Luke 16:25 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.
Luke 16:26 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.’
Luke 16:27 And he said, ’Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—
Luke 16:28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
Luke 16:29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’
Luke 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Luke 16:31 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.’”
Of course Jesus isn’t answering a question here of “What is it like in Heaven and Hell?” but about money and our riches and pleasures.
He falls right into the contemporary parables and understanding of life after death in this section of the parable. That doesn’t mean that’s exactly how it is. He describes it at other times as a new Heaven (sky) and a new earth (ground). But it’s also a wedding feast and a grand debt forgiveness and a sorting of sheep and goats.
So don’t use this parable to draw a map.
BUT use this parable for what it is saying. Jesus gives the argument that a lot of people give in one way or another:
If only I had some proof, then I would believe.
If only Lazarus could come back from the dead to warn the rich man’s brothers! Too bad, Jesus says. They already have Moses and the Prophets and they didn’t listen to that. Everything they need to have faith in God and to express it by loving their fellow humans is in the Law and the Prophets. If they didn’t get it from that, they won’t get it from a resurrection.
The other joke here, that we know, is that a guy named Lazarus would actually come back from the dead, and his resurrection would serve as a warning. And Jesus was right again. When it happened, Lazarus made it onto their hit list along with Jesus. They wanted to kill him!
There are some roads in Kentucky that say “Road ends in water” and they are telling the truth. What I think is kind and gracious is that sometimes they have 4 of those signs on the road — 2 on each side. Now it’s obvious when you get to the spot. There is no road. There is a river and the road goes down into it and disappears. But if you were going 70mph at night, you’d probably need 4 signs to get you to stop in time.
You can’t argue with a river.
God has given us hundreds of warning signs in His scriptures. He give the people around us hundreds of signs as we live out the Gospel with our lives.
Let’s be those people. Let’s make sure nobody drives into the river and that nobody can be clueless about God’s love for them. He loves them all so much.
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