- Luke 16:19 - 17:10
Luke 16:19 - 17:10
Today I read the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. In this story there is a rich man who lives in luxury, denying himself nothing. A poor diseased man named Lazarus laid at the rich man's gate, wishing for scraps - but instead dogs would lick his open sores as he laid there suffering. Both men died, and Lazarus went to be with Abraham while the rich men went to be with the dead in suffering. The rich man implored Abraham to let Lazarus come and relieve some of his suffering, and asked him to send Lazarus to his family so that they might repent.
Abraham told Lazarus a few things: First, he said that the divide between the the rich man and Lazarus was a chasm that none could cross. That serves as a reminder that your state, once you are dead, is permanent. Abraham also told the man that he had everything he wanted in life with Lazarus had nothing - and thus Lazarus was being comforted while the rich man was in anguish. I am conflicted about this part of the story -- after all, all my needs are met, as are many of my wants. Does that mean that I will be in anguish after I die? I don't think that's quite what this story is saying, and I will say why as I continue.
When the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his family, Abraham also refused. The rich man wanted to warn his family to repent and turn to God. To me this implies they are in a completely unsaved state to begin with. Lazarus didn't say to repent and tell them to not indulge themselves - no, he knew that they would wind up with him if they didn't turn to God. Now, that's not to say that a person who is a Christian should have everything they want -- far the opposite. But I would assume that if the rich man had turned to God, that he wouldn't allow Lazarus, the man who lay right outside his gate, to remain in suffering and poverty.
There's a lot to be said about that too. After all, poverty will be a condition of this world until Jesus Christ comes back -- so how do Christians draw the line between helping those who are in need and managing their own lives? It's a fine line, I think, that every Christian has to make for himself. I will say this, however -- if there is someone in suffering at your door, you should do all you can to help them. After all, the Lord brought them to you so that you could help them.
Finally, Abraham makes a point to the rich man. He says that if the rich man's family did not believe Moses and the prophets, then nothing -- not even a man risen from the dead -- would cause them to believe. I don't know about you, but for me it's easy to think that if God would just show this person this one thing then they will believe. But the bible is telling us right here that isn't so. And if you want more proof, look to Moses and the people of Israel! How many miracles did the Lord show those people, yet they continued to doubt, and gripe, and debate God's greatness? These people had the visible presence of God living in their camp, had encountered many many miracles, yet still failed to truly believe. In the end, I think people will believe what they want to believe, no matter what they are shown.