Summary: OBJECTIVES: 1. Listeners will be informed of the importance of living out our faith in Christ through acts of compassion and mercy. 2. Listeners will be challenged to give of their physical, emotional, and financial resources to help those in need.
Luke 10:25-37 (NLT)
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied with a story:
(Which I’ll paraphrase for modern day Oak Harbor…)
A man was walking along the trail at City Beach one morning when suddenly a band of drug addicts, desperate for money, attacked him, taking his wallet, his shoes, and even his clothes. They beat him savagely, leaving him unconscious on the pathway. They weren’t sure if he was dead or alive.
A few minutes later a pastor came by. He saw the man laying on the side of the path, but just crossed to the other side of the path and kept on walking.
Then later, a small group leader walked by. He took a look at the man lying there, unconscious, but decided not to get involved, either, and just kept on walking.
The third person to come by was a rebellious looking young adults, covered with leather, chains, and body piercings. He hadn’t been to church in years. When he saw the man on the side of the road he immediately went to the man and began to clean his wounds and check him for serious injury. He covered him with his leather coat and ran to get some clothes for him. Then he actually brought the man to the hospital and left enough cash to take care of the needs the man would have as he recovered from his wounds. He told the hospital staff to contact him if the man needed anything more.
Luke 10:36-37 (NLT)
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”
Get the point?
Jesus’ story is not difficult to understand. Loving our neighbor as ourselves means demonstrating compassion and mercy to those in need.
The religious expert in Luke 10 knew what the most important commands of the law were. He got that right (love God, love your neighbor) – the problem was he had drawn the boundaries around who he would include as his “neighbor” too tightly. I’m sure he would love his family, probably even his next door neighbors, maybe even anyone in his village. But Jesus does something quite scandalous here. He teaches that anyone you find who is in need of mercy is your neighbor. And, as your neighbor, that person is worthy of loving like your love yourself.
Is this easy? No. Is it comfortable? No. Is it radical? Yes. Is it what Jesus calls us to? Clearly, yes.
There is a real common heresy that goes around in the Church that basically goes like this: The Christian life is basically about my personal relationship with Christ. If I spend enough time alone praying or alone reading the word of God, or even in small group settings I will learn the secrets to a fulfilling life from God.
There are many problems with this heresy, but the main one Jesus addresses here in this parable is the fact that our relationship with God is proven in our relationship with others. You may be a small group leader. You may even be a pastor. But such titles are not what impresses God. What pleases God is when our personal relationship with Him is demonstrated in external ways.
The Apostle John challenges us with these words in his first letter:
1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
God did not send his Son just to save you or me. He came to save us SO THAT we might then be His hands and feet here on earth. He calls us to live our daily lives in such a way that when we are faced with a situation where someone is in need, we will act – somehow – to show that person that they matter to God.