We have many illusions in life, including the sense it will go on and on. Death seems like an unwanted intrusion into a well-planned existence. But, in fact, though death often surprises us, it is inevitable. Not considering death and God’s reckoning when we are alive is utter foolishness, and the story of Lazarus and the rich man makes this tragic point.
Jesus is not giving a topography of the afterlife, or pushing the idea of strict rewards and punishments, but is adopting a familiar Jewish story, found in several sources, to make a point about the rich man. Dives, or the rich man, was a Sadducee, who did not believe in the reality of a life beyond life. He lived as if early existence was the only existence. Using his wealth selfishly, he ignored the needs of others, including Lazarus, whom he even knew by name. The rich man makes excuses, treats Lazarus as a lackey and then asks for help in warning his brothers of the reality of judgement. Here the traditional story shifts, for Jesus insists that those whose minds are closed will not change, even if supernatural emissaries implore them. If God’s justice shown in scripture does not move them, then nothing will.
Do you plan backwards, moving from the end toward your current goals and practices?
Who do you know who helps others with their wealth?