Summary: Jesus asked several questions in the gospels, these probing questions were meant to help us discover many aspects about the Christian Faith, today we will look at a question regarding compassion as we look at the example of the good samaritan

INTRODUCTION, At approximately 3:20 on the morning of March 13, 1964, twenty-eight-year-old Kitty Genovese was returning to her home in a nice middle-class area of Queens, NY. She parked her car in a nearby parking lot, turned-off the lights and started the walk to her second floor apartment some 35 yards away. She got as far as a streetlight when a man grabbed her. She screamed. Lights went on in the 10-floor apartment building nearby.

She yelled, "Oh, my God, he stabbed me! Please help me!"

Windows opened in the apartment building and a man’s voice shouted, "Let that girl alone." The attacker looked up, shrugged and walked-off down the street.

Miss Genovese struggled to get to her feet. Lights went back off in the apartments. The attacker came back and stabbed her again. She again cried out, "I’m dying! I’m dying!" And again the lights came on and windows opened in many of the nearby apartments. The assailant again left and got into his car and drove away.

Miss Genovese staggered to her feet as a city bus drove by. It was now 3:35 a.m. The attacker returned once again. He found her in a doorway at the foot of the stairs and he stabbed her a third time -- this time the attack was fatal. It was 3:50 when the police received the first call. They responded quickly and within two minutes were at the scene. Miss Genovese was already dead.

[THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 27, 1964, p. 38.]

Kitty Genovese … was a name that would become symbolic in the public mind for a dark side of the national character. It would stand for Americans who were too indifferent or too frightened or too alienated or too self-absorbed to “get involved’’ in helping a fellow human being in trouble. Detectives investigating the murder discovered that no fewer than 38 of her neighbors had witnessed at least one of her killer’s three attacks but had neither come to her aid nor called the police.

The one call made to the police came after Genovese was already dead

That incident may be the defining moment of urban apathy in the latter half of the twentieth century. When it happened, many thought the incident shocking, bizarre – but not typical of the way people respond. The question was asked, “What was wrong with those people, anyway?”

The problem on that night was simply people lacked compassion to get involved. 38 people saw or heard the incident and yet none were moved to take action.

The problem of showing compassion is not a modern day problem. Jesus himself taught on the subject of compassion in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The parable of the Good Samaritan maybe the most popular parable Jesus taught. Even the unchurched know the principles behind the parable. While it may be the most popular parable, it is also the least likely to be practiced from day to day.

Today I want us to look at this parable and examine for ourselves a way we can renew a compassionate spirit in our lives.


Let us first notice Jesus is approached with a


A. "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

B. We are told that this man is a lawyer; but he is not the kind of lawyer who goes to court in a civil or criminal case. This “lawyer” is an expert in Old Testament Law he is a Old Testament scholar.

C. The question asked of Jesus by this lawyer is: “What do I have to do to have eternal life?” Basically, he is asking, “What must I do to be saved?” When he asked Jesus the question about eternal life, he was asking what Jesus saw as the essential requirements of the Law.

D. Jesus throws the question back in the lawyer’s lap in verse twenty-six: “He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?

E. In verse 27, the lawyer answers Jesus, "… 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."’ (28) And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live."

F. Now the Old Testament lawyer did what we all do so well he looked for a loophole in the law. In verse twenty-nine says, “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Why did the lawyer ask this question? Luke says that he wanted to “justify himself,” that is he wanted to make himself seem right in his relationship with God.

G. The lawyer measured himself against both commands and he figured that he met the first one well enough, but his keeping of the second one depending on how you defined “neighbor.” He was asking, “Who and how much do I have to love?” We are often like the lawyer in that we try to reduce God’s commands to something we can live with. We would like to believe that loving my neighbor means loving people who love me, or at least loving people who are lovable. Loving my neighbor thereby comes to mean; doing nice things for people who will probably do nice things back to me. That is probably what he lawyer thought too.

Copy Sermon to Clipboard with PRO Download Sermon with PRO
Browse All Media

Related Media

Talk about it...

Gary Pettyjohn

commented on Nov 2, 2007

Alan, I really enjoyed reading your sermon. I particularly like the Margaret Mead illustration. I have never heard that one before. Thanks, Gary

Join the discussion