Core Value: Love: Loving my Neighbor; Luke 10:25-37
The Second greatest commandment in the bible is to love your neighbor as yourself. The attorney asked the wrong question. He watned to restrict this by asking “Who is my neighbor?”
TW Manson correctly observed the error of the attorney’s question:
“The question is unanswerable, and ought not be asked. For love does not begin by defining its objects: it discovers them.” T.W. Manson; Through Peasant Eyes, page 41
Let’s look at this great parable and then see how it relates to us.
Luke 10:25-37 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered and said, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. 31 “And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 “And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 “But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 “And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” NASB
17 mile descending road through the desert from Jerusalem to Jericho is a picture of your journey through life. It is at times, lonely, desolate, and dangerous.
How your respond to people you meet and see on this road reflects your love for God and others.
To answer the attorney’s question, Jesus shares a story. We call it the story of the “Good Samaritan.” However, there are things we often overlook in this story. Shocking things that we need to see!!
First, Jesus is the Good Samaritan!
Second, as the feet and hands of Jesus on earth, YOU are the Good Samaritan!
Third, being a Good Samaritan will cost you – A LOT!
Fourth, you are also the Priest and the Levite.
The story is open ended. There is no conclusion. However, we know the rest of the story. More on that later. Let’s walk through this incredible parable.
Vs 30 Satan’s goal is to rob you and kill you!
This man is has all his possessions taken, his clothes stripped (he is at a point of shame but he is helpless to do anything about it) and he is unconscious at the point of death.
Satan does that to people. He will take from you what is most important, shame you and leave you helpless.
He is unidentified but the Jewish listener would have seen him as Jewish.
Because of the varying diversity in the middle east, there were two common ways for someone to be identified. First, by their speech and second by the manner of dress.
The dialects of those who settled in Palestine were Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Samaritan, Phoenician, Arabic, Latin, Nabatean.
Certainly riding. Among the upper classes of society.
The prominent thought of his day was that you did not help a sinner.
If the man had been dead, the priest would defile himself and then be disqualified from collecting, distributing and eating the tithes.
The law lists five sources of defilement – at the top of the list is touching a corpse. The oral law added 4 more-contact with a non-Jew was at the top of that list.
The priest has a struggle – he wants to be a good person but at the same time he must obey the law. No doubt he came from Jericho and had served in Jerusalem at the temple for a 2 week term and was on his way home. He had led in worship!
If he defiled himself but he would have to go back to the temple and endure the humiliating week long process of becoming clean. That process included public humiliation. All unclean people had to gather at the Eastern Gate in front of the Altar. Having led in worship for 2 weeks only to return to stand at the eastern gate to publicly show he had violated the law by becoming unclean would have been a burning shame for the priest.
The process was also financially costly. In order to become clean he would have to buy a red heifer and reduce it to ashes. That process took at least a week.
The oral law stated that he could get within 4 cubits of a corpse. Now the oral law had to be developed to cover the multitude of cases that people experienced.
The Mishnah and the oral law sought to cover every single incident. A person was totally dependent upon knowing all the rules. It was the ultimate form of legalism. It is rampant even among US. It is easier to follow a rule book than walk in dependence on the Holy Spirit. Rules create man-made boundaries – Love erases them.
The priest was simply following the rule book developed by man. The codified system of do’s and do nots.
Because of the inherent dangers on this desolate road, one made it their business to know who else was on the road. It could mean a difference of life and death. It was easy to see who was on the road as the contours provided a great deal of long range visibility.
The Levite knew the Priest was on the road ahead of him. He may have even served as the priest’s assistant.
This put the Levite in a real pinch. While the Levite was not bound by as many regulations as the priest. He was required to observe ritual cleanliness but he could render aid to this man, even if he died or was dead, the consequences would not be as far reaching.That’s why the Levite came close to see the man.
Why didn’t he help the man if he didn’t fear defilement? Probably because of the example of the higher ranking priest that had gone before him.
If he had stopped, he would have demeaned the priest! He would have challenged the priest’s interpretation of the law. Who was he to call the profession into question? He would have carried the man into Jericho, where the priest lived, and that would have been problematic. How would he explain himself to the Priest? How could he avoid embarrassing the priest?
Now the natural order of the flow of the story would introduce next a Jewish layman. All three would have ministered at the Temple in some fashion. So to have someone other than a Jewish layman introduced is surprising but not as shocking as the fact that Jesus introduced the despised Samaritan.
About the SAMARITAN:
The Jewish people hated the Samaritans more than unbelievers. This hatred was centuries old.
The Mishnah stated “He that eats the bread of the Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine.”
For Jesus to introduce a Samaritan is shocking but then for Jesus to make him the hero of the story is unbelievable and dangerous.
People hated the Samaritans.
Kenneth Bailey, the chairman of the Biblical Department at the Near Eastern School of Theology in Beirut writes: “Only one who has lived as a part of a community with a bitterly hated traditional enemy can understand fully the courage of Jesus in making the despised Samaritan appear as morally superior to the religious leadership of the audience.” (Through Peasant Eyes)
“Compassion” best understood as “gut level reaction.”
The Samaritan could have asked: “Why should I get involved?” Actually his involvement was very risky. Extremely dangerous!
People in Jericho would have quickly jumped to the conclusion that the Samaritan had something to do with the robbery! There would have been retaliation.
What did he do? The Samaritan pours wine and oil on the man. It is a strong picture of worship. See Hosea 6.
The Priest and Levite spent the previous two weeks leading in worship. Part of that included pouring out oil and wine on the altar before God as an act of worship. But real worship is demonstrated as we put ourselves on the altar (Romans 12:1-2)
The hated Samaritan pours out an offering to God on this man’s wounds.
There is another huge symbolic act we can easily miss.
Luke 10:34 and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn,
He positions himself as a humble servant and puts the half-dead man in the place of honor – on the back of his mount. See Esther 6:7-11.
The Samaritan surrendered his rightful place of respect and honor to the wounded Jewish man. It is easy to see Jesus in this! The question we must ask ourselves is this: Is it easy to see myself in this?
The Samaritan pays for the man’s room – two denarii would be sufficient for a week’s stay. Then he went further and said, whatever else is owed, I’ll pay it in full when I return!!
See what happened here
The thieves ROBBED HIM.
The religious NEGLECTED HIM.
The Samaritan LOVED him.
I’m going to finish the story of the Good Samaritan. He took the man in the Inn and spent the night taking care of him. The next morning there was a mob outside the Inn. They took the Samaritan and stripped him of his cloths, then they began to humiliate him by calling him names. They spat on him. They began to beat him unmercifully. They took pieces of wood and beat him to death.
That is exactly what happened to the Good Samaritan. But that is not the end of the story. The despised and rejected Samaritan, rose from the dead. One day he is returning to the Inn and he will bring the complete healing by restoring his kingdom.
What is this? It is the kind of love that God offers us through the Gospel. The Samaritan is Jesus. The Samaritan is to be YOU.