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Reaching Out In Love

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Reaching Out In Love

Story:  Near Fang & the Myanmar border, a notorious drug trafficker lived in a village.  Everyone was scared to go into this village, because it was like an armed camp.  Recently, the man has been arrested.  Christians have been praying for this village & there are now Christian families in the village.  Just recently, an evangelist went to this man’s home & prayed a blessing over this drug-king’s family.  A strong-hold of Satan in breaking down & becoming a part of God’s kingdom.  There are now people in this village who will receive eternal life.  But if someone did not go & share the love of Christ, today, the village may still be on complete darkness.

Parable of the Good Samaritan

Background: 

The story of the Good Samaritan is found in Chapter 10.

In this chapter, we find: Christ appoints 70 disciples, two by two, to preach, heal; Pronounces woes on Chorazin & Capernaum; The seventy return, & give account of their mission; Christ rejoices that the things which were hidden from the wise & prudent had been revealed unto babes, & shows the great privileges of the Gospel. A lawyer inquires how he shall inherit eternal life, & is answered. The story of the good Samaritan. The account of Martha & Mary.

This parable is told by Jesus & is meant to be understood in context of what has already been said in Lk 10. You may remember that in praising the Father, Jesus has just said in Lk 10:21b: “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven & earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise & learned, & revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Today, I want to ask:  1)  How do we inherit eternal life?    2) How is my neighbor?

Questions about achieving eternal life & about the essence of the law were common in Judaism.

Lk 10:25-37: 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart & with all your soul & with all your strength & with all your mind'; &, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this & you will live." 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "& who is my neighbor?" 30 In reply Jesus said: "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 & went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, & when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place & saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; & when he saw him, he took pity on him.  34 He went to him & bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil & wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn & took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins & gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, '& when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' 36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go & do likewise." (NIV)

 

Exposition:  Let’s look carefully at this passage.

   

25    The lawyer is an expert in the law & in details of the Jewish religion.  Often this individual was called upon to settle legal issues.

"He stood up." This is a social courtesy & a greeting of respect. Yet, in his heart he sought to test Jesus. So there’s a contradiction between his actions & his words.

He addressed Jesus as "teacher" & asked him about eternal life – our first question.  Questions about achieving eternal life & about the essence of the law were common in Judaism. 

“What is the essence of your teaching?” His intention is to compare Jesus’ teaching &  compare it with Judaism so that he can then say, “Your system is wrong.”

It is important that we understand that Jesus is not teaching works as a means of salvation; rather, He’s actually teaching that doing good works (law keeping) cannot save anyone, because no one can keep the law perfectly.

This man asks the question, “How can I be saved?” Jesus answers, “You tell Me, according to the law.” He responds, “One can be saved by perfectly & persistently obeying the whole law, with one’s whole heart, soul, mind & strength.” The lawyer now has a problem, because the system he’s seeking to defend is a system that can’t save anyone. In seeking to condemn Jesus, the lawyer has just condemned himself & the whole world.

Note his assumption of human responsibility in the attainment of eternal life - salvation is by works!  He probably had no concept of God’s love & grace played in salvation. 

Application: 

“What must I do?” is a most important question.  To answer this we must first understand& that the Bible says that we were created for God to enjoy us & to worship Him forever.  So what must we do for this to happen?

God has clearly given the answer to eternal life - so clear we are left without excuse:

v        He has given us the answer in written words – clear & unmistakable.

v        He has given us the answer in the life of Christ Himself. 

v        Jesus allows us to discover about life in creation (Rom 1) &  the Word of God.  We must therefore diligently study God’s word.   We see this in v. 26.

26   Jesus' counter question directs the questioner back to the law, the commandments of the OT, which are not only his special field but also the ultimate source of religious knowledge.

Application:  We are to diligently study Scriptures.  To grow in knowledge of the Word.  We need to grow in might & power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, & in God’s Word.  Knowing God & who He is & what He is helps us to grow in Spirit, too!

26    Notice that the lawyer, not Jesus, quotes the commandment.  The lawyer knew the law!  The answer is satisfactory so far as it goes.  He sums up what is most important – to love God & to love others with all your heart, strength & mind. 

