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. 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 16:22-26)
What His Eyes Saw
The story of Lazarus and the rich man often focuses upon the state of the rich man who lived a life of luxury on earth but found horror and sorrow in death. Lazarus was a poor beggar living a life of squalor and filth with no animals pitying him but dogs in the presence of a fellow Jew with no compassion as demanded by the Law of Moses. The story also illustrates the truth the wicked cannot escape punishment. Through the story of Lazarus arises wonderful tones of eternal bliss and peace that for the human mind is difficult – if not impossible to fathom.
When Lazarus died, Jesus described his transition into the bosom of Abraham as carried by angels. Whether this is literal or figurative, the expression is incredible. Life for Lazarus was nothing but hardship and pain. Death was an experience of the peaceful transition of angels bearing the eternal spirit to the realm of the righteous dead. There is no grandeur image of God’s grace to think of how angels will carry the embodied eternal spirits of the saints to a place of rest. What is clear in the story is the cognitive awareness of everything around them. On the rich man’s part, he experienced searing pain that was unbearable. He did not ask for a glass of water but a drop to cool his tongue. He was tormented in flames. He knew and understood what was happening to him. His desire to send Lazarus back to his brothers suggests an awareness of life before. The contrast must also be seen for Lazarus, who was not experiencing pain and had no guilt or shame. In the bosom of Abraham, eternal beauty, peace, love, and the light of God shone all around. Lazarus was comforted now.
Hades is the realm of the dead. It is temporary and will be destroyed on the final day when, along with Hell, cast into the lake of fire, the second death. The bosom of Abraham is a place where the righteous dwell and see wondrous things. Death brings great sadness to the hearts of family and friends but on the part of the saint who dies in the Lord, death is a welcome rebirth into an indescribable world. What do they see? How do they feel? What do they remember? The details are sketchy, but the reality is clear. There is no more pain. Sorrow has left the soul. If the bosom of Abraham is where all the righteous dwell before the judgment, the company of people from Adam to Moses to Elijah and Peter and Paul share in the new arrivals daily from the earth below. What the eyes of the righteous must see when angels carry them to the bosom of Abraham.
Death is not the end of life for the child of God. It is the new birth into the eternal kingdom of God. All the aches and pains of life are gone. There is no sickness and there is no death. Is it possible to imagine a world without the burdens of life? When the righteous die, they see the glory of God. They feel His love and share in His grace. All of the saints gather together and they know one another. The full knowledge of God is endowed upon them to understand the plan of God. And then there is the image of Jesus Christ. They see Him face to face. He does not look anything like anyone thinks He does. The Holy Spirit is seen for the first time. All of the angels of God are visible. The image of God is all they see. Found in the bosom of Abraham, the righteous – like Lazarus – awaken to a world of untold beauty. There is grief for those who remain, but there is nothing to grieve for those who gain eternal life. My, what they must see right now.