As Jesus is sharing parables with His disciples one day, the Pharisees stand nearby, overhearing His teachings. Our Lord always desires His stories, His parables, to inspire and convict His hearers. He hopes His words will impact their beliefs and their actions.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.” – Luke 16:19-21

Jesus’ story is of a man named Lazarus. This Lazarus is not the same man that Jesus raised from the dead. Yet the name means “God helps”, so it is perhaps significant that Jesus uses this name for the main character in His story.

Lazarus is impoverished, beset with illness, helpless. In contrast, the rich man in the story enjoys all the luxuries his wealth will buy. Lazarus is at his gate each day, hoping for help and compassion… yet receives little if any. The rich man is consumed with himself and his wealth.

Jesus highlights the reversal of roles for the two men when both reach the end of their lives. Angels carry Lazarus up to heaven to Abraham’s side where he finds comfort at last. The rich man faces agony and torment in Hades.

Seeing Father Abraham in the distance, the rich man begs him to send Lazarus with a bit of cool water to ease his suffering from the fire’s heat. Abraham answers him…

“Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” – Luke 16:25-26

The rich man pleads with Abraham. Could he send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them so they do not end up in this place of torment? Abraham reminds him that they need only listen to Moses and the Prophets to be warned.

The rich man gives one last, desperate plea. Surely, if someone visits them from the dead, his brothers would repent and believe. Yet Abraham spells out the truth for him…

“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” – Luke 16:31

Who is the truly poor one in this story? Is it Lazarus who has no monetary means to ease his daily hunger or illness… yet lives in the favor of God? Or is it the man of monetary wealth, daily satisfying all his needs and wants… yet giving no thought to God?

Lazarus may be powerless, yet he has hope. For he trusts in his God to provide for him and is rewarded with eternal life. In contrast, the rich man is empowered by his wealth. He trusts in himself and his riches… yet he is heartless and without hope. He chooses to ignore God and faces eternity in torment.

Jesus shares this story in the hearing of the Pharisees for a reason on His travels to Jerusalem. There He will pay the ransom for all mankind on the cross. All the prophecies of Moses and the Prophets will be fulfilled. Yet even His rising from the dead will not convince the Jewish leaders of His Messiahship.

“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and mankind, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Jesus targets this story toward the Pharisees. For He is highlighting the importance of choosing to follow Him in this life. He tells of a chasm that forever exists for all mankind. There is only one way across this chasm… the way that Jesus makes with His life. For He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

The cross of Christ is the bridge over the vast chasm… the chasm of sin that separates mankind from a holy God. It is a bridge of His love that spans eternity, uniting God and man. All who come to believe in Jesus cross over this great crevasse and look forward to eternity in heaven. Yet this crevasse is only passable in this life. The choice must be made before our time on earth ends.

Jesus is calling us to cross the chasm. Our choice in this lifetime determines our life for eternity. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer…. the atoning sacrifice paid once for all. He is the Mediator between us and the Father. He offers the one bridge across the chasm… the only bridge that leads to salvation and eternal life. Yet His saving grace will only take effect in the lives of those who trust in Him.