Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 KJV
Here in the Upstate, the heat has been almost unbearable with temperatures near 100 degrees and no rain for weeks. The ground is parched red clay with cracks gaping for any drop of moisture. When I took fresh water to my chickens, I stood and watched as panting chickens dipped their beaks into the cool water, raised their heads, stretching their necks, allowing the drop to slide down their thirsty throats. Yes, the drop. Have you ever noticed that a bird or a chicken can only take a tiny drink? It made me think of the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus.
It seems the rich man had it all, nice house with a gate, nice clothes, plenty of food, probably even had a cook. Comfortable life I'd say. But there was a poor man named Lazarus, who lay outside the rich man's gate. He was covered in sores. He just wanted to eat the crumbs that were swept from under the rich man's table. What's more, the dogs came and licked Lazarus' sores. One day Lazarus died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man died too. The Bible says in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments. He saw Abraham and Lazarus. He begged Abraham, whom he called Father Abraham, to send Lazarus just to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue because he said, "I am tormented in this flame."
That's a hard thing to read, but Jesus didn't tell it as a parable. I think maybe he wanted to spare the rich man's family from the knowledge of their kinsmen being in the flames of hell. Jesus used Lazarus' name, maybe to comfort his family that Lazarus was in Paradise. But what was the difference in the lives of these two men? Was the rich man selfish, mean, hard to get along with? Probably not. Was Lazarus extra good in some way? No, "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10.) Sooo, why did God make a difference?
The rich man, since he knew to call Abraham, Father Abraham, I would say, he was raised as a good Jew. Probably attending synagogue regularly, giving a tithe of all he had, and probably did some praying. Jesus told of another rich man, a Pharisee, who did exactly that.(Luke 18:9-14) He went to the temple to pray, but his prayers were just bragging on himself. The publican who came to the temple to pray, stood off and beat his chest, begging God to be merciful because this man knew he was a sinner.
The difference between the rich man and Lazarus? - Lazarus had asked God for mercy and forgiveness. The rich man's good works hadn't gotten him anywhere but in the torment of flames.
It's a hard question for me to ask you, so I know it's a hard question to ask your own family. But, where would you be if you died tonight?
I pray you'd be in heaven.
I know as a child it's hard to imagine dying, but death is all around us.
It has been so long since it rained here, that my garden is dying.
My green beans feel dry and tough, like leather.
The pollen the bees carry to my squash die in the heat, so there are no squash.
Spend some time taking notice of how the summer heat and a cool rain affects the plants and animals in your neighborhood.
Consider the mercy and forgiveness that Jesus, the Water of Life, offers to each of us.
Has He made a difference in your life?