What’s Convincing

Jesus once told a story about a rich man and a man named Lazarus. It was in the context of his confrontation with the religious leaders of his day. Jesus explained that no one can serve two masters–meaning that one cannot serve both money and God. Then he told them that divorcing their wives to marry another was still adultery since they were divorcing one woman just so they could sleep with another–and simply preserving the legal niceties didn’t change what was in their heart. Finally, he told the story about a beggar named Lazarus who contented himself with eating what fell from a rich man’s table. But when the rich man and the beggar Lazarus died, Lazarus wound up with Abraham in paradise, while the rich man was tormented in flames. First, the rich man begged that Lazarus be permitted to put a drop of water on his tongue. Abraham denied the request, pointing out that the rich man had lived well on earth while Lazarus suffered and so now that situation was reversed. Besides, it wasn’t possible: there was a gulf between them that no one could pass, even had Lazarus wanted to ease the rich man’s torment. When the rich man understood that his request was impossible, he begged that Abraham would send Lazarus back to warn his brothers so that they would not wind up tormented as he.

Abraham denied that request as well, pointing out that if his brothers couldn’t be bothered to listen to what the Bible said, then they were not going to be convinced by the words of a man who came back from the dead.

Some people believe that if we found evidence of some past miracle of God, such as the Ark, then everyone would have to believe in God. Others think that a modern miracle would do it. Others claim that if God were to talk to them, or answer their questions, or perform some stupendous trick, then they’d believe. All of that is utter bilge. In the time of Jesus, the religious leadership knew that Jesus was performing miracles. It did not convince them to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

There is no way to make someone believe if they choose not to. Consider how hard it is to get someone to change their mind over much less significant things.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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