Jesus has been speaking about what our true values should be. This began when the Pharisees and scribes were criticizing Him because He so willingly received “tax-gatherers and sinners”. They were quick to acknowledge what they believed to be the value of money and worldly possessions…but failed miserably to recognize the greater value of people, all people…even sinful people. So, Jesus told a parable (15:1-32) that had three stories in it…each speaking of the value of something that had been lost, and then found. The third story is what we refer to as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The younger of two sons was the prodigal. He had wrong values, realized his error, and repented (he represented the tax-gatherers and sinners). The older brother had wrong values, as well, but did not repent (he represented the Pharisees). The intent of this parable-in-three-parts…was to reveal God’s love for that which is lost, that being lost people. And, God’s joy when they are returned. Next, Jesus told the Parable of the Unfaithful Steward (who was judged for mishandling funds). The intent of this parable was to demonstrate that our life on earth has an affect on our life in Heaven. Keeping in mind the context of this teaching…we are aware that Jesus is still teaching about the value of people. So, the way that we treat people here in this life, will have a direct affect upon how we are treated in Heaven. He then accused the Pharisees of bending the law so that it appeared to benefit them…because “they were lovers of money” (:14-18). His point…they may fool other people by their outward appearances of piety, but God knows the heart and He is perfectly aware of their true values, motives, and ambitions (:19). They could twist and distort the teachings of the “Law and the Prophets” all that they wanted to…in order to justify their actions…to enable them to use people for their own benefit (:18)…but in the end, those teachings will remain the same (:17) and ultimately they will be judged by them according to God’s interpretation. What you do in this earthly life, will have an affect in your eternal life.
Luke 16:19-31-Jesus now tells a parable about money…and wrongly valuing it more than anything else, especially people. It is a parable about a rich man and a poor man (named Lazarus)…both of them died. Notice how dramatically Jesus distinguishes between the situations of the two men while they were on earth. The one man was “rich”, he “habitually” dressed in the finest of clothing, “gaily” living “every” day. On the other hand, the “poor” man was “laid” at the gate (being so weak from hunger and sickness that he was unable to even get there by himself), “covered” with sores (quite a distinction from what covered the rich man), “longing” for the bare minimum of food just to survive, and even worse, his life was in constant threat as the “dogs” wandering the streets were constantly around just waiting for him to die so that they could make a meal of him. Both received the results of what they valued on earth…Lazarus went to Heaven, and the rich man went to Hades (Hell).
16:23 in Hades. The unseen world in general, but specifically here the abode of the unsaved dead between death and judgment at the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15)…In this saying, the Lord taught: (1) conscious existence after death; (2) the reality of torment in hell; (3) no second chance after death; and (4) the impossibility of the dead communicating with the living (v. 26). The two men in this story illustrate two different lives, two different deaths, and two different destinations.
In Hades, the rich man recognized Abraham from “far away”…he was in Heaven. We are not told how this is possible…but it is a disturbing thought that those who go to Hell will be aware of Heaven, and be unable to do anything to change their fate (this awareness could be one of the worst punishments of Hell). The rich man appeals to Abraham for help. Abraham told him that he had “received” (got what he valued) on earth…but when Lazarus had come to him for help he did not help him. This showed the rich man’s true values…he had valued possessions, over people. Now, Lazarus is being “comforted” in Heaven. In other words…there are those in Heaven who are doing the very things that the rich man should have done on earth. For both of them, their present situation is eternal (:26). The rich man then pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers about Hell. But, Abraham tells the rich man that the Scriptures are adequate for people to know what is to come, and what to do about it (:27-31).
Prayer: Lord, there are so many people around me that I could help. Please show me how to help them in the most effective manner with what You have entrusted to me.