Summary: “Being a neighbor is not necessarily defined by seeking out those who need help, but rather it is becoming a person who is able to reach beyond themselves to help someone get back on track.”
“The Unlikely Hero”
I want to share a story about a man by the name of Karl Marx. (Has anyone here ever heard of him?) He is known as the father of Communism. He had one agenda and one agenda only and that was for communism to replace capitalism. Let me explain. Today, in USA, we live in a capitalistic society where our economy is made up of privately owned and operated businesses. This means that distribution, production and pricing of goods and services are determined by business people. What Marx wanted to do was shift gears from a capitalistic economy to a communist driven economy where the government is in total control. What this did was eliminate the class system our society was divided into: the lower, middle and upper classes. There would be no poor people and no rich people, all would be equal. Sound’s good in theory, but this type of government would neutralize the economy. This meant that the government would have their hands in everybody’s pockets. This would make them more powerful and the people less. This meant the government would tell you what to eat, how much money you made, what to listen to, what to watch, and the list goes on. They would virtually control everything and everybody.
When Marx was in the public, he would defend the working class people to the end, but I learned that he never have had a single friend among them. He lived his life building a government structure for people that he hated. That sounds like an oxymoron. His life work was for a group of people he is said to have never conversed or lived amongst. People were a vehicle that helped him get to where he wanted to go in life. I learned that he verbally abused anyone and everyone. His actions never lined up with his words. He was a complete hypocrite.
The lawyer who stood up one day to argue with Jesus would fall some where in the same category as Karl Marx. Most likely, this lawyer was a Pharisee. Pharisees could talk the talk but could not walk the walk.
This particular Jew was trying to push Jesus’ buttons. The Bible records that the man stood up and tested Jesus. He literally tried to bully Jesus around. In ancient times, “standing up,” meant you were in a position of authority and on top of that the wording of this question had a hostile echo to it.
So he asked, "Teacher, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus could have given him a nice little Sunday school answer, but Jesus said, two can play at this game so he shot him back with not one but two questions. He said, (1) "What is written in the Law?" & (2) "How do you read it?"
The man responded with a classical Jewish answer typical in the first century. People quoted this verse like we quote John 3:16 today. He said,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind & Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus then said, "You have answered correctly.” “Do this and you will live.” But the Pharisee could not control himself. One thing about Pharisees is they always want to get the last word in so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" I thought what a perfect question for a sermon series on loving your neighbor.
What the lawyer was looking for was a definitive answer. He wanted Jesus to give him names. He wanted a nice little short list with people he liked on it.
I think what he was really looking for from Jesus, was for Jesus to say “your neighbors are the Jewish people and ONLY the Jewish people. He would have wanted him to say that because in those days a Jew would only consider another fellow Jew their neighbor and nobody else. I mean nobody.
This guy must have been hard headed because after Jesus blasted him back, this guy kept coming and coming and instead of listening to what Jesus just said and loving his neighbor, who at that moment was Jesus, the Pharisee wanted to get the last word in again. So instead of Jesus answering back with a question that he could have responded to, He began to tell him a story.
The story goes like this: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” Doesn’t that sound like a news paper headline from somewhere in Newark, NJ?
This man was a victim of an “Ancient Day Mugging.” This guy was at the wrong place, at the wrong time without a gun. He really never had a chance. The crime rate is reported to have been through the roof on that road.