“There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:”
Many people live with the misconception that our Lord is telling a parable here. This is far from true. No part of this story is parable or symbolic in any way. Jesus tells us that there “was” a “certain” rich man. That means that this particular man did live on this earth. Jesus could have named him if he had chosen, but he did not choose to do so. The fact is, though, that the man lived, that he was, and that is just plain and simple fact of the word of God, “there was a certain rich man,”
We see also that he had the best that the world had to offer. He was clothed in purple and fine linen, which were very expensive and not just anybody could afford such luxury. He also fared sumptuously every day. He had the best of food on his table and could take his pick of the best of that. What a blessing that he could take the best of the best, and what a pity that he was stingy with the rest. Isn’t that the way that many of us are? We often find ourselves with over and abundantly more than we need; instead of giving of our leftovers to someone in need, we will hoard them away to just look at and gloat over. God help us that when we get full we don’t forget those who don’t have all that we have. I can’t stand to see someone who has plenty of money selling something they don’t need and don’t use. They could give it to someone in need.
This rich man was obviously like a lot of us; used what was needed and wasted the rest.
“And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus,”
Wherever you see the rich, you’re almost certain to see the poor. Here was a poor old crippled beggar. He couldn’t work, he couldn’t even walk. “Which was laid at his gate full of sores,” obviously this poor old beggar was in very bad shape.
I have nothing against a man being rich, nor frugal, but to be selfish is wicked! How much money does one man need? Jesus said, “take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?” God will take care of those needs if we will seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.
We have one man enjoying great wealth and another enduring great hardship. What a contrast! Many wealthy church members are viewed by the world as being good Christians enjoying the blessings of God. Many poor Christians are thought to be suffering judgment of God. Realistically, the opposite is more often the truth. Wealth, more often than not, will come between man and God. Wealth brings with it a great many pleasures which can get Christians distracted, sidetracked and away from God. Poverty, sickness and persecution, more often than not, would draw a Christian closer to God and into fellowship with God. What better way for God to bring an erring one back into line, than to allow hardship and suffering to bring us to our knees. Maybe we have misunderstood things a little in the past. Let us be more thoughtful and observant.
We see in verse 21, of the 16th chapter of Luke that Lazarus was desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Nowhere, however, do we see a charitable response from the rich man. Isn’t it fitting that God never mentioned the rich man’s name. How fitting, since one day God will tell him. “I never knew you!” It is notable that God never gives us this man’s name. What a terrible thought to be a stranger to God. We are until we are saved by his marvelous grace. Though he was clothed in purple and fine linen; though he fared sumptuously every day, he was a lost man.
Lazarus, on the other hand, is mentioned by name. God knew this poor helpless beggar and makes it plain to us that the poor man was not a bum or a freeloader. He begged not for money, not for recognition, but for mercy, food, life. The rich man had it in his power to help this poor, starving, invalid, but he greedily refused. And we see that, as all men do, they both died. We all die. I remember hearing of a preacher counseling a lady who told him, “I’m worried about dying.” He simply told her, “Don’t worry about it, you will one day.” That sounds a bit humorous, but it is very true. We will all die one day, and it doesn’t matter what we have when we die. What does matter is Who we know when we die. Do you know Jesus? You will die one day. What a precious thought that the Lord knows His own by name.