"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 hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side."
Every fairy tale ends the same way, ".....and they lived happily ever after."
The story that Jesus told was clearly not a fairy tale because one man did not have a happy "ever after". Not at all!
When it comes to the fairly tale we are never sure what the "ever after" is. After what?
However, in the case of Jesus' story it is clear that the "ever" comes "after" death. In the story both characters die and enter their "ever after" and one is happy but the other is not.
There are some lessons here that should be addressed.
II. Death Begins Eternity, V. 22-23
“If you are Christian, eternal life does not simply mean going to heaven for eternity. Eternal life means a never-dying spirit that has already sprung to life in you! In other words, eternal life starts NOW! Your life that lasts eternally in the next world is the same life that begins here in this one. When you die, only your body dies. Your spirit – your eternal spirit that is the essence – the deepest reality – of who you are – never stops existing. Never. You pass from one life into another one, with not a moment’s gap in existence.”
“It does a great disservice to Christian ideas when heaven is simply some abstract place after death where we sit on clouds playing the harp. No my friends, eternal life begins here on this earth when God’s Spirit breathes into our Spirits the breath of life and our spirits spring to life for the first time, suddenly capable of living without sin. At that moment they take on a completely different quality and kind of life. Plants are alive, but not in the way cats are. Cats are alive, but not in the way human beings are. Human beings without Christ are alive, but not in the way human beings with Christ are. There are different levels of life and when Christ comes into our lives, he gives us the best kind of life – one that starts at that moment and never ends!’
Both the Rich Man and Lazarus discovered the truth of this statement when each of them died and entered into eternity. One to a happy ever after and the other to a torment of agony and regret.
Life is eternal even though it changes forms. At the moment you were conceived you became an eternal being. First, you lived in the womb for nine months connected to your mother by a life-line called an umbilical cord. Then, you were born into this world of sight and sound and touch. This phase of your life lasts about 70 years or so. Your new life-line is relationships. Who you choose to love and follow will shape your "ever after". Those who choose to trust Jesus as their savior find Him to be their life-line. You don't want to die without a life-line. Finally, like the men in Jesus' story, your life will move into eternity and the destination will be determined by your choices made during your earthly journey.
Since you will exist forever it is undeniable that you are an "ever after" person! Yet to be determined is where that eternity will be spent. That decision rests with you. It is within your power to have a "happy ever after". But that decision must be made now, while you are in this phase of your life.
Jesus told this story for only one reason. He wants every to have a "happy ever after" like Lazarus. He warns us so we won't end up like the Rich Man.
Will you learn the lesson? Will you assure a "happy ever after"? Will you do it today?