What a great discussion we had here last week. I really appreciate the time and consideration so many of you gave in posting your thoughts. Having said that, I’m not trying to put anyone under pressure to make comments now…I’m just sayin’ it was cool last week.
This Sunday we’ll be reading Luke 10:25-37, the story of the Good Samaritan.
Why do you think the Scribe (Lawyer) was testing Jesus on this point? Think about where they are and what has happened in the first part of the chapter. The Scribe is concerned with how one achieves eternal life. That is, how does a person get in on the Kingdom of God when it gets revealed (keeping in mind what the 1st century Jewish view of the Kingdom of God). He’s basically asking “what is the core of our faith, what is our highest priority?”. It all boils down to two things…what two things are of highest importance?
Notice that Jesus never answers the Scribe’s questions directly, but answers with a question, or tells a story followed by a question. Who then provides all the definitions in this story?
Samaritans were hated by the Jewish people. They were the traditional bad guys. If you were to put this story on a contemporary stage, who would the Samaritan be to you? Why do you suppose Jesus turned the tables like this, what was his point?
Applying this parable to real life, how does it challenge you?
Looking forward to exploring this on Sunday! See you then.
9 thoughts on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
As I read this my first thought was the scribes reply of love God and love your neighbor. Then naturally I can see that the samaritan was a good example of loving your neighbor. I always struggled with the question “Am I the priest, the levite or the samartian?” The best I can come up with is, I wish I was the smaritan. But a thought came to me that was new (at least for me). Why (in the time of Jesus and in this current time) would I love someone else more than myself. Why would I love a God I cannot see and a person I either don’t know or cannot do anything for me?
For some reason I think Jesus knows that this question rests in the hearts of men. His death on the cross answers all the questions. After all Jesus died for us while we still rejected Him. Isn’t that what our enemies do to us, reject us. As I began to unravel this story, the traveler is who I related to the most. Prior to my being beaten and robbed on the highway of my life, most people could expect a little effort at best and no real effort in most cases. When Jesus found me (or better when I found Him), I only had needs to offer Him. Jesus ” went to me and bandaged my wounds, poured oil and wine and took me to an inn. He paid the bills for my care and told the others He would repay anything that may be due.” When those bills came due, He paid them in full.
Until I accepted that I am the beaten traveler, Jesus and His Father were people I owed, and loving my neighbor was just something I put on my daily list of things to do that I never would get around to.
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?
…or more to the point, “Who MUST I extend love to?” It seems all too natural to want to select who we show compassion and love to. Why would we want to show mercy to that family member or co-worker who just rubs us wrong on a daily basis? Why would we want to be merciful to the hot-shot who brags about every detail of his/her success, never showing mercy to anyone else? What about those who look different, behave and think differently than we do? Reason: because Christ did that for each and everyone one walking this earth without reservation. I find it the hardest of all challenges to extend that kind of love, especially at the expense of being vulnerable and rejected. I gripe and I complain, and I pray. And I am always reminded that I, too, am often difficult to love…but He NEVER lets that get in the way of showing me untamable mercy. That gives me pause, and the courage to share THAT love.
This parable challenges me because it makes me ask myself, “Who do I want to be?” and “Who have I been in the past?” I have acted like the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan if I am to be honest. I want to be the Samaritan (i.e., I want to live the “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself”. Luke 10:27). The truth is I need Christ in me to do this, to be the good Samaritan. I cannot do this on my own strength. I think this is why Jesus turned the tables on the lawyer, getting him to think introspectively which is something He wants us all to do. I am also reminded of his grace, so that with each day, I can try again.
“Untameable mercy”, that’s something to think about, wow.
What I love is the juxtaposition of the hero role. Usually, the hero is someone the listener can identify with or (more likely) someone we want to be. Guys all want to be that hero who braves enemy fire and saves his comrades from certain death or the QB that throws the winning touchdown. We all want to be the hero of our story.
But here is Jesus, doing what he has been doing for thousands of years, messing up our idea of the “perfect story”. His audience is Jewish, but in his story the Jews are the villains. His hero isn’t a righteous follower of the Law; instead it’s an infidel and unbeliever….. a Samaritan. . This is akin to a present day story saying, “there was an Israeli soldier injured and cut off from his platoon in the West Bank. A Palestinian Shop owner found him, took him home, and cared for him”.
