Summary: This message focuses on the story of the "Good Samaritan" as an example of what it means to take a detour in order to minister to another. Using Luke 10:25-37 as the text.
Faith in Action series,
#1 The Good Samaritan
What does it cost to Love your Neighbor?
CHCC: May 2, 2010
Today we begin a new series called “Faith in Action --- Don’t just go to church- be the church!” For the next 4 weeks, both in services and in our Pueblo studies, we’re going to focus on what it means to reach out to our community … to be the eyes, ears, hands, feet, and voice of Jesus to the people around us. Today we’re going to talk about taking detours from our planned routine so we can notice and help others. With that in mind, take a look at this short video:
VIDEO for week 1: From Faith in Action materials (Zondervan & Outreach)
The story of the Good Samaritan is a story of someone who was willing to interrupt his schedule and go out of his way to help a stranger. It’s one of the best known stories in the world. But most people don’t know the context of the story. Luke 10:25-29 sets it up: On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
This expert in the Jewish Law was trying to put Jesus to the test. But Jesus was not the student. Jesus is the great TEACHER, so he turned the tables and asked his own test question: "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;” and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
This religious leader may have been an expert in the law, but he knew he didn’t live up to the standards of the Law. So what was his response? Verse 29 tells what he said AND why he said it: But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
The lawyer was trying to get himself off the hook by playing with semantics. It’s a natural enough reaction for any of us when we compare our own goodness with the perfection of God’s Law.
I heard a report about W. C. Fields. When he was on his death bed, a friend found him reading the Bible. The friend was surprised and asked why he was doing that. He answered, “I’m looking for loopholes.”
That’s kind of what this law expert was doing. He was trying to find a loophole I don’t think he genuinely WANTED an answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” In fact, he probably thought it was a question that would stump Jesus.
But this religious expert had no idea who he was dealing with. Once again Jesus turned the tables on the lawyer. He changed the question from “Who is my neighbor?” to “Are YOU a good neighbor?” And he did this by telling a simple little story.
The story has just 4 characters:
1) The Jewish victim. You could say this victim was partly to blame for what befell him. He was traveling by himself on a notoriously dangerous road
The road is not very long - about 18-miles, stretching from Jericho to Jerusalem. (That’s about the distance from I-10 to I-35 if you go down Loop 1604.) You could walk it in a day … especially if you are going away from Jerusalem toward Jericho … because that would be a DOWNHILL walk. In those 18 miles, the road descends 3,600 feet.
This stretch of road was dangerous in the 1st century, and it has continued to be dangerous through the centuries. The Jericho road was called “The bloody way” by Jerome in the 5th century. In the 19th century it was necessary to pay money to the local Sheiks in order to travel upon it. And even in the 1930’s car-jacking was common on this stretch of road, and people were advised never to travel on it at night. (Wm Barclay, Daily Study Bible pp. 138-139)
2) Verse 30 says The Priest was traveling DOWN the Jericho road, … which would imply that his priestly functions were finished and he was leaving Jerusalem. I bring this up because some people theorize the Priest didn’t stop to help the man because if he accidentally touched a dead man he would have defiled himself for 7 days … and then he could not have performed his Temple duties in Jerusalem.
Most like he was hurrying home AFTER his duties in Jerusalem were finished. I say he was hurrying because ... unless they were in a hurry … people tried to avoid the Jericho road by going the long way around. The Priest was probably too preoccupied with his plans at home, to waste time helping stranger.