Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Riches and Poverty

There are probably few readers of the Bible who are not familiar with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. It is one of those passages of Scripture which leave an indelible impression on the mind. Like the parable of the Prodigal Son; once read it is never forgotten.

The reason of this is clear and simple. The whole parable is a most vividly painted picture. The story, as it goes on, carries our senses with it with irresistible power. Instead of readers, we become lookers. We are witnesses of all the events described. We see. We hear. We imagine we could almost touch.

The rich man's banquet, the purple the fine linen, the gate, the beggar lying by it, the sores, the dogs, the crumbs, the two deaths, the rich man's burial, the ministering angels, the bosom of Abraham, the rich man's fearful waking up,  the fire, the gulf, the hopeless remorse, all, all stand out before our eyes in bold relief, and stamp themselves upon our minds. This is the perfection of language. This is the attainment of the famous Arabian standard, "He speaks the best who turns the ear into an eye!"

But after all, it is one thing to admire the masterly composition of this parable, and quite another to receive the spiritual lesson it contains. The eye of the intellect can often see beauties while the heart remains asleep, and sees nothing at all. Hundreds read "Pilgrim's Progress" with deep interest, to whom the struggle for the celestial city is foolishness.

Thousands are familiar with every word of the parable before us this day, who never consider how it comes home to their own case. Their conscience is deaf to the cry which ought to ring in their ears as they read, "You are the man!" Their heart never turns to God with the solemn inquiry, "Lord, is this my picture? Lord, is it I?"

Reader, I invite you this day to consider the leading truth which this parable is meant to teach us.  May the Holy Spirit give you a teachable spirit, and an understanding heart, and so produce lasting impressions on your soul!
[J. C. Ryle]
Luke 16:10-31 ... There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;  And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And 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 thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:  For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.