Johan Smulders has a . B.A, B.ED and M.A in Education, Theology and Counselling. Works as an evangelist and counsellor.
Parables of Jesus: A Look into Eternity
While most of the parables had a message for either the religious leaders in the time of Jesus or for his followers, a couple also give us a look into eternity. One of the frustrations of being a child of God is that we are limited in our ability to see directly into the spiritual world. Although we are physical beings we however, also have the ability to see and understand a greater world that includes the eternal. Paul prays for the Ephesians to be given the ability to open the “eyes of their heart” so that they may be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18 - NIV translation of the Bible used with permission).
A couple of the parables give us a glimpse into the eternal world which was obviously also revealed to us in the teaching of Jesus and even the Old Testament prophets. John, in the book of Revelation, also promises that when Jesus returns “every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7). It is interesting that in the book of Job, as the story comes to a climax Job cries out that he previously had heard about God “but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:4). Here is what every believer needs to search for- a clear vision of the God of eternity as he has revealed himself to us over the ages. In John 6:63 Jesus explains to his followers that: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life”. Jesus also tells his followers that “If you have seen me you have seen the Father” (John 14:9). So Jesus opened up spiritual reality, firstly in who he was, and then also in what he taught.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke records what Jesus taught about life after death (Luke 16:19-31).This follows shortly after the comment in 16:14 where Luke states that the “Pharisees who loved money sneered at Jesus”. In the parable, Jesus describes a situation that is still taking place in today’s world which is the huge discrepancy between the haves and the have not’s. Death is the great leveller and so both these groups of individuals face life after death and here the roles are reversed. In hell, where the rich man was in torment he begged for just a drop of water to quench his thirst (16:24). He also pleaded for an opportunity to return and warn his five brothers about the need to do some serious soul searching before it was too late for them. The request is denied on the basis that they already had the warning and were certain to ignore it again: “Even if someone rises from the dead” they will not repent. This is an interesting reference perhaps to the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, which is the ultimate evidence of life after death.
There are a couple of deductions that we can make from this parable apart from its main message that to depend on riches will not result in a positive outcome. The first is that death does not destroy consciousness. Many people today live in the false hope that when they die they will be buried/cremated and that will be the end of it. This is clearly denied in many teachings from the word of God and graphically illustrated here.
The second teaching is that death does not destroy identity. When we look at the body as it is lowered into the grave it seems like the end, but in fact it is only the beginning of a new existence where it seems like there will be recognition of others. When asked by the religious leaders of his time about what will happen about people involved in multiple marriages Jesus did not deny the existence of individuals in eternity, only that there will no longer be the practice of some of the physical relationships that often dominate our lives and thinking.
The third teaching that comes out in this parable is that our memory will remain in tack. While our sins will be blotted out by the grace of God and the saving blood of Jesus, we will still retain memory of the past and enjoy the blessing of the present reality where we find ourselves.
Finally from this parable we learn that death does not destroy destiny and does not provide a second chance to determine that destiny. There is a time of judgement coming that everyone will have to face. This is also clearly taught by Jesus in the parable about the separation of the sheep and the goats as recorded in Matthew 25.
While today we are limited in our ability to see into the spiritual, eternal world, we are not left to grope around in darkness. We have clear teachings from Jesus as he revealed so much in his words, signs and life. Added to that are the Old and the New Testament writers and their revelations. So, like the writer of Psalm 121 proclaims, we need to look up and see God in all his glory as he has revealed himself to this world throughout the ages and continues to do so today.
Lightfoot, N - The Parables of Jesus
Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on January 19, 2021:
I agree with you. But people think parables are tales and no more.