The Good Samaritan
Jesus once told a story - the Good Samaritan - which has been a favorite ever since.
It is a moving story, a human-interest story, but at the same time it carries a sharp message.
All of us are guilty of committing many types of sin.
There are sins of omission - things we don’t do which we should, and sins of commission - things we do which we shouldn’t. There are sins of the flesh and of the spirit, open sins and secret sins, and so-called "respectable" sins. It was a respectable sin (at least to the Pharisee of Jesus day) that Jesus graphically pointed out in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Which is the Priest and the Levite passed by a man in need and did not help him.
((The exposition would be on these lines:
The wounded man represents Adam; Jerusalem from which he journeyed represents the state of innocence from which Adam fell. The thieves who beat him up are the devil who deprived Adam of eternal life; the priest and the Levite are Old Testament religion which passed by and couldn’t help him. The Good Samaritan, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who comes to his rescue and “the inn” to which he was taken is the church. ))
Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the command which the Good Samaritan illustrates.
That command is to love. A new commandment I give unto you “Love One Another”
See, Kingdom people will have LOVE
As Jesus developed his earthly ministry; the religious authorities became increasingly hostile toward him. They found his teaching contradicted their interpretation of the Law of Moses.
They resented Jesus because he associated with people whom they looked down on. One of the methods they adopted was to try to trip him up by making some incautious statement which they could use in evidence against him.
And who could be better qualified to do this than a lawyer!
It’s not the first time and probably won’t be last that a lawyer phrased a trick question!
It was one of these experts in the Jewish law who came to Jesus to give him a test of his orthodoxy.
What can I do to secure ETERNAL LIFE When the lawyer was asked the question "What is written in the Law?” he must have felt confident because he was an expert in this field. He had no hesitation in replying with quotations from Deuteronomy and Leviticus, part of the Shema, a confession regularly made in Jewish worship:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18).
Jesus heard the lawyer’s reply from Scripture with approval. "Excellent! You have answered correctly", Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live"
The wording of the lawyer’s question is quite revealing as to his spiritual state, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Do you see the contradiction in his words?
Nobody inherits anything by doing things.
An inheritance is something you receive because you had a relationship with someone; it’s not something you achieve by some action you’ve done.(particularly in that time and culture)
Its what your Father gives you from having a relationship with you and He loves you. Like so many people in the world, often well-meaning and Good people, this man thought of eternal life as something purchased by your own good works rather than freely given by God’s loving grace.
Eternal life isn’t a matter of "What must I do for God?", but rather "What God has done for me". (because He is a loving Father)
Jesus’ questioner didn’t realize that he’d already failed the test imposed by the Law of Moses, of loving God(Father) with all of one’s heart, soul, strength and mind, and one’s neighbor as oneself. (God loves them in all there shortcomings – shouldn’t they love in that same capacity?)
Jesus knew that the expert in the law, like every other human being since Adam, had failed to keep it, but how could he convince him that that was the case? The man hadn’t come to Jesus as a seeker after truth.
So Jesus had show him the folly of his thinking, not by argument, but by a simple story which would prick his conscience, puncture his self-confidence, and humble him to his real status as a sinner like everyone else.
AND this is the real point We are all the broken and beaten person at some point Sin is real and it will defeat us and beat us and take everything and leave for dead. And when we have found ourselves there – AND lifted out of the gutter by Christ The more we will be compassionate the more we will Love and care about other when we see them broken We will not be like the wealthy man who will just walk by and find hundreds of reason why they don’t need to stop or even the religious person who does the same – When some one is SAVED BY LITTLE they have little compassion – When they are SAVED lifted up and out of pit of sin they have much compassion
THE MEANING OF THE PARABLE The kingdom of heaven (God) is like this… Kingdom people are like this… (Kingdom people are like the Samaritan)
They have compassion – as Christ has compassion.
Compassion Demonstrates Our Relationship to God
At the conclusion of His story he asks the lawyer one additional question in “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to him who fell among the thieves.” The lawyer almost chokes on his words here.
He cannot even bring himself to say the word “Samaritan” and so he responds with, "He who showed mercy on him." (Samaritans were the Jewish enemies)
And for the second time Jesus tells this man essentially that Gods Kingdom People are like this… So go …"Go and do likewise." FIND THIS LOVE - THIS COMPASSION Love one another
Compassion demonstrates whether we have we have a relationship with God.
