October 31, 2016
Who’s got time for dead people?
For various cultures around the world, tomorrow is a holiday. Driven by church traditions – often consolidated with pagan practices – a commemoration was planted on the calendar to focus on the dead. The 1st of November became All Saints Day – or, in the Mexican Catholic approach, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) – devoted to relatives, friends and others who had passed on.
The institutional church declared All Saints Day as a time to remember the good done by the dead. The Day of the Dead alternative was the chance to pray for the passed; presumably, to better their chances of, ultimately, achieving heaven.
Jesus had some great insight about the relationship connections that continue between the living and the dead… but his insights are often missed in the traditions of religion. Consider this story he told; it wasn’t presented as a fictional parable, but – instead – as a real-life account of a real-dead “winner:”
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 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.’
“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. 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.’
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“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.’” (Luke 16:19-31)
Instead of the living thinking about the dead on a holiday, Jesus said that the dead were thinking about the living, in Hades (the temporary abode of lost people while awaiting their judgment). What do the lost think about while they ponder their eternal future, apart from God?
According to Jesus, the formerly self-indulgent rich man has become a proponent of the Great Commission. He still thinks about himself, first (“…have pity on me”), but his next request had to do with saving his still-living family (“…send Lazarus to my family… let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment…”).
Mis-guided religion asks the living to pray for the dead. The Lord Jesus says that the dead are praying for the living. Their one request: that their loved ones will be warned to repent and be saved, while there’s still time.
Jesus says that God has done his part; “Moses and the Prophets” symbolize the Scriptures, which give the roadmap that leads from the Land of the Living to the place of Real Life, prepared as a destination for those who have a relationship with the One who rose from the dead.
Some will focus on the dead tomorrow. The smartest move: focus on the living dead, every day… and tell them how they can have life, everlasting.