The rich man also died, and was buried - There is no mention of this latter circumstance in the case of Lazarus; he was buried, no doubt - necessity required this; but he had the burial of a pauper, while the pomp and pride of the other followed him to the tomb. But what a difference in these burials, if we take in the reading of my old MS. Bible, which is supported by several versions: forsothe the riche man is deed: and is buried in helle. And this is also the reading of the Anglo-saxon: and was in hell buried. In some MSS. the point has been wanting after εταφη, he was buried; and the following και, and, removed and set before επαρας he lifted up: so that the passage reads thus: The rich man died also, and was buried in hell; and lifting up his eyes, being in torment, he saw, etc. But let us view the circumstances of this man's punishment.
Scarcely had he entered the place of his punishment, when he lifted up his eyes on high; and what must his surprise be, to see himself separated from God, and to feel himself tormented in that flame! Neither himself, nor friends, ever suspected that the way in which he walked could have led to such a perdition.
6. The iniquitous conduct of relatives and friends, who have been perverted by the bad example of those who are lost, is a source of present punishment to them; and if they come also to the same place of torment, must be, to those who were the instruments of bringing them thither, an eternal source of anguish. Send Lazarus to my father's family, for I have five brothers, that he may earnestly testify (διαμαρτυρηται ) to them, that they come not to this place of torment. These brothers had probably been influenced by his example to content themselves with an earthly portion, and to neglect their immortal souls. Those who have been instruments of bringing others into hell shall suffer the deeper perdition on that account.
Was carried by the angels - The Jews held the opinion that the spirits of the righteous were conveyed by angels to heaven at their death. Our Saviour speaks in accordance with this opinion; and as he expressly affirms the fact, it seems as proper that it should be taken literally, as when it is said the rich man died and was buried. Angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who are heirs of salvation Hebrews 1:14, and there is no more improbability in the supposition that they attend departing spirits to heaven, than that they attend them while on earth.
Abraham‘s bosom - This is a phrase taken from the practice of reclining at meals, where the head of one lay on the bosom of another, and the phrase, therefore, denotes intimacy and friendship. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. Also John 13:23; John 21:20. The Jews had no doubt that Abraham was in paradise. To say that Lazarus was in his bosom was, therefore, the same as to say that he was admitted to heaven and made happy there. The Jews, moreover, boasted very much of being the friends of Abraham and of being his descendants, Matthew 3:9. To be his friend was, in their view, the highest honor and happiness. Our Saviour, therefore, showed them that this poor and afflicted man might be raised to the highest happiness, while the rich, who prided themselves on their being descended from Abraham, might be cast away and lost forever.
Was buried - This is not said of the poor man. Burial was thought to be an honor, and funerals were, as they are now, often expensive, splendid, and ostentatious. This is said of the rich man to show that he had “every” earthly honor, and all that the world calls happy and desirable.
This chapter is based on Luke 16:19-31.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Christ shows that in this life men decide their eternal destiny. During probationary time the grace of God is offered to every soul. But if men waste their opportunities in self-pleasing, they cut themselves off from everlasting life. No afterprobation will be granted them. By their own choice they have fixed an impassable gulf between them and their God. COL 260.1Read in context »
If men fail to render to God that which He has lent them to use to His glory, and thus rob Him, they will make an entire failure. He has lent them means which they can improve upon by losing no opportunity to do good, and thus they may be constantly laying up treasure in heaven. But if, like the man who had one talent, they hide it, fearing that God will get that which their talent gains, they will not only lose the increase which will finally be awarded the faithful steward, but also the principal which God gave them to work upon. Because they have robbed God, they will not have laid up treasure in heaven, and they lose their earthly treasure also. They have no habitation on earth, and no Friend in heaven to receive them into the everlasting habitation of the righteous. 1T 539.1
Christ declares: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”—cannot serve God and your riches, too. “The Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided Him.” Mark the words of Christ to them: “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men [which is riches acquired by oppression, by deception, by overreaching, by fraud, or in any other dishonest manner] is abomination in the sight of God.” Then Christ presents the two characters, the rich man who was clothed with purple and fine linen, and who fared sumptuously every day, and Lazarus, who was in abject poverty and loathsome to the sight, and who begged the few crumbs which the rich man despised. Our Saviour shows His estimate of the two. Although Lazarus was in so deplorable and mean a condition, he had true faith, true moral worth, which God saw, and which He considered of so great value that He took this poor, despised sufferer and placed him in the most exalted position, while the honored and ease-loving man of wealth was thrust out from the presence of God and plunged into misery and woe unutterable. God did not value the riches of this wealthy man, because he had not true moral worth. His character was worthless. His riches did not recommend him to God nor have any influence to secure His favor. 1T 539.2
