Not anger but pity
Jesus tells this little story as a follow up on the scoffing at Him by the Pharisees, ”who were lovers of money”. They could not and would not understand His word on making friends by means of unrighteous mammon. Jesus patiently illustrates His point with a story of the consequences of living a life like the rich of this world at the expense of the poor of this world. Interesting here is the turning up and down of our well-known world in the afterlife. The rich man goes to Hades and the poor man goes to Abraham’s bosom. What the poor man dealt with in the world is to become the suffering of the rich man. There is no mercy after life to a man that showed no mercy in life
In the Old Testament the highly estimated King David one day reveals his inner demons taking Bathsheba as wife with one hand while killing her husband Uriah with the other. The prophet Nathan illustrated David’s sin by telling him a story: There was a rich man living in all his wealth. One day the rich man is being visited by renowned men from afar. In stead of taking from his own wealth to share with the visitors, he took a lamb from a poor man – the only one he had – in the village, it was his neighbor’s lamb. He slaughtered the lamb and gave it to the visitors as if it was from his own property. As you know David was at first very furious condemning the evil, rich and wealthy man to be slaughtered because he did such a thing and had no pity. Soon he realized that he had been sinning by relying on his own wealth and pride.
Like Nathan is Jesus a well respected prophet though taunted by scribes and Pharisees for believing he was something like the Son of God. What he actually did was pointing out how they knew the commandments, knew what to do – but never actually did it. No one likes to be pointed out as a hypocrite. Especially not if one is a proud, modern citizen fighting for human rights, ecology and equality through peace movements and such.
”We know what to do!” The stubbornness in these words of a self-righteous human foaming and yelling at the 1% richest or the suppressive regimes is like David yelling: ”As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this [insert what ever injustice you could possibly think of] must die!” (2 Sam 12:5). As we build up anger towards the unrighteous(ness) in the world we do not realize, that our anger is not legal. Anger deprives faithfulness.
Not anger but pity should be our motivation. Pity based on the love of God. Anger builds a stubborn heart, pity builds the humble heart that never seeks its own honor but always rejoice in the liberation, the enrichment and the salvation of others. Jesus was the man who claiming to live a life according to the will of God never spared himself in his humble way of serving humanity by walking around preaching, teaching and reaching out the joyful news: ”Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17).
Why is it joyful to repent? Perhaps you would think that repentance is for the poor of heart that would like to achieve something – an easy way of winning everything. Repentance cannot be done with a wicked heart because the humble repentance is the joyful answer to the Gospel – it is giving up on your wickedness and stubborn pride realizing that God gave you everything for nothing. How you administer what ever God gave you whether much or little reveals your faith. If you rely on God in all things you would – or at least you could – gladly walk through life humbly preaching, teaching and reaching out the joyful message through words and action. Why? Because Jesus told you so? Because salvation lays in your own hands to achieve? Because the gates of Hell opens up and scorch you, if tou don’t? Because the world is failing if you don’t act?
Someone once lived his life seeking his own pride and wealth. Someone asked him, if that was the meaning of what God had given him, the good way to live? Someone is now asking you: Did you see that poor man? Was it okay to kill and eat his lamb? If you are willing to change there is another wealth and joy much greater ahead of you.
If nothing is changed within you – nothing is changing outside you. Repentance is to stop taking and start giving. Faithfulness is to put aside your pride and hunger for changes and start believing that when Jesus changes you, changes are flowing from your reaching, preaching and teaching. How could one ever grasp without reaching?