We Have an Inheritance
See Psalm 17:13–15
The “lost son” spoken of in Jesus’ parable takes his inheritance and heads off for a far country to enjoy his newfound wealth. But he quickly turns an apparent blessing into a very real curse. He squanders everything. In another story, Jesus is approached by a rich young ruler who wants to inherit eternal life but won’t give up his riches to take possession of what he most desires. In another parable, a rich man “lived in luxury every day” but neglected the poor man begging at his gate. When the rich man dies, he finds himself ensnared in the horrors of hell and calls out to the poor man who has gone to heaven. Then he learns why there will be no help: “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony” (Luke 16:25).
Jesus gives us three stories about wealth with three very different outcomes. The lost son does squander everything he has been given by his father, but before he reaches his rope’s end, he turns back to seek his father’s forgiveness, which he receives in abundance.
The second story is about a rich young ruler blessed with great wealth and power. But he wants more: he wants to earn “eternal life.” Jesus shocks him by telling him to give up his money, power, and position to follow him and you “will have treasure in heaven.” The young man walks away from the most generous offer he will ever have.
Finally, we have the story of the man who indulges himself with the good things of this life while disregarding poor Lazarus who lies sick and hungry outside the rich man’s gate. Here the rich man seeks neither forgiveness nor goodness but instead leads a selfindulgent life up until the bitter end.
In a sense, following Jesus is represented in each story through the grace of the father, the spiritual poverty in abiding in worldly wealth and the blessings of heaven even if we have suffered greatly on earth.
—Eric Kampmann, Signposts