Lazarus and the Rich Man-Luke 16:19-31

Luke 16:19-31 “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. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luca 16:19-31 «C’era un uomo ricco, che si vestiva di porpora e di bisso, e ogni giorno si divertiva splendidamente.20 Un mendicante, chiamato Lazzaro, stava alla sua porta, pieno di ulceri 21 e bramoso di sfamarsi con quello che cadeva dalla tavola del ricco; e perfino i cani venivano a leccargli le ulceri. 22 Avvenne che il povero morì e fu portato dagli angeli nel seno di Abraamo; morì anche il ricco, e fu sepolto. 23 E nell’Ades, essendo nei tormenti, alzò gli occhi e vide da lontano Abraamo, e Lazzaro nel suo seno; 24 ed esclamò: “Padre Abraamo, abbi pietà di me, e manda Lazzaro a intingere la punta del dito nell’acqua per rinfrescarmi la lingua, perché sono tormentato in questa fiamma”.25 Ma Abraamo disse: “Figlio, ricòrdati che tu nella tua vita hai ricevuto i tuoi beni e che Lazzaro similmente ricevette i mali; ma ora qui egli è consolato, e tu sei tormentato. 26 Oltre a tutto questo, fra noi e voi è posta una grande voragine, perché quelli che vorrebbero passare di qui a voi non possano, né di là si passi da noi”. 27 Ed egli disse: “Ti prego, dunque, o padre, che tu lo mandi a casa di mio padre, 28 perché ho cinque fratelli, affinché li avverta, e non vengano anche loro in questo luogo di tormento”. 29 Abraamo disse: “Hanno Mosè e i profeti; ascoltino quelli”.30 Ed egli: “No, padre Abraamo; ma se qualcuno dai morti va a loro, si ravvederanno”. 31 Abraamo rispose: “Se non ascoltano Mosè e i profeti, non si lasceranno persuadere neppure se uno dei morti risuscita”». 

Using the backdrop of what Jesus had been teaching about riches, this parable is an example both to the rich, the poor and the hardness of hearts. Verse 14 explains, ‘The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” Contrary to the common teaching of His day, Jesus taught that riches were no indication that someone was righteous. In this parable, the rich man had everything (purple, fine linen and lived in luxury). The poor man, Lazarus, had nothing (poor health, inability to work and would have been happy just to have the crumbs from the rich man’s table). Lazarus was righteous however because he trusted in God (not because he was poor!)

As eternity began for both of them, Lazarus went to Abraham’s side while the rich man went to hell. There is no doubt in this parable that hell and heaven are places of consciousness; hell was a place of torment and heaven was a place of paradise resting by Abraham’s side. Between these places, “a great chasm has been fixed” (v. 26). But there was communication between Abraham and the rich man. First, he asked for a drink of water to which Abraham replied that it was not possible because a barrier was fixed. Then the rich man asked for help from Lazarus to go and preach to his family about the torment of hell. Abraham responded that they already had a witness in Moses and the prophets. Finally, his appeal was to send a resurrected saint to preach to his family. Abraham concluded by recounting one of most sobering verses in the Bible: ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ Apart from the very obvious message about eternity, there is another salient point. The truth is that people believe what they want to believe. In this crowd, there was no amount of proof that would convince them of who Jesus was. Sadly, it is still true today. But Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he “would become all things to all people so that by all possible means” he might save some. May the Lord help us to reach the “some” while we can before the chasm becomes fixed.

Pray with me: Lord, I know that nothing in this world can assure me of eternity except my hope that is fixed on You. Help me to do all I can to win those who will listen.



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