Luke 16:19-31 (Continued)
This story that Jesus tells is a Jewish one, for sure. The audience was well aware of Father Abraham, Moses and the prophets. As Christian believers, we usually don’t think of becoming a Christian because of Moses and the prophets. We usually become Christians because of Jesus and His disciples, but for many, Jesus, the disciples, Moses and the prophets are all not enough for them to believe. This parable of Lazarus deals with the “evidence” issue when trying to convince people about God.
After we become Christians, it is easy to think that if we could only explain Christianity more clearly, people would believe, or if they only could see a miracle or a prophesy come true right before their eyes they would believe. In this parable, Jesus says this not how it works. If we think back about when we were saved, most of us will realize that it wasn’t because of evidence that we believed, but because we were suddenly able to perceive the evidence. It usually isn’t that we were denied evidence that we failed to believe, although in some cases we may have been denied some evidence. Belief usually happens when the blindness of unbelief comes off of the eyes of our minds, allowing us to think in a different way.
Notice that the rich man, after he finds out that Lazarus can’t help him, asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers so that they don’t go to Hades. Abraham explains that they already have enough information to convince them to come, but the rich man says that if someone were to raise from the dead that they would believe. Abraham then says that if they “don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.” This might be hard to believe if it weren’t for the fact that it is exactly true today. Jesus had not yet raised from the dead and told the world that He and Hell was very real. But, just as Jesus said in this story, people still don’t believe. In fact, we know from the Book of Revelation that someday men will not believe even when Jesus comes back and rules the the earth for 1000 years in perfect peace. Revelation tells us that an army will form at the end and they will still attempt to attack Jesus.
The real problem that people have that keeps them from belief in Jesus is not that they don’t have enough evidence. It is that they are prisoners of their own sin. None of us would have believed if it wasn’t for God drawing us to Himself. It is important that we have evidence for what we believe in because belief in Jesus is to be an intelligent belief, but we should understand that even with all the evidence, mankind chooses to violate truth in order to fulfill their own desires. We must pray for and ask God to soften their hearts so that they can believe.
Notice that, in this story, Jesus makes it very clear that we only get to choose which side to be on when we are here on earth. Jesus set it up so that we must believe and trust in Him in order to be saved. The gulf will separate us no matter how “reformed” we become in the afterlife. Now is the time for reformation. Now is the time for salvation. When we die, it will be too late. It simply isn’t worth the risk.