Summary: A homeless man walks into a bar. What would you do? (Sermon based on TV show What Would You Do? , the episode centering on the treatment of the homeless.)
Show video from You Tube “WWYD? - No shoes, no shirt, no pants, no service!”
I cannot watch this video without being overcome by emotions. I am forced to ask myself “What would I do?” Would I have been one of the many to sit and watch as this person is cast out of the bar? Would I have turned my back and ignored another person’s plight? Would I have snickered and made rude comments to a companion? Would I have stepped forward and demanded, as some did, that this person be treated with dignity? Would I have walked over, set with him, and listened as he told me his story?
Over the years of working in Charlotte, the homeless asking for money have approached me many times. Sometimes I have helped. I have fed a few. I have paid and pumped gas into a few cars for people with hard luck stories. However, often as not, I refused to give them money even though they assured me it was to purchase food. In my self-imposed wisdom, I also categorized them as “drunkards and drug addicts.”
Perhaps a few wanted money for that purpose. Perhaps the majority wanted money for that purpose. However, what if some were truly hungry, truly in need of food, and I, in my self-righteous wisdom, refused to feed them by my actions? Did I violate the teaching of Jesus when He said “----‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:45) Have I been guilty of refusing to help Jesus by refusing to help the least of those in our society?
Today we are going to study a parable that could have been taken out of today’s headline. We have often heard it referred to as “The Parable of the Good Samaritan.” This parable has influenced the world so much that even today when someone does an unexpected good deed that person is referred to as a Good Samaritan. We find this account in Luke 10:25-37. Let’s begin.
One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”
The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10: 25-29)
We are witness to a conversation between a lawyer (an expert of the Law) and Jesus. This lawyer had made a name for himself by knowing all the ends and outs of the 613 principals that was listed in the first five books of the Old Testament. He was extremely proficient at arguing his case on the moral laws of God. He decides to call Jesus to the witness stand in a public forum to tempt him into saying something against the law of God.
He began his questioning by acknowledging Jesus as a teacher. He knew that Jesus instructed his disciples with authority. He also recognized that this would make Jesus a formable foe.
The banter began. The lawyer asked “As a teacher how would you instruct me to achieve eternal life?”
Jesus replied “As a lawyer what does the law instruct you to do?”
He probably did not care for Jesus asking him questions. He decided to keep his answer short and direct. “Love God who is in Heaven and love those who are close by.”
Jesus kept his answer short and direct also. “You got it.”
However the lawyer now feels uncomfortable with the answer Jesus has given him because he knows that although he has loved God he has not always loved those close by. So he asked Jesus this question. “When we say ‘those close by’ who do we mean?”
Jesus replies in a form of a story. In this story we will be introduced to 4 men. One is a Jewish man. He has been to Jerusalem and is going to Jericho, a 17 mile journey. The route would have taken him along trails, ravines, and dry waterbeds. Bandits would often hide in caves and attack lone travelers.
Another is a priest, a man responsible for performing religious rites especially animal sacrifices. He also is traveling this same stretch of road leaving Jerusalem.
Then there is the Levite. He is someone who assists the priest in their duties. He is also found traveling this road.
Finally there is the Samaritan. The Jews and the Samaritans had a history of hatred for each other that had lasted for about 400 years. Both groups worshiped God, held dear the laws of Moses, and considered themselves descendants from Abraham. The Samaritans considered themselves to be survivors of the lost northern tribes. They lived in the very heart of Israel. They considered Mount Gerizim, where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, to be the place of worship.