The parable of Jesus to look at with you today is the story of "rich man and beggar Lazarus". This parable also contains various implications and reversals. Above all, the parable today contains a serious topic such as “heaven and hell”. In recent years, the church has spoken about heaven, but it is said that it rarely talks about hell. Someone said, “Since the church hesitates to speak hell, “hell” is the most spoken word in the world.” It seems that the church does not talk much about hell. This is true for me. The theme of hell is as important as the theme of heaven. It seems like it is too scary, or it is an uncomfortable story to hear.
However, if you look at the words of Jesus, Jesus has talked many stories about heaven, and hell. This tells us that knowing hell is meaning. Today I want to share some features of Heaven and Hell with you.
When I was young, there was a word my mother used to tell me. 'People who believe in Jesus should live well.' The word "living well" may have many meanings, but my mom’s meaning was "You must live as a rich man." And my mother has worked so hard not to shame God. Maybe you have earnestly believed in the teachings that if you believe in Jesus, you should be rich. This message was overflowed because Korea was poor at that time.
“Believe in Jesus, and you become rich and strong” However, there is a tendency to interpret this in this way. When we are healthy and rich we are blessed with God, and when we are sick and poor, we have a belief that we are being punished by God.
Connecting health and wealth to God's blessings is not only today’s belief. There was the same faith in those who were hearing the parable of Jesus. There was a belief that the rich man was blessed by God, and that the poor man was the one who was cursed by God. Therefore, the rich man who received the blessing of God became the subject of respect, but the beggar who was cursed by God became the object of contempt. The rich man had the belief that he would receive the blessing of God and prosper in this land, and that he would go to heaven when he died. On the other hand, beggars were believed to be cursed by God and punished on this earth, and when they die, they will go to hell. So, people wanted to be rich. The Pharisee also wanted to be like the rich. They believed that the rich man lives well. However, there is a reverse in the parable of Jesus. A rich man who is likely to go to heaven was going to hell. People might be shocked.
I asked two questions through a parable. Why did the rich go to hell? How did beggar go to heaven? But before we answer this question, let's look at it first. “What is heaven and hell?”
Let us first examine the heaven and hell Jesus mentioned through today's parable.
Most of all, I want you to see what hell looks like. If you know what hell is, you will know where the heavens are.
The hell in the parable is a place full of pain and the place where the pain lasts. In fact, if you think about it, the life that beggars Lazarus experiences was hell. Poverty continued. Hunger continued. He was wounded and torn, but he could not be cured. Lazarus' life was full of pain and sorrow, but there was no sign of improvement. Hell is the place where this pain and suffering is full.
The reason why for hell is scarier because this pain is not solved. Although there is a thirst, and it is a hell where it is never solved.
I've been able to realize what thirst is. I went to Hong Kong for a short-term mission in my first year at university. I might not remember everything because it was a scene that I still can’t forget. I toured Hong Kong city before I returned to Korea after finishing all the schedule. It was very hot that day, and there was no place to drink for any reason. My thirst was so bad that my head hurts so much. So, I went to a fast food restaurant nearby. Of course, I drank a lot of. I learned how painful it is, if thirst is not resolved
Listen to what the rich man asks of Abraham.
'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
What we are noticing is that a drop of water is not a big deal, but Abraham rejected the rich man's request. The reason is that the distance between hell and heaven is too far away, and that there are no connections.
" And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."
Hell is where thirsty will last for eternity.
It is also the same reason when we express that our lives are like hell. When our thirst remains unresolved, our lives change like hell. That is why Lazarus lived in parables and experienced hell. What Lazarus wanted from the rich man was in fact very trivial. Lazarus had only a desire to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. But the hope was not fulfilled. Because the rich man did not care about the beggar Lazarus. So the life of Lazarus was more like hell: no one didn’t take care of him although he was hurt and hungry.
What place is heaven? In a word, heaven is where 'comfort' is.
"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.
