Summary: A look at Jesus is asking us to identify with in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The critical question is, can we be merciful without remaining connected to our own need for mercy?
Today is Palm Sunday, today we are celebrating the Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. I am sure you guys know the story, Jesus rides a young colt into Jerusalem and the Passover crowd goes wild. They lay their coats and palm fronds onto the street to cover his path and the cried Hosanna to the Son of David, Hosanna in the Highest.
Last week we talked about doing hard things, and if you ever have the time I would encourage you to do a study of the week that Jesus spent before his crucifixion. It is such an interesting study because there are so many key moments where Jesus chose to move closer to crucifixion. He had lots of opportunities to alter the course of history but he kept doing the hard things that he needed to do to accomplish His Father's will. Including coming to Jerusalem so long ago.
Today I want to look at something that Jesus said about doing hard things, in Luke chapter 10 Jesus meets a Lawyer, I am know you guys are familiar with this story but the Lawyer says to Jesus what must I do to inherit eternal life.
I want to just stop there for a second because I believe this is the central question that in one way or another we are all asking.
Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life? How is it possible to reach God? The answer to this question is what every religion in the world is trying to work out. Jesus asks the lawyer, what does the law say, how do you understand it. And the Lawyer replies,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And love your Neighbor as yourself.
Jesus replies, Yes, thats it! Go and do that and you will live!
Can I just submit that this guy is a terrible Lawyer, because as Kenny Rogers says you got know when fold em. I mean he has won the case hasn't he? He has successfully answered and now he should walk away. But instead the text says he wanted to justify himself, he wanted to prove himself right. This is interesting because the original question was what do I need to do to inherit eternal life but is seems as if he was really more interested in being right. Lets examine our hearts this morning church, are we more interested in eternal life or proving that our own lifestyles are ok?
So the Lawyer says to Jesus, ok teacher well that is all fine and good but who is my neighbor?
Remember a few weeks ago we were talking about bearing one another's burdens? And we talked about the difficulty of making such a large commitment? This is what is at the heart of the question who is my neighbor. The Lawyer is saying ok, what is the limit of my liability. I recognize that I need to be loving but how much do I have to love?
So Jesus tells this story, he says a man was on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
When he was robbed, the robbers stripped him naked, beat him, took all of his possessions and left him for dead.
Luckily a priest happened by, but when the priest saw the man he crossed the street and walked by.
A little later a Levite walked by and he too walked saw the wounded man but walked by without helping.
Finally Jesus says a samaritan man walked by and seeing the injured man rushed to his aid. He dressed the mans wounds and put him on his donkey and took him to an inn. He got the man all settled in and gave the inn keeper some money saying take good care of this man and if this does not cover all of your expenses then I will reimburse you when I return.
Jesus asks the Lawyer, which of the three were a neighbor to the man. If you read this passage carefully you will catch a nuance that helps to open up the story a little bit. Do you notice that the Lawyer says the one who showed him mercy, or the merciful one. Jesus says go and do likewise.
Who do you think Jesus wanted the Lawyer to identify with in this story? Remember when we have talked about finding yourself in the story who do you identify with? Is it the Priest? How about the Levite? The Samaritan?
One of the most interesting things about this parable is that Jesus simply tells us that the man is on the road. The road to Jericho was a treacherous one, Jericho is about 17 miles from Jerusalem and about 3,300 feet lower so the road is very steep and there were very sharp turns in the mountains, lots of nooks and crannies for robbers to hide. Not to mention the physical danger of traveling such a road.