(You’ve asked, we respond. Here’s a paraphrased version of Pastor Kyles sermon from yesterday on Luke 10:25-37. We’ve hit the main points and hope you can use this manuscript for personal devotion, send it to someone who may need to hear it or use it for teaching/preaching purposes. This is the 4th installment of our Stories Series)
The Story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is quiet probably the most widely known parable of Jesus Christ. My brothers and sisters in Christ know and love it…as do most of my atheistic friends. Fact is, my Muslim pals are familiar with it as well (and everyone in-between). The title of “Good Samaritan” has become an idiom of sorts for anyone who exhibits sacrificial kindness and compassion toward those in need.
We’ve come to accept the point of this parable as simply a call to Christian action, and compassion…how we’re to treat a neighbor, even an enemy as followers of Christ. I’ve always read it that way. Heck, I’ve preached it that way countless times.
But is that REALLY the point of this parable?
The simple answer is no. No, that’s not the point at all.
Jesus is not telling this story so that Christians might know how we’re to live in this world…Jesus is telling this story so that non-christians may know how they can live in the world to come.
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT”S THE POINT?
We know because of the question that sparked this parable and the one who asked it.
(25) “Just then, an expert in the law stood up to test Him saying, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
The man asking this question is not a disciple of Jesus Christ who’s tasted the mercy and grace of God through a relationship with Jesus. No, instead we have a self-righteous Jewish man who is lost in his sin. Consider his question…he’s not asking “Teacher, how can I be more kind?” or “tell me how I can become compassionate”. He’s asking Jesus the most crucial question that could ever be asked or answered, “How can I be saved?”
THATS A GAME CHANGER – that flips out traditional understanding of this text on its head. This is not what we might think it is. We already know that as followers of Christ, we’ve been called to sacrificial love and compassion. We’re to have the mind of Christ, and He exhibited those qualities perfectly. We KNOW that already. This parable is an evangelistic plea. Jesus is attempting to show this man his own sin so that he might repent and be saved.
I’ve always thought it was cool when Jesus answered as He does when questions were asked of Him.
(26) “What is written in the law?” He asked him. “How do you read it?”
Jesus, as He often does, answers the mans question with a question of His own. I believe He does this to get us to think deeply about our own views (He’s given us a mind, it’s ok to use it).
The man replies to Jesus question by saying (27) “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself“. Did you catch what just happened? The man ask, “How can I be saved?” and Jesus replied with a question that would cause him to invoke what he knew well as a Jewish man who was well schooled in the Law of God…something that he’d repeated twice a day since birth (Deut 6:4-5)….summed up – “The Law requires me to love God perfectly and to love man perfectly”
The word “love” here is written in present tense. It conveys the idea of a constant, uninterrupted love….exhibited at all time toward both God and man…with no exceptions. The Law required perfect love. When he answered, Jesus said in essence, “Want eternal life? You know how to get it. Love perfectly. Do this and you will live!” (28)
At This Point, the lawyer should have been honest with himself and the Lord – “Wait! I can’t love like that! Not perfectly! I’ve failed to meet the requirements of the law!”. He could have responded as the Publican did when hit with his own sinful reality! We saw that last week, the publican cried out “Have mercy on ME, a sinner. turn Your wrath from me!”.
He could have. He should have. But He does not.
Instead, the Lawyer responds in the ugliest manner possible, self-righteousness. Verse 29 gives us his immediate response, “but to justify himself…”. No surprise here as it happens often. When man is hit with pride killing truth, he goes on the defense. For some, its “BUT I go to church / am sincere / try really hard!”. I’ve heard every feeble attempt to justify sinfulness imaginable.
As is the case with most folks slapped in the face with their own failings, the lawyer attempts to change the subject, to get the spotlight off of himself and his sin, “well…just who is my neighbor then?”.
I’m so glad I’m not God. If I were, I’d have left this man standing in his self-proclaimed swagger. I’d have said, “Nope. This man is too full of himself to receive truth. I’ll not cast pearls before this swine”. That’s what I’d have done. But, then, I’m not God. Jesus is though and He is kind and patient and compassionate and…we could go on and on here…He is not willing that any perish but all come to repentance! Yes, even this self-righteous lawyer.
So Jesus tells a story. No, it’s more than a story. it’s an opportunity and an invitation. Jesus is going to tell a tale that is unforgettable, uncomfortable and yes, even crushing…with the hope that this lawyer could see how he’s not kept the perfect requirements of the Law of God. That he’s not loved perfectly and will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven because of it. He’s hoping this man see’s his sin and recognizes his need of a Savior who HAS done what he could not…perfectly fulfill the Law of God.
He begins the story (30) “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers”
So, here is our setting – A man is heading down a dangerous road that led from Jerusalem to Jericho. Heading “down” to Jericho would be a more than appropriate statement. Jerusalem is around 3,000 feet above sea level and Jericho 1,0000 feet below. These two cities are separated by a 17 mile road. A little mathematics and we see a 4,000 foot decline in just 17 miles. So, just a quick look at the topography and you’ll see a dangerously steep decline with sheer cliffsides. Very imposing. To make matters worse, this road is historically notorious. It’s first mention is in Joshua 18:17 “the pass of Adummim” or “bloody passage” and even 4 centuries after Christ death, it was a known that Arab thugs hid in the caves, ready to pounce and plunder any caravan that happened by. Same was true in the days of Christ.
