There is a harrowing parable from Luke 16 that is often preached by those "hellfire" orators that want to scare all of us into heaven. While that isn't my cup of tea, I will acknowledge that if a message brings someone to repentance and salvation, I am all for it. So, I don't preach from this passage to focus our attention on the subjects of heaven and hell, one obvious point of this parable. My focus will be on the ending of the parable ... the real thing that separates us from God, paradise and a close relationship with our loving heavenly father.
We've all heard the parable. Lazarus was poor and essentially had nothing. He died outside of a rich man's gate and is carried to 'the bosom' (close proximity) of Abraham at God's banquet table. God makes sure Lazarus was fed and comforted in eternity, unlike his poverty in temporary life. The rich man, who ignored the plight of Lazarus, dies and was in eternal torment. The parable recounts the conversation between the rich man and Abraham. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus on errands, including bringing him some cold water and warning his brothers about the reality/horror of eternal hell. Abraham tells Lazarus several things.
Lazarus is reminded of the great, impassable chasm that exists between paradise and hell. Abraham says it cannot be crossed by anyone. Then Abraham tells Lazarus about another chasm.
The point of the parable is brought out in the punchline. In this parable, Abraham describes how God has endeavored to inform and enlighten us about who He is, the realities of life and God's truth that has been offered to all of us (including Lazarus' brothers). God has sent His truth through Moses (the Pentateuch) and the Prophets. Abraham says, "Your brothers can read them!" Abraham also reminds Lazarus that his brothers shouldn't hold their breath looking for someone to come back from the dead to warn them ... he says, "if they won't listen to Moses, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead." That statement should lead us to see clearly the third point. Jesus, who has told us what the prophets said and who has completed (fulfilled) the law, is telling us this parable. Jesus will be tortured, crucified and will rise from the dead on the third day, continuing to proclaim the truth of the law, the prophets and God's true word. Jesus is the third part of this warning. He is the last and only way that this great chasm can be crossed.
In a world filled with lies, half-truths, false teachers and politicized religion, Jesus cuts to the chase. Know the Scriptures and read them. And if someone returns from the dead to warn us to care for the poor, know God's word and stop worshiping our lifestyles, we had better listen! What say you? Randy