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)
They Both Died
Life is unfair, but death is not. No greater contrast is seen than a man who lives a sumptuous life enjoying all the benefits the world can offer and a man who lives in such abject poverty only the dogs have mercy. Death has no inequality. The rich man’s choices were self-created to serve the passions of his carnal desire. Everything he did was about the satisfaction of his needs. Whatever business he had in life gave him the greatest power of wealth. He lived life to its fullest measure. Accompanied by five brothers, the legacy of the rich man’s family was known as one of the most blessed families on earth.
At the gate of the rich man sat the antithesis of his wealth. Lazarus was a poor man begging for crumbs. The body of Lazarus was covered with sores. His life was of misery and despair. Every day was a struggle to stay alive. Just a short distance from where the beggar lay dying, the rich man filled himself with all the finer things of life. Hunger wracked the stomach of Lazarus with sharp pains. The sores covering his body burned with intensity. When the dogs came up to Lazarus, they knew his suffering and licked his wounds, easing his misery. What a contrast between the rich man and the poor man.
Death is feared and misunderstood, but one thing death does to all men is bring reality. Rich men die just as certain as poor men. It matters not how much money a man has; he will die. Power will not change the destiny of a man. Arrogant and proud men die. The poor die. Their plight is different in life, but death is the one equality shared across the human divide. All men die in the same way. A man lying in an expensive bed with his rich friends surrounding him will die like a beggar will die on the street surrounded by dogs. The cruelest man on earth will die the same way the righteous man will. Life is gone, and eternity begins. And that is where the difference begins.
There can be little doubt when the rich man died, his funeral was an elaborate display of his accomplishments in life and his wealth. The community of friends enjoyed a feast in his honor, lavishing great words of praise on the rich man. His five brothers mourned their brother’s passing with fond words of memory. Soon the funeral was over, and life returned to its normal pace. All of the wealth of the rich man was gathered by his family and distributed among them. The rich man remains unnamed and unknown. When Lazarus died, only the dogs took notice. A few days may have passed before someone noticed he had died. When did the ones who laid Lazarus at the gate discover his dead body? There was no funeral of great pomp and circumstance for the beggar. A place was found, and his body was interred. No headstone. He died, and few took notice. Death changed the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
The rich man died unnamed, but God preserved the beggar’s name. Lazarus died, and God took notice. Angels carried Lazarus to the bosom of Abraham. No angels carried the rich man. He just died and was found in a place of torment. Death brought equality to the rich man and Lazarus. The poor man did not get what he deserved in life, while the rich man enjoyed all the bounties of life. Death gave the rich man what he deserved and blessed Lazarus with what he believed. Even in a state of abject poverty, Lazarus was a righteous man. He lived a faithful life devoted to the God he trusted. Death was a blessing because it brought equality.
The rich man and Lazarus died. They both died. What happened next is the real story. You are either the rich man or Lazarus. What you have in this life will be taken away. Have you made yourself ready for death? You will die – that is certain. Where you spend eternity – that is your decision.