Who is My Neighbor? Sermon Notes
Luke 10:25-37 (Pastor Brian)
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
10:25-28pp — Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-3125 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered: ” ‘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.’ ” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
“Go and do likewise…”
This is a very familiar Scripture, but it’s interesting that Jesus said the final statement in the Continuous Present tense – this is something we should be doing continually – it’s not easy.
When I grew up, we used to go to Saturday matinees (movie – jo-jo ticket price). “When you’ve got friends and neighbors, all the world is a happier place…If you’ve not a penny, and your house may be tumbling down, with your friends and neighbors, you’re the richest man in town.” (song from one movie) Express your troubles to your friends and neighbors and it makes it easier.
In Canada, there was a show about a man (Mr. Rodgers) who always ended the show with the question, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
This Pharisee here was trying to discredit Jesus – testing him with difficult questions. He didn’t care about the law, justice, morality, truth, etc, they (Pharisees) just wanted to trap him. (Remember the woman caught in adultery from last week? – Jesus bent down and started writing – their sins? commandments? – on the ground – and they all left – “neither do I condemn you, go and sin NO MORE.”)
This kind of thing is also happening here with this lawyer who is questioning Jesus. “What should I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Love God – love others” – the entire commandments are summed up in these two.
“You are right” said Jesus “you know it, now DO it and you will live.”
Remember James 1:22? “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves, do what it says.”
Jesus says, “Do this and you will live.” Is this salvation by works? No. Then what? Ray Steadman “he was merely pointing out that if you TRULY loved God and others PERFECTLY, you’d have eternal life – God demands perfection – every second of every day – from the moment you’re born until your final breath – and also loving others all the time, perfectly.”
Jesus is really telling the man, “Heaven bound? Be perfect and you’ll make it.”
Yet, we’re all sinners, and God doesn’t “grade on the curve.”
Here, the lawyer wants to change the debate, he wanted to “justify himself” so he asked, “so then… who is my neighbor?” To “justify” himself, he’s seeking to declare himself righteous. (God makes righteous those he justifies – but it’s only in HIM that we have eternal life). Here, it’s slightly different – he wants to show that he’s RIGHT in doing what he’s doing.
“Who IS my neighbor?” was the question, not “What can I do for him?” or “How can I love him?” He’s a lawyer, so he’s looking for a loophole – to love SOME people and not others.
Spurgeon: “He meant to say, ‘Actually, I have no neighbors – my family is all dead and gone away, and no one is close to me. So, I must be excused from ‘loving’ my neighbors.’”
Think of parents: “Pick up your toys.” “Which?” “ALL.”
Here’s the parable: A man was going down to Jerusalem and was attacked by robbers, who stripped him and beat him half to death and robbed him. A priest and Levite both found him and just passed him by – but a Samaritan found him and took pity on him and took him to an inn to be cared for and paid for it all – including the promise for reimbursement.
Here, we don’t know what man this was who was walking here – Jew? Gentile? Actually, doesn’t matter. He could have been anybody. This, in the first sentence is the beginning of the answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” A: “Anybody.”
The priest (like a pastor), and the Levite (perhaps like a deacon) – if ANYBODY would stop and help, it SHOULD be these “church people” yet they just cross the road to the opposite side and pass him by as if they don’t even “see” him.
They may have had good excuses – perhaps they would be “defiled” if they were on the way the temple. Sometimes people could pretend to be injured on the road and waiting in ambush to attack another passersby. But the fact is, they just passed him by.
The Samaritan stopped?? Ewwww~ Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with one another. Remember John 4, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink – she was shocked “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” Samaritans were “impure blood” – Jews had intermarried with Gentiles and created the Samaritans. This would have provoked troublesome thoughts among his audience – to hear that the Samaritan stopped for him. Even James and John wanted to call down fire on Samaria when they didn’t let them through the place.
When Jesus revealed that the “hero” was a Samaritan, the people would be shocked. We might say “Shinchonji” went to him and helped him – nevertheless, he went and helped the person. There’s some real meaning here.
