Jesus Said:19 "Once there was a rich man. He was dressed in purple cloth and fine linen. He lived an easy life every day. 20 A man named Lazarus was placed at his gate. Lazarus was a beggar. His body was covered with sores. 21 Even dogs came and licked his sores. All he wanted was to eat what fell from the rich man's table. 22 "The time came when the beggar died. The angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, the rich man was suffering terribly. He looked up and saw Abraham far away. Lazarus was by his side. 24 So the rich man called out, 'Father Abraham! Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water. Then he can cool my tongue with it. I am in terrible pain in this fire.' 25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember what happened in your lifetime. You received your good things. Lazarus received bad things. Now he is comforted here, and you are in terrible pain. 26 Besides, a wide space has been placed between us and you. So those who want to go from here to you can't go. And no one can cross over from there to us.' - New International Reader's Version
What a sad ordeal to have the chance to do something, and miss the opportunity. In life, whether rich or poor, we’re all faced with opportunities. Our only decision is to grab the opportunity and run with it. Once it’s gone, it may never present itself to us again. Or it may be a daily opportunity. And in that case, we may see the chance so much, that we become calloused to it and it never even registers with us.
The Rich man in Jesus’ story was for a time, faced with a daily opportunity to help someone who was in desperate shape. There’s no need to discuss how wealthy the man was, or how poor Lazarus was. The opportunity was that someone needed help, but was not comforted. There is a little word in this story that really sticks out with me, and yet is it echoed in other times in this story. The word is gate. Think about what a gate is, and how it is used.
- A movable barrier in a fence or wall
- A point of entry to an enclosed space
- An opening in a fence
- Gates may prevent or control entry or exit
- Gates can be opened and closed
- Some gates materials can been seen through
- Some gates can be locked or unlocked
My idea of a gate in Jesus’ story was a simple swinging gate that Lazarus could see in, and the Rich man could see out. My idea was that the Rich man knew that Lazarus was out there, and Lazarus knew the Rich man was in there. My idea was the Rich man could easily open the gate, but daily, he chose not to.
How sad that an object as simple as a gate could be used to separate two people. I’m reminded of the Nazi prison camps throughout Europe, and the thousands of people who were separated by a gate. How simple and easy would it have been to use the gate to help, but instead it was used to separate and destroy.
Jesus further explains that without putting forth a little effort here in this life, and opening the gate to others, there will be a much larger separator – “a wide space” between comfort and torment which one cannot pass from either side.
My prayer is that we look and find opportunities to help people. To put forth a little effort and go out of our way just a little or a lot in order to help someone – before our time or opportunity is gone. We are guaranteed that our time is counting down, and that every day we live becomes one day closer to everlasting comfort or torment.
Are you listening to what God is saying in His Word?