So what would you do if an old friend you hadn’t seen for a long while suddenly appeared at your front door?
I mean, the last time you saw them was a couple of years ago, while attending a funeral.
Now, they are standing on your front step, ringing your doorbell. What would you do?
If it was possible for someone to come back from the dead, would they be the most effective evangelist in the world? Would anyone listen to what they had to say?
If someone who had died and gone to hell, was allowed to return for a two week preaching engagement, would anyone pay attention? Would anyone attend their meetings? What if they reeked of sulphur? Would YOU listen?
With all the focus these days on zombies, including a sandwich shop called Zombie Burger, I found myself wondering about something Jesus said.
In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus spoke of Abraham conversing with a rich man, who had met a very unpleasant tragedy; he had died and found himself in Hades.
The place of the damned.
Now at that time, since Jesus hadn’t yet paid for mankind’s transgressions, those who died believing and trusting in God, were taken to a place of rest and comfort; as they awaited the finished work of Christ.
The place was called Abraham’s Bosom.
It was a place which could be seen by those in the place of the damned, but that was all. There wasn’t any way to bridge the gap between the two places.
Somehow, though, the rich man was heard by Abraham when he called to him.
The man, being in torment, said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 ESV)
(Notice the man’s heart hadn’t changed; he still had a sense of arrogance about him.)
“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’” (Luke 16:25-26 ESV)
Imagine the rich man. Growing up, he ignored all the “religious dogma” (as he liked to call it), but now it was too late. To be trapped forever in the place of the damned, to know he was wrong and others were right, and to sit there day in and day out thinking about his family and loved ones…
Well, if he couldn’t get some relief, maybe he could find a way to warn them. Maybe Abraham would help him.
“So the rich man said to Abraham, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house – for I have five brothers – so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:27-31 ESV)
Let’s just suppose Lazarus WAS allowed to go back and evangelize the rich man’s family. Why would they believe Lazarus, who before was nothing more than a decrepit old man; a poor specimen of a human being?
Why would they listen to someone whose whole purpose in life was to give the mangy stray dogs something to lick?
What could Lazarus possibly know?
Abraham said, “If they won’t believe Moses and Prophets (the Word of God) then they won’t believe someone who rose from the dead.”
And isn’t that the case today?
There IS Someone Who went to the lowest place of Hades, the place of the damned, in order to pay mankind’s debt to sin.
But He didn’t stay there! And when He arose, He left the chains of death behind as well as the smell of sulfur. He said, in fact, “…behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18 ESV)
The Psalmist David, prophesying of Jesus many years prior, said, “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:10-11 ESV)
After three days He arose, leading captivity captive and giving gifts to men (Ephesians 4:8). He fulfilled all the words of Moses and the Prophets. Nothing’s been left undone.
But people find it hard to believe in something they cannot see. Yet, many times when they DO see, they say, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing!”
So what do you think you’d do if that old, dead friend suddenly knocked at your front door?
I suggest you run and find your Bible. Because if you’re going to believe anything, it’s going to be the word of God.
Zombies may be all the rage, but I wouldn’t give you two cents for their credibility.