By this parable Christ would teach His disciples not to judge or value men by their wealth or by the honors which they received of others. Such was the course pursued by the Pharisees, who, while possessing both riches and worldly honor, were valueless in the sight of God and, more than this, were despised and rejected of Him, cast out from His sight as disgusting to Him because there was no moral worth or soundness in them. They were corrupt, sinful, and abominable in His sight. The poor man, despised by his fellow mortals and disgusting to their sight, was valuable in the sight of God because he possessed moral soundness and worth, thus qualifying him to be introduced into the society of refined, holy angels and to be an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. 1T 540.1Read in context »
The condition of poor Lazarus feeding upon the crumbs from the rich man's table is preferable to that of these professors. If they possessed genuine faith, instead of increasing their treasures upon the earth they would be selling off, freeing themselves from the cumbersome things of earth and transferring their treasure before them to heaven. Then their interest and hearts will be there, for the heart of man will be where his greatest treasure is. Most of those who profess to believe the truth testify that that which they value the most is in this world. For this they have care, wearing anxiety, and labor. To preserve and add to their treasure is the study of their lives. They have transferred so little to heaven, have taken so little stock in the heavenly treasure, that their minds are not specially attracted to that better country. They have taken large stock in the enterprises of this earth, and these investments, like the magnet, draw down their minds from the heavenly and imperishable to the earthly and corruptible. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 2T 197.1
Selfishness girds many about as with iron bands. It is “my farm,” “my goods,” “my trade,” “my merchandise.” Even the claims of common humanity are disregarded by them. Men and women professing to be waiting and loving the appearing of their Lord are shut up to self. The noble, the godlike, they have parted with. The love of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, have so fastened upon them that they are blinded. They are corrupted by the world and discern it not. They talk of love to God, but their fruits show not the love they express. They rob Him in tithes and offerings, and the withering curse of God is upon them. The truth has been illuminating their pathway on every side. God has wrought wonderfully in the salvation of souls in their own households, but where are their offerings, presented to Him in grateful thanks for all His tokens of mercy to them? Many of them are as unthankful as the brute creation. The sacrifice for man was infinite, beyond the comprehension of the strongest intellect, yet men who claim to be partakers of these heavenly benefits, which were brought to them at so great a cost, are too thoroughly selfish to make any real sacrifice for God. Their minds are upon the world, the world, the world. In the forty-ninth psalm we read: “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him (for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever).” If all would bear in mind, and could in a small degree appreciate, the immense sacrifice made by Christ, they would feel rebuked for their fearfulness and their supreme selfishness. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people. Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Because of selfishness and love of the world, God is forgotten, and many have barrenness of soul, and cry: “My leanness, my leanness.” The Lord has lent means to His people to prove them, to test the depth of their professed love for Him. Some would let go of Him and give up their heavenly treasure rather than to decrease their earthly possessions and make a covenant with Him by sacrifice. He calls for them to sacrifice; but the love of the world closes their ears, and they will not hear. 2T 197.2
I looked to see who of those who professed to be looking for Christ's coming possessed a willingness to sacrifice offerings to God of their abundance. I could see a few humble poor ones who, like the poor widow, were stinting themselves and casting in their mite. Every such offering is accounted of God as precious treasure. But those who are acquiring means, and adding to their possessions, are far behind. They do comparatively nothing to what they might. They are withholding, and robbing God, for they are fearful they shall come to want. They dare not trust God. This is one of the reasons that, as a people, we are so sickly and so many are falling into their graves. The covetous are among us. Lovers of the world, also those who have stinted the laborer in his hire, are among us. Men who had none of this world, who were poor and dependent on their labor, have been dealt with closely and unjustly. The lover of the world, with a hard face and harder heart, has grudgingly paid over the small sum earned by hard toil. Just so they are dealing with their Master, whose servants they profess to be. Just in this grudging manner do they put into the treasury of God. The man in the parable had not where to bestow his goods, and the Lord cut short his unprofitable life. So will He deal with many. How difficult, in this corrupt age, to keep from growing worldly and selfish. How easy to become ungrateful to the Giver of all our mercies. Great watchfulness is needed, and much prayer, to keep the soul with all diligence. “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” 2T 198.1Read in context »