LUKE 16:27-28: “The rich man responded, ‘Then I ask you, Father, to send Lazarus back to my father’s home. I have five brothers. He can warn them so that they won’t end up in this place of torture.’” (GW)
OBSERVATION: What is the greatest challenge mankind faces today? A popular actor accepting his Academy Award declared that it was “Climate Change”. Others declare that it is world wide hunger. And everyone sees the need for world peace in the midst of growing tensions around the world, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the rise of radical Islamic terrorism. Are any of these really the greatest challenge mankind faces today?
If you were to ask the “rich man” 15 minutes “before” he died, he might have lined up behind one of these causes. He lived his life for himself, in luxury, affording himself to all this world had to offer. He ignored the plight of the poor beggar Lazarus, and probably filled his time with pleasure and “so called” philanthropic pursuits that played into his own interests and bolstered his position in the community. Yet, 15 minutes “after” his death – everything changed!
This is one of the most interesting stories in the Bible. It is not a parable, but a true life account told by Jesus. Jesus never used personal names when He taught in parables. Here, Jesus names the poor beggar who died, along with the Father of the Jewish race – Abraham. This true life account gives us a glimpse into the reality of death, and in it we hear the “rich man” proclaim the greatest challenge mankind faces today. The greatest challenge mankind faces today is – life…after death!
Many today dismiss Hell as a fantasy of religious fanatics or simply a myth of the uneducated. No doubt the “rich man” held these same views – until he viewed it from the other side. All his life he had lived in luxury, for himself, without any concern for the things of God. The poor beggar Lazarus on the other hand loved the Lord, but never had anything much in this life. Now the contrast of the two lives was striking.
- “One day the beggar died, and the angels carried him to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. He went to hell, where he was constantly tortured. As he looked up, in the distance he saw Abraham and Lazarus. He yelled, ‘Father Abraham! Have mercy on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool off my tongue. I am suffering in this fire.’ “Abraham replied, ‘Remember, my child, that you had a life filled with good times, while Lazarus’ life was filled with misery. Now he has peace here, while you suffer. Besides, a wide area separates us. People couldn’t cross it in either direction even if they wanted to.’”. (Luke 16:22-26 GW)
All of the “rich man’s” wealth, stature, and self-centered philanthropic deeds could not save him from the suffering he now experienced. And in contrast, Lazarus suffering was but for a moment, but the “rich man’s” suffering would now last for eternity. Some may cry – “How could a loving God send someone to hell?” The answer is – God never sends anyone to hell. If anyone goes to hell it is because, like the “rich man”, they have worked very hard at rejecting God’s message and call of love, grace, and mercy. A lifetime of self-centered living and rejection of Jesus Christ earns the wages of sin.
- “The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.”. (Romans 6:23 GW)
The rich man now realizing this, wants Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his five brothers. He had missed it, but from the other side of death he realizes the most important challenge that mankind faces. Realizing this, he does not want his brothers to miss it. Abraham’s reply is sobering. Even someone returning from the dead would not convince them. They have the Word of God. If they will not listen to God’s Word – they will not listen to anything. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
So what can we take away from this important lesson? We have identified the most important challenge that mankind faces today – life after death! However, for the Christian – what is the most important call? Paul identifies this in the Book of Romans.
- “There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives his riches to everyone who calls on him. So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells ⌊the Good News? How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News.” But not everyone has believed the Good News. Isaiah asks, “Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.”. (Romans 10:12-17 GW)
There are still so many who need to hear the message of God’s Love through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is the greatest challenge and need of mankind today, and the greatest call for believers to fulfill. If you are reading this and do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, I implore you – repent and give your life to Jesus! If you are a believer and know someone who needs to hear this Good News, I implore you – go and tell them!
Lord, open our eyes and give us a burning passion to proclaim the Gospel so that all may hear, all may believe, and all may come to the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ! May all who hear these words respond to Your great call of love!
In Jesus Name!