By Brooke Holt
“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” – Luke 16:25-31
What does it take to get your attention? As a child, I loved to be outside and was outside playing every chance I got. That was until my mom rang the bell three times. I could ignore the first bell and then could hope the second bell was not mine to hear. But that third bell, I knew that was my summons home. No matter where I was in the neighborhood, I could hear that bell, and my mother could get my attention.
Jesus is ringing bells for his listeners in this parable. He has clearly laid out the reality that there is a heaven and a hell, that eternal joy and anguish are very real. Beyond that, he made clear that those who are blessed in this world are not necessarily blessed in the next while the opposite is also true. Those who are to be most pitied here may well be enjoying life with Abraham for eternity.
This parable of the rich man and Lazarus was a wake-up call to those who followed Jesus. He wasn’t concerned with their religious appearances or words; he was concerned for their hearts. Did they love the people he loved (such as the poor, the widows, lepers, demon-possessed, etc.)? Jesus loved Lazarus in this story, and he loved others just like Lazarus. It broke his heart to see the pain, hunger, and sickness. How Jesus would love to see his disciples minister to people like Lazarus.
Yet, many of his followers did not and continue even now to walk right by these beloved children of God. So, Jesus warns of what is to come. There will be irreversible judgment for those who do not embrace this heart of Jesus. Jesus has shared what it means to follow him, and this parable serves as a warning. The rich man begs Abraham to send a messenger to warn his brothers of the torment that awaits them. Abraham reminds him of Moses and the prophets. They have their warnings, as do we.
With Jesus and the New Testament, our warnings are even greater. The opportunity for God’s people is greater as God’s law no longer is written on stone but on our hearts (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-3). The indwelling Holy Spirit can and will transform our hearts to love the Lord, to love the Lord’s people, and to put that love into action.
Are you heeding this warning of Jesus? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to daily transform your heart so that your faith manifests in the way you love and serve God and his people? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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