We find here a great difference between the stories Jesus told and
that told by people. When we tell a story, we tend to be choosy and leave some parts out,
but Jesus tells the whole truth undiluted. Our stories end at the grave, but Jesus reveals
what happens on the other side of the grave, in eternity. Jesus knows the thoughts and
intents of the heart.
The traditional Zulus would tell you what they think would happen
after death. So too the radical Muslims tells the story that if you commit suicide and die
in jihad, you will receive 70 virgins on the other side of the grave. And young men go to
fight and die in jihad in their droves! But its only fairy tales. If they can tell
such stories, how much more should we Christians proclaim the truth of what it will be
like truly like after death?
Now we come to the crux of the matter, when Jesus tells us what
happens after death. Moses said, "Lord teach us to number our days that we might gain
a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90:12). Wisdom was available to both Lazarus and the rich
man. And death was also common to both Lazarus and the rich man. It was fitting that
Lazarus was taken to the bosom of Abraham, for Abraham is known as the father of the
believers. He was taken like a child to the bosom of his father. What a great day it must
have been for Lazarus! But death also came to the rich man. No angels came to fetch him.
The funeral of the rich man would have been the most extravagant affair with a very
special guest to speak, and the most expensive coffin. We dont even know what
happened to the corpse of Lazarus, but we do know that Lazarus himself was taken to
heaven. Lazarus, when he died, had no relatives that wanted to have anything to do with
him. But with the rich man, even relatives he didnt know, would have arrived. But
for both, as the Bible says, it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the
judgement (Heb 9:27), where every thought and deed and vain word will be judged. Think of
Psalm 73, where Asaph said that he almost slipped and fell when he saw the prosperity of
the wicked (Ps 73:2-3). But he was helped when he entered Gods sanctuary and saw
their end, their final destiny (Ps 73:17).
Now look at the rich man, and Lazarus, which of the two would you
identify with? The one living in constant luxury while the other one is despised and
living in poverty and pain? Our Lord Jesus is being kind to us by revealing what happens
after death, how Lazarus was taken to the bosom of Abraham and comforted, while the rich
man found himself in the flames of hell, begging for a drop of water to cool his tongue.
Dont leave here without giving an honest response, which of the two you would
A person might assume that its better to be poor than to be
rich. Maybe you are poor and feel happy that at least you will end up in the bosom of
Abraham. But that is only half the truth, which is as good as a total lie. It is not true
that poverty was the reason that he could enter heaven. It was faith in the Lord Jesus. He
identified with the Lord Jesus. Also the rich man didnt go to hell because he was
rich, but rather because he had no time for God or the Lord Jesus. Remember that Abraham
himself was a very wealthy man. We find with Lazarus no complaining and sulking because of
his poverty. We can only enter into heaven by a full surrender to the Lord Jesus, turning
from our evil unbelieving ways to Him. Poverty is not a ticket to heaven. It doesnt
help to say that youre not a thief but only steal when really in need. No, your life
of sin will still take you to hell, even if you are poor. It doesnt help either to
complain about your poverty or blame God for it. If you speak like that youre on
your way to hell. Job was also rich, but he lost all and all sorts of indescribable
difficulties befell him so that even his wife encouraged him to curse God and die. Even
his friends were bad advisors, telling him that all the evil befell him because of his
Where will you end, in the bosom of Abraham or the flames of hell?
Be quiet for awhile and think soberly, where will you end? We spoke of two people, with
whom do you identify yourself? Whose life would you like to live? Like Asaph, we also must
look at the end of our lives, the way we are going in and what the end will be like.
Was Abraham accurate in saying that even if someone rise from the
dead, they wont repent. Jesus Himself died and arose from the dead on the third day,
yet there are countless people who still will not believe, even though they know about
Him. The reality of hell should be enough to cause you to repent.