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Hell does not rehabilitate

“send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue”

The rich man has not been humbled by his startling new circumstances. He has not realized that earth’s values no longer apply.

Instead, he assumes that since he is Jewish, Abraham was still his “father.” Not only that, he knows Lazarus by name but has never helped him. The suffering man at his gate was not some anonymous stranger. He was familiar with Lazarus.

He has no plausible deniability, and now he sees Lazarus present with Abraham. 

He also presumes that Lazarus is there to carry out errands on behalf of the upper class. Even in hell, he is still asking for privilege. 

The rich man never speaks to Lazarus directly. He continues to consider him an object, not a person. This is nothing like Abraham!

Those who are truly Abraham’s children live by faith. They produce fruit in keeping with their confessed repentance.

John the Baptist had already warned against claiming privileges based on being one of Abraham’s descendants.

Luke 3:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

A quick note on Lazarus: His silence throughout the parable is impressive. He does not speak at all. He neither complains of his hard life on earth, not does he gloat over the rich man’s harsh fate after death. He does not even express resentment at the rich man’s attempts to have him sent on errands! All the way through, Lazarus accepts what God sends him.

Our response to God is revealed in the way we handle our circumstances, whether they are pleasant or severe.

How desperate the damned must be for mercy. How reasonable it must seem to them to cry out for relief.

Was the rich man really asking for all that much? He wasn’t even praying for his salvation. He makes no request to be delivered from hell forthwith. All he asked for was one little drop of water to soothe his burning tongue. 

Yet even that request was denied. God has no mercy for people who die rejecting Christ.

Luke 16:25 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.

Entrusted with the riches of this world, the wealthy man had generously rewarded himself during his lifetime. He has in fact been paid in full. He had nothing more coming to him, not even a single drop of water.

Luke 6:24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

The point is that those who live only for the things of this world will get nothing from heaven.

Abraham tells the rich man that he received good things during his life, but Lazarus had not. Their situations are now reversed.

In Mary’s Magnificat, she foretells of the Messiah coming with justice.

Luke 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.