Jump Start # 2135
NOTE: Tomorrow is the 4th. There will be no Jump Start tomorrow.
Luke 16:29 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
We continue our look at the powerful story of the rich man and Lazarus. This gives us one of the few windows into the next world. We wonder. We are curious. What’s it like after we die? Is this it? Will we recognize others? Will we feel anything? Lots and lots of questions and many of them answered right here in this lesson that Jesus taught.
Our Jump Start yesterday took a look at what we learn on this side of death. Luke 16 teaches us some valuable lessons on both sides of the door of death. Today, we will look on the other side of that door. Four realities of death.
First, life on the other side is not like life here. It seems that so few understand this. They want the next life to be just an extension of this life, without all the hassles of going to work, traffic and taking out the trash. They see the next world as a big playground and it’s perpetually recess time for eternity. Fun is how most would anticipate the next life. Great food. Cloudless days. Puppy dogs and chocolate. Who wouldn’t want to spend forever in a place like that. Many see it as dreams come true. Golf courses. Go-carting. Endless shopping. And, it’s all free. Forever, playing and playing. I have a bunch of grandkids. They are all little. Their world is playing. And, for adults, that’s how many envision the next life.
The rich man certainly shows us a different world than what he was accustomed to. There didn’t seem to be any purple, or fairing sumptuously every day as he had lived on the other side of death. He didn’t seem to have his large house nor his gates. His life seemed to be turned upside down. We see him in agony and unable to do anything about that. We see him begging for mercy. What a twist of things. The rich man now begging. No one was coming to help him. And, even for Lazarus, things seemed so different. He was in the embrace of Abraham. He was comforted there. Nothing said about playing a round of golf. No mention of chocolate, shopping or play time. The next world is not an extension of this world. The next world is the world of God. It is spiritual. And, what matters are spiritual things. The rich man could not do what he wanted. He could not order people to serve him. He could not even find comfort for himself. He was in a hopeless and helpless situation. He got there on his own. It was his choices and his lack of faith and compassion that put him there. The next world is so different than things here.
Second, the rich man found out that being sorry for his mistakes wasn’t enough to change things. We’ve forgotten about consequences these days. A person can do just about anything or say anything, no matter how destructive, painful or hurtful it is to others, and then believe that it will all magically go away by saying, “I’m sorry.” The rich man never says those exact words, but you can pretty much see them as he begs for someone to warn his brothers. He finally concludes that it’s too late for him. Nothing more can be done for him. This would include burning candles or saying prayers for him. He made his choices in life and now he was reaping the consequences of those choices in death. Living without God seems like a blast on this side of death. Do what you want. Answer to know one. Life’s one big party. But on the other side of that door, things no longer look fun. It’s too late. All the sorrow, the apologies, the repentance, the promises to do better, the tears, the wishes for another chance, the begging for mercy, were too late. Once one crosses through death’s doorway, everything seems to be unchangeable. No word could be sent back to the boys at home other than what they already had. Our verse states, “they have Moses and the Prophets.” That’s all they needed to avoid that awful place.
What a mistake it is to assume that being baptized is all that matters. All my boxes are checked off and I can now sail through life with ease because I have been baptized. That’s a mistake. God expects more than a once in our life choice.
What a mistake it is to believe that you can go to church services on Sunday and be mean to your wife, cruel to your kids and selfish to the world and none of that matters. It’s not a balance in which as long as there are more good things than there are bad things, I will be ok. Faith transcends all that I do and all that I am. If I truly believe, then it will be seen at home and in the community. Hypocrisy may fool the crowds, but it will never fool God.
What a mistake it is to believe that if I can answer some basic Bible questions then I will go to Heaven. It’s not a test that I must pass. It’s a life that I must live. Anywhere and everywhere, I am to be a disciple of Jesus.
Third, as hard as it is to believe this, the rich man put himself in agony. It was his heart that he closed. It was his choice not to believe. It was his decision to ignore Lazarus. It was the life that he wanted to live. And, as good as that life looks on one side of that door, it sure looks differently on the other side. This lesson reminds us that a person can’t live like a sinner and die like a saint. It just won’t happen that way. Choices. Every day. The choice to be righteous or selfish. The choice to be holy or to be like everyone else. The choice to follow Christ or to follow the crowd. This tells us that God really doesn’t send anyone to Heaven or to Hell. It’s our daily choices that put us in those places. This also shows that our eternal destiny is not predetermined by God. Imagine how terrible this story would have been had the rich man spent a life time following Christ, doing what is right, caring for poor Lazarus and in the end, he is still sent to agony. God doesn’t choose for us nor apart from our will. The concept of predestination is not individually, but by faith. Any and all who believe and walk with Christ will be saved. Any that doesn’t, won’t. Those in Heaven are there because they want to be there. They have made the right choices.
Finally, God has done everything necessary so that we will not be lost. That’s the point of Moses and the prophets from our passage today. Had the brothers followed Moses and the prophets, they would have been generous, kind and believing. It’s all there. They do not need a miracle. If they will not read and follow God’s word, then a voice, a message, a presence from the dead won’t change them either. And, why should God give the five brothers special treatment over others. Everyone gets to know about the risen Savior. It’s in God’s word. Through that word they can be transformed. The can become a new creature in Christ. That new person, built upon the character of Christ, will be what pleases the Lord.
Four realities of Death.