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Apr 29, 2018

The Parable of the Good ______________

The Parable of the Good ______________

Passage: Luke 10:25-37

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: Parables That Change the World

Keywords: development, helping, humility, prejudice, pride, relief, samaritan, loving god & people

Summary:

Jesus sometimes told parables with shock value. But unlike many today who just want to shock others, Jesus always wanted to move shocked people closer to the Father. This is one such parable that is meant to shock those of us who think we do better at loving both God and people than most others do.

Detail:

The Parable of the Good (      blank     )

Luke 10:25-37

April 29, 2018

Intro:  I know it’s not Christmas…and you’re not Santa Claus but…who is on your “naughty list?”  What I mean is, who do you find it easy to put on your spectrum of “not nice people”?  Maybe it’s as mild as someone you would just rather avoid than spend time with?  Maybe it’s as severe as someone who you have a hard time not actually hating because of how destructive they have been of you or other people?  Maybe it’s the difference between someone who is on the other end of the political spectrum as you are TO someone who is a murder of Christians or abuser of women and children. 

So let’s stop and be honest about who we would prefer to avoid or we downright dislike: 

  • ISIS fighters who slit the throats of our Christian brothers and sisters and use women and children as human shields?
  • Sexual predators who mar the lives of their victims for a lifetime…or scum-bags who engage in sex-trafficking of children and vulnerable teens.
  • Someone pushing a political agenda radically different from you?
  • Someone pushing a radical sexual ethic you find destructive to people as God created them to be?
  • Someone who likes guns…or wants to ban them? Is “filthy rich”… or “lazy poor”? 

Is your list getting longer?  :) 

            Part of the challenge with the parable we are looking at this morning is that it has lost its shock value.  When Jesus told it to the legal expert who had come to ask Him a question, it involved someone who would have clearly been on the “naughty” part of his list.  And that would be putting it mildly. 

            So let’s read today’s parable.  But while we read it, I want you to insert the name…or face…or type of person you have on your “naughty list” today.  I’ll tell you when to do that.

Read Luke 10:25-37. 

25 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 was attacked by 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii 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.”

ILL:  Many of you know that I’ve been doing battle in our local school district over what philosophy and world view will prevail when it comes to human sexuality in our sex-ed curriculum.  As you can imagine, the biblical world view on sexuality is not exactly appreciated by those who have adopted the idea that any kind of sexual activity and orientation is equally valid and beneficial for young people. So as I’m in these constant debates and conflict, it’s easy to look at certain people and LGBTQ proponents as the enemy, not victims of the enemy. 

The sinfulness and loveless nature of that was hammered home to me late last summer.  As you also know, our son, David, flies helicopters for the Army and is stationed in Hawaii currently.  Last August, his unit lost one of their Blackhawks on a night training mission off the coast of Oahu.  Five crew members were killed and David spent the better part of several weeks flying constant search and rescue and then recovery missions trying to locate any survivors and wreckage. 

            Those crew members were friends of his whom he saw almost every day on the job.  So it hit him rather hard emotionally. 

            About a month later they had various memorial services for the crew.  When I asked him what it was like, he shared some of the personal stories of his friends. One was a father of several little children.  They had gone to one of the son’s birthday party…the day after the flight went missing. 

            Then he told of one of the crew whose life and stories had been particularly notable.  She was a woman who really cared for other people.  She was not just a nice person; she did her work in an excellent fashion and she lived a life dedicated to people. And she was one of those people who would naturally fall on many Christian’s “naughty list” if we’re talking about lifestyles.  She was a practicing lesbian. 

            NOTE:  If you know David, you know that he is quietly strong about biblical truth but also very loving of a great diversity of people, regardless of the “group” they may be a part of.  In fact, I can think of some same-sex attracted saints who are here at Mosaic because David did parking lot duty in the early days of Mosaic, entered into conversation with everyone walking by willing to engage and invited them to join us at Mosaic.

            The point in this story is that God sometimes wants to shock us and remind us that the people on our “naughty list” often live better towards other people than how we self-proclaimed Christians or the people on our “nice list” do.  It is our own pride and arrogance that keeps us thinking we’re good people who are doing just fine before God the way we are. 

There are several ways to come at a story like this.  One is to ask, “WHO are the people in this story?”  In this particular incident, we have two stories taking place in one.  The first story isn’t the parable.  It’s a story about two men having a conversation.  WHO are those men?  [Jesus and “an expert in the law.”]  That story seems to be taking place at some event where Jesus is teaching because the text says in vs. 25, “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.” It could have been in a synagogue or at a dinner party, on some mountain hillside or in the Temple courts.  The place or event doesn’t seem to really matter.

