@Askew I recommend “Whats the Truth About Heaven and Hell” by Douglas Jacoby as a nice, succinct read on this topic. He argues that the story Jesus told was common in those days and was not a true story that actually depicts the afterlife. Rather, Jesus was using a well known story in a new way to make some quite sharp points to his listeners about what God truly values and what it means to follow Him. I’ve included some material below I used when teaching this passage a while back. I think the main point is not about the afterlife actually, but about how we ought to live. God bless you as you share the Word
Main Characters? Lazarus, the rich man, Abraham, the brothers, Moses and the Prophets
Who represents the Pharisees in the parable? Vs 27, 31 – five brothers – rich man is a warning (think of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghost of Christmas yet to come – marley came back to warn him)
How does this Scripture turn the world’s value system upside down?
Why are health, wealth and social status dangerous?
Can you think of an example from the Gospel of Luke of a wealthy man who made the right decision? (hint: a tree climbing tax collector) How can this story give us a balanced perspective of wealth?
Has the rich man in the story repented and sought forgiveness while in torment? Does he want to be reconciled to God? How does he treat Lazarus? Abraham? What can these facts teach us about the danger of repeatedly rejecting God’s truth? (gnashing of teeth – Acts 7:54)
Based on this parable, what advice would you give someone who said they needed to see a sign or miracle before they could follow Christ?
How can this parable give you hope when you are poor, sick or lonely? How is hope different than comfort?