In southern Indiana, near where I served as pastor, there is a small church cemetery. When you turn off the main road toward the cemetery there is a highway sign that reads, “Mt. Zion Cemetery – No Outlet”. I am sure the sign often turns heads for a second look. While the obvious meaning is true, consider the possibility of an unintended deeper meaning.
Jesus shares a narrative (Luke 16: 19-31) about a rich man (Dives) and a beggar named Lazarus. While there are many writers who consider this account a parable, there are also numerous writers who do not regard it as a parable. They contend it should not be considered a “parable” because names are introduced. In all other parables, our Lord does not provide names. Be that as it may, parable or real history, I want to focus on a central teaching of the narrative.
The very poor man, identified by Jesus as Lazarus, died and was carried by angels to the arms of Abraham. No mention of his burial is made. It is likely that the street cleaners would have collected the body of one so poor. Unknown, unclean, and unwanted, it would be tossed on the rubbish and refuse heap of fire in Gehenna, the city dump. The “certain rich man” also died (in his sin) and was buried. In hell (hades) and in torment, he lifted up his eyes. He saw Lazarus in the arms of Abraham and cried out for relief from the torment of the flames. He begged for Lazarus to be sent with just a drop of water on his finger.
The terrible words of truth came to the rich man. There is a “great gulf fixed” between those who are with God and those in hell. No one can pass from one place to the other. The boundaries are set by God and cannot be violated.
If a person dies in sin and goes to hell, it is like the Mt. Zion sign proclaims, there is NO OUTLET.
~ Brother Roy