How about this year, instead of pursuing the same old vain ambitions, such as wasting our time and money on self improvement—we look outward instead? How about if we try, to make a difference for somebody else—who is not able to to improve themself? How about, if we go out of our way to help the homeless, the poor and the lonely? I know you’re probably thinking: “I can’t save the world on my own!”. But how about if this one time, we’re not afraid to partner—us with them?
By: ElRoyPoet, 2022
“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. 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. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” Bible, Luke 16:19–31
Commentary: Through the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the Lord rebuked self-righteous and covetous Pharisees, warning that their attitudes would bring suffering upon themselves in the next life if they did not repent.
In the parable, the Savior did not say that the rich man was an evil man—only that with all the blessings he had been given, he did not give from his great wealth to someone in need. It may have surprised the Pharisees to hear that the rich man went to hell, while Lazarus went to paradise. In this parable, the Savior taught all of us to be wise in how we use the temporal and spiritual blessings given to us.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus also refers to two different conditions in the post-mortal spirit world: “Abraham’s bosom” and “hell”. The former is depicted as a place of comfort in the company of the faithful (epitomized by father Abraham), the latter as a place of torment. “Abraham’s bosom conjures up an image of one man reclining companionably against another during a feast or banquet (see John 13:23). Bosom also suggests having close fellowship with another (see John 1:18). In paradise, Lazarus was able to have close association with Abraham, the revered father of all Israelites”. Between this abode of the faithful and “hell” there was “a great gulf fixed”, which prevented interchange between the two.
“Abraham’s bosom” refers to paradise, and “hell” refers to the spirit prison. The division between these two places existed before Jesus Christ visited the spirit world between the time of His death and His Resurrection. Before Christ’s death, spirits from paradise could not visit those who were in spirit prison. His ministry in the spirit world bridged the gulf between paradise and the spirit prison, making it possible for the spirits in prison to receive the message of the gospel from authorized ministers sent from paradise.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus teaches us about the principle of divine justice. In the parable, the rich man found that after his death, he would have to suffer for a time because of the decisions he had made as a mortal. Lazarus found that after his death, he was blessed and comforted. This teaches us that all the inequities of this life will be made up to the righteous in the next life. Justice is the friend of those who rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Abraham said to the rich man in the parable, in the next life the injustices of mortality are made right: “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.’”
The parable about Lazarus is the only parable in which the Savior used a proper name for one of the characters. In the parable, a rich man who had gone to hell pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to convince them that they should repent. Abraham replied that if they would not hear the words of the prophets, “neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”. Such persuasion requires a changed heart—not changed messengers. Failing to hear the prophets is the same thing as failing to hear the Savior—the One who did rise from the dead.
A short time after the parable was given, the Savior’s close friend Lazarus died and the Savior restored him to life (see John 11). In literal fulfillment of Jesus’s prophecy that someone who had risen from the dead would not persuade the wicked to repent, Jewish leaders responded to the raising of Lazarus from the dead by seeking to have him killed (see John 12:10–11). Not too many months later, Jesus Himself would be slain and would rise from the dead, and the Jewish leaders would continue to refuse to be persuaded.
Excerpts from What Do We Learn about the Spirit World from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus?