He said to them, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” –Jesus (Luke 16:31)
There are few books I have read twice and even fewer three times. One book that I have read three times is Les Miserable by Victor Hugo. What grips me about this story is the tension between law and grace, justice and love. Jean Val Jean was hungry and stole a piece of bread and spent decades in hard labor. The one illegal act of stealing bread led to a lifetime of struggle with the law. Yet he experienced grace, love, and freedom in the midst of the struggle. A new identity and path was formed in the light of this love and grace he experienced.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is “Those who do not weep, do not see”.
This is a profound statement, because in our pride and selfishness we do not see God or other people. We tend to only see the law and what they deserve. We do see our own desire for love and grace and sincerely believe we deserve these thing, but it is very hard to see other peoples need.
In Luke 16, Jesus told a story about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Jesus raised eyebrows in this story because he put the rich man in hell in torment and the beggar in heavenly bliss with Abraham. The Jewish people saw wealth and position as a blessing from God. They would have assumed the rich man was blessed and the poor man was cursed. Jesus saw this situation very differently. Jesus said the rich man never “saw” Lazarus. He walked past him every day and never gave him a second thought. I am sure he assumed Lazarus deserved his lot in life.
How many times do we walk past people without really seeing them? How does God see them? The gospel tells us we are no longer under law, but we live in Grace with Jesus Christ.
Are we listening to what God wants us to hear?
This is the most important question in our life time and one Jesus asked repeatedly.
Grace causes us to weep with others. To not judge their brokenness but to see our shared need for God’s love and redemption. With this view, we can truly love our neighbor without condemning them. We can love them and share with them the grace and blessing of our God in this lifetime and for all of eternity in Jesus Christ!