Luke 16:19-31





I would like to begin by acknowledging that there is some debate over

whether this is a parable or an actual event.

For whatever it's worth, I personally agree with those who think it's an actual




The Bible doesn't call this a parable.

Jesus doesn't say this is a parable.



He says He's talking about a certain man.

Not just any man;



A certain man.

A certain man who was rich;



A certain man who was survived by five living brothers;

A certain man whose five living brothers were all lost.



A certain man who was probably Jewish because he used a common Jewish

expression when he talked to Abraham.

He called him father Abraham.



This certain man was clothed in purple and fine linen;

An expression that means he wore the finest clothes.



He fared sumptuously every day.

An expression that means he ate the best food money could buy.



There was also a certain beggar;

A beggar named Lazarus;



A beggar covered with sores;

A beggar who couldn't walk;



A beggar who had to be laid at the rich man's gate.

He begged for the crumb's from the rich man's table.



What a contrast!

A rich man feasting in luxury.



And a poor man begging for crumbs.

A rich man faring sumptuously.



And a poor man licked by dogs.

But even though these two men were far apart on the social register;



There was still one way they were alike.

“It's appointed unto man, once to die.”



Both men died.

It doesn't matter how much we have.



Or how little we have.

We have a date with death.


And no amount of wealth;

No amount of status;



No amount of anything will change that.

It's an appointment all of us must keep.



And ready or not, we will keep it.

Anyway, both men died.



The rich man was buried.

But nothing is said about poor Lazarus.



We are not even told if he was buried.

It's possible there was no money for a funeral;



Possible that no one would pay the bill.

But be that as it may.



God loved Lazarus.

And Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom (Paradise if you   




But it wasn't so with the rich man.

He opened his eyes in hell.



Here we have good news and bad news.

The good news is that one minute we can be poor and sick.



And the next minute we can be healed and in paradise.

All of our afflictions and diseases;

All of our heartache and pain;

All of our problems and travail;



All of these things could end at the blink of an eye.

The bad news is that one minute we could be rich and faring sumptuously.



And the next minute we could be poor and tormented.

One minute we could be enjoying the luxuries of this life.



And the next minute we could be roasting in hell.

There is more good news and bad news.



The good news is we will be conscious in heaven.

We will be known THERE as we are known here.





It was 1980.

There was a certain boy named Jimmy.



My Church was holding a revival.

It was Wednesday night.



The evangelist said, “I haven't heard a testimony all week.”

“Would someone share a word of testimony with us?”



Two people spoke for just a minute.

Then, a young woman named Sherry stood up.




Sherry said, “I want to thank God tonight that Jimmy is down there on the    

front row of the Church.”

“And no one had to carry him in.”



Sherry began to cry.

She choked up.



She couldn't say anything else.

She sat down.



Following the service, she came to me and said, “I guess you will think I'm   

crazy, but I want to tell you something.”

“When Jimmy was two months old, he had spinal meningitis.”



“He couldn't walk.”

“He didn't take his first step until he was five years old.”



“When I took him someplace, I pulled a wagon up to my back door.

“I laid pillows on the wagon;”



“Placed Jimmy on the pillows;”

“Pulled the wagon out to the street in front of my house;”



“Picked Jimmy up;”

“And laid him on the back seat of my car.”



“When I came to Church, I brought a wheel chair.”

“I placed Jimmy in the wheel chair;”




“And rolled him inside the Church.”

“Sometimes men in the Church would lift Jimmy;”



“Carry him inside;”

“And lay him on the front seat of the Church.”



“Last year, when Jimmy was five years old, the doctor wanted to give him a shot.”

“It was amazing that Jimmy was still alive.”



“He had been to three different doctors.”

“One doctor said he wouldn't live very long.”



“A second doctor said he would live about six months.”

“A third doctor said if he lived at all, he would never be more than a vegetable.”



“But when Jimmy was five years old, the doctor wanted to give him a shot.”

“The shot was suppose to knock him out for half an hour.”



“They gave it to him at 11:30 in the morning.”

“12 o'clock came, but Jimmy didn't come to.”



