The parable of the rich man and Lazarus was Jesus’ response to the Pharisees who were lovers of money and even ridiculed Jesus (Lk 16:14).
In this parable, Jesus clearly points out the difference between the rich man and the poor man. While one lived luxuriously with enough and more, the other starved to death – just at the gate of the rich man. The physical distance was not much. The rich man surely would have noticed Lazarus at his gate, but he lacked the generosity and love of neighbour to reach out and help. He had everything he wanted. But Lazarus could not fulfil even his basic human needs. This did not disturb the rich man in anyway who was busy enjoying life.
However, once they die, the scene changes drastically. While Lazarus join Abraham, the rich man ends up in hell. In pain, he cries out for help which could never be given to him. He requests that at least Lazarus be sent to His brothers that they may have a change of heart. But that also is denied, saying that they have Moses and the prophets. These two represent the intervention of God in human history and His constant invitation to conversion. If one did not heed the voice of God, he or she will definitely will not give heed to human voice, even if that particular person were to come back from the dead.
What can we take home from this parable. Firstly, there is heaven and hell. Where we end up would depend on how we live this life. Secondly, it is not enough to avoid evil, we also need to do good especially out of love for our neighbour as commanded by Jesus. Thirdly, we need to take the Word of God (Holy Bible) seriously. It is the message of God given to us through the prophets. It shows us the way of salvation. Finally, all that we have here is not ours. It is only given to us to make the best possible use to attain salvation. Remember, you will carry only your soul when you die.
With whom do you identify yourself – rich man or Lazarus? Or do you stand somewhere in between? Wherever you are, do remember that it is temperory. Eternity is yet to come. Therefore work towards your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)