Summary: Spiritually the Good Shepherd was the Good Samaritan to us, having compassion on us and binding up our wounds and healing our sin sickness.
The Good Samaritan and the Good Shepherd
Readings: Luke 10: 25-37
Colossians 1: 1-14
Faith in Christ and love towards your fellowman go together.
These were the two qualities Paul was delighted to hear the Colossian Christians possessed.
Their belief issued forth in action.
In Luke, the lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to “inherit” eternal life, and Jesus asked him to refer to the law and interpret it himself! (He would let the lawyer show off his vast knowledge, then Jesus would show him his heart.)
The lawyer knew it well and quoted the Mosaic Law verbatim.
Then Jesus said he answered correctly, but needed to DO it and live.
My husband’s father used to say he didn’t read the book of Revelation because he couldn’t understand it and besides he already knew more than he was doing.
Well, this lawyer just couldn’t stop arguing his case and because he wanted to justify himself (for not always doing what the law says) he asked Jesus to interpret the finer point.
He was hoping for permission to ignore certain individuals and still remain within the boundaries of the law.
He was essentially asking, “What little service can I provide and still get the benefits of eternal life when I die?”
Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan.
The fact that a man got robbed and beaten on the Jericho road would not have been surprising in that day. There have been criminals in every generation, and according to commentators this was a particularly dangerous part of the countryside.
But when the priest and the Levite turn out to be cowards or at best apathetic, we are shocked. Why?
Because they hold the official office of “holier-than-thou”.
I tease my pastor and tell him he’s paid to be good and I’m good for nothing!
Listen folks, remember they were just born into those jobs by virtue of belonging to the tribes of Aaron and Levi.
When it came to fulfilling their duty it was just another job to them and they could limit their services too, by acting as if they had more urgent “holy” things to be doing.
They may not have had the “heart” for the work any more than someone named “Smith” today would necessarily be prone to shoeing horses.
They could lead worship and leave worship without DOING the word.
They could rationalize and cut themselves a lot of slack, but when we read about their in-action and lack of compassion leaving this poor man dying in the road, we want to call up the bishop and get those suckers fired!
Jesus simply goes on to say that a Samaritan (think, despised alien) took pity on the man, gave him first-aid on the spot and then took him to an inn and paid for him to stay there and recuperate, and promised to return to check on him further and pay the final bill.
The Samaritan’s ACTION not his ANCESTRY is what distinguished him.
He didn’t act based upon moral obligation, but rather in accordance with his character and compassion.
He did MORE than would be expected and expected nothing in return.
So, Jesus asks, “Who was a neighbor to this man?”
Who ACTED neighborly towards him is the way Jesus phrases the question.
Probably the priest said a quick prayer as he passed by.
Surely the Levite must have felt sorry for him, too.
“The one who had mercy on him.” the lawyer answers.
Bingo! Right answer again!
“Go and do likewise” Jesus told him.
You see, Interpreting the law is far easier than internalizing it!
Following the letter of the law without the spirit of the law either leaves gaps or fills gaps.
The rabbis had already added 613 commandments to God’s original 10.
Love knows no such count….it just meets needs at every occasion.
If you are trying to obey the rules, you are trying to save yourself and that will enslave you.
But if you are doing acts of loving kindness because of the love and mercy God showed you, then you’re free.
We must get INVOLVED and DO SOMETHING to alleviate suffering.
I heard a song once that said,
“May the Jesus in me do you good.”
Compassion acts for the good of the other person
regardless of whomever they are, whatever the cost, or however we feel.
This kind of love is not emotional, it simply desires the other’s well-being and springs from a grateful heart.
How big is your neighborhood?
Do you have a limited view of love and whom you will take the time and resources to serve?
Or if Paul were writing a letter to the our church today would he boast of how you were sharing the inheritance of God’s kingdom with the people of our area?