So this man was headed down a horribly dangerous road and predictably, he was robbed, beaten, stripped naked and left for dead. If we’d like to put a modern spin on things, he’s in critical condition. To compound the problem, he’s lying in a ditch without much hope. Remember, few would travel this road. It’s not likely that anyone passes by (no one with a noble rep, anyway).
BUT there is a glimmer of hope in verse 31
“A Priest happened to be going down that road…”
WHO BETTER? The Priest would be ideal after all, he KNEW the requirements of the Law! He knew how he was to respond to a stranger in need! He’d recited Leviticus 19:34 in the temple, that the law required him to help a stranger in need. He knew Exodus 23:4-5 taught that even if his enemies donkey was in a ditch, the law required him to get it out. He had expounded on Micah 6:8 “do justice, seek mercy and walk humbly with your God”
Yet – knowing all that was required of him by the law, “he passed by on the other side”
This Priest, the perceived personification of virtue, the servant of God…did not meet the meet the requirement of the law. he did not love this man perfectly.
So a Levite comes by…(32) “In the same way, a Levite, when he arrived at the place and saw him, passed by on the other side”
The Levite has Priestly duties. He assisted in the temple, helped with the liturgy, knew the law and its requirements and he passed by as well.
Some commentators attempt to tell us why they passed by without helping, “Well, the old Priest thought the man was dead and didn’t want to touch him and become ceremonially unclean” or “that Levite was afraid it was a trap. He didn’t stop because he didn’t want to suffer the same fate“….”Thats what they were thinking“.
How silly. The fact is, they weren’t thinking anything. They don’t exist. It’s a story! Why we try to complicate a straight forward passage by ascribing thoughts to a person who doesn’t even exist is beyond me. The point Jesus is making is not WHY the Priest and Levite passed by, it’s that they did pass by. And in doing so, they did not fulfill the requirements of the Law,
And then The Samaritan – (33) “But a Samaritan on His journey came up to him and when he saw the man, he had compassion.”
Now, I think we all know that Jewish/ Samaritan relations werent exactly peanut butter and jelly. They despised each other. The Samaritans were those Jews who’d remained among the Gentiles after the Northern kingdom was taken and inter-married with them. In the Jews mind, this was treason. they’d forever polluted the perfect stream of Gods chosen people. They Samaritans, in response, saw the Jews as self-righteous and arrogant elitist. it was ugly.
So, if we were responsible for determining just who our neighbor is….the dude in the ditch wouldn’t fit the bill. But we’re not….but thats another sermon for another day.
Notice the contrast in the reaction of the Samaritan as opposed to the Priest and Levite.
(34)- “He went over to him” – no judgement, preconceived notions as to why he ended up where he was, no jumping to conclusions…he went over to him (didn’t even remark that “God helps those who help themselves”).He went over to him…love does that.
“…bandaged his wounds” – Remember, this man is stripped naked. He has nothing on his person. That ruth indicates the Samaritan man must have ripped his own clothes to fashion a turniqit, that he reached into his own travel bag to make some gauze.
“…pouring on olive oil and wine” – The Samaritan carried his own daily provisions. The olive oil for cooking and the wine for drink. This was his sustenance. Yet he poured (means liberally, lavishly…not dabbed) them on the mans wounds. Oil was soothing for whelps, bruises, etc and the wine, because of its fermentation served as an antiseptic.
“…put him own his own animal” – ummm, that means he’s now walking (down a rugged road with danger around ever corner…talk about risking his own safety)
“…brought him to an inn and took care of him…(35) The next day…” – he stays all night with the stranger (inconveniences himself)
(35) – He gives the Innkeeper “2 denari” – In this age, a night at the Inn would run you 1/32 of a denari. The Samaritan gives him enough for 64 days of room and board.
Top that off (35) – He leaves himself open to extortion. He now has an open account with the Inn keeper, notorious men to say the very least as he tells him to do what it takes to care for this man and whatever you spend, I’ll pay you back.
SO…..Whats The Point?
Is Jesus saying that this Lawyer should love like this Samaritan did?….No. He’s making the point that this lawyer CAN’T love like this Samaritan did! None of us can!
Think – Have you ever came upon a stranger in need and made no judgement? Just gave the shirt of your back, your own provisions, risk your own life, interrupted your own plans, paid for all of his care and left an open account with a stranger who had a bad rep so this mans need could continue to be met even in your absence…withoiut asking or expecting anything in return?…Everytime?…Without exception?
I’ll answer for the lawyer, for myself and for you…no. We don’t love like this. We can’t. It’s perfect love.
Thats the Point Jesus was making. Remember the original question that sparked this story, “Teacher, how can I be saved?”. Well, there are only two options….either perfectly fulfill the laws requirements (which you can’t) OR place your faith in the only one who has! Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law!
This is the danger of pleading with a sinner, “Be saved because God loves you and has a plan for your life!”
While it’s true that God does love and He does have a plan….we need salvation because we have not and cannot perfectly meet the demands of the law and are in desperate need of one that has!
This story is not for intended to instruct Christians but to indict those who aren’t.
I’d like to ask you, How are you getting to Heaven? If your answer is works, I hope you see the foolishness of your heart. Would you just repent and trust Christ with your eternal life?
I hope so. As always, we love questions so if you have them, don’t hesitate to ask!
Soli Deo Gloria!