Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
As is often the case, so this week, the appointed Gospel reading from Luke 16:19-31 ties together the other readings. All have had an element of not depending upon ourselves. Most recently, the Epistle reading showed us two types of leaders who will work to strengthen God’s people and direct them to Jesus. Now, Jesus tells of a rich man and a poor man. Socially and economically they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Yet they are both the same in a very important way. Both have died. Both have faced judgment. Both are in the place of their destiny. Both are judged based on whether they were believing in God’s mercy in life.
The poor man had nothing to trust in but God’s mercy. Or so we think. Actually, he could have been embittered by his bad situation. He could have trusted in the dogs who befriended him. He could have trusted in the rich man or the rich man’s servants who provided him with what he needed. He could have trusted in his street smarts, or at least those he used to have. But he didn’t. He trusted in God’s mercy. When we find him after his death he is in paradise.
The rich man had many things to trust in aside from God’s mercy. He could have trusted in his authority, his riches, his earthly power. It appears from the passage that maybe he trusted the message his family had given him, as he asks for someone to go tell his family the truth. Yet none of these things should have made it impossible for him to have trusted God’s mercy, just like the poor man. However, he was rewarded with eternal torment, rather than eternal bliss.
How quick are we to discount the means which God has provided and revealed in Scripture? There are many people in our surrounding culture who will trust anything other than the biblical words which can give them life. Jesus describes God, not Lazarus or the rich man, as being on the throne, deciding their eternal disposition. What does God require? Trust in him. Nothing more, nothing less. Think about the implications. What proof do we need? What proof are we going to be given in this life? May the Lord increase our faith.
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