“But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'” Luke 16:31 (NLT)

The story of Lazarus and the rich man – you all know it – Lazarus, a diseased beggar, lays at the gate of the rich man’s home “longing for scraps” from his table. He is given none. Lazarus dies and is carried to “be with Abraham.” Lazarus dies and “his soul went to the place of the dead.” The rich man is in torment and can see Lazarus in the far distance with Abraham. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus to “dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.” Abraham reminds him of his life and does not send Lazarus. The rich man begs that Lazarus be sent to his brothers who are still alive, to warn them to change their ways. Abraham declines, saying that the rich man’s brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them. “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will turn from their sins.'”  (Luke 16:30, NLT)

And that brings us to our key verse: “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'” Luke 16:31 (NLT)

The kicker is that Jesus is the One telling the story. How heartbreaking it must have been for Jesus to utter those words knowing that his death and resurrection were imminent…that He was giving His life for people who wouldn’t listen. And yet He didn’t give in to the heartbreak, to the feeling of defeat that must have hit Him at times. Jesus was fully human and Scripture teaches that He was tempted to sin in all ways (Hebrews 4:15). That, and this story, help me to know that Jesus understands the sense of defeat I feel sometimes.

And knowing that helps me just a little, but it doesn’t take me over the mountain of defeatism when I find myself in the foothills. Getting over the mountain of defeatism requires climbing shoes. Christ was able to conquer the mountain consistently despite His knowledge of the many who would reject Him. Let’s look at two Hebrews passages for help:

From Hebrews 2: 17For this reason he [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

From Hebrews 4: 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Christ is our merciful and faithful high priest, able to atone for our sins. He understands our suffering and our temptations. We do not serve a God who does not understand our disappointments, discouragements and defeats. He understands. He has gone before us and He now sits at the right hand of God. Because of that, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence – confidence! – in the midst of our defeat.

Why approach the throne? “So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Want to understand the Truth of the situation? Go to the throne and ask. Want to lose the defeatist attitude? Go to the throne with confidence and receive what God wants to give you to make it through the situation.

Why confidence? Because He understands, because He has demonstrated His love to us and has promised His love to us, and because it’s a throne of grace!

The question is: Where do you go when you are defeated? Do you practice escapism (television, sports, computer games, novels, etc.)? Do you get angry and lash out at others? Do you have a “take my ball and go home” attitude? Or do you go to the One who understands, sits at the right hand of God, and has grace -abundant grace – to pour out in your time of need? He’s ready and waiting. It’s your move.

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