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 16:22-25)
The Joy Realized
Life can be ruthless. It is an unfair mistress to the human story as plagues, disease, natural disasters, evil men, and the brevity of life claim thousands of lives every day. Death is never welcomed. Families are torn apart. Relationships severed. The totality of death is almost too much to bear. Sadly, death brings no respite to suffering as most souls die outside of Christ. The joy of the few is the realization that death takes away sorrow and suffering and ushers in eternal joy.
Lazarus was a man who suffered in life the indignities of disease and abuse by his fellow man. He was a beggar, the lowest part of life left to fend for himself. His home was to be delivered to the gate of a wealthy man seeking but the crumbs that fell from the table. Misery and despair were the only companions of Lazarus. His body was full of sores. There was no relief from his daily condition. The only sympathy he received were the dogs who would lick his sores. What a sad and despicable state he found himself in. Every day was painful. He had nothing to look forward to but sadness. His body reeked of pain and the stench of disease made him deplorable in the eyes of others.
Beggars were nobodies, cast out as the refuse of society. The Law of Moses forbade the abuse of the poor, yet the rich man paid no heed to his fellow Hebrew. Everything about the rich man’s life was joyful and happy, and all that made up the life of Lazarus was unhappiness and misery. There could be no greater contrast of life than the rich man and Lazarus. That changed one day when they both died. There can be little doubt the death of the rich man was met with great fanfare and long orations of honor. He was buried in a rich man’s tombs and lamented by his five brothers and a host of family and friends. On the same day the rich man died, someone noticed Lazarus had died. He was given an inglorious burial in a common grave with no one mourning his death. He was quickly forgotten and life went on. The greatest contrast in the life of the rich man and Lazarus came at the moment of death. When the rich man died, he felt the horrors of darkness and torment, crying out in eternal misery for the burning flame he now felt. Lazarus died and was carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
Everything about life for Lazarus was pain and suffering, but when he died, the gentle hands of angels embraced the eternal spirit of Lazarus and softly carried him to a place of rest and comfort. All the pain Lazarus endured immediately left him when he died. He realized the joy of a body without pain. The tears that filled his life were gone. All the sorrow that daily met him was taken away to a place of joy beyond description. His mind was clear; his eyes fixed on the glory of God and Lazarus was a man experiencing an eternal feeling of happiness. All the former things of his life had passed away. The joy realized in death was beyond his imagination.
Death will bring either joy and happiness or horror and pain. The rich man enjoyed the brief span of life with all the sumptuous living of carnal desire, but then he faced an eternity of darkness and a lake of fire. Lazarus spent the vapor of life enduring all the sorrows of life with great indignity, but death was a joy. He is comforted. You face death and there will be two choices: eternal life or eternal suffering. You can deny these realities, but it will not change what happens in death. If you are not in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be suffering incredible pain without end. Life can be hard and filled with pain, but joy awaits the faithful who obey the Lord Jesus Christ. No more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain and all the things of this life will be gone. You will realize the joy that is without description. Eternal life will be so incredible – how can we explain it? Lord, come quickly.