            What does matter is this “expert in the law” or someone we might label “a professor of religion” or “Bible College professor” or “successful church pastor.”  This was someone whom other people went to to get answers to their religious questions.  This was an answer-man clearly trying to stump the traveling preacher, Jesus.

            The question wasn’t all that difficult. In fact, it is one that this professor had the answer to before he asked it (always a good idea when trying to stump someone smart).  “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  To which Jesus responds with His own question, “What is written in the Law?” he replied.  “How do you read it?” 

            You and I have all been in classes that have students like this, right?  They love to ask questions that allow them to show off their knowledge on the subject.  Welcome to seminary!  :)

            So this smart guy gets to answer his own question.  And he even get the right answer:  “‘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.’”  He’s quoting directly from God’s Word, the O.T. Law, in Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18. That’s a good thing to do when you are trying to stump…or impress… God! :)

            So Jesus gives him a big, bold “100%” on his paper and a gold star.  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied.  “Do this and you will live.” 

            First, notice what Jesus says will be the result of actually obeying these two commands?  [“…you will LIVE.”] 

Anyone here really looking for life?  Looking to “really live it up” but in a way that will bring the most fulfilling life here and the most rewarding life in eternity?  It all goes back to our relationship with God and whether we are living out our God-given destiny:  to have an all-consuming relationship with God that reaches into every corner of our life and being and produces a love for people that flows out of our love-relationship with God.  Failure to do that is really the root of every sin.  Doing that is really at the root of a righteous life. 

This is why we continue to call sinners as well as “saints” to repentance and into an ever-deeper relationship with God.  No matter what their sin or ours is, the solution is to love God more fully—with more of all we are.  And this is why when people love their sin more than they love being right with God, they will fight tooth and nail against righteous laws, righteous people and righteous truth because it reminds them deep down that they are not loving God as he deserves and they need.   

So keep in mind this morning that everything in the next story Jesus is going to tell is about finding true life, not just telling a nice story.

Unfortunately, this religious genius couldn’t leave well enough alone and just glory in his great answer.  Instead he feels compelled to push the discussion just one step further.  Vs. 29 says, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”” 

It’s always a bad idea to want to look good in front of God, right? :)  I’m honestly not sure why this man chose to go to the people-loving side of the answer rather than the God-loving side.  Maybe he felt he had the God-loving part down pat and just needed a little clarification about how well he was doing on the people-loving side.  OR maybe he wanted to start with what he felt was the easier people-loving side and move to some deeper theological question after that on the God-loving part of the whole “eternal/real life equation.”

Regardless, the effect was the same by the time Jesus finished telling this parable that we know as “the Good Samaritan.” 

Now, we’re all pretty familiar with the story.  It’s not a hard one.  There are at least seven or more players/people in this parable.  Let’s list who are they and what we know or can surmise about them.

  1. “A man” who gets attacked while walking the 17 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho. What do we know about him?  [Attacked by robbers, stripped of his clothes (totally humiliating). Beat within an inch of his life (they actually thought he was dead) and left by the side of the road. Sounds like any inner city dark alley robbery, doesn’t it? 
  2. “Robbers” (plural): don’t know how many but do know their effect.
  3. Who is first on the scene? “A priest.”  What do we know about him?  (Well educated, privileged, has responsibility before God to intercede for people and instruct people about God.  He’s your “pastor type” of our day.  Also, he noticed the man but refused to give aid or get involved.  WHY?   [We don’t actually know but might have been fear that the robbers were still there and might roll him; fatigue; schedule; apathy; etc.])
  4. A Levite: What do we know about him?  (Also a privileged class of Jew, chosen by God to engage in the work of facilitating worship at the Temple.  We could call him our modern day worship leader or perhaps Deacon or church elder.  He did exactly the same thing his fellow national leader, the priest, had done.)  WHY?  We don’t know and can only conjecture why. 
  5. A Samaritan: What do we know about this fellow?  (A racial outcast by Jews because of his bi-racial parentage--Assyrians.  A religious/spiritual “cult member” because of the Samaritan’s break religiously with the law stating all Jews were to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem.  Hated politically because of hundreds of years of bad blood and fighting between the kings of Judah (southern kingdom) and kings of Israel (northern kingdom).  Basically, plug in here the description of someone for whom you have a high level of disdain or hatred.
  6. Inn keeper: basically someone hired to take care of this poor man when the Samaritan couldn’t. 

So there we have the complete cast of the story and a little understanding about them.  

NOW, I want to shift gears and get YOU involved in the learning process for a few minutes.  [Explain WHY we do this at Mosaic and HOW we will do it this morning.  Groups of 4-6 max.  Appoint a scribe/secretary/administrative assistant/note-taker!]

Tackle the following questions.  I’ll pace you through them.

