What does it mean that Lazarus was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side (Luke 16:22)?
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 is only conveyed by Luke. None of the other Gospels have this parable. It seems to indicate that we either receive our blessings from the Lord in this life or the next.
The parable begins with a rich man who has everything he wants in this life while Lazarus, a poor man outside his gates, is mistreated by him and suffers while the rich man could help him. But he chooses not to do this, so Lazarus suffers while the rich man enjoys his wealth.
Both Lazarus and the rich man die and are taken to their eternity. The rich man ends up in Hades under extreme pressure from the heat and fire around him. Lazarus goes to “Abraham’s bosom,” perhaps a Hebrew phrase for heaven.
Jesus proceeds to tell of how the rich man suffers in Hades and Lazarus is finally comforted. The rich man asks Abraham to have Lazarus serve him even a drop of cool water. Abraham explains that he received his enjoyment while he was on earth.
The parable ends by the rich man asking Abraham to send Lazarus back to his brothers and family so that they can hear about what happens after this life. Abraham tells them that they have the prophets and the Scriptures.
They won’t even believe if a man like Lazarus is raised from the dead to tell them about what happened afterward. They should listen to the source they have, the Scriptures, and obey them. He may have even alluded to his own resurrection that will happen after his ministry, death, and burial.
The phrase, “carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom” may be euphemisms for death and heaven. To be carried by angels probably refers to Lazarus’ journey through death to heaven. Abraham’s bosom is probably a Hebrew euphemism for heaven, the place for Abraham went to.
What’s just as interesting is that Jesus presents Abraham as being alive and in heaven in this parable. In other words, Abraham is not in Sheol. This goes against the idea of soul sleep. If we take this parable to be a representation of what happens when we die, we are in the presence of the Lord immediately.
It is an interesting parable because of some of the things it represents. But since it is only in Luke, it is even more interesting that he would cover this parable and no one else did. Regardless, it is part of the scriptural record and therefore can be believed just as much as something that is said more than once.