Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “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.”But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.35 And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most famous and most profound parables of Jesus. In this parable Jesus rocks the world of the Jewish religious leaders who were trying to paint Him in a negative light in front of the crowd. Jesus, in only the way He could, turned the tables on them and showed the error of their thinking. The lawyer asked, “who is my neighbor?” with the thought that he would be shown to be righteous in front of everybody, but Jesus brought to his attention that he asked the wrong question. The question is not who is my neighbor, rather the real question is am I being a true neighbor. The onus is on me, not on my neighbor, to love.
In this parable, we see a great need. The traveler had been robbed, beaten, and left for dead. He is clinging to life and just hoping and praying someone will come along who has enough compassion to stop and help. Notice the person, he’s just referred to as a man. Jesus didn’t refer to his race, nationality, socioeconomic status, or even his sexual orientation. It didn’t matter. He was a desperate person who needed help. Notice the problem, he’s in dire straits. He’s the closest thing to road kill that a human can be. Now listen closely, the same people with the same problems exist all around us. They may not be laying on the side of the road almost dead, but spiritually they have been beaten up by the enemy, robbed of joy and peace, and are dying inside. People really do go to hell if they don’t turn to Christ, and people really do go hungry, without clothes, and without help every day.
We also see in this parable a great neighbor. Jesus blew the mind of the religious elite when he said it was a Samaritan. The priest wouldn’t help nor would the levite. To put it in layman’s terms neither the Pastor nor the Deacons of the church would even stop to help this guy. But, this Samaritan helped. Samaritans were hated by pure bred Jews. Samaritans were considered half-breeds. They were the ones who years ago went with the Northern Kingdom when Israel split and they intermarried with the Assyrians. In the minds of these leaders they were dirty, bi-racial, religious syncretists who worshipped Yahweh and other pagan gods. But don’t miss the picture, Jesus said religion is not about where you live or what your ancestry is, it’s about loving God and loving people from the heart. The Samaritan cared for the man, got him to a place to rest and recover, and even paid for it himself. Now, that’s how you love people!
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was brushing his mane-like white hair one morning when his son Bramwell stepped into the room. “Bramwell!” he cried. “Did you know that men sleep out all night on the bridges?”
“Well, yes,” the son replied. “A lot of poor fellows I suppose do that.”
“Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have known it and to have done nothing for them!” his father retorted. And when the son began to talk about the Poor Law program, General Booth waved a hand and said, “Go and do something! We must do something!”
“What can we do?”
“Get them a shelter!”
“That will cost money,” replied Bramwell.
“Well, that is your affair. Something must be done. Get hold of a warehouse and warm it, and find something to cover them. That was the beginning of Salvation Army shelters.
Today, let’s do something about the needs we see around us. Just do what you can, with what you have, right where you are for the glory of God. We can all do something to help people and point others to Jesus. May we be found doing so when Christ comes again.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, please forgive me for my indifference toward people. It’s so easy for me to forget the brokenness right around me every day. Lord, put a new sense of urgency in me to serve others and share Your gospel of love and grace. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.