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The tale of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus is one of Jesus' most well known parables.
It's also one of the most misunderstood sections of the Bible. What was Jesus teaching through this parable? Was He explaining the afterlife? Was He explaining how to live in the present life? Read to find the answer!
The most common interpretation of Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man is that we all have immortal souls that go to either heaven or hell immediately at death. But does this parable really say that?
*That is, except Jesus Christ, who came down from Heaven (John:3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.). But when you read in Luke:16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; that "the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom," it's easy to assume this means Lazarus was taken to heaven.
One of the most important questions to consider about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is whether or not the story is based on actual events. Some argue that, since Jesus specifically mentions Lazarus' name and talks about his and the rich man's fate, it must be a true account with a literal meaning.
Let's go back over the second part of Luke 16:22 which states, "The rich man also died and was buried." Let's pause once again to ask a fundamental question. What does the Bible reveal about the state of the dead? "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing…For there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (Ecclesiastes 9:5, Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.).
What did the rich man do next? "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'" (Luke 16:24).
What have we learned about Jesus' parable about Lazarus and the rich man? We discovered the biblical truth about the resurrection of the dead and the fallacy of an immortal soul going to heaven or an ever-burning hell at the time of death.