Reading Luke chapter 16 verses 19-31 tells a story of life after death in two contrasting places. Here are my thought on these verses.
This story was narrated by none other than Jesus. If there is anyone who knows about the hereafter, it would have to be Jesus. Verses 19-21 describe the socio-economic state of the two persons in the story. The rich man had everything he needed – food, money, house, land, cars, boats, and all the other things that rich people have. He lived well. Lazarus, on the other hand, was a poor beggar. He had no money to take care of his food or health needs. He instead, had to settle for the leftovers from the rich man’s table and to get his sores cleaned by the rich man’s dog.
Lazarus died and angels took him to Abraham’s side. The rich man died too but there is no mention of Abraham’s side in his case(verse 22). Jesus said that he was buried. Of course, he would have had a big funeral with many influential friends and relatives in attendance. Imagine the eulogy describing what a good man he was, and the expensive burial plot that would allow for a marble headstone. My attention was drawn to the fact that in Lazarus’ case, Jesus did not mention that he was buried but he did so for the rich man. This was probably to emphasize the fact that what Lazarus had for a burial was nothing compared to what the rich man had. Lazarus, most likely had a pauper’s burial.
The rich man, somehow or the other found himself in hell.(verse 22) Jesus did not give the reasons why one man went one place and the other went to another place. To assume that the rich man went to hell because he was rich and the poor man went to Abraham’s side because he was poor is to read into the text, information that is not there. The rich man was in torment. He looked up and saw Lazarus by Abraham’s side. He shouted for father Abraham. At this time he must have been thinking that his social connections would put him in good stead with Abraham. He did not call Lazarus, but he asked Abraham to send Lazarus with some water to alleviate the torment of the fire (verses 23, 24). In this rich man’s eyes, Lazarus was still a poor beggar that he could use to get what he wanted. Maybe that was part of the the reason why he was in hell.
Abraham had bad news for him. Abraham was blunt with him revealing to him that the way one lives his life determines where one goes at death. Adding to the rich man’s predicament, Abraham made it clear that no help was forthcoming since Lazarus could not go to him, neither could he come to Lazarus (verses 25-26). The jokes of people at death arriving at the wrong gate only to be redirected to the correct place, is truly a joke. Your arrival gate is always your final destination. Don’t you fool with those arrival gates.
Realizing that his fate was sealed, he implored Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers to avoid coming to where he was. Abraham’s reply was that they had the Bible and they need to obey it. The rich man said, “You do not understand Father Abraham, a dramatic miracle like someone coming back from the dead will really get their attention and they will repent.” (Verses 27-30)
Abraham concluded the conversation, “If they would not listen to the word of God, sending someone back from the dead would be a waste of time.”(verse 31)
Points from the story:
- The way you live this present life determines where you go at death
- You will either go to Abraham’s side or to a tormenting hell
- In hell there will be no one to help
- At Abraham’s side you will be comforted
- You cannot change places once this life is over
- Those who remain alive should not expect a dramatic miracle to convince them of the dangers of hell.
- Pay heed to the word of God in this life.