  1. What did the priest and Levite have to suppress in their hearts in order to pass by the wounded man? Remember, these are the same feelings, emotions, character qualities we would have to suppress in a similar situation.)
  2. What did the Samaritan probably have to suppress in order to stop and help the dying man?
  3. What did the Samaritan have to expend to be a loving neighbor to the dying man?
  4. With literally a world of need at our fingertips, what should help us determine whether or not someone is “my neighbor” whom I should help in love?

[Take 7-10 minutes for people to work together and then share answers.] 

Thieves come in many forms.  Let’s think for a moment about the “thieves” of our day—the things and people whom people fall prey to all the time around us and rob people of the life God wants them to have… things that people often need other people to help them out in order to escape or survive.

Examples:  addictions (sex, drugs, alcohol, gaming, gambling, porn, people, laziness, etc.), health issues/disease, injustice (job discrimination or abuse), ???

            Certainly every supposed “need” we see is not God’s command to meet that need.  The nature of the “wound” should determine the nature of the love/help/care/treatment/assist that we give.  The Good Samaritan did what he could for the needs of the dying man.  Just how many things did this Samaritan do? 

  1. He took pity on him.
  2. He got personally involved…up close.
  3. He cleansed his wounds with wine.
  4. He dressed them with oil.
  5. He bandaged them.
  6. He put him on his on donkey
  7. He took him to the nearest inn.
  8. He continued to care for him.
  9. He contracted for his ongoing care.
  10. He promised to return.

The nature of the “wound” should, to some degree, determine the nature of the love shown.  So should the nature of the need. 

  • Most people are not depending on us for survival, right? Someone panhandling might be doing so for various reasons, some very legitimate, others not so much.  Some may be there because they genuinely don’t know the multitude of relief services offered in Spokane.  Others may be there because they know they can make good money without any accountability for how they use it. 
  • Someone we meet along life’s road may look like they are facing a dangerous situation. It’s up to us to somehow discern whether it is or not and what the appropriate action should be to help them  Can their situation be significantly improved by our involvement in their lives? 
  • Sometimes we will need to discern whether what someone needs most is relief work OR development work. Which did this robbed man in the story need?  (Relief.  He was so damaged that he couldn’t help himself.  Had someone not stopped, he probably would have died.)

[Most people in our country don’t need relief work.  They need “development” work.  What’s the difference?  EX: While the Samaritan paid for this man’s lodging, food and medical care, it was short-term in nature, didn’t become his preferred lodging, didn’t get rid of his need to get back to family, his work and home, nor his retirement plan, etc. :)]

So let’s wrap this up with some real-life application.  To help us do that, I want to play a short video clip that will hopefully help us determine when we should step up and help someone and when they may need to help themselves more. 

VIDEO:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teUd1GB8kgU&sns=em

“Response” + “Ability”…I like that clear and compelling illustration. 

So, what will be our “response…ability”?  How about we end with a few principles we can use to guide us with every person who either looks like they have a need or comes to us telling us they have a need (which we must then discern wisely what response is truly loving them). 

What we must DO to respond to people in need as Christ would have us do:

1.)  We must help/respond in some way when we perceive a genuine need. 

That may be to pray right then for them or it may be to get our hands dirty, our clothes dirty, our “donkey”/car/bicycle dirty transporting them somewhere.  It may mean spending money on their behalf (what WE deem they need), taking time to “bind up their wounds” through a listening ear, counseling, medical attention, etc.  Whatever we do to actually love our neighbor will cost us something. 

2.)  To love as Christ would have us do, we will need to suppress the feelings and drives of our selfish old nature and choose to engage in the drives and desires of our new Spirit-driven, Christ-like natures…probably every time…if we are to be the Good Samaritans God wants us to be.  Active love rather than passive indifference is always appropriate.  

3.)  We will need to help people “as unto Christ.”  Otherwise, you will become burned out, disillusioned and offended by the very people you try to help because sometimes the outcome of your help will not be what you had hoped in their lives.  But hopefully the outcome in our lives will always be more of the love of Christ and more “life” that is really LIFE. 

CLOSE:  How about we all ask ourselves, “What can we to do to be better prepared to love those in need around me?”

  • Confess some prejudice and bias against certain people?
  • Be better prepared to help in some way the people or places I know I’ll be asked for help? (Snacks, help-lists, etc.)
  • Change my prayer life to include more people?
  • Work or save enough to actually have something with which I can help others in greater need than me?
  • Get involved in a ministry where I am regularly called upon to help others in ways that cost me time, energy, money, stuff/food, compassion, etc.
  • Ground my “loving people” more in the “loving God” side of this divine equation by believing in Jesus…or developing a daily spiritual discipline that bonds my heart to God…or diminishing or cutting something out of my life that is cutting God out.