The Rich Man and the Street Person

This is a story that Jesus told to his followers,and it is described in St. Luke 16:19-31.

Once there was a poor man named Lazarus who suffered from a disease that was not curable medically during the time that he lived. He was covered with disgusting sores all over his body. He was thin and weak from the devastation caused by this terrible disease and was not able to work to earn a living. If this poor man lived in today's world he would receive financial assistance from the government so that he could buy food and clothing and to pay rent on a small apartment where he would be sheltered from the heat, rain, snow and cold.

The one bright spot in Lazarus' miserable existence was his strong faith in God. Unfortunately, Lazarus did not understand that God loves us as children and will provide healing for those whobelieve in the healing power of God. The Bible states that "My people are destroyed for the lack ofknowledge." If Lazarus could have understood Psalm 103:1-5 he could have received his healing from God. That scripture states, "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that youryouth is renewed like the eagle's".

Nevertheless Lazarus' simple, childlike faith in Godextended to a belief that his soul was safe in the care of God. He prayed morning, noon and evening to the LORD, the God of all creation, entrusting his soul into God's care.

Lazarus had no relatives who would offer him money, food or other help. Due to his sickness he was forced to become a street person. He slept on the street, huddled against the cold and rain, clutching his torn and ragged clothes around him. He crawled to the gate in the wall surrounding a rich man's house, holding out his scrawny, bony and sore covered hand for scraps of food from the rich man'stable. These scraps were the only food that Lazarus was able to get, and consequently he became sicker and sicker, thinner and thinner. During those times it was considered evidence of righteousness to give money and food to the poor and so the poor usually were not chased away from the streets in front of the homes of the wealthy. Nevertheless, the rich man held Lazarus in disdain and secretly was enraged that Lazarus chose to grovel at his gate, begging for food. He didnot wish his important visitors as they passed through his gate to be forced to look at this disgusting creature. This caused them to lose their appetites and to think unpleasant thoughts.

Before long Lazarus died of starvation and sickness.

As he died God dispatched an angel to guide his soul to the kingdom of heaven, into the presence of the LORD God to Whom Lazarus had prayed so diligently throughout his life. Lazarus discovered that his new body was free from sores. His thin, scraggly hair had been replaced with a thick, lustrous and shining mane of rich dark brown hair. His face glowed with health and vigor and his wrinkles had smoothed away. He found himself surrounded with other, loving people who had entered the eternal gates before him. He recognized Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Isaiah, David and all of the other saints about whom he had learned during his earthly existence.

Lazarus had passed from a miserable, starving and pain-filled life into a realm of happiness, love, joy and plenty. All of the misery he had experienced was more than abundantly rewarded because of his faith and trust in the name of the Lord. Lazarus is forever, throughout eternity, to enjoy his existence in the wonderful kingdom of God in Heaven. When we pass over into our eternal life in the kingdom of God we, too shall be able to meet all of those people, and in addition we shall be able to discuss with Lazarus himself the joy with which he met the LORD, the God of the whole universe.

Not long after Lazarus died and went to Heaven the rich man also became sick and died. Unfortunately, the rich man never had humbled himself before the LORD God. In fact, in his heart of hearts he was not convinced that there really was a God. He had believed that his wealth and position in life was proof enough that he inherently was good and righteous in his own self. And even if there were a God he believed that he did not need to confess his sin of pride. He believed that the good deeds that he performed, such as allowing Lazarus to crouch at his gate and in giving Lazarus the scraps from his table should be enough to satisfy any demands that God might have. The rich man had lived his life without thinking much about God at all.

As he died there were no angles of God to direct him into God's eternal home of love and peace. The rich man had not wanted God to intrude into his life on Earth and God allowed him to make that choice. Therefore God also did not intrude in the rich man's death. Without the power of God and His angels to interfere the rich man's soul passed into the natural abode of those who had rejected the love and power of god. At his death the rich man passed into hell.

The rich man had not thought much about hell. In fact, just as he had not believed in the existence of God, so had he not believed in the existence of hell. Nevertheless, he found hell to be a very real, terrifying and horrible place to be. All around him were fires, and he was suffering in the heat of the flames. Far away he could see Abraham with Lazarus sitting beside him in the beautiful kingdom of Heaven. He called out in anguish, "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."

But Abraham replied, "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." The rich man called again, "Please, I beg you, that you would send Lazarus to my father's house for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment."

Abraham answered, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them."

The rich man responded, "No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent."

Abraham replied, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."

The former rich man considered this statement and was extremely sad. He knew that not only was he destined to spend eternity in the torments of hell because of his unbelief and lack of trust in God, but also his five brother shortly would join him in this place of torment. His brothers also had paid no attention to the writings in the Bible and took no time to think about God nor to ask forgiveness for the sinful things they were doing in their lives. Soon they would join him in hell, this place of torment.

Jesus offers forgiveness for all of our sins if we confess them and ask forgiveness based on His sacrifice on the cross where He died in our place, for our sins. Jesus was resurrected from the dead and now lives in the Kingdom of Heaven where He awaits us. If Jesus does not return to Earth in His second coming before the end of our lives, we shall join Him in Heaven at our death.We shall live forever with Jesus and the saints of God, just as Lazarus even now is enjoying the presence of God.

Key Concepts

1. The life of our soulsdoes not end at the time of death.
2. Heaven is a real place with eternal joy and happiness
3. Hell is a real place with eternal torment.
4. Our eternal abode in either Heaven or Hell is determined by the choices we make.
5. If we repent of our sins and confess them to God the Father as we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, in our place. All of our sins will be forgiven us.We shall dwell forever in god's eternal Kingdom of Heaven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.