In Luke 16:19-31, we have the account of the rich man and Lazarus. It’s said of Lazarus in verses 20-21, “And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” We learn from these two verses that Lazarus was a poor beggar. Obviously he was handicapped in some way because he ‘was laid’ at the rich man’s gate to beg, as though someone had to carry him and put him down at the gate. We also see that Lazarus was covered in sores. Although he was poor, handicapped and hungry, that all changed in an instance. Luke 16:22 that, “…the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” While the rich man enjoyed his riches for a while, because of his unbelief, he will suffer forever. Lazarus, a poor but faithful man, suffered for a while but will enjoy the blessings of being with the Lord forever.

In John 11:1-44, we have the account of a different Lazarus. We read here of a man who died, but was raised by the Lord Jesus. This Lazarus had two sisters, Mary and Martha. These three obviously were not poor. We read in John 12:2 that, “…they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.” This Lazarus had a home and had enough food to be able to share it with the Lord. It is obvious that there were two different men. However, we can learn valuable lessons from both of them.

While some believe that the story of Lazarus and the rich man was another one of the Lord’s parables, it is apparent that this is actually a true story. The Lord does not identify this account as a parable. You can search the Word of God and you will discover that in His many parables, the Lord never told a parable where the characters in the parable were mentioned by name. This poverty stricken handicapped man was certainly to be pitied in this life. However, in eternity, it was the rich man who longed for pity. We read in Proverbs 28:6, “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” It is so much better to live for the Lord in poverty than it is to live without Him in wealth. James 2:5 tells us that the Lord has, “…chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom…” Most often, it is the poor in this world who will listen to the Word of the Gospel. Those with great riches seem only to think of their present possessions and often do not make any preparations for eternity.

Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha was one who enjoyed sitting with the Lord and learning from His as he taught. When he died, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples in John 11:11, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” The Lord called Lazarus his friend and a friend of the disciples. This reminds me of James 2:23 which says, “…Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” Because Abraham believed God, he was counted righteous and became ‘the Friend of God.” The same is true of Lazarus. Because of his faith in the Lord Jesus, he enjoyed sweet fellowship with the Lord.

The name Lazarus means, ‘the Lord is my helper.’ In these two accounts of these men named Lazarus, we see that the Lord was certainly their helper. Are you a Lazarus? Are you a friend of God? Do you have the Lord as your helper? To those who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus, we read in Psalm 46:1 that, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (174.4)