Today I am focusing on a story Jesus told about a man with regrets. The story is titled 'The Rich Man and Lazarus' and is recorded in Luke 16.
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. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
But Abraham replied, ‘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.’
He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
The point of this story has nothing to do with connecting the rich or the poor with acceptance by God. Entrance into heaven is not based on what we possess or don’t possess here. However it is determined by what we do with the truth concerning Jesus.
It does not take a Bible scholar to conclude a few simple things based on this story.
First, there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. The beggar was carried to Abraham’s side and the rich man found himself in torment.
Second, there was no crossing over for either the rich man or the beggar. Eternal destination is settled upon loss of this life.
Third, Abraham said those still on earth must listen to Moses and the Prophets. We have been given the Bible. It is recorded for our benefit and it is our choice to read and understand it or to ignore it. In the Bible, we learn about God and the only way to reach heaven. That way is through faith and trust in Jesus, God’s son.
The greatest regret anyone could ever experience is to realize too late that he or she had not chosen that path.