Luke 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Jesus’ riveting story in Luke 16:19-31 carries us from time to eternity on the testimony of two men. One man is nameless. He is the first described and the last spoken to. He is rich, happy, but grossly neglectful of the suffering at his doorstep. The second man is suffering terribly, can find no human pity, but he has a name. Lazarus. Every man’s appointment overtakes both men. In death, Lazarus moves from temporal suffering to eternal comfort, the rich man from temporal comfort to eternal suffering.
And yet, the reversal of positions is only part of the significance of the story. Most of the story is given to the debate between Father Abraham and the rich man. The rich man, in his torment, first seeks comfort. ‘There is a chasm. Not possible.’ Then the rich man negotiates for his five brothers who, apparently, walk through time in the same spiritual blindness as the rich man. ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. It is enough.’ Then comes one of the most striking pictures in all of Scripture. The rich man, despite the horrid reality of his situation, hurls a defiant ‘no’ at Abraham. It is stunning to think that in the deepest consequences of the rejection of God, a human being can still defy heaven. Consider hell’s ‘no.’
Hell’s ‘no’ denies the adequacy of God’s word. Luke 16:29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ No, something more must be done. It cannot be as simple as taking God at his word in a trusting obedience. Give them something amazing. Give them some drama. Tickle them, tackle them, taunt them, do something! Yet it does not occur to the rich man that hell itself has made no impact on him.
Hell’s ‘no’ denies the adequacy of God himself. To deny his word is to deny him. But the rich man has a better idea than God. God hasn’t done enough. In fact, he would make a better God than God, if God would just move over. Listen to me… listen to hell… Listen to hell? Where did that begin?
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
In the wilderness, Jesus responded to temptation over and over in the same way. “It stands written.” What God has said was and is enough. Will we believe it?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
What a Savior!