Summary: The Example of the Good Samaritan
Being an Authentic Follower of Jesus:
The Example of the Good Samaritan
Today we see a lawyer, who s essentially an OT scholar, ask Jesus the question ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ This was not an honest question as he was trying to see how Jesus measured up to Judaism. Jesus points to the law and asks the lawyer what the law says concerning this issue. In response the lawyer summarized the law as ‘love God wholeheartedly and love your neighbor as yourself.’ Jesus then tells the lawyer to ‘go and do likewise.’ The issue for him and for each of us is not do we have the correct doctrine but do we desire to obey it. So the lawyer, trying to find a loophole, trying to minimize his responsibility asks Jesus, ‘who is my neighbor?’ Jesus tells him a parable showing him two things: how followers of Christ are to lives as agents of the kingdom and to puncture his self righteousness by exposing his inability to measure up to God’s standard.
1. Compassion is Based Upon Need Not My Convenience (vs. 29-32)
The lawyer attempts to justify himself by minimizing his responsibility and asking ‘who is my neighbor?’ According to Leviticus 19:18, and in the mind of this lawyer, a neighbor is defined as a fellow Israelite but there are many other places in the law that tells us the law applies to both Jews and Gentiles alike. Our sinful minds will always attempt to justify our actions and decisions by looking for loopholes. So Jesus tells a parable to make the point that one’s neighbor is not just a fellow Israelite but anyone who comes across our path who needs help. Jesus describes a man who is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Along the way he is mugged by a group of robbers and left to die. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is seventeen miles and goes from 2600 feet above sea level to 825 below sea level. It is a winding and rocky road through the dessert and surrounded by caves. It was not wise to travel this road alone. This journey had the reputation for being dangerous long before Jesus’ time. It was not even uncommon for bands of thieves to put someone on the road acting as if they have been robbed to ambush their victim.
So along come two of Israel’s finest spiritual leaders down the road and they spot the half dead victim and deliberately avoid him by moving to the other side of the road. There is lots of speculation as to why they passed him by but Luke deliberately ignores the reasons why. What is significant is that they did not stop to help. The injured man had a need and it was not convenient for the priest and the Levite to help. It was not convenient; it was not easy; it did not work with their schedule; they did not have the time. What Jesus is saying that if you and I ignore our neighbor we do not love God.
I do not get involved because ______________
Most excuses are our attempt to defend or justify our actions for not doing what we know we should do. It is usually boils down to: it is inconvenient, it is too risky, or my own apathy.
2. Compassion Creates Movement Toward the Need (vs. 33-35)
Then a Samaritan comes down the road. The very mention of the name ‘Samaritan’ would be repugnant to the lawyer. But in contrast to Israel’s spiritual leaders the Samaritan stops to help the half dead man. Where they walked on by and did not get involved he could not go by and let this guy die. What was distinctive is that he had compassion.
Compassion feels something (v. 33)
Verse 33 says “when he saw him, he had compassion.” Compassion is a deep emotional identification with the plight of others that moves one to reach out to them. As you read through the gospels you will see that Jesus is moved to minister to people because of compassion. Compassion has to do with feeling something in my stomach toward because of the pain of others. We see someone hurting, our heart goes out to them and we are compelled to do something.
Compassion does something (v. 34)
Not only does he feel something for the victim but he does something about it. He takes care of his wounds; he puts him on his donkey and then found a place for him to stay to recover and pays for it. He could not take care of everybody but he could take care of somebody. Compassion feels something; compassion does something; and compassion costs something.
Compassion costs something (v. 35)