There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. (Luke 16:19-22)
Carried By Angels
The contrast between the unnamed rich man and the beggar Lazarus is stark. While one lived in plush surroundings of wealth and prosperity the other existed in squalor of daily misery. Food was abundant for the rich man eating whatever his heart desired. Lazarus starved for a morsel of food that fell from the table. There were grand feasts in the home of the nobleman with friends surrounding him and his five brothers. For the man laid at the gate begging companionship and sympathy only dogs were his friends. These animals would soothe the physical torment of Lazarus by licking his wounds. They could sense the misery this human creature endured.
One day as someone passed by where Lazarus lay they noticed he was dead. He was a nobody. Nobody cared for him. Nobody tried to help him. He just died. Eventually he had to be moved and buried in a common grave with no fanfare. His body was treated like refuse being put in the ground. No one took notice of his death. But at the same time the news had spread throughout the land. The nobleman of great wealth had suddenly died. The five brothers gathered with family, leading citizens, bankers, lawyers, scribes, priests and a host of important figures of the day to give great lamentation for this man’s death. It was shocking. The world was in an uproar. Great lamentation was given. The mourning for this man of wealth lasted for many days.
As Lazarus lay on the ground his body shook for the pain he suffered. His life had been of misery. Little joy was his to share. The disease that covered his body was a mantle of shame no one would dare have sympathy for. An outcast he had to be carried from place to place and beg for food. How humiliating to suffer the indignity of the human spirit. He could hear the fanfare from the rich man’s house. His stomach just wanted a morsel of food. The day came when he felt so much different. The pain increased and he felt his life slipping away. Sometime in the day his head drooped and his breath returned to God who gave it. Relief. For the first time he felt a wave of peace as pain left his body. He knew a blessing he had only read about. Angels gently gathered his spirit and carried him to the bosom of Abraham. He would never know pain or sorrow again.
The rich man did not enjoy the blessing of death. He lived sumptuously every day but this day that ended. Death suddenly took him. His pain was unbelievable. No angels carried him to comfort. He was thrown to a pit of torment. He lashed out but to no avail. His short life of unrighteous living was cut short for an eternity of horrific sorrow. Lazarus was comforted.
What is lost to the world in the lives of the rich man and Lazarus was who they really were. The rich man was a wicked man; Lazarus was a righteous man. The outward appearance belied the condition of the heart. Many would have believed the rich man to be a good man who would without a doubt find the promise of Abraham. Looking at the poor miserable frame of Lazarus by the rich man’s gate they would have turned in disgust at a man of reprobate character. The Lord sees the heart. It was the beggar who was righteous. He was carried by angels.
Lazarus is my hero. He lived a pitiful life of incredible misery but like Job held his character of faithfulness to God. I feel sorry for Lazarus and would pray that when I see someone like Lazarus today I would see his heart. It is easy to make judgments about the rich man but it was the heart that made the difference. I want to live so that I can spend eternity with Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. I want angels to carry me to my God. Thank you Lazarus. That was a great story.
Hope is the poor man’s bread. (George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 1651)