“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Because we know the rest of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we know the closing lines to this unusual parable serve as a prophetic warning. Jesus understood that many people in his own Jewish culture were not living in faith and obedience to God’s word, signified here as not listening to Moses and the Prophets. These people may have acted religious and fallen into the trap of self-righteousness, like the rich man who trusted in the luxuries of his wealth. Jesus pointed out, through the guise of his parable, that some who listened to his teaching were, in fact, not following scripture, not honoring God and therefore not prepared to respond faithfully to the Savior who would soon die and rise again.
With hearts of faith, we struggle to fathom how people could fail to be convinced by the testimony of someone who has risen from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is the lynchpin of our faith, the life-giving truth at the heart of the gospel. We rejoice in the Easter story as the heart and soul of our own lives. Those without faith, however, aren’t moved by the resurrection. They might deny that it ever happened. They might dismiss it as religious myth. They might explain away its significance in numerous ways and end up in the same position of unbelief as those to whom Jesus told his story. Even if someone rises from the dead, some people won’t believe.
We are left, then, with the desperate cry of the rich man, begging for someone to tell his family how they can escape his terrible fate. Warn them, please, before it’s too late! We should take these words to heart, as we pray for family members, friends and neighbors who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior. We believe that Jesus is the only hope for salvation and the only way to eternal life. He died and rose again that we might live with God forever. That is the good news, and we join with Jesus in sharing his message of salvation with those in need.Heavenly Father, fill me with the assurance of Your love and the steadfast hope of new life through Jesus. I believe in His resurrection and trust in Your promise that one day I will enter Your glory. As I rejoice in the grace You offer me, help me also to share Jesus’ love and message with others. I pray in my Savior’s name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian
Broadway Covenant Church
Rockford, IL 61108