Life after death - 13 March 2019

Neville Turley

“What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God's knowledge of me.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

No matter how much we allow our imagination to run riot, it is difficult to anticipate what heaven will be like when our Lord welcomes us home. How will it be when time ceases to exist, and we are no longer earth bound?

The Word of God gives us many glimpses into life beyond the grave. It reveals that we do not lose our own identity and personality. You are still you, I am still me. 

Death does not rob of our powers of recognition nor our memory of those we have left behind. What joy it will be when we are reunited with those loved ones who went before us. Imagine the wonder of meeting many believers whom we know only through the pages of the Bible and records of their witness.

Jesus parable about the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, gives a penetrating insight into life after death. The rich man lived in the lap of luxury. He was selfish and felt nothing for the beggar at his gate. Lazarus lived in abject poverty and pain.  Covered with ulcerated sores, he had to be carried each day to the street alongside the rich man’s house. There he waited in the hope that some scraps of food from the rich man’s table would be flung in his direction. He was so weak and defenceless, he could not even ward off the dogs that licked his sores.

God knew both their hearts. Lazarus died and went to heaven. The rich man died and went to hell. In hell despite his torment he was deeply concerned about his five brothers. He did not want them to suffer his fate. 

He appealed to Abraham to send Lazarus to warn them but to no avail. “Abraham said, ‘Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them; your brothers should listen to what they say.’ The rich man answered, ‘That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.” (Luke 16:29-31)

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is unique among the many parables of Jesus. It is the only one where our Lord names one of the characters. Lazarus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar which means “God is my helper”.

Is our Lord by naming Lazarus teaching us that no matter how desperate our situation may be we should not lose hope? Instead we should remember Lazarus and hold fast onto those golden words – God is my helper.

Prayer: Merciful Father grant us grace to lead lives dedicated to your glory.  This we ask in Jesus name.  Amen

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