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Week 2 October 2023, Devotion Part 2

He said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.” Luke 16:31

The dialog between the rich man and “Father Abraham” clarifies much. The soul he feasted and fattened in life was not destined for demise, but dreadful self-perpetuation. Burning regret consumes him, but in vain he pants for cooling mercies. The fool grows desperate to warn his brothers, but is denied that errand. Neither can Lazarus be pried from Abraham’s bosom. The chasm separating the two is fixed in the here and now, not in some iffy by and by. God’s ancient Word unpacks this truth plainly, but packed audiences want their ears tickled by today’s drugged survivors of “clinical death.”

Christ’s reference to “Father Abraham” was designed to sting. The self-righteous in His audience used the term to denote their foolproof religious pedigree. Jesus minced no words when he stripped away such illusions, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:39-59). Christ’s snapshot of hell in this story differs from the silly cartoon images we often encounter. When will the silly Christian stop playing the fool with cultural perceptions and start nourishing his own Word-starved soul with God’s binding truth? We pass from death into life on this side of the grave! (Part 2 of 2)

Comment: Death is a harsh reality that begs to be sugarcoated. Let’s make it “superficially attractive and acceptable,” or “excessively sentimental.” That explains the Sugar Skull Makeup worn on the Day of the Dead. That’s when spirits visit their families on earth and are pleased with altars displaying whiskey, cigars, or sweets. While visiting a cemetery in Hawaii, I marveled at the several dead beer guzzlers. I can buy this all much better if I think back to crossing the border into Austria at war’s end and seeing an ossuary near the entrance to a church. It was stacked with skulls and bones and shocked me almost as much as my God-fearing mother smuggling some attractively priced meat through Swiss customs. It anybody is looking for the truly ghastly and ghoulish, go visit Palermo’s Capuchin monastery with Rick Steves, the celebrity travel writer exploring Sicily. It outgrew the original cemetery in the 16th century and began lining its corridors with thousands of corpses.. Most of them look extra grotesque because of the clothes the monks make them wear as befits their idea of a museum. Mexico’s colorful Día de los Muertos offers welcome relief to the repulsed. The artistry is impressive and the small ceramic skulls embellished with flowers at the entrance to my grocery store could be called cute. “Cute” and the harsh reality of death don’t mesh. I crave “Christian.” Three New Testament images convey true perspective: 1) Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. 2) Jesus telling Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” 3) Our Savior telling the penitent dying thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 16


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