Monday, March 8, 2010

A Graphic Scene (Part 1)

Please allow me to set the stage...

Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, who Scripture pointedly says where "lovers of money" (Luke 16:14). This story was told both to teach the lookers on and rebuke the Pharisees. Remember this: although the religious bunch caused Jesus so much trouble, He still sought after them.

When the Pharisees ridicule Jesus in verse 14 He says in no uncertain terms: what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. After explaining the integrity and everlastingness of the Word of God in verses 16 and 17, Jesus both rebukes their wicked thoughts about money and condemns their cheap view of marriage with the simple statement: Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)

Jesus then masterfully elaborates on His point by telling the story we commonly refer to as "Lazarus and the Rich Man".

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' " (Luke 16:19 - 31)

Now that the stage has been set, tomorrow we will examine the rich man's condition and what those who reject God and His grace can expect. Until then, consider the following:

1. Most Bible commentators do not believe this is a parable. The simple reason is that Jesus did not indicate that it was. That leaves us with a pretty graphic picture of what hell looks like.

2. Remember, this place of torment was not created for man. It was created for the enemy (Satan) and his minions.

3. All the riches in the world do not mean much once we are gone. It would be wise to put the things entrusted to your stewardship to eternal use... missions... the proclamation of the Gospel... these sort of things.

Until tomorrow....

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