The Request is Denied!

Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’”—Luke 16:24 (NKJV) 

Yesterday, we were introduced to a stunning scenario. By way of a parable, Jesus revealed how eternity will have a way of revealing the truth, and this would be especially true with the religious rulers of Jesus’ day. Despite their sanctimonious appearances, they were as sinful as anyone else. Their outside wasn’t a reflection of their inside and this would eventually be exposed just as it was for the rich man in this parable. 

The parable continues with the wealthy man crying out to Abraham to relieve his torment in Hades by having Lazarus touch his tongue with a drop of cold water. Just imagine that reversal for a moment. On earth, this man probably wouldn’t so much as look at a man like Lazarus. But now, in the blazing light of eternal reality, he would give anything for just a drop of water from the tip of the former beggar’s finger. 

Now look at Abraham’s response to this pitiful request: “But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us’” (Luke 16:25-26 NKJV).

The request is denied! Abraham reminds the rich man of how things used to be. There was a time when he seemingly had everything all together and Lazarus was the one doing all the suffering, right? Now he’s the one to suffer. Eternity sure has a way of changing things.  

Now, don’t misunderstand. Jesus isn’t teaching that all who live in bliss in this life will suffer in the next, and all who suffer in this life will live in bliss in the next. That’s not the truth being conveyed here and that’s not a biblical concept. Again, the point is that the next life will reveal the true nature of things in this life. We cannot hide or cover up what’s untrue forever, especially when it comes to a false sense of self-righteousness. That won’t pass inspection in eternity.

The application here is obvious—avoid self-righteousness at all costs because it will only lead to misery in the end. None of us is truly righteous, not one. We’re all sinners in need of the mercy and grace of God. We cannot boast in our own goodness but are absolutely dependent on the goodness of God. Thankfully, His goodness is inexhaustible and He freely extends it to all who humbly recognize their need for Him whether wealthy, beggar, or anywhere in between. 

DIG: What does the rich man’s request reveal about eternity?

DISCOVER: What was the essential point Jesus was making here?

DO: Consider ways you can identify and avoid the temptation towards self-righteousness.

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

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.