. I believed my father and I believed in Jesus, but I had no way to follow a Christian lifestyle because I was living away from home at boarding school and I was just a child. I had to wait until I was a mature man when I met a woman who naturally, and without any pretence, demonstrated her faith by the way she lived. She inspired me to live for Jesus and so I began to read the warnings that Moses and the prophets wrote. I will keep at it and share what I have read with anyone who wants to listen.
Joshua 9:3-10:43, Luke 16:19-17:10, Psalms 83:1-18, Proverbs 13:4