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What do we learn about the afterlife from Jesus’ story about Lazarus and the rich man?

“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.”  Luke 16:22-23

            Jesus told a story about a poor beggar named Lazarus who went to heaven and a rich man  who went to hell.  It does not appear to be a parable (a fictitious story) because the characters have names (Lazarus and Abraham) and no parable Jesus told has a proper name for a person.  Jesus would know this story as it happened, telling it from God’s perspective.

            Here are the clues about the afterlife we see from this story:

·         There are relationships in heaven – Lazarus was with Abraham, close to him.

·         There are no relationships in hell – the rich man was alone.

·         There is torment in hell – the rich man felt parched, unsatisfied, in agony.

·         You are conscious and aware of yourself in the afterlife.  You have feelings too.

·         You remember your life on earth. The rich man remembered his brothers.

·         For someone in hell, earth was the best they’ve ever experienced.

·         There’s a gap between heaven and hell and nobody crosses over.

·         Spirits and ghosts will not convince people to repent, only the word of God.