We too easily look straight past the plight of others in need, but God sees and cares for everyone.
16 ‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18 ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
19 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 ‘The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, “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.”
25 ‘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. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
27 ‘He answered, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.”
29 ‘Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”
30 ‘“No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”
31 ‘He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”’
Can you remember a time when you were unseen? Maybe you tried to join a group conversation and no one noticed, or had your hand up to answer a question in class and not been chosen, or been ignored in the workplace…or perhaps, like me, you were always left until last when captains chose sides for sport at school – no one needs to call out your name when you’re the last one left!
Perhaps your example is more extreme, and closer to that of Lazarus in this story. His is a dire case – starving, laid by others because he could not take himself, at the gate of a wealthy man, hoping to be noticed. I cannot imagine the awfulness of being so close to luxury and indulgence yet denied even the scraps from the table of others. I cannot imagine the indignity of begging, of being so sick and so uncared for that I am not even protected from stray dogs licking my wounds. I doubt the rich man knew Lazarus by name during his life on earth. I imagine everyone knew the rich man’s name. Even after they have both died, Lazarus is only acknowledged by the rich man for his potential service to the man or perhaps his brothers. As Jesus tells this story, he gives Lazarus the dignity of a name, but not the rich man.
After their deaths, a great reversal takes place. Suddenly it becomes clear that all is known – and always has been known – by God, who has seen both Lazarus and the neglect of the rich man. How wonderful now for Lazarus to be carried by angels to Abraham’s side!
Jesus himself has known what it is to be despised, rejected, tormented, and left to die an agonising death. He too was raised after death – to the very side of God the Father. Unlike Lazarus, though, Jesus is able to save others – us – anyone who seeks him – from the eternal consequence of living only for ourselves in this earthly life.
Head: Who are the people in your life who you easily look past or walk past, instead of stopping to acknowledge and care for? Why do you that?
Heart: Remembering your own story of being unseen by others, allow compassion for that person or people to take root and grow in your heart. Give thanks to God that you are never unseen by him.
Hands: Do something this week to let them know that you see them and care – just as God has seen and cared for you.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you see, know, and care for me. Thank you that however I have been overlooked and neglected by others in this life, you have given your all for my sake. Thank you that no injustice is overlooked by you. Please help me by your Holy Spirit to see others, as you have seen me. Please open my eyes and heart to them and enable and strengthen me to be an instrument of your kindness to them so that they too might know the depth of your love for them. In Jesus name, and so that you might be glorified, Amen
A song to listen to: Who You Say I Am
Living Church, Creek Road.