Summary: Jesus told many of his stories with a sting in the tail - This was one of them
The lawyer got an answer he didn’t bargain for
Jesus told a great many stories that we love and cherish
The Story of the Prodigal Son
The Story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector The Story of the Good Samaritan
to name a few
Yet to their original audiences they were shocking – and what is more Jesus designed them to shock
In our reading today, Jesus pulls a fast one on a lawyer – who came to Jesus to ask
“What must I do to inherit eternal life”
Jesus doesn’t reply but in good rabbinic
tradition returns the question with a question
He asked the lawyer what he thought.
The lawyer replied said there were only two rules in life.
1. To love God
2. To love our neighbour
And Jesus concurred
I think the lawyer felt foolish - as it was pretty obvious and so to justify himself he asked Jesus another question:
“Who is my neighbour”
Now the first thing you learn as a lawyer is never to ask a question to which YOU don’t know the answer.
And this lawyer made the classic mistake. He asked a question – and he got an answer he hadn’t bargained for.
Jesus then told the story of the Good Samaritan:
I wonder how many of you can remember the key elements of the story.
1. The Road from Jerusalem to Jericho
A Jew went down on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
It is a very steep road and very windy road. I’ve been on some of that road - when I was in Israel two years ago. It was the sort of place where you could ambush people.
It is windy and a pretty dangerous road – the sort of place you would take an armed guard to go do
There are a lot of caves for bandits to hide in
So not unsurprisingly, the Jew got attacked and beaten up
NOTHING UNUSUAL so far.
But then help appears on the way?
Who is the first one to come past –
1.1 The Priest
The local vicar comes along and what did the vicar do when he saw the man lying in the road?
Answer: He walked on by.
Question: Have you ever thought why he walked on past?
Answer: Perhaps he was scared that if he hung around, the robbers might come back and get him too?
Perhaps he had to preach at church – and didn’t want blood on his clothes.
Perhaps he was just scared to help?
1.2 The Levite
Well if the Priest hadn’t time, perhaps the next guy who comes along the road will help.
Question: Who was the next person along the road?
Answer: A Levite.
Question: Any one know what a Levite was? No, not someone who sells Levi Jeans!
Answer: The Levite was a bit like a churchwarden today, someone who was well respected and ran the church.
Question: And what did the Levite do?
Answer: He too walked on by.
Question: Why do you think he rushed off by?
Answer: Do you think he might have been in a bit of a hurry to go and open the synagogue up in time for the service? Perhaps he was scared of being attacked too
1.3 The Samaritan
NOW HERE’S WHERE the sting in the tail comes
Question: Who was the next person who came by?
Answer: A Samaritan
Question: Does any one know what a Samaritan was?
Answer: In Jesus’ day, the Samaritans were despised by the Jews.
The Jews hated them because they were not pure Jews.
They had other customs and had married non-Jewish people, something God had expressly told the Jews in the Old Testament not to do.
The Lawyer might well have expected the Samaritan to walk on by.
BUT HE DOESN’T
Instead he felt sorry for him and stopped to help.
And there is the shocker.
The people WHO ONE WOULD have expected to help DIDN’T
Nice story isn’t it. The man’s enemy helped him and looked after him.
But Jesus’ stories are more than nice stories. Jesus told stories to teach people things.
Story: Have you ever seen films of salmon swimming up stream when they want to breed?
It is fantastic when you see these great fish leaping into the air as they try to climb up waterfalls.
Sometimes they have to try time and time again to fight their way up the powerful currents and through the rocks.
Compare that to the dead fish. Dead fish simply float with the current and rot, instead of leaping up waterfalls.
In real life we often have to swim against the flow.
We have to make some uncomfortable stands
We have to do what God wants us to do – even if no one else is doing it