In this story Jesus is separating the person who has a real relationship with God from the religious. (doing ritualistic things to attain something)
We love because Christ loves us this moves us to be compassionate to move in Christ’s spirit to help and minister to those who are in need – and those that are lost battered and bruised by a life of sin (to BE more spiritual)
The traveler is the average person living there life all is well until the violence of sin overtakes them NOW Christ (HIS CHURCH) should be the one coming to assist there are many that will pass by but we should never just pass by.
At this point, instead of further defining the question, Jesus tells a story.
A way of indirect teaching.
A certain rich man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. We can surmise that this man was probably a Jew because this was a road going right through the heart of Judea. He had probably been up to Jerusalem to worship and now he’s going back to the City of Palm Trees.
It was a very long serpentine road starting at Jerusalem, the highest point, 2,500 miles above sea level, and going straight down to Jericho, nearly 800 feet below Sea Level. The lowest place on the face of the earth not covered by water--the deepest city in the world.
The Jericho Road was a notoriously thief-infested stretch of rocky mountain road, a long, lonely seventeen miles crowded with caves and danger. Since the road was so often traveled by religious pilgrims and businessmen and because it was so crooked, robbers frequented the road often. In fact, the route was so ripe for pillage that it had been nicknamed “The Bloody Pass”.
By the time you rounded a bend the bandits were there and you really had no chance to escape.
I suppose if there had been newspapers it would not have been unusual to read about the latest mugging on the Jericho Road. And so, too, the particular traveler in Jesus story fell victim. He was ambushed, robbed, beaten, stripped, and left to die.
Oftentimes these bandits had a habit of using decoys. One of gang would play the role of the beaten victim. When some unsuspecting traveler stooped over, then the others would come running out and pounce upon him.
This Levites motto maybe was safety first: In life, you need to be careful what you commit yourself to. After glancing over the body, and cutting his eyes from side to side to see if anyone was watching, he too passed by on the other side of the road. I am not too sure that our reasons for passing by people in need have changed too much over the years.
Some of you remember the Seinfeld show. In its final Episode, the main characters (Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer) receive a one year sentence for failing to help someone who was being robbed. What happens is this: Their plane encounters problems and they are stuck in Lakeland Massachusetts. Killing time wondering around on the sidewalks in this quaint New England town, they become innocent bystanders and witnesses of a car jacking. Being New Yorkers and the kind of people they are they make fun of the guy who is being robbed. Kramer, who has a camcorder in his hands, films the incident as a curiosity.
They never lift a hand, never shout out; they are 10 yards away, and could care less. They just stand there and casually watch! The robber speeds off with the car and the police arrive late on the scene.
With the excitement over, and the poor victim standing dazed in the street, Jerry turns to his friends and suggest they go get something to eat. As they walk off the officer stops them and says, "Alright, hold it right there."
Officer: You’re under arrest.
Jerry: Under arrest, What for?
Officer: Article 223 dash 7 of the Lakeland county penal code.
Elaine: What, we didn’t do anything.
Officer: That’s exactly right. The law requires you to help or assist anyone in danger as long at its reasonable to do so.
George: I never heard of that.
Officer: It’s new, its called the Good Samaritan Law, Let’s go.
The series ends with them serving their time. The critics hated it. It was pretty bad but there was a redeeming quality to that last episode.
For nine years Seinfeld's characters used, ridiculed, and made fun of everyone they met. The four of them were the Priest and the Levites of our modern world. We climb the ladder of success and FedEx gives you the world on time.
This is our attitude. Stopping to help someone crimps our style and requires too much of our time.
Looking back on it I can't help but wonder if the script for that final episode was taken right out of Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan. George says that he never heard of that one. Truth is, the law isn't new. It's as old as the tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.
There’s nothing NEW about it.
The story of the Good Samaritan underscores our apathy.
It reminds us how unwilling we are to stop.
Stop what we are doing and help someone who is in need.
But don’t let this lull you into believing that Jesus is talking about being friendly to everyone.
The point to the story has a bit more bite to it.
Jesus is asking the expert in the Law to treat not just his friends, not just the people in his town, and folks stranded on the road as neighbors, but to treat the very people he despises, or dislikes, or makes fun of, or even hates as neighbors. In a word: Love your enemies.
The story of the Good Samaritan is a lesson on how the Law of Moses is to be understood and lived out in the most difficult of relationships.
I am convinced that apathy is just a word until you see it in action.
That’s what the Seinfeld show did so well over the course of its nine years.
