Summary: For Too long the Church has sought to win Friends and Family and past by the Stranger. www.preaching.co.nr
God has stirred in my heart a theme, from Matt 5:41, entitled “The Extra Mile.”
Going the second or extra mile sets a person apart from the people who ‘do just enough’ or those who claim ‘I have done my share’ and those who say ‘I just cannot do any more.’
Jesus spoke about the Extra Mile to His followers, to encourage them do more than was expected. The extra mile is all about grace that does more than is required.
The simple point to what God is reminding us of is
“The Extra Mile” can change a life and win a soul to Jesus. To me, that makes the pain of going the extra mile a pleasure.
Jesus tells the story of the “Good Neighbour,” in Luke 10:25-37, who is clearly the only one, among those who passed by the hurting man on the road side, to go the extra mile to help.
When the Word Doesn’t mean What it Says!
This story is told by Jesus in response to a question from an expert in the law. He was not searching for answers but was looking for a dispute with Jesus and His teaching.
I have no doubt, as believers, we would not want to question or dispute with Jesus. However, when we don’t want to do what He wants us to do, we often dispute with the Lord’s directions, looking for ways to say, “that is not what Jesus means.” For example: “when Jesus says forgive, He doesn’t mean forgive everyone everything!” Or: “when Jesus says love, He doesn’t mean everyone!” Or: “when Jesus says His disciples should go and preach, He doesn’t mean me.” (Matt 5:43, 18:21-3, 28:19)
The expert asked how to gain eternal life. Jesus asked him what the Word of God had to say and the expert answered correctly.
However, despite giving the correct answer, he wanted to continue disputing the Word of God, asking who is my neighbour?
In the expert’s approach to loving his neighbour, “neighbour does not mean neighbour.”
His mercy, kindness and love to a neighbour was selective, most likely focusing on his own kind.
When our life is more important than a life!
Jesus then begins to tell the story of how two religious people, a Priest and a Levite, simply walked passed a man who was beaten, battered, bruised and bleeding to death.
I want to suggest some reasons why these religious people simply passed by and were not prepared to go the extra mile to help this desperate man.
Too Fearful; this road is known in historical documents as “The Way of Blood” Wilkinson, "The Way from Jerusalem to Jericho" The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Mar., 1975), pp. 10-24 because of the many muggings and killing that took place.
So to stop and come to the aid of this man would have been putting their own lives and belonging at risk. After all, things couldn’t get any worse for this man and you need to think about your own safety.
Too Busy; they were clearly on a journey. They had to get somewhere and they had not got time to waste helping a stranger, who was also a Samaritan. Life is busy.
Too Holy; they were clearly engaged in religious duties and helping this man was an unspiritual distraction. Also the man may have been dead and if they touched him they would have become unclean.
It seems that their life was more important than this man’s life.
The Spiritually Mugged
We may never face a person physically beaten, battered, bruised and bleeding to death, but I’m sure everyone here would take the time to help a person in that kind of need.
However, Jesus was not speaking about the degree of a person’s need. He was seeking to challenge this expert’s willingness to express his love for God by helping his neighbour and fulfilling the second greatest commandment. (Matt 22:38-39)
Every day we encounter people who are spiritually mugged, beaten, battered, bruised and bleeding to death.
Satan is a deceptive liar, thief and murderer of people’s souls. He not only blinds people to the truth of the Gospel, but also brings destruction upon their lives. (2Cor 4:4; John 8:44;1Pet 5:8)
The challenge for the Church today is are we too busy, too fearful or too holy to cross over and reach those who are spiritually beaten, battered, bruised and bleeding to death? I don’t think anyone here would be unwilling to reach out to see a soul saved from spiritual destruction.
However, the challenge is not whether we care or not. We do care. The challenge is how the church in the 21st century expresses its care for those spiritually beaten, battered, bruised and bleeding to death.
People today, in the western world, have perceptions of the church and christians that, not only blinds and deafens them to the Gospel but, sets a distance and a barrier that we need to cross over.