And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.” (Luke 16:23-25)
The news of his death shocked the community. He had been a great leader in the business world and a benevolent philanthropist for many worthwhile causes. His peers heralded his insights as remarkable. The impact of his influence was felt around the nation. Hearing of his death, the community came together to eulogize and bestow honors on a man who helped change the world’s landscape. In another part of the world, a lone soldier is fighting against an assault by armed insurgents seeking to destroy his unit. Two men lay dead, and while his comrades seek shelter from the relentless firepower, the brave warrior throws himself into the heat of the battle, advancing against all odds to destroy the enemy nest. He destroys the first target but is mortally wounded. Collapsing in the enemy bunker, the soldier regains a measure of strength to fight to protect his men and kill as many insurgents as possible. His unit is saved because of his heroic actions, but a fatal blow comes with a bullet to the heart. Death is quick and sudden. Years later, he is awarded posthumous honors of the highest rank and his name engraved on marble as a great warrior.
Few men could have as much influence as the man who filled the world with his deep faith in God. He was a man of religion that spread the Bible’s message across the globe in almost every corner of the world. Thousands flocked to hear him and see his love for the Lord. For many decades, he preached the message of Jesus and salvation by faith only, and untold numbers of people flocked to find salvation in his soothing words. As with all men, time and tide march against him, and age brought him to his final destiny. Buried with great honors and long eulogies of praise for his faith and devotion to God, he finds his place among the tombstones of the myriads that have gone before him. Now only a marker with his name and dates reveals who he is. A few years earlier, a great war hero and successful politician faces his death. His life is remembered for bravery, dedication, honor, and as a part of the political world that changed the scope of government for years to come. Books and magazines are dedicated to his life story, which was quite remarkable. His peers revere his name as one of great historical meaning.
Few men can attain a special remembrance of history and then enter the halls of historical significance. The rarified air of fame is fleeting, and while honors are bestowed on those who gain notoriety for their courage, faith, and influence, there is a reality that is seldom seen and understood. When the man who changed the world as a philanthropist and community leader died, so did all his honors. At the moment of death for the brave soldier, he lost all the accolades of bravery and courage. The religious leader who filled his life with bringing others to what he believed to be salvation finally understood the reality of divine truth. As the great war hero’s life passed out his body, he knew everything he accomplished in life was useless. What all these men have in common is the realization that death has brought them face to face with God.
Death is the great equalizer, and death is a grand reality. The failing of human wisdom is to believe that life is about the importance of what is now without preparing for what is to come. Jesus tells the story of two men who are parables of contrast. The one man is a dejected, abused, and tormented man, while the other is an influential, wealthy, and prosperous community leader. Death comes to both men regardless of their station in life. What makes a difference in the final outcome is where they find themselves. One man finds peace and joy. One man finds horror and eternal torment. Abraham’s two words that draw the rich man’s attention to listen are the words, “But now.” Lazarus lived a horrible life dying without notoriety and fanfare in contrast to the great mourning for the rich man by his five brothers. Death was the wake-up call for the rich man that changed everything.
The news is filled with the rich and famous dying and the brave and the courageous giving their lives for what they believe in. There is great honor to be given to noble men and women who die and contribute to the world’s betterment. But sadly, none of this matters if a man is not a child of God. It will not matter how high the ladder of fame a man climbs or how history will frame his life for years to come. A man’s bravery will not matter if he is not a child of God. Even those who profess love and devotion to God who refuses to teach the pure gospel of truth found in Jesus Christ will hear those terrible words, “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” Life will not save you. Doing the will of the Father is what will save you. If you die and are not a child of God, there will be a dark and horrible eternal fate that awaits you. Do not live to hear the words, “But now.”