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.
“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31, ESV). In Jesus’ saying from our Gospel reading this week, this is Abraham’s response to the rich man in torment, begging that a poor man in bliss should be sent from the dead to warn his brothers of the impending post-mortem judgment.
In today’s culture, as with certainly many in the past, Christians are alternatively mocked and asked to provide more proof for their eternal hope. Occasionally someone will be bold enough to ask the all-important question. “What proof will convince you of my point of view?” This challenge is regularly shrugged off. But when it is answered honestly, the genuine skeptic’s answer is, “There is nothing you could say which would make me believe you.” In a profoundly sad way, this brings the conversation to an end. Maybe we should talk about baseball instead of God’s eternal grace. Then we could disagree but there would be at least a shred of substance to our disagreement.
In this, Jesus has Abraham cut directly to the heart of the issue. Moses and the prophets, i.e., the entire Old Testament, spoke of the coming Messiah who would provide atonement for sin and gather God’s people to an eternal restoration. Then Jesus rose from the dead in the New Testament. Did everyone believe? No. But for those who did, we read that God has given eternal life and salvation, just as Jesus pictures for us in this poor man, Lazarus, who died in faith and is resting with Abraham.
For the hard of heart, even the resurrection of the dead is unconvincing. May the Lord have mercy on us. Thanks be to the God who creates in his people a living hope which will not perish or disappoint.
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