This is based on the OT (Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18; cf. Rom 13:9). The words “as yourself” will provide the crucial means of evaluating one's love of neighbor. The ultimate evaluation will have to be based on deeds, not words, as the parable shows.

Application: 

1)  We are to love God with all our hearts!  Do you?  This is a personal relationship – not distant.  God is not impersonal, not far out in distant space someplace.  God is close, personal, & we are to be personally involved with God.  Loving God is alive & active, not dead & inactive. 

2)  We are to love our neighbor as our self. 

v     Love is an active experience, not inactive & dormant.  This is the point Jesus is making.  Love for God acts.  Love acts demonstrating through deeds & action.

v     God wants us to love our neighbor, not just do “religious” things, i.e.: rituals, observances, ordinances & laws.  God wants us to make loving our neighbor the first priority of our lives.

28 Although Jesus affirms that the lawyer has answered correctly, this does not mean that he has grasped the full meaning of the law, nor does it support the idea held by many Pharisees that by keeping the law can earn eternal life.  No one can ever keep the whole law in its entirety.  In fact, to slip once is to fail. So Jesus put the problem squarely up to the lawyer who wanted to know by doing what. Of course, if he kept the law perfectly always, he would inherit eternal life.

God desires us to love Him with all of our heart, strength & mind.  He wants us to love our neighbor as our self.

 

Application: 

Why will we live forever?  Because in giving our lives to God in love to Him & others, he gives us His grace & saves our souls.

 

29   The lawyer sensed that Jesus was saying that he had not done the law; he had failed to love his neighbor.  & so he asked the second question of life: “Who is my neighbor?” 

Note the lawyer sought to justify himself by limiting the extent of the law's demand & consequently his own responsibility. The lawyer saw at once that he had convicted himself of asking a question that he already knew. & who is my neighbor?  The Jews argued over this question would say, “one of my fellow Jews,” excluding the Gentiles & especially Samaritans. So the Jews made racial exceptions - as today.

Here is where Jesus could really prove the lawyer wrong in his thinking, because the law states that God loves the non-Israelite (Deuteronomy 10:18). God defends the cause of the fatherless & the widow & He loves the alien. God loves the non-Israelite as well as the Israelite. In the Jewish mind, the law belonged to the Jews & no one else. God says, “The law applies equally to Jews & non-Jews, & you’d better not interpret it differently.”

30  & Jesus answering, meaning that Jesus did not threw out a rebuke, but a challenge, & our Lord took him up on his own ground by giving an illustration – a parable.

The over illegalization of the parable that saw the Samaritan as Christ, the inn as the church, etc., must be rejected. The characters of the story must have the same meaning they had to the original hearers. The religious persons act contrary to love, though not contrary to expectation. It is made clear that the priest, at least, is pursuing his religious duty, going "down," i.e., back from Jerusalem. To an extent, the "Law" was being observed, but studious readers will recognize the neglect of mercy.  Unexpectedly the third person he is not just a layman (in contrast to the clerical characters) but a Samaritan (in contrast to the Jewish victim).

The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho (12,000 people) is about seventeen miles, descending sharply toward the Jordan River just north of the Dead Sea. The road was curved through rugged rocky terrain where robbers could easily hide. It was considered especially dangerous, even in a day when travel was normally hill of hazards.

The traveler was foolish & irresponsible, in that he traveled the road between Jerusalem & Jericho alone – a road that was known for danger.  It was known for its danger of marauding thieves, so much so it was called “the way of blood.”  Travelers never journeyed there alone & always traveled with caravans.  But this man traveled alone & consequently, was beaten by thieves & was left for dead.

Thought:  How many are foolish & reckless in life, exposing & destroying their bodies by walking where they should not & by doing what they should not?

31  Priest & Levite are mentioned here, partly because they were the most frequent travelers on this road, & partly to show that these were the persons who, from the nature of their office, were most obliged to perform works of mercy; & from whom a person in distress had a right to expect immediate help & comfort; & their inhuman conduct here was a breach of the law, (Deut. 22:1-4). 

Priests served in the temple; their highest duty was to offer sacrifices.   He placed his religious work & ceremony before the welfare of this man.  He did not even make a move toward the helping man.  Although the priest knew the