Jump Start # 2481
Luke 16:22 “Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.”
The rich man and Lazarus is a window into what happens after we die. The rich man knew. He remembered. He felt. He understood. It seems all that he was remained except for this physical body. He died, but there was no “The End,” to his story. His death wasn’t the final page. He lived on, but things were so different for him. He couldn’t even command a simply drop of water to be brought to him. He wanted word sent to his five brothers who were still alive. That was denied. He couldn’t cross over to where Lazarus was. He lived on, but it certainly wasn’t like what he was used to while on earth.
And his money, his purple clothing, his gated house, his fine linen, the fancy foods, none of those things were with him on the other side. And, none of those things kept death from coming. His money might have paid for doctors and medicine, but it couldn’t buy health. His money could have purchased fine foods and clothing but it couldn’t stop the divine appointment God had for him.
On the other side, his concerns were water for himself and warnings for his brother. He doesn’t ask about his purple clothes. He doesn’t seem to be concerned about who is now living in his house. He doesn’t say anything about the fine foods he has been eating. What the rich man recognized, though too late, is what really matters in life. And, the things that matter the most cannot be purchased.
Here are a few examples:
- Time is a gift of God. We take it for granted. We waste time. We use time. But we can’t purchase time. When people were busy making purchases on Cyber Monday, no one was able to buy an extra day. We buy electronics and gadgets that are supposed to save us time, but we find ways to burn through those “saved” moments. I expect the rich man would have walked away from his fine house had he been able to have one more day to live. Had the Lord said, “You were to die today, but I’m granting you one more day,” you’d think he would do things differently. You’d think he would forget about the purple, the food, the stuff and fall to his knees begging mercy from the Lord.
- Family is a precious gift from the Lord. Sometimes our families are filled with drama, stress and pain. Sometimes our friends take advantage of us and use us. But what came to the rich man’s mind after he crossed over to the other side? His five brothers. He did not want them to come to where he was. He wanted them to be saved. We get together with family and friends and we tease one another, laugh together, have fun together, but maybe what we ought to do is have some serious conversations about the Lord and what happens after death. We are not told whether these five brothers were in business with the rich man. We don’t know how close their relationship was. But, other than water for himself, what he begged for was word to be sent to his family. His money couldn’t buy salvation for his brothers. His money couldn’t keep death way from them. His position, his power, his influence—none of that impresses God. He knew that they were just like he was. He knew that unless something changed, they would be with him in torment. They were on the same path that he followed.
- Faith in God is a personal choice. The rich man could have donated a mountain of money to the Temple, but that would not have changed this story. He could have bought personal copies of God’s word, like the Ethiopian eunuch had, but that would not have changed this story. Faith in God is personal. Faith must be driven from our heart. Faith comes from believing, trusting and obeying the Lord. Faith changes us. Faith doesn’t lie dormant or idle. Faith is action. Noah believed God and built the ark. Abraham believed God and left Ur. They did those things because God said so. Long ago, some folks purchased their own pews in church buildings. They had little metal signs indicating that. They would be the only ones to sit in “their pew.” But even that doesn’t change this story. The rich man was too busy for God. The rich man ignored a generous and kind God and that shaped his character. He ignored the opportunity to help poor Lazarus. Lazarus wasn’t in Africa. He wasn’t lying in the streets in some rough area of town. He was at the rich man’s gates. Every day as the rich man left for work, to make more money, he had to pass right by Lazarus. His eyes never saw him, because his heart was closed and selfish. He could have brought Lazarus into his home. He could have provided food, and even sent for a doctor. He may have been able to extend some time for Lazarus and in doing this, he may have softened his heart, and thought about how blessed God had made him. He may have opened his eyes to the Lord and started listening to the words of God. He may have changed his eternal destiny, had he only allowed faith to take root in his heart. But as it is, he was too busy. Too busy for church. No time to read the Bible. Got a long list of things to do. That’s us. That’s our times. And, some day, death will come and then we will see what really matters and what we so often have chased in life are the things that are of no consequence.
Contextually, Luke strings together a series of stories about riches. First, there is the prodigal. Took his inheritance and lived like a fool. Then there is the dishonest servant who was embezzling from his master and go caught. And, right before the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke adds, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him.”
Given money. Stolen money. Earned money. Doesn’t matter, because if money is your god, your ambition, your heart, it will take you away from God. Five minutes after he died, the rich man got it. He got it too late. He realized what a blessing time was. He saw how important family was. And, he realized that faith was more important than money. Poor, pitiful, lonely, sick Lazarus was better off than the rich man. Lazarus was the one who was truly rich and the rich man was truly destitute. He never saw that until it was too late.
Now, all of this comes to us. Are you more like the rich man or like Lazarus? Where is your heart? What moves your needle? What impresses you? Paul said, “We make it our ambition to please the Lord.” Best give that some thought.
(We have a Jump Start book devoted to the story of the rich man and Lazarus. If you would like a free copy please email me, with your address, to: Rogshouse@aol.com)