I am so blessed to have great parents. From the time I was born, my parents have been there for me. They provided a great environment for me to grow up in. I always knew they loved me and they cared. They were always at my sports games, programs, etc. I had every type of material thing I ever needed (clothes, transportation, food, entertainment, etc.) They believed in me and taught me to believe in God. I was (and am) extremely blessed. You don’t get to pick your parents . . . it is a Sovereign gift of God . . . and it is a gift of God I am very grateful for.
At Christmas time, my parents always gave me great gifts. I remember specifically the Star Wars “AT/AT Walker” I got one year on Christmas Eve. Another year I got a Huffy basketball goal for the driveway on Christmas morning. These cherished gifts were fun to open and provided hours of enjoyment.
At 39 years old, as I think back over the many blessings I have received from my parents, the Christmas gifts (as awesome as they were) pale in comparison to the more foundational gifts my parents gave me every day of my life.
I was thinking about this today as I read Luke 16:19-31 and the parable of the rich man and Lazarus:
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘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.’ 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.’ And he said, ‘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.’”
At the macro level, this parable is teaching of the realities of heaven and hell . . . of the reality that people die once, then comes the judgment (or their salvation). The parable teaches that the key testimony that must be responded to determining where someone spends their eternity is the testimony of “Moses and the prophets.” These Old Testament Scriptures ultimately pointed to the person of Jesus Christ who was fulfilling the Law even as He taught this parable to His followers. In other words, our faith (or lack of faith) in Jesus Christ will determine our eternal destiny. The gift of salvation . . . of saving us from an eternity in hell . . . is the most incredible gift that Jesus ever gave.
To be sure, Jesus gives us a number of other great gifts: the ability to relate well to others, spiritual gifts for service, material provision, etc. As someone who has walked with God for 24 years now, it is clear to me that those gifts pale in comparison to the Life-Giving Gift Jesus gave by saving us from hell.
This gift was given by Jesus and offered to all of us. While we are still on the earth, and while we still have time, let us take the opportunity to deliver this gift to others, encouraging them to open “it” in faith. After our death and theirs, a chasm develops over which no man can cross. Thankfully Jesus bore the cross to provide a way for us to receive the gift of eternal life. For this, all Christians are thankful and blessed.