Why didn’t the priest or the Levite stop to help? Jesus doesn’t tell us, maybe they were too busy or feared for their own safety. How many times have I avoided situations for the very same reasons? I’m not qualified, I’m too busy, it’s dirty, I might get hurt…… the excuses go on and on and on. But Jesus does the unimaginable, he tells us don’t be afraid to help, slow down and really see what is going on around you, get dirty you can take a shower later, if you get hurt (or die) you are demonstrating the greatest kind of love. Jesus says, “see the example of the Samaritan? Then go and do the same”. As Tracy said, it’s mercy untamed.
As ususal, I read this story and think “Sure, I would pick him up and put him on my donkey, too. Man, I sure am holy”. NOT! Who says I would do that if really put to the test? It’s always so easy to, from a distance, decide how you would react in a given situation. I want to choose God in all things, but my selfish nature and gripping fear normally stand in the way.
I always feel poorly about how I really act when I read verses like verse 27. I am to love God with all of myself, again, easy to say that I do this, but if I am honest, of course I don’t. I live for myself so much of the day and pay God little attention despite the fact that He is who gives me life and breath in my lungs and food on my table. If you really try to unpack what this one verse means, I can understand why the Scribe challeneges Jesus. He wants to see just how important it really was. Do I really need to do these things to please God? Culturally, being kind to a Samaritan was not on the Jewish person’s list of things to do; therefore, he wanted to be sure just how far Jesus wanted to take the concept. The second half of the verse says to love your neighbor as yourself. Again, that sounds so simple, but how often do we exercise that? That means giving whenever you see a legitimate need, time and/or money. (Of course time is much harder to part with most of the time.) That means sacrificing something in your life for your neighbor. It means sharing what you have in order for someone to have something they need. All in all, loving God with every fiber of my being and loving my neighbors as I do myself is extrememly difficult. This verse challenges my selfish nature. I must remember this verse each day and try to live it out. I want to please God in every aspect of my life, and if I can follow this verse, I think He would be pretty stoked. 🙂
I just realized that I wrote that helping a Samaritan wasn’t really popular. Obviously, the Samaritan is who helped the traveler, not vice versa. Sorry, a nice “duh” moment. 🙂
I love your honesty Summer.
I love Spud’s comments about us all being the travelers. I never really looked at this parable from that perspective but I believe it is absolutely the fuel that motivates us all to go and do likewise. Jesus loved us, forgave us, healed us and continues to be patient with us and restore us even when we were or are missing the mark, turning our back and not measuring up. In response to that great love of His I truly want to show that same love to all those whose path I cross. Wanting to and doing it are two different things unfortunately. I am always challenged by walking out this kind of unconditional love. Really I haven’t had much experience with enemies. For the most part I have always been able to get along with people having no prejudices etc. The problem comes mainly from those whom I am the closest. When family or friends hurt me or don’t meet my own expectations I find myself doing one of two things, withholding love or just being plain mean or bitter. I know this should not be! This scripture along with many others shows us that our love should not be given based on our perceived worth or expectation of someone. In Matthew 5:43-48 it talks about this kind of love we should have, saying we should love our enemies, bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us and spitefully use us and pray for them..It says really we have no reward for only loving those who love us because anyone could do this… The real challenge is to have this samaritan or Jesus kind of love flowing from us when we feel it is not being reciprocated. With the Holy Spirit’s help and the rememberance that we have already received and continue to receive that kind of love daily from our hero we can pass it on.
I was out doing errands with my “You’ve Been Gifted” cards in my wallet. Standing in the grocery store, the last of six errands and looking forward to getting off my feet, I went to pay and spotted the “Gifted” cards. I forgot, AGAIN! The bagger offered to wheel my groceries to my car and I wearily agreed. He was a college student working to meet expenses. Opened my wallet to search for a $1 and spotted the “Gifted” card next to a $5. I pulled both out and handed them to him…the look on his face. “Father draw this young man to Yourself”. This is fun. I’ve got two more cards in my wallet. “Who’s next, Lord?”