If he was taking a chance (is this a trick?) anyway, he took it. And then he ministered first aid. He helped him, bandaged up his wounds and poured him oil and wine and gave him his ride – he inconvenienced himself to help this man. He didn’t even just drop him off at a police station or a hospital, but he took him to an inn to REALLY help him – gave about 2 days wages to care for him and even promised to reimburse the rest.
After giving this story, shocking the audience, Jesus turned to the lawyer and asked, “so, who do YOU think was the ‘neighbor’?” Now, the lawyer is in the trap he’d been setting. The words likely stuck in his own throat as he said them (couldn’t even say “Samaritan”) – “the one who showed mercy.”
Jesus said, “Right, no go and do likewise.”
Now, why would one who’s been given mercy show further mercy? Eph 4:10 “Because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in order that in the coming Ages, he might show us his incredible grace – expressed in Christ – for it is by grace you have been saved and this not of yourselves, this is not works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in his likeness, to do good works that he’s determined for us to do.”
We are not striving to become worthy of God’s gift, he wants to demonstrate God’s kindness and mercy – he is showing something beautiful so that he might show this further in the history of humanity.
Ex: a grandfather is looking and showing his grandchild a trophy case with lots of trophies. See, in the ages to come, God will “show off” these similar kinds of “trophies” of his grace. “This one was a robber, now he’s mine. This one was a prostitute, now she’s with me. That’s what they used to be, look what they are now.” – because of God’s mercy and grace.
Now YOU go and show mercy.
Memorable poem from the Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare) – the lawyer in that one was pleading for the one who has been in need: “The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven on the earth beneath. It blesses him that gives and him that takes.”
God’s mercy is likewise – mercy is not strained, stretched, it’s poured out like spring rain so that we can be SOAKED in it. It blesses he who receives it and the one who gives it.
What is the takeaway?
“It all depends on your outlook.”
- To thieves: the traveler was a victim to be exploited
- To the priests: a nuisance to avoid
- To the Samaritan: a neighbor to help
What Jesus said to the lawyer, he says to us, “From the overflow of the love and mercy of God in you, go and do likewise.” Love God with your whole being and love others as much as you love yourself – actually this “high standard” is really a “mission impossible” because you can’t do this without God’s love and mercy in you.
Yesterday, we noticed loads of “terrible drivers” who’d done “stupid things” and we realized “oops, wait, we aren’t being very ‘neighborly’” – where did all our love go? It was there just a minute ago. This happens throughout life.
Revelation – the Ephesians had been overflowing with love and joy and mercy and Paul praised them for their overflow to their neighbors and everyone else around them. In Revelation, they needed a wakeup call. Rev. 2: 1-7 – the message to the church in Ephesus had unique challenges to follow Christ – it was the home of the emperor’s cult and the worship of the deity Diana. Actually, Paul had gotten in trouble for preaching this there at that time.
Demetrius protested against Paul and he and his followers were dragged into the town hall and everything was in an uproar – but the town clerk calmed them and they were saved from a worse fate by the providence of God and Paul was able to continue his journey.
From the writings in Acts and others, when Jesus speaks to the church in Ephesus, “they had great discernment against false teachers and heresy, but are faulted for having lost their first love” (their zeal and ardor for their salvation – the love of Christ had made them alive in Christ – they’d been so overjoyed and that joy overflowed to the culture around them). Jesus (through John) commends them for their ability to detect heresy, but reprimands them for their love for him that’s cooled into “religion” – Jesus warns them that they’re in danger of falling away – “return to me and rekindle the love that’s begun to cool.”
We face the same kinds of difficulties in this modern world. The first love we have been given is love for Christ and others – speaking the truth in love, we will grow up into the head who is Christ.
We must take warning from the letter to the Ephesians concerning Christ from the letter in Revelation to not let that love grow cold.
If you look back to when you first met Christ, there’s nothing you wouldn’t have done to help others and make him known. So, this statement that Jesus said to the lawyer must be in the Present Continual tense – continually help those in need around you.
“He that does my Will will know the truth of my doctrine.” (Christ) – when you DO what he wants, you will KNOW that his truth is true.
This is a lesson that is constantly needed to be heeded by us.
If we see someone in need this week, HELP.