The Rich Man and Lazarus

Jesus told a story of a rich man who feasted every day. At his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, who was covered with sores, and who wanted just the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. They both died and Lazarus was carried by angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man, however, was in Hades being tormented. He saw Abraham far off and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame” (Luke 16:24 ESV).

Abraham replied, saying that he received good things in his lifetime and Lazarus received bad things. He went on to explain that Lazarus was being comforted and could not pass between the chasm that was between them. Realizing the severity of his circumstance, the rich man said, “Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment” (vs. 27, 28). Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”

The rich man still pleaded, saying that if they hear someone from the dead they will repent. In a rather chilling response, Abraham replied, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they by convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (vs. 31). This is a harsh reminder that people here on this earth need to listen to what God commands. After we are dead is too late to repent. God wants everyone to come to him but won’t give a free pass to Heaven. Paul realized the severity of eternal judgment and was determined to strain toward the goal, no matter the cost to him.