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Summary: We wrestle with the question of to whom we are obligated to do good. Jesus makes it clear that we are obligated to all those in our path.

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1. Jesus was asked -- What is the greatest command (Mark 12.28ff and Luke 10.25-28)?

a. Teaching with Q-A

b. Teaching with Debate -- disrespect? Entrapment?

2. His reply came from Deuteronomy 6.4ff and he linked Leviticus 19.18 (love neighbor to it)

3. There is a process called, "stringing pearls" in which verses with similar words are linked together to form a teaching.

a. In this case Jesus linked two verses together to make his point.

b. Scholars say that you can start anywhere in the bible and get to any other verse if you know how to link the passages.

c. Jesus makes the point that loving God is seen in loving others as we want to be loved

4. The question naturally comes -- "Who is my neighbor?"

5. Luke 10.29-37

I. Justifying Self

A. Jesus' Answer to the Original Question was too Simple

1. Live in harmony with God and have eternal life

2. If we want better marriages; to be better parents; to be better employees, etc. live in harmony with God's instructions

B. Security in the Drawing of Lines

1. Jewish Tradition: Build a Fence around the Torah (Pirkei Avot 1)

2. We draw lines and build fences, too -- define a "Faithful Christian"

3. Definition of Neighbor -- Rea in Hebrew and means: friend, companion, fellow, another person

a. Question of proximity

b. Essenes excluded people outside of their community

c. A Moving target

C. Things Are Not Always Simply Black and White

1. Justifying self is not our goal

a. How often we want to declare our greatness and justify our actions

b. Jesus had every right to defend himself at his trials but did not

c. Today he has "a name above every name"

2. A walk of faith is required -- Just/righteous live by his faith Habakkuk 2.4 cf. Romans 1.17

a. Righteous/just person is just toward others

b. With God in mind -- Psalm 37.21

The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;

II. Thinking Less of Self

[JOY Bus days -- Jesus-Others-Self

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less."

A. The Debate on "My Neighbor" (Leviticus 19.18)

1. War between Jews and Samaritans not unlike Hamas and Israel today

2. Foundation -- we are all in God's image, so there is something important about each of us -- except Samaritans -- "Lowest rung on ladder; half breeds; disgusting;" Pagans were second rung from the bottom and Samaritans were one rung below.

3. Who would the neighbor be? One group said -- A friend; another -- a member of your community; another group -- Even your enemy BUT NEVER a PAGAN or a SAMARITAN

a. Hillel--Jew/a wicked Jew/a Roman/ an idolatrous Roman/ NO Samaritans

b. Shammai -- Jew/NOT a wicked Jew/NOT a Roman/Definitely NOT a Samaritan

B. The Key to the Parable -- "Half Dead" -- Priest and Levite

1. Leviticus 21 explains -- A Priests must not make himself ceremonially unclean except for close family; OR touch a body; High priest was not to enter a place with a dead body even if it was his father or mother; Priest and Levite were literalists in regard to Torah

2. Others emphasized spirit over letter of the law -- -- fundamental principle in Torah -- "Human life is most important." Therefore, they could not take the Torah literally. IF there is a life in danger Torah is suspended -- to God life is more important than Sabbath; unclean foods; etc.


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