Monday, 1 November 2021
He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” – Luke 16:15
The story of the Rich man and Lazarus is the focus of our reading today. Jesus speaks this in context of the Pharisees and teachers of law who derided him and justified themselves without heeding to what Jesus spoke and taught. They tried to justify their covetous practices and probably misinterpreted their gain of wealth as a blessing of God. Jesus through the story reveals that wealth does not decide one’s destiny in eternity.
Look at the contrast of the two men in the story in both their earthly life and eternity. Lazarus is poor and at the mercy of those who would extend some kindness while the rich man enjoys luxury to the excesses and shows no concern or care for the beggar at his gates. But there is a reversal of their status after their death- Lazarus is seen in the bosom of Abraham (the OT dwelling of the saints) and the rich man in Hades (the place of the unsaved). The place they landed in after death is not on whether one was rich and the other was poor but their choice and response to God’s requirements.
Clearly the rich man had paid no attention to the Old Testament teaching that the Israelites should care for the poor among them (Cf. Deut. 15:7; Prov. 19:17). He lived a selfish life of his own comfort, money being his god! He was more concerned with laying up treasures for himself than being rich towards God (Cf. Luke 12:21). Lazarus represents the poor who would have responded to Jesus’ call in the Parable of the Great Banquet (Cf. Luke 14: 13, 24). Their choices decided their destiny!
The choice where to spend your eternity is to be made before your life on the earth ends. Many think they can live the way they want, disregarding God and His Word, living in selfishness and sin with no thought of eternity. We see in the story of Lazarus that in their after-life, there was a great chasm that divided the two places they were in. It is wrong to think that some rituals or prayers or pleading would get an exchange of place! Only the decision in one’s lifetime in the prescribed way that God has set for man’s salvation will do! Acts 4: 12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – that is the name of Jesus Christ! God sent His Son into the world that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life! (John 3:16).
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah whom Moses and the prophets spoke about. They interpreted the Scriptures according their convenience and advantage and justified their actions! Jesus came against their wrong perception! In the story when the rich man requests that Lazarus be sent to his brothers that they may not suffer the same plight as he was in now. But Jesus answer was: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31). What is implied here is that the Pharisees who couldn’t believe what the Scriptures spoke of Jesus, would not be convinced even though He would rise from the dead. We aren’t to put too much hope in signs and wonders to persuade people to believe in Jesus; the Word of God is a more convincing witness to Him than any miracle—God’s Word is the Holy Spirit’s primary tool in leading people to repentance (cf. John 16:7-15).
The lessons for today: we are not to put our trust in riches— for it cannot save: Proverbs 11: 4 [NLT] reminds us: “Riches won’t help on the day of judgment, but right living can save you from death.” Make your decision where you will spend eternity: Get right with God— accept Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour!
To heed: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)