A Dark Picture

From Issue: Discovery 4/01/2012

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Jesus must have known this when He told a story in which He painted a picture of the afterlife for both the righteous and the wicked. In Luke 16:19-31, we have the story of an ungodly rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. The rich man did not follow the laws of God, one of which was to take care of the poor. He would eat the finest meals, while Lazarus, who was covered in sores, starved outside of the rich man’s gate. One man was never hungry; the other was never full. One man lived in a mansion; the other lived in front of a gate. One didn’t follow God; the other did.

Eventually, the poor beggar Lazarus died. He may have died of starvation or from some disease. Perhaps he died because he was constantly outside and exposed to the weather. However he died, God looked down upon His poor child who had suffered so much in life. In the moment of death, when Lazarus’ soul left his body, angels were standing by, ready to take Lazarus into paradise.

While we do not know how he died, we do know the rich man passed away soon after Lazarus. In contrast to Lazarus, the Bible doesn’t say anything about angels being there to take the rich man away—it says simply that he was buried. The next verse records that the rich man was in hades. He was burning, but could not burn up, and he knew that he would spend eternity in flaming fire. What was probably worse for the rich man was that he could look up and see, Lazarus, standing next to Abraham. The man begged Abraham and Lazarus for just a drop of water to cool his tongue, but Abraham told him that it was impossible to cross over from paradise to punishment.

Jesus painted a very dark picture about the rich man. Lazarus, a poor man who tried to follow God, was carried to paradise by angels. The rich man, who did not care about the Word of God, found himself burning continually, tortured by the sight of the unreachable paradise. Jesus’ story should encourage us to live our lives so that we will be in paradise some day.


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