Jump Start # 2247
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. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Our verse today comes from the powerful story of the rich man and Lazarus. Folks have debated for years whether his is a parable or a real story. My answer is “yes.” Contextually, flowing through Luke, it fits to be a parable. Is it real? Yes. Parables are true in principle. The trouble people have is with the name Lazarus. No other parable, we are told, has real names. But is that a rule or just a common characteristic. This section begins, “Now there was a certain rich man…” which is similar to how the chapter begins, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward.” This is similar to how the prodigal son parable begins in the previous chapter, “A certain man had two sons…”.
Real or parable, this passage gives us one of the only windows into the next room. Once one passes through the door of death, we wonder. What is it like in that next place? What are they doing? And, this passage answers so many of those questions. They have identity. They have memory. They have feelings. They have understanding. They have communication. They were alive, even though their bodies were dead. The rich man knew he had five brothers that were still alive. He knew why he was in torment. He knew that his brothers would follow because of the way they were living. He knew what Moses and the Prophets represented.
All of this tells us that death doesn’t end our lives. We merely move on to the next room. It’s not just the righteous that live, but the wicked rich man was alive as well. Both were in hades. This wasn’t Heaven and this wasn’t hell. However, some things had changed. They were separated and they couldn’t change their positions. There was no crossing over and no going back. The rich man, probably for the first time in his life, was begging. He had no one to help him. He couldn’t command servants, like he did in life. All his money and all his possessions were of no use to him now. He was wanting just a common drop of water, and that would not be given to him. No mercy. No love. No compassion. No one to care for him. In many ways, he was receiving exactly what he had done to Lazarus in life.
I want to focus particularly upon the expression, “in Hades he lifts up his eyes.” The rich man saw things for the first time. He saw what really mattered for the first time. And, borrowing that expression, consider Four Things You Will Know After You Die. You will know these immediately when you die. These are things that you can know now, but most don’t. But after death, everyone will know these.
First, you will know that Jesus is right. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is God’s only begotten Son. People today question Jesus. They challenge Jesus. They want to debate the Jesus idea. But five minutes after we die, we will all know that Jesus is right. He was always right. He died for our sins. He is our Savior, our hope and our redeemer. If we do not believe in Him, we will die in our sins. He said that, and He was right.
Second, you will know that the Bible spoke the truth. Righteousness matters. What God said is it. Our tolerant culture wants everyone to be accepted. No one is excluded. Everyone and everything is right. It doesn’t matter who or what you marry, what you smoke, what you do, it’s all just fine. No judgment, no guilt, no shame. That’s our culture. It’s not God’s. Five minutes after you die, you will know that the Bible spoke the truth. Goodness isn’t good enough, not for Heaven. You can ignore the Bible, but it won’t go away. You can denounce it as a collection of ancient myths, but you’ll find out one of these days that it spoke the truth.
Third, you will know five minutes after you die, that eternity is so different than here. On earth, we have choices. On earth, I can do what I want. On earth, I can improve. On earth, I have options. But the pitiful rich man didn’t have that any more. Life on the other side was so different. He wasn’t a big shot on the other side. His status didn’t matter. He didn’t have options. He couldn’t improve himself. All the tears he could cry, would not change anything. This was worse than a nightmare. Nightmares are not real, this was. Nightmares end, this didn’t. The false and fanciful idea that so many have of the afterlife is one continual fantasy island where we each get to do what we long to do. Shop. Golf. Play. Relax on the beach. Chocolate. Fun. A never ending vacation. All the food you can eat and you’ll never get fat. All the pets you want and you won’t have to feed them nor take care of them. Happy, happy, happy—and selfish, selfish, selfish. These thoughts are not Bible based nor Bible driven. The reason the rich man was in torments was because he lived a selfish life that ignored God. That put him in agony and torment, not Heaven. And, as bad as it was, it still wasn’t hell. And, as comforted as Lazarus was, that still wasn’t Heaven. Hades is the unseen world. It’s not the final destiny. Revelation tells us that death and hades will be thrown into the Lake of fire.
Finally, five minutes after death, every person will know that their choices determined where they ended up. This wasn’t predetermined by God. This wasn’t random selection. God doesn’t actually send anyone any where. Our choices make that decision. We live for Christ, or we ignore Christ. We follow the Bible or we keep our Bibles closed. We become like Christ, or we do what we feel like. We forgive, or we hold hatred in our hearts. We offer grace or we throw the book at a person. We are patient or we judge harshly. We walk through life with compassion or we carry an attitude about us.
Five minutes after we die. That’s all it’s going to take. You’ll find out, but you may find out too late, like the rich man did. You can know these spiritual and eternal truths today. You can make the right choices today. You can live without fear and worry. You can walk with Christ and have the hope and the assurance that God’s angels will carry you to paradise.
Five minutes. It won’t take that long for you to know.