Summary: In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus tells about the inter-action of six characters to a wounded man. This sermon briefly analyzes each character.
Let’s begin today with a fun little quiz. I am going to name some neighbors from TV shows and you try to identify which show it was from. Some of these shows are really old so, unless you are my age, you may not know them. But all these shows are being shown in reruns. So let’s get started.
1) Fred and Ethel Mertz I Love Lucy
2) Eddie Haskell Leave It To Beaver
3) George and Louise Jefferson All In The Family
4) Barney and Betty Rubble The Flintstones
5) Steve Urkel Family Matters
6) Arthur Fonzarelli Happy Days
7) Wilson Wilson Home Improvement
8) Cosmo Kramer Seinfield
So, how did you do? Did you recognize most of these neighbors? Today we are going to look at a parable that Jesus told about a neighbor. It has all the elements of a good movie: violence … crime … racial discrimination … hatred … neglect … unconcern … love … mercy. We are going to look at six characters and their interaction in the story. So let’s read Luke 10:25-37 “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?’
Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?’
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.”’
‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!’
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’
Jesus replied with a story: ‘A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.
‘By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
‘Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, “Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.”
‘Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?’ Jesus asked.
The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’
Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’”
For the first person we meet in the story the wounded man was a subject to be debated. He is the expert in religious law. He is oozing with knowledge. He’s attended every seminar, listened to every lecture that has been made available, and read any book he could get his hands on. He has accepted the knowledge that he feels applies to him but rejected any knowledge against his personal beliefs. His desire is to “test” Jesus. He wants to match wits with him. Even at the end of the story we detect his reluctance to recognize the hero of the tale by not naming him.
Gaining knowledge of God is not a bad thing. We are told that fact time and time again. But knowledge not applied properly is dangerous. Paul addressed this in the church in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 “Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.”
We sense that an issue of whether it was alright to eat meat sacrificed to idols had arisen. Probably the knowledge of some dictated that eating this meat was prohibited. Still others had the knowledge that it was allowed. Paul stated the obvious that, even though it was opposing arguments, everyone was filled with knowledge. But that knowledge was self serving and foolish. Paul said to the know-it-alls, you know nothing. Love strengthens the church. And those who show love instead of knowledge are recognized by God. Paul would later exclaim “If I possessed all knowledge but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”
Jesus was not impressed by the vast knowledge of the teacher of the law because he showed no compassion at the end of the story. Love, not books and seminars, is the key to knowledge. Soon after this Jesus would confront these teachers of the law. Perhaps this guy was there to hear these words. “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” (Luke 11:52)