It hid the apathy of the characters behind the mask of humor. In that final episode Jerry Seinfeld unmasked it and the critics couldn’t stand it. (and saying our characters are actually not very nice people and very selfish)
The show wasn’t trying to get a laugh it was trying to make a point. It is the point of Jesus’ parable: Anytime we refuse to stop and help and be a friend to someone in need, then we are committing the sin of the Priest and Levite on the Jericho Road.
Are we Kingdom People that are moved by the compassion of Our Lord and Savor. The Samaritan stops and tends to the victim’s needs, applies first aid, puts oils as a disinfectant on the wounds, bandages him up, and takes him to a nearby inn. There he leaves him, but not before paying his bill. Having finished his story Jesus looks at the lawyer and asks the question: Now who was the neighbor to the man who fell among robbers. Well, of course, you could not possibly miss the point.
The lawyer responds: The one who showed mercy. Now a very interesting thing has happened. A lawyer has asked a question which in effect says: “What is the outer perimeter of my responsibility?
At what point am I no longer liable? Where does it cut off.” In effect he is asking: where can I quit loving? The answer that he probably wanted was: All faithful members of the Jewish faith or all members of the Jerusalem Bar.
That’s where you can stop being a neighbor! So, what about Jesus answer--this Good Samaritan parable. Jesus is in effect saying, “Look, your asking the wrong question?”
The real question is not “Who is my neighbor?”
It doesn’t make any difference who your neighbor is out there.
The question is who are you?
The question is not who is my neighbor, the question is am I a neighbor.
A person who has the love of God within him will respond with compassion to human suffering wherever he finds it.
Mercy--mercy for another human being is not qualified by race, status, religion or any other barrier that society might erect.
This Pharisee was looking for where he could stop loving.
It was Jesus who said: “Look, its sharing love that makes a person a neighbor.
A Reader's Digest story tells of how God's Spirit helped one man fight the impulse to pass by on the other side. On September 26, 1944, Ray Hamley, an RAF flying officer, and his crew, flying an American-built B-25, dropped bombs on the town of Kleve just inside Germany's border with Holland. Ray was 21 years old, and his bombs that day hit the railroad station, a number of Nazi factories, and the town church. He had an indea that one of his bombs hit the church, but war was war. On the ground that day a young woman in Kleve mourned not only the loss of her church, but the loss of her parents who happened to live in a house next to the church. For the town of Kleve, 647 civilians and 879 military personnel would die before the Second World War was over. Meanwhile, Ray Hamley went home to England after the war, married his childhood sweetheart, and became the head of a primary school. But then in 1983, Ray read in the newspaper how the people of a little town in Germany named Kleve were rebuilding the Church of St. Mary that had been bombed during the war. Something triggered in Ray's memory. He found his old logbook in the attic, and suddenly realized(remembered) that it had been his bomb that had destroyed the church back in 1944. An impulse was born in his heart as he thought about that tiny town, and how the loss of the church must have touched those people. But then came the temptation to pass by on the other side. He thought to himself, "Come on, Ray, after all, the Nazis bombed innocent children in London and Warsaw; it was wartime; it was years ago; forget it, Ray, and get on with your life; it's not your concern." But Ray could not let those second thoughts win out. He wrote to the Mayor of Kleve, asking for the forgiveness of the townspeople, and requesting that his letter be read by the priest at the dedication of the new church building. A while later Ray got a reply from the people of Kleve, requesting that he and his family come and see the new church building. But again, those second thoughts attacked Ray, and he could not even answer the letter. Once more the parish priest in Kleve wrote to Ray, this time with a letter signed by 500 parishioners offering their forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ! Ray Hamley went to Kleve. His visit not only healed old wounds in his life, but has brought about an incredible reconciliation between Ray's hometown in England and the people of Kleve in Germany. And it all happened because by the power of God, Ray Hamley was able to conquer his second thoughts, and not pass by on the other side! For Ray Hamley, this was a turning point in his life. How difficult it is to stop and be sensitive.
We want to say: Well, that’s not my neighbor. He’s from another city, or another political philosophy, or another economic bracket, or of another race.(religion)
But Jesus is saying, it doesn’t make any difference who he is.
If we are people within whom the love of God dwells then we will respond with compassion to those whom we pass on the roadside of life.
The Lawyer asked: how can I love my neighbor if I don’t know who he is.
Jesus replied: It’s not who he is. It’s who you are. - We love because Jesus LOVES A Gods Kingdom Person – responds like Jesus out of Love and Mercy because that is who we are – Not because it’s a rule but who rules our HEARTS.
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