Summary: The answer to the really big question, about how to receive eternal life, is answered in just one word: love. The people we are to love are those in need whose paths we cross.
SDC Sunday, Aug 27 2006, Luke 10:25-37
What is your favorite question? (invite responses).
What do you think is the most important question, in all of life? (invite responses).
This morning I want to share with you a story from Jesus’ life, where a guy comes to Jesus with a pretty big question. We don’t know this guy’s name, all we know is that he was a pretty smart guy, actually an expert in all the religious stuff of his day. He comes to Jesus and asks, “"Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"”
That is a pretty good question! “What do I have to do to make it to heaven?” “What do I have to do to have some hope beyond this life, and into the next?” “What do I have to do to be ok?”
I love Jesus – He is one of the greatest teachers ever, and He answers this question using one of the best teaching tools ever – He answers the question by asking another question: “"What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"”. Now kids, I don’t recommend you try this when you head back to school, and your teacher asks you, “What is the capital city of Zimbabwe,” please don’t answer, “What does the textbook say?”, or, “What do YOU think the capital of Zimbabwe is?”; because if you do the next question will be, “Would you like to see the principal?”
But Jesus is not being rude, He is inviting this other teacher into a conversation, and the teacher gives a good response: “" `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.’ "
The answer is Love:
The answer to the really big question, about how to receive eternal life, is answered in just one word: love. Love God, love your neighbour.
That is pretty simple, and pretty profound, and incredibly challenging to actually do. It is easy enough for every child to understand, and challenging enough that we will all spend our entire life trying to figure out how to actually live our lives by loving God first, and loving others second.
Friday my son Thomas and I were having a conversation, and somehow we ended up talking about love and I told him, “I love you more than I love myself, and I love myself quite a bit!” He said, “I know,”and I said “What about you – do you love me more than you love yourself?” Now, perhaps I just like to live dangerously, because you never really know how a child who is almost 6 is actually going to answer that question, and I certainly had no idea. He thought about it for a moment, then said, “yes daddy, I do love you more than I love myself. But it is pretty hard.” I’m sure some of you agree that it can be pretty hard to love me! But he taught me something in that simple comment – that even a child can understand both the idea and the challenge.
That is the answer to that deep question, “what do I have to do to have hope for eternity” – it is to love God and love others.
For those of you who don’t have a solid hope for eternity, it really is that simple – Jesus offers us love, hope, forgiveness, a brand new start, and all that is required of us is to accept His love and then love Him in return. If you have never experienced that love, you can by simply asking Jesus to show you His love for you, and then responding to that love.
The teacher tries to stretch it out…
This teacher that is talking to Jesus isn’t going to let it go quite that easily… so he starts to try to pick the answer apart a little bit. He basically says, “ok, love God and love my neighbour”, but wait a minute… “"And who is my neighbor?"”.
This, too, is a great question. You see, none of us can love everyone – we simply do not have the time or the human capacity to love all the people in the world – and God did not design us to love that many people. Impossible! So how do we choose? Who should we love?? Do we have to meet every need, respond to every crisis and disaster, reach out to every hurting person??? It is an absolutely fantastic question: who should we love?
In response, Jesus uses another incredible teaching tool, He tells a story.
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35):
(retell story using SDC staff or volunteers or kids)
30Jesus replied with an illustration: "A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.