Heaven is comforting, and hell is a place where even a drop of water, a little comfort, is not allowed. When we think about our lives, if there is a little comfort in our lives, it becomes heaven. No matter how we eat delicious food and wear good clothes, if we do not have the water to release our thirst, it is very painful.
If you feel like your life is like hell, it is because there is little "comfort" in your life. If our home is like hell it is also because there is no 'comfort'. On the other hand, if you family is like heaven, it is because of 'comfort'. I want your family to be like heaven.
But what we can understand from the text is the amount of comfort we need. The comfort that Lazarus had hoped was so little. It was a little food that fell on the rich man's table. The comfort that the rich man desired was a drop of water taken from the tip of Lazarus' hand. Food that fell from the rich man’s table, a drop of water, these things are not that bad, but these things are comforting to some people. It is very meaningful to separate heaven and hell.
What is the secret of our church to become heaven? What is the secret to our home becoming heaven? The secret is 'comfort'. More precisely, it is a 'little up'.
To a person who is hungry is a spoonful of rice. It is clothes that will warmly cover old clothing to a poor person. For those who have a lot of thirst, comfort is a bottle of water. The comfort required for the wound of the heart is a hug for him. It is not just someone who can be special, but what we can do.
The rich man in the parable is not such a bad person. He did not commit a great sin to point out to people. He would have kept the law well. He lived a life that everyone envied. It was considered to be a person to go to heaven. But this man could not go to heaven. Because he did not care about the thing that was in his house. He certainly knew the identity of Lazarus. However, he did not give anything to the brother who lives in suffering.
What God wants us to do is very small. God did not tell us to devote our lives to others. God did not ask us to devote our entire wealth to others. It requires small things like "crumbs" on the surface. It's nothing to show us that it can comfort someone. In fact, it is the amount of comfort we need. It seems to us that we can live with as much comfort. Then, our lives will be like heaven. It is pleasant and peaceful to live. One drop of water to cool rich man’s tongue can make him feel like heaven in hell.
Can we comfort someone? Can you hold on to someone in trouble and difficulty?
We send some food to Japanese missionaries once a month. They would contact me occasionally to receive the food they receive and receive a lot of comfort. One day I have been asking a question carefully. Chocolate came from England, and they wondered if you ever sent chocolate. So I answered 'Yes'. If chocolate has comforted them, do you believe me.
God did not rebuke rich man's lavish life. It is a money earned by working hard, but it is a right to use it freely for oneself. But God had asked him one thing. It was food that fell from his table. This might make Lazarus happy. I thought that God had asked the rich man for the amount of comfort he could have comforted. This is not a difficult task. The rich man did not know it and lost the opportunity to comfort Lazarus.
Finally, Heaven is not a place to go because of his own righteousness and good ancestry.
The unusual part of the parable of Jesus is that the rich man who has been given the respect of the people is not named, but to the beggar who is subject only to the interest of the people is called 'Lazarus'. The name "Lazarus" means God is his helper. In fact, "Lazarus" was a person who could live only by God's help. The rich man, on the other hand, could live without any help of God. He is also the man who could say that Abraham was "Father." For the rich man, Abraham would have been proud because Abraham was his ancestor. But that did not lead him to heaven.
“Religious zeal, great ancestors, and tremendous wealth” have not led him to heaven.
Heaven is the place to go by God's help. It has nothing to do with your situation. It does not matter whatever people’s evaluation is. It is a scene in a parable that God helps, comforts, and exalts God to those who want to be helped by God. This is the Gospel. We must believe that heaven is not a place to go with our own righteousness, but only with the help of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Especially, we live in the United States, enjoying numerous benefits. What the Lord wants us to do is help our neighbors even though small thing. I hope that your live is to be comfort to others. The amount of comfort we need may be a very small.
Heaven is the place of comfort. The secret of our home becoming heaven is "comfort". We must pray for this. Because we often do not realize it.
“To comfort” It is the key to divide heaven and hell. Just as the Holy Spirit comforts us, we hope to live a life of comfort and support for those who live a difficult and tough life.