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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate.”—Luke 16:19-20 (NKJV)
This is one of the most fascinating passages in the entire Bible because it combines the elements of a parable with an actual teaching by Jesus on eternity. The Lord uniquely uses a proper name here (Lazarus), signaling that this parable also possesses certain aspects grounded in reality.
We’ll carefully work our way through this section of Scripture over the next few days, but we need to begin as we should with any parable—by identifying what prompted it.
As we pull back, we see that Jesus launches into this parable in response to the false piety among the religious leaders of His day. These men paraded around as models of righteousness but were inwardly corrupt. Jesus uses this parable to emphasize how that which is false (their sense of self-righteousness) will eventually be exposed in eternity.
To set the stage, we are introduced to two characters. The first is a rich man who seems to have it all together on the outside. He undoubtedly represents the religious rulers who also appear to have everything going for them externally. The other character is a man named Lazarus, who’s on the opposite side of the social scale. He lives as a beggar along with some other horrific details: “Full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:20-21 NKJV).
There couldn’t be two men more opposite. And let’s be honest, none of us would want to be Lazarus—10 out of 10 of us would choose to be the rich man. But things aren’t always what they seem, and the shift from this life to the next has a powerful way of revealing this: “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23 NKJV).
The script is flipped in eternity! Lazarus, the miserable beggar, goes to a place called “Abraham’s bosom,” which we will see later on to be a place of peace and comfort. Conversely, the rich man goes to a place of torment in Hades, a place commonly refer to as “hell.” The difference between their earthly and eternal standing could not be any greater. Now, we want nothing to do with the rich man because his earthly image wasn’t the ultimate reality.
This parable holds much more in store for us, but suffice it to say that it begins by teaching us that truth will be revealed in eternity, and there’s no escaping this fact . . . ever!
DIG: Why did Jesus share this parable?
DISCOVER: What is the main takeaway we get from it?
DO: How do you currently look at things? Does this line up with the principles Jesus shared in this parable? Consider how you can allow this parable to impact and influence the way you look at things—be specific.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.