“1 o'clock came and he was still knocked out.”

“2 o'clock and he was still knocked out.”



“3 o'clock and he was still knocked out.”

“4 o'clock and he was still asleep.”




“Some time after 4 o'clock, I was out in the hall.”

“I couldn't take anymore.”



“My nerves were shot.”

“A nurse called me to come quickly.”



“I rushed to the room.”

“Jimmy's eyes were open.”



“He pointed straight up and said, Mommy, I've been up yonder.”

“I asked, up yonder where?”



“He said, up yonder in heaven with Jesus.”

“I saw uncle so--and-so and uncle so-and-so;”



“They took me to God.”

Those were two of Jimmy's uncles who passed away a few months before.



Jimmy said he saw them in heaven.

And they took him to God.



What would you say about this story?

Would you say Sherry is crazy?



I thought about it.

I don't think a five year old boy would make up something like that.



An adult might.

But not a five year old boy;


Not one that sick;

Not at a time like that.



And Sherry wasn't crazy.

She was crying;



Very sincere;

A bright young woman.



But this is the point.

Jimmy was aware of where he went.



And he knew both of his uncles.

He knew them.



And they knew him.

They were known in heaven as they were known on earth.




Then, there is the bad news.

People will be conscious in hell.



People will feel, speak, see, remember;

Cry, thirst and experience pain.



The lost will be separated from the saved;

They can look into paradise.



They can see the saved afar off;

See the pleasures they are enjoying and the comfort they have.


Rev. _______________ is a pastor I went to school with at Emory University       

in Atlanta.

He was critically injured in Korea.



He was sent to a Korean hospital.

Instruments there showed his heart stopped for 3 minutes and 21 seconds.



He was unconscious for 6 days;

Moved 3 times.



He left the country;

Rode in an ambulance several times;



Flew in an airplane;

And never knew it.



Because his heart stopped as long as it did, his doctors said he could have   

brain damage.

But there was none.



After he came to, he remembered dying.

His soul left his body.



He entered a place of total darkness.

He could only see was a light far off at the end of a tunnel.



He struggled to move toward that light.

He could not.



He could only move away from the light.

Because of the darkness, he believes he was separated from God.



Because he could not move toward the light, he believes he was destined for


After he recovered, he said, “I knew I had to change my life.”



He accepted Jesus.

And later, he answered the call into the ministry.




So the rich man opened his eyes in hell;

He looked afar off.



He saw Abraham;

Then, he saw Lazarus.



He cried.

“Have mercy on me;”



“Have mercy on me.”

Think about that.



In this life, he never sought mercy.

But in hell, the first words out of his mouth were, “Have mercy on me.”



Understand something.

Now is the time to seek mercy.



God is plentiful in mercy.

And ready to give it.

But the mercy that saves comes through faith in Jesus.



And we have to seek it in this life.

The second thing the rich man said was, “Send Lazarus that he may dip the  

tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this         




He didn't say, “Bring Lazarus to me.”

He could see Lazarus in Paradise.


And Lazarus could walk.




I told you Jimmy couldn't walk up until he was five years old.

He had not taken even one step in his life.



He had the torso of a five year old.

And the leg muscles of a one year old.



His legs were too weak to support his chunky body.

But after Jimmy said he went to heaven, he started trying to walk.



It was a sight to see.

He staggered and stumbled;



Bumped into everything.

The other kids didn't understand.



Some made fun of Jimmy.

Their parents got onto them.

But Jimmy's legs got stronger and stronger over the two years I was there.

He even started playing T-ball.



One day he hit a triple.

His grandmother (Mary Ruth _____) said it would have been a home run, if  

he could have run just a little faster.



She said, “I cried when Jimmy hit that triple.”

“His grandfather asked Mary Ruth why are you crying?”



I said, “Do you remember when we watched our other grandchildren play


“I cried.”



“You asked Mary Ruth why are you crying?”

“I would say, I'm crying because Jimmy CAN'T play T-ball.”



She said, “Today, I'm crying because Jimmy CAN play T-ball.”

Jimmy said he went to heaven.



Then, Jimmy could walk, run and play T-ball.

