Jump Start # 3391
NOTE: Many have been using our Jump Start book about Jimi as a tool of evangelism. They have been sharing them with family and friends who are not Christians. If you would like more copies of the Jimi book to pass on to others, contact me: Rogshouse@aol.com. Be sure and INCLUDE your mailing address.
Luke 16:24 “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”
We were recently walking through this section in a Bible class. The class is entitled, “What happens at the end,” and we were looking at what happens to us at the end of our lives here. The rich man and Lazarus—opposites in life and opposites in death. So many powerful lessons can be pulled from this. Is this a true story or a parable? Many compelling arguments to support either view. However, don’t lose the big picture here. The rich man was in agony because of the choices he made in life. Lazarus was in comfort because of the choices he made in life. Their successes or failures in the cultural arena had nothing to do with their outcome in the spiritual realm.
Every time I visit this passage, I see things I’ve missed before. And, once again, this is true from our passage today. The rich man was wanting in the afterlife what he never gave to Lazarus while on earth. He was looking for some mercy.
Our passage shows the rich man still thinking about himself and still demanding others. For Lazarus to cool off the rich man’s tongue would mean that Lazarus would have to journey to torment. The rich man was not asking to come up, but for Lazarus to come down to him.
And, in this we find some great observations for us:
First, even in tragic situations, some do not get it. Not once does the rich man apologize to Lazarus. He can see him, but he can’t seem to ask him to forgive him. As in life, as in death, the rich man is still only thinking of self and seems to be demanding and barking out orders. Send Lazarus down here with a drop of water. Send Lazarus back home to tell my family. The rich man may have gotten away with being pushy, bossy and demanding in life, but it isn’t working for him in death. Lazarus isn’t going anywhere. Abraham won’t have it.
Second, the rich man neve says, “Lazarus, I’m happy for you. I’m glad you finally found the comfort that you needed.” Nope. None of that. His concern is about himself and his family and no one else. Some can never be happy for someone else, because they can’t take their eyes off of themselves long enough to see what the other person received.
Third, Lazarus never speaks in this passage. The conversations are between the rich man and Abraham. The rich man seems to understand that Lazarus cannot do things on his own so he must seek the permission of Abraham. So, as our verse states, “Father Abraham…send Lazarus.” Abraham won’t budge. Lazarus isn’t going any place. The position, power and demanding ways of the rich man mean nothing on the other side. He no longer gets his way. He no longer can boss others around. He wants. He begs. He pleads. But no one is running to his side. No one is going to help him. Now, for the first time, he experiences what Lazarus felt like in life. No one to help. No one to intervein. No one to make things better.
Fourth, the rich man had no one to blame except himself. When the call is made to send Lazarus back home to his family, the request is refused. They have the Bible. He knew what Moses and the prophets meant. That’s all that was needed to avoid the terrible place he was in. He had the tools. He just didn’t use them. Maybe he was too busy. Maybe he thought all that was beneath him. Maybe he thought that was for the common guy. But his wealth, power and position didn’t help him after death.
And, today we will run into people just like Lazarus and just like the rich man. The car the rich man drives may catch our eye. The mansion he lives in may be impressive to us. The latest fashions. The expensive restaurants. Everyone envies the rich man. Lazarus might be the guy who lives in the small house in a neighborhood most wouldn’t want to live in. His work pays him by the hour. His hands are rough from manual labor. His Bible is old, worn and torn in places. But he carries that Bible. He carries it to worship. He carries it to his favorite chair to read at night. He carries it to work to read during lunch hour. He’s not fancy. Eating out for the Lazarus of today would be fast food. He’s poor. His retirement will be meager. He’ll never have what the rich man has. But he has something that the rich man won’t have, and that’s a heart that loves the Lord. The Lazarus of today will show up on a Saturday to help someone in the church. The Lazarus of today doesn’t use big words, he has no college degree that hangs on the wall, but he knows the Lord. His faith, his hope, his choices all reflect Jesus. In a crowd, he’s not noticed. Few go to him for advice. But the Lord knows him and he knows the Lord. And, he realizes what’s important is not the size of your house, but the size of your heart. It’s not how fancy the car is, but are you living for Jesus.
We have all around us, the rich man and Lazarus. And, this story is lived over and over in every generation. And, Jesus told this to those who loved money, were impressed with what impresses culture and who justified themselves.
And, we must wonder, what impresses us? And, more so, which of the two are we?