What About Our Friends?
Luke 10:25-26, “25 And a 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?”
- In verse 25 a lawyer stands up, and asks Jesus, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” First, you need to know the lawyer in verse 25 isn’t like a lawyer for personal injury like Funk and Associates. This lawyer is an expert in biblical law. Write that in your notes, “This lawyer is a religious scholar, expert in biblical law.”
Luke 10:27, “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.”
- Verse 27 is impossible!. Who on earth can love the God of Scripture with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:28-29, “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?”
- The word, “justify” in verse 29 means to “declare oneself righteous.” You know those moments you are in an argument with your friend or spouse, and you say, “The only reason I snapped at you, ignored you, hurried you is because I was tired / hungry / busy / rushed / etc.” Do you know what we are doing? We are “wishing to justify ourselves.”
- In verse 29 the lawyer can't admit he falls short so he is trying to find a shortcut.
Luke 10:30-33, “30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,”
- In verses 31-33 we see 3 types of people included in the story, a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The priest and the Levite would have been religious leaders in the community, and the Samaritan would have been the nobody of the story.
- The priest and the Levite would have had the responsibility of caring for those who were in need, it was their job, and Jesus could have chosen other religious leaders in the community like Pharisees, but instead Jesus chose the priest and the Levite who see the man beaten, bruised, and left half dead, but the priest and the Levite keep walking, and it is the Samaritan is the one who “felt compassion.”
- In addition, the priest and the Levite are Jewish, and Jewish people and Samaritan people hated one another. The Samaritans would have been a mixed people who inter-married with the Assyrians, and Assyrians ruled over Israel just 700 years earlier, so that Samaria was mixed with different ethnicities, cultures, religion, and seen by Jewish people as lesser people. This story is intentionally racially charged.
- The word “compassion” in verse 33 means the Samaritan has “deep, visceral emotion that moves him to action.” It is the same word used in the “Parable of the Prodigal Son” when the father sees his son returning from a distance and “felt compassion” as he ran to embrace his son and kiss him.
Luke 10:34-35, “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 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.’”
- There are great immediate points of application we can pull from Jesus’ words, but first, we need to address the original question in the parable, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer to that question is by grace through faith in Jesus alone. Write that in your notes, “Who on earth could possibly love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind, and neighbor as yourself?”
- The intent of Jesus’ words in verse 27 is to expose the lawyer’s need. Sometimes people will debate if the Parable of the Good Samaritan is about “beginning a relationship with God through faith in Jesus” or “growing in our compassion for others as new people in Jesus” and the answer is both.
- The Parable of the Good Samaritan is not a moral challenge to see if we are good enough for Jesus. Nobody is good enough. How horrible it would be for any of us to leave here this morning trying to live up to the moral standards of the Good Samaritan? What an unbearable weight!
- No, let us first begin a relationship with the God of Scripture by grace through faith in Jesus, so that we are reconciled to the Father, indwelled by the power of the Spirit, and embraced by the Son to live out what it means to be new people in Jesus, growing in our compassion for others.
Luke 10:36-37, “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.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
- What a difference it would have made in the story if the lawyer would have responded in verse 36, “Are you kidding Jesus? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind, and neighbor as yourself? Are you kidding? Jesus, I am a sinner, I can’t do it, be merciful to me Jesus!” (Luke 18:9-14)
- Therefore, let us humble ourselves under the Parable of the Good Samaritan this morning. Let us cry out, “Our only hope is Jesus.” The only Good Samaritan is Jesus. It is Jesus who has His eyes on the poor, homeless, hurting, broken, and every type of injustice that is taking place in the world.
It is Jesus who has drawn near to the broken hearted. It is Jesus who has the power to overcome dark places. It is Jesus who interrupts His day, it is Jesus who enters into our road, it is Jesus who bandages our wounds, and it is Jesus who lifts us up to pay the price, and it is the power of Jesus that will move us to have compassion for others that moves us to action.
All those responses are short lived. The kind of transformation being described in the Parable of the Good Samaritan must begin with men, women, and children standing before Jesus’ mercy and grace and say, “Be merciful Jesus, I am a sinner!”