October 27, 2017
Luke 16:22, 23
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
We are looking at The Rich And The Poor as Jesus described them in the parable of Luke 16:19-31. The rich man is Dives – the name given by tradition to the one to whom we are introduced in verse 19. The poor man is Lazarus – described in verses 20 and 21 thus:
…a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores…was laid at…[the
rich man’s] gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from
the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
It is obvious who is The Rich one and who is The Poor one!
• Dives (pronounced Dive’-ees) is described in Luke 16:19 as “…clothed in purple and fine linen and far[ing]…sumptuously every day.” Purple dyed cloth and fine Egyptian linen were so expensive that only the very rich could afford such garments! The sumptuous meals he ate were as if it was an extravagant party every day!
• Lazarus, on the other hand, and according to Luke 16:20, was totally destitute, full of sores, starving, and apparently lame – because someone else must have carried him and laid him at the rich man’s gate!
But our sight is limited to the physical in this mortal side of life. Jesus gives us a peek at the other side – and, oh, the difference in this case between The Rich And The Poor in eternity! For Jesus said in Luke 16:22 and 23 (our featured Scripture)…
So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s
bosom. The rich man died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades,
he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
• The rich one in eternity was Lazarus – very rich!
✞ Jesus did not emphasize Lazarus’ faith in this parable…
▸ …but Lazarus must have been a man of faith! Eternal life has always been gained by faith! Paul tells us in Romans 4:24 and 26:
[Righteousness]…shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised
up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our
offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
For his example of Old Testament imputed righteousness, Paul used Abraham (see Genesis 15:5, 6). It is not by keeping the Jewish law that anyone is saved (see Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:6-9), because when Abraham was declared righteous before God, it “…was four hundred and thirty years…” (Galatians 3:17) before the law was given! It is not by any form of human works that we gain God’s eternal favor! (See Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5). According to Isaiah 64:6, even “…our righteousnesses [the very best we can do] are like filthy rags….” It has always been by faith – believing the promises of God!
➨ Before the advent of Christ, it was believing God’s prophecies of the Messiah’s coming! (See for instance Isaiah 9:6, 7; 53:1-12).
➨ After His coming, it is believing the record of His life, death, and resurrection, and trusting in the promise of eternal life when we open our hearts to Him! (See John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24).
▸ The fact that Lazarus was in paradise after his death is proof that he had personal faith in the promises of God!
✞ He “…was carried by the angels…” (Luke 16:22). This is another proof of Lazarus’ righteous standing before God! Angels, according to Hebrews 14, are “…ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” Oh, to be escorted into the presence of divinity by angels!
✞ “…the beggar…was carried…to Abraham’s bosom.” (Luke 16:22). This was a Jewish term used to describe paradise. Jews prided themselves concerning their being descended from Abraham – their first patriarchal father! It would be considered the highest honor to be so physically close to Abraham that one could rest leaning on his breast! (See the example of John with Jesus in John 13:23, 25). On earth the beggar was hardly noticed by anyone! In eternity, he is held in highest honor – by the honorable Abraham himself!
✞ There is another blessing Lazarus was experiencing, and it is implied by the term Abraham’s bosom. Here we need to quote John 13:23: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This was most likely the Apostle John. The setting is the last supper in the upper room. And you have to understand how such dining was done in Jesus’ day.
▸ A carpet or sheet was spread on the floor upon which the food was placed. Those partaking would lie on their left side, feet out behind them, their head supported by the left hand, with the elbow on the floor. The right hand would then be used to partake of the food, dipping into common bowls or dishes.
▸ The next person to the right of them would be in the same position, close by. If something needed to be said to the person behind you, you would simply lean back into his bosom and talk.
▸ That Lazarus was leaning into Abraham’s bosom implies they were dining together! Lazarus, who was starving in mortal life, was now feasting!
✞ “…now he [Lazarus] is comforted…” (Luke 16:25). Comforted is from the Greek παρακαλέω (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o). In this case it means “to call to one’s side for comfort.” I’m sure Lazarus, in his pitiful mortal existence, would have loved to have someone come to him, sit down, and commiserate with him, offering some comfort! But no one came – surely not the rich man! Now he is comforted – with totally satisfying eternal comfort!
• The poor one in eternity was Dives – very poor!
✞ In Luke 16:22 there is no mention of angelic escort for this rich man – only that he died and was buried ! But that was his physical body. His soul was still very much alive and aware! For it says in verses 23 and 24…
✞ “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes…cried and said…‘I am tormented in this flame.’ ” This experience of the rich man in Hades will take some time and space to explain. So we will continue this series on Monday.