With Jesus in Paradise

With Jesus in Paradise

Daily Reading: (Luke 16:22-24):

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores” (Luke 16:19-21).

Did you catch that last part? There was a beggar who was in need. His name is Lazarus (not to be confused with Jesus’ friend who He raised from the dead). I imagine where he slept and had his meals he encountered a lot of stray dogs. Have you ever met a dog before that liked to lick you? While Lazarus was ill-treated by man, the dogs showed kindness to him by licking the wounds on his body to help promote healing and reduce pain.

Jesus does a remarkable job of drawing us into the story of a man who is suffering and another who is extremely wealthy “dressed in purple”, the most expensive dye.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 19:22-24).

No matter how much you have there will be a time when death will come for all of us, except for the Rapture, but even then we are separated from our physical bodies. Jesus shows that the beggar is being carried by the angels whereas the rich man ends up in Hades. What is the message Jesus is trying to send? The message is that the blessings Israel had enjoyed in the Old Covenant are for all people moving into the New Covenant. The reason we know this is because we have to ask what do the two characters represent in this parable? 

The rich man must be Jewish as “he called to him ‘Father Abraham”. Only a Jewish person would have referred to Abraham in this way. The rich man in the story represents the nation of Israel (Luke 16:24). The nation of Israel had enjoyed dining at the table of the Lord’s abundance. Israel had been blessed because of God’s gracious promises to Abraham.

Abraham in his name reveals who he is. Genesis 17:5: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a “father of many nations” have I made thee.” Abraham would be the father of many nations or as Paul put it in Romans 4:16, “the father of all who believe.”

Now, Lazarus represents the Gentiles who longed to eat the crumbs from the rich man’s table.This should bring our minds to another story with Jesus and a Gentile Caananite woman. “The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”

Like the rich man, the nation of Israel had also received good things from the blessings promised to Abraham but they did not receive Jesus. In the story the rich man doesn’t have a name, why is that? The poor beggar is clearly known and Jesus calls him by his name, Lazarus. The reason Jesus does not say the rich man’s name is because he is one to whom Jesus will say, “Depart from me I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). The rich man is not lost because he was stingy with his wealth, he’s lost because he doesn’t know Jesus.

Why does Lazarus end up in a good place? Is it just because he is poor and suffered in life? Jesus provides clues as to why Lazarus’ fate is different. What did Lazarus do or say in the parable? Nothing. He did not say or do anything that would tell us why he was carried by angels. However, his name tells us the whole story, Lazarus means “God has helped”.  

Lazarus was found at Abraham’s side, but better yet we will be with Jesus. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Most Wanted List

Most Wanted List

Daily Reading: (John 12:1-2, 9-11):

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.”

To begin with we learn some interesting facts. Lazarus lived in Bethany. Bethany means either “house of affliction” or “house of figs” depending on the language of either Aramaic or Hebrew. Bethany was a lovely place at the foot of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. It was the perfect place for Jesus to stay right before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. At this moment in time the text tells us that we are only six days away from Passover. Jesus would be our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). At the third hour (9:00 AM), Israel’s high priest tied the Passover lamb to the altar for sacrifice. At that exact moment outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was nailed to the cross. For six hours both the Passover lamb and Jesus the Lamb of God, awaited death. Finally, at the ninth hour (3:00 PM), the high priest ascended the altar in the temple and sacrificed the Passover lamb.

At that exact moment from the Cross- Christ’s words thundered out over the city of Jerusalem, “It is finished!” Before this moment of victory- we are first brought to Bethany. Lazarus who had been brought back from the dead by Jesus was with Jesus. Through the Resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus declared that He is “the Resurrection and the Life and the one who believes in Him will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26). Jesus didn’t just declare He is the Resurrection through His words only but through His actions too. The proof that Jesus is the Resurrection is seen in Lazarus who is there with them all.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him” (John 12:1-2).

“Lazarus was reclining.” This means that Lazarus was enjoying himself, resting and relaxing with Jesus.Sometimes, the hardest thing for us to do is to sit down with Jesus and relax and simply enjoy time spent with Him. It is a challenge to cease from our own efforts and enter into His rest. Rely solely in Jesus’ unmerited favor is what we must strive to do.

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel” (John 12:12-13)!

The people shouted, “hosanna” but what is hosanna?

If you look up hosanna in the Greek you find out there is no such word. What they did is they took the Hebrew word and they tried to copy the sound of it in the Greek. The crowd shouted and the sound they made sounded like hosanna. Hosanna is actually not a Hebrew word at all either, it is a Hebrew phrase. Hoshiya na. is found only one time in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, “Save, please!” It is a cry to God for help.

So, if you grew up with older brothers and sisters in your household you knew the concept of the word hosanna. I hear it every week in my house. “Save me daddy.” Because someone bigger and stronger (our older brother) has taken us captive and all we can do is shout out for someone bigger and stronger than ourselves (daddy) to intervene in our situation. Do for us what we are powerless to do for ourselves. So, the Jewish pilgrims are heading into Jerusalem their hometown which is currently occupied by the bigger stronger Romans and they are shouting, “hosanna” because they believe someone stronger has arrived. “Jesus, save us from the Romans.” They should be shouting hosanna, but for a different reason. An even stronger enemy has you captive, save us from sin and death.

So, the only instance we have of hosanna being used before this point in history is what David wrote in the Psalms, but Jesus elevated hosanna to a much higher level. David prayed, “please Lord save us” (Psalm 118:25). God’s answer to David’s prayer was Jesus (John 12:13), “your salvation has come.”

Something happened to that phrase, hoshiya na (hosanna) took on new meaning with Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem. Jesus changed everything. Hosanna was no longer a cry for help as in “save us now” it changed into a shout of hope and exultation, it became “salvation has come!” It is the hope and joy within an individual who sees that salvation is on the way.

And so “Hosanna to the Son of David!” means, “The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!” He has come to rescue us, to deliver us. They are excited because they have living proof (Lazarus) of what Jesus could do.

“So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him” (John 12:10-11).

The reason Lazarus was a threat was because his testimony of what God had done in his life, was resulting in people receiving everlasting Resurrection life through Jesus. We all who believe, have a powerful story of what Jesus has done in our life, just like Lazarus. As you reflect on what Christ has done for you, by relaxing, resting, and spending time with Jesus, being in the presence of the Lord, God’s grace will flow to you and through you, resulting in other’s receiving the salvation of the Lord.