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The Rich Man
April 18, 2015
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
-------The Rich Man-------
The above parable taken from Luke 16 is considered by some to be an actual story instead of a parable because names are mentioned whereas none of the other parables told by Jesus contained an actual name. The focus on this article is the rich man in the story. "There was a certain rich man" implies this story is about a specific individual.
Why is this man not given a name? I believe it is an act of kindness from God Himself. How would you feel if you knew one of your ancestors was forever lost in a bad place? The coming anti-Christ and false prophet remain unnamed and we know they are going to be cast alive into the lake of fire when Jesus returns. (Rev. 19:20)
Judas Iscariot is the only name mentioned in scripture that we know ended up in a fate worse than death because of his betrayal of Jesus. Does he still have ancestors? I do not know but this article is about the rich man.
The religious leaders considered wealth to be a sign of God's blessing and they considered the poor to be under God's curse. Jesus is clearing matters up in this story. Some say money is the root of all evil but this is not true. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil according to 1 Timothy 6:10. The love of money is rooted in selfishness and selfishness is the root of sin. Our sin sent Jesus to the cross. His sacrifice paid for our sins so we could have a blessed hope and overcome our selfishness.
Wealth itself is not evil. Joseph and Abraham were wealthy men and both were great men of God. However, the rich man in this parable ended up in a place of torment after his death. Why? According to the two greatest commandments in the Bible, the rich man was being very disobedient to those commandments.
What are these commandments? "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31
The rich man was well fed, well clothed, and lived in an expensive home. All of his needs were met. Clothed in fine linen and purple indicates he was of royalty. There is no indication in this story that he gave thanks to God for his abundance. He did know of the need Lazarus had. Lazarus was a beggar, burdened with disease and hunger, and even dogs licked his sores. Lazarus was at the rich man's gate just begging for some crumbs to eat. The rich man was aware of the need and had the means to help Lazarus, but the rich man had no compassion or love for his fellow man and probably felt Lazarus was cursed by God.
The rich man acted selfishly. He loved his money. He did not like to share. He probably took advantage of others to gain his wealth. He had no need for God. He had everything the world had to offer. He was content and never gave a thought about what might happen to him after his death.
Do we see this in the world today? People will buy houses, invest in 401K plans, and buy fancy cars but they never give a thought to what happens when they die and what happens after death. They just ignore that inconvenient fact until it is too late to do anything about it.
Do we see the love of money in our churches today? We have ministers on television claiming God will bless with you more money if you just send them all of yours. These ministers are not concerned about what happens to you after you die, their only concern is how much money they can make at your expense. They are like the rich man in the parable and doomed to share his fate unless they change.
The modern day church (especially in America) sees wealth as a sign of God's blessing but it usually turns into a curse because of the selfishness of people. Just research lottery horror stories on the internet and you can see that instant wealth can become a great curse instead of a blessing.
What did Jesus say about people who were wealthy? Do they have a natural inclination to draw closer to God or does wealth drive them further away? Wealth is deceptive and usually drives people further apart from God. There are some who use wealth to further God's kingdom but they are few and far between. Consider this statement Jesus made, "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24 According to Jesus, it is just about impossible for a rich man to enter heaven. It is not because they have money. It is because they have put all of their faith and trust in money.
Our world is obsessed with money and material goods. Our modern day church is also. Jesus talks about this in Revelation when He addresses the Laodecian church, "17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see." Revelation 3
When the rich man died, he probably had a very elaborate funeral procession similar to the funerals that take place today when a wealthy, famous person dies. People will mourn and say how good the person was and spend thousands of dollars for a proper sendoff. In the rich man's case, it did the rich man absolutely no good.
While the world was celebrating his life and giving him honor, he was in torment begging for a drop of water to cool his tongue. God doesn't care how much or how little money you have. His primary concern is whether you know Him or not. One of the most sobering set of verses in the Bible is, "22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7
The rich man never took the time to know God. He never sought God or sought God's will for his life. He lived only for himself. He did not care about his neighbors, he only cared about wordly glory. It is possible that Jesus was telling the religious leaders of His day that they were no different than the rich man. They were using God's name for selfish purposes and did not recognize God when He was standing right in front of them claiming to be so. Jesus's claim to be the Messiah or God was the reason the religious leaders used to have Him executed.
There is an extreme price to pay when you refuse to get to know God. The man who refused to listen to the beggar's pleas for help became the beggar. He begged for mercy. He begged for a drop of water. He begged Abraham to warn his brothers. He got nothing just as he gave nothing to Lazarus.
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36
Copyright 2015 by Gary Goodworth
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