Don Carson on The Rich Man and Lazarus – Luke16

Is Jesus just saying that there will be a reversal of what happens on earth? Is it “Live well, end up in hell?” There are some contextual clues that suggest this is not the case eg. “Whoever can be trusted with little, can be trusted with much.” “No one can serve two masters” Money easily becomes a master. We become what we worship. What we pursue, we covert. Luke 16:14-15 Pharisees were sneering at him – they tilted up their noses. God knows the heart. What people highly value is detestable in God’s sight. Our parable is the third in a series. The prodigal who wastes his fathers possessions, servant his master, and man his own.

There is a contrast made between two different men. Simple structure. Rich man is living extravagantly, the Lazarus is in pain. Then in heaven the opposite happens. The rich man was self-indulgent. Rich cloth.Feasted every day. Lazarus means the one who God helps. God’s reckoning of who he helps has a longer time span. Lazarus was carried to heaven.

The rich dammed man was digging a deeper hole. He doesnt have the decency to approach Lazarus. Rich man cannot imagine giving up his self-importance.

There is no hint that people in hell repent. Lazarus didn’t say anything. That is wisdom. Those who want to go from heaven to hell cannot. In the narrative the only one who that could have referred to is Lazarus. He was feeling compassion, unlike the rich man. Rich man is still only concerned about his family. If Lazarus can’t be a table waiter, perhaps he can be an errand boy. Rich man was not a Sabbath observer as he was eating well every day. Rich man then tries to correct Abraham’s theology. If someone goes from the dead goes to them, a Lazarus comes out of a tomb, then they will repent. Many did believe when another Lazarus came back to life, but the authorities wanted to kill Lazarus. When Jesus returns fromt he grave, still many will not believe. The devil himself believes that Jesus rose from the dead but that is not saving faith, transforming faith, trusting faith.

Things in which we take so much pride – wealth, ethnicity, religious privilege, education may blind us to our need of grace. We must reject false formulas which link the blessing of God with something that we cherish.

What Jesus calls the greatest two commandments stand or fall together. Can’t love God without loving neighbor.

We must listen to the witness of Scripture of we are dead. There is a new heaven and a new earth to be gained. The book points to Jesus and his death and resurrection. We will be changed in our we treat others. We want to relieve human suffering in this time and also in eternity. No good to feed the poor now, and tell them nothing about their eternal future. But, must also help them in this life.

The enjoyment that will be ours in heaven and earth. The rich man lifts his eyes in torment in hades. Jesus says more about hell than anyone. When we glimpse this we will sometimes find ourselves weeping for the lost. We will appreciate the cross even more. Flee from the wrath to come.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and part of the leadership team of Jubilee Church, London for more than ten years, serving alongside Tope Koleoso. His book, Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything was published by Crossway, January 2010. Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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