Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Testify - Some Afterthoughts on Luke 16:19-31

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’” --Luke 16:27-28 NKJV

Last Sunday I preached about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.  So often after the sermon, there’s still more to be said.  We just can’t fit everything into one sermon or we’d be there all day, right?  One area I didn’t cover is this request that the rich man makes for someone to go warn his brothers so that they don’t end up in eternal flames like he has.  It’s the rich man’s first act of selflessness.  Sadly it comes just a little too late.

The rich man’s request is that someone would go give solemn testimony to his brothers, to go be a witness.  Abraham points out that they have already heard the testimony of Moses and the prophets; they just need to listen better.

The final line of the parable is wonderfully rich with irony.
“And [the rich man] said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But [Abraham] said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” –Luke 16:30-31

The gospel stories are our witness, the testimony passed down through the ages, that Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the dead.  Jesus, the one who rose from the dead, is the one telling this parable.

How often do we fail to testify because we have the same thought as Abraham, “they won’t listen”?  And, sadly, maybe they won’t, but how sad not to try, even if we die trying.  Maybe that’s the idea, actually.  The Greek word Luke uses here is diamarturomaiThe root of that word is martýromai.  The English cognate word is martyr, a person who is killed because of their religious beliefs.  Sending someone to be a witness means whoever goes to tell must have seen and heard for themselves that what they have to say is true…and be willing to be killed for their message.

Hmmmm….this makes telling sound even harder.  Willing to die?  Is the message of the gospel really worth dying for? 

If it’s not, then what Jesus did was unnecessary.

One of the common conversations among Christians living their faith is that we can’t imagine how people without faith can handle all that comes with living this life. How do they have hope?  The reality is that it’s hard to know what you’re missing if you’ve never experienced it, or never heard about it.  People won’t be asking to hear about the gospel.  But they will ask how we handle life, and why we continue to have hope.

Honor Christ and let him be the Lord of your life. Always be ready to give an answer when someone asks you about your hope. –1 Peter 3:15

This is our testimony.  Not everyone will ask, and not everyone will listen, but if we tell, then at least we will have tried.  And who knows what will come of having planted the seed.

May God bless you as you testify to the resurrection through your words and your life.

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