He was no vegetable either.



He started to school.

And everything was normal. (Show newspaper picture and article)




The rich man had all of his senses in hell.

He could see, hear, taste, feel, speak and remember.



Jesus said, “He was in a flame.”

Many don't believe this.



But I believe he was burning.

And could not die.



Physical death is not the end;

It's another beginning;



A wonderful new beginning in heaven or a terrible beginning in hell.

Abraham replied, “Son remember (son remember), remember that thou in thy         

lifetime received thy good things and likewise Lazarus evil things, but  

NOW he is comforted and thou art tormented.”



All of those goods were a curse to the rich man.

His purple and fine linen were a curse.



His good food was a curse.

They were a curse because he had so much he left God out of his life.



What about your goods?

Are they a blessing or a curse?



Do you use them for God's glory or your own?

Do you help the poor or just try to gain more?



The way we use our money can make it a curse.

“What is a man profited if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul”    

(Matt. 16:26)?



Your soul is worth more than all the purple and fine linen;

More than all the good food;



More than all the world.

On the other hand, Lazarus was comforted.



His sickness and poverty were blessings.

Through all of that, he developed a relationship with God.



So both men died.

The rich man woke up immediately in hell.



And Lazarus woke up immediately in Paradise.

Abraham said, “Now--now he is comforted and thou art tormented.”



We won't have to wait for the blessings of heaven.

They begin as soon as we die.



The rich man's brothers were still alive when Lazarus was healed in Paradise.

But the torments of hell start immediately too.



The rich man found himself in hell before his brothers died.

If we were to die tonight, we would be in heaven or hell before our loved      

ones pass away.



Also, there's a great gulf between the two places.

When we die, we will wake up immediately in heaven or in hell.



And our destinies are sealed.

That's why Rev. _________________ couldn't move toward the light.

We determine where we will spend eternity on this side of the grave.

Next, the rich man said, “I pray thee.”



He began to pray.

There's just one problem.



Prayers aren't answered in hell.

Prayers are a waste of time in hell.



Can you imagine being in pain and torment;

And not being able to turn to God?



I want to make a confession.

When things are going good, I get preoccupied.



I forget to pray.

But when things are going bad, I get depressed.



I pray all the time.

Can you imagine the depression in hell;



Wanting to pray all the time;

And it being a waste of time?



Notice, his prayer.

“Send Lazarus to my father's house for I have five bretheren, that he may     

testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.”



“Send someone to my family.”

“Don't let my family enter this place of torment.”

“I'm praying for a visitation program.”

“Visit my family so they won't make the mistake I made.”



But Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets;”

“Let them hear them.”



“Your family has the Word of God.”

“Let them hear the Word of God.”



But the rich man argued, “If one went unto them from the dead, they will      


That's interesting.



In this life, the rich man didn't repent of his sins.

He died;



He opened his eyes in hell;

He cried for mercy;



He prayed;

And he wanted others to repent.



His first words in hell were, “Have mercy on me.”

And his last recorded word in hell was, “repent.”



Abraham's final reply was, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither

will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

If a person refuses to believe the Bible,




That person won't believe anything else.

That person won't believe Jimmy went to heaven and saw God.



That person won't believe Rev. ____________ died and almost went to hell.

That person won't believe a person's soul can leave his body and then return.



But I Kings chapter 17 tells about a boy who died and his soul left his body.

The great prophet Elijah stretched himself over the child three times.



He prayed and said, “O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into

him again” (REPEAT 3 TIMES).

And “the soul of the child came into him again, and he was revived.”



No doubt, many don't believe that either.

But God's Word is all we will get.



If we reject that, we will perish.

When you die, where do you want to open your eyes?



In heaven, or in hell?

Will you thank God for His mercy, or beg God for His mercy?



Will you say, “I'm glad I accepted Jesus.”

Or, “I wish I had accepted Jesus.”



Someone said, “You don't have to make a decision to go to hell.”

“But you have to make a decision to go to heaven.”


You don't have to do anything to perish in hell.

But you have to take a stand for Jesus, if you want to go to heaven.

Will you do it?