“Remember that in your lifetime you received good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” ~Luke 16:25
Jesus tells his story about the rich man and Lazarus to illustrate several points, among them that the things God considers of value are not recorded with numbers and dollar signs. But I’m particularly interested in the reversal of fortunes theme that appears to be synonymous with the coming of the Kingdom of God.
“The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” ~Matthew 11:5
The roles of the rich man and Lazarus are reversed.
The rich man is very wealthy. He lives in a home with a gate and wears purple, an outward sign of great luxury. He dresses in fine linen, a description of his fancy underwear. Lazarus, by contrast, has nothing. He lies at the gate, begging, full of sores, unclean, and starving. His situation is as tragic as the rich man’s is sumptuous.
But now their fortunes are reversed. And it’s a permanent situation.
Isn’t this exactly what God through Christ has done for us? He has turned our lives completely around. He has totally reversed our fortunes. Permanently.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression — it is by grace you have been saved.” ~Ephesians 2:1-5
The passage you quoted from in Ephesians reminds me heavily of Hosea 11 where God through Hosea tells the people that God took care of them but they still turned away. But even through all of that, God says: “My heart is changed within me; all of my compassion is aroused.” (11:8b) It’s an amazing chapter and Paul seems to hint at that here. Like the Israelites were at the time of Hosea, we are full of sin and continue to sin even though we are God’s holy people, set apart from the world. But because of God’s great love His heart is changed within Him and he has taken mercy on us, reversing our fortunes but not by anything we have done.