By Brooke Holt
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’” – Luke 16:19-24
Sadly, I see many destitute people almost daily—homeless people sleeping on sidewalks, filthy, and holding signs asking for food and money. With the plethora of people living in these dire circumstances it can be overwhelming to the point of heart-hardening. How can a person see such heartache and need constantly knowing there is only so much they can do?
In 1896, Charles Sheldon published a book that certainly made a mark on Christianity. This book was entitled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? Readers were encouraged to consider that very question in every situation—what would Jesus do? Years ago, we saw a revival of this book and question as Christians frequently posed the question and even wore wrist bands and other paraphernalia to remind them to consider Jesus in all they did and spoke.
In this parable, Jesus challenges his listeners to that same question. He does so through these two characters, the rich man and Lazarus. It seemed the rich man had it all in his worldly life—fine clothes, good food, servants to care for him, and a lovely home. On the other hand, Lazarus suffered tremendously. He was homeless, covered in sores, and starving. Clearly, Lazarus was a man to pity.
Ironically, the tables were turned in the eternal realm. Lazarus is said to be by Abraham’s side, enjoying the good life of heaven, while the rich man was in Hades and in torment. All his earthly wealth did nothing to help him in eternity. In his arrogance, the rich man cries out to Abraham to have Lazarus come and minister to him in Hades. Think about this situation. This man walked by poor Lazarus daily and never even offered him a scrap from his table. Yet, he expects Lazarus to show him compassion in the afterlife.
If you have ever wondered if heaven and hell are real, Jesus clearly answers your question. And if you have ever wondered if your actions here on earth inform where you will spend eternity, Jesus answers that question too. With the salvation of your soul should come the transformation of your character and a life characterized by the question: what would Jesus do?
Jesus always showed compassion, love, and kindness to the poor, the sick, and the down and out of society. If the King of Kings could humble himself to show such kindness, what about you?
As you go through your day, consider the question: What would Jesus do? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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