As a pastor, three occasions would rise that were times of individual devotion, that is, times when specific people were being addressed rather than the normal Sunday preaching to a congregation. Baptisms were for addressing the parents of a child or the adult being baptized and everyone else just witnessed the event. Weddings were to address the son-to-be married couple, giving them advice to have a long fruitful marriage and everyone else just witnessed the event. Funerals, however, were not about preaching wisdom to the departed so they could have a good afterlife. Everyone present for the deceased’s life was now being addressed. I tried to take this event the most seriously. I first wanted to comfort those who were grieving but I never took for granted that anyone gathered may be looking for answers, insight, or direction for their own life… and that some needed it whether they were looking or it or not.
Jesus seems to model this in Luke 16. The Pharisees have tried to corner Jesus again and He takes advantage of the captive audience. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells the story of a rich man and Lazarus. It is important to note, nowhere does Luke say this is a parable. All characters are named to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. A rich man had a beggar that sat at his gates daily begging for food and relief from his afflictions. It is clear that the rich man does little if anything to contribute to Lazarus’ life. The time comes when both are dead, and one joins Abraham and the other is in Hades. The rich man pleads for mercy, from the beggar he refused to show mercy from in life. When none is available, he turns to pleading for his family to be visited by Lazarus so they do not end up where he is now. Abraham dismisses his request due to the fact that the Law of Moses and the Prophets would spare them if the rich man’s family would listen and obey. When the rich man insists that they will listen if someone from the dead told them, they will believe it then. Jesus then hits them with the truth: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Why do we wait for lightning, a celebrity, or a tragedy to listen to what we were told by reliable sources close to us? I was a typical kid that thought his father was stupid and didn’t know how life worked now. He told me that the closer I got to turning 21, the smarter he would get. I took that to mean that he would figure life out by the time I graduated college. What I found was that I would realize how brilliant he had been my whole life by the time I turned 21 and realized how little I knew. So I leave you with my favorite quote of his. “A word to the wise, is sufficient.”
Do I give more authority to a celebrity or my friends than I give to Jesus?
Do I wait until things get bad to correct my life to what Scripture says?