A Christmas Carol: Stave 4, Day 4

After leaving the pawn shop, Scrooge finds himself in a bare room, staring at a body under a sheet. He can’t bring himself to lift the sheet to see the man’s face. A voice in his head tells him that while death may have a final say in one instance, it cannot undo the good a person has done in his or her life. And Scrooge thought to himself, “…if this man could be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts?”

We know that doesn’t happen, but we think about it. If only, we could see the end beforehand… 

Jesus thought about this as well; in fact, he told the story of a rich man who finds himself in torment in Hades after his life of “good things” (Luke 16:19–31). What are this man’s foremost thoughts? He desires relief from the misery, and he wants to warn his family. What I find interesting is the order of his requests. I am not saying I would do something different if I were in his shoes, but his first request is still about himself. Selfishness continues into the grave. Only when his desire is denied, does he turn his attention to others. 

And the man begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers. Abraham says that if his brothers don’t believe in Moses and the prophets, someone rising from the dead won’t make any difference in their lives. I don’t know about you, but I bristle at that a little. Wouldn’t someone rising from the dead do the trick? Or maybe even just a fuller revelation, something beyond the normal? Wouldn’t more people believe if God would reveal himself in a different way? Isn’t that the cry of some who find it hard to believe in a God when there is so much evil in the world? God if you are real…

That’s what the crowd at Jesus crucifixion wanted as well, “Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32). And instead the King of Israel died on the cross saying, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That’s a greater miracle than coming down from the cross. 

But let me remind you of another remarkable miracle. God did raise Jesus from the dead (and people still didn’t believe) and if you repent and believe, he has also raised you up from the dead:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:1–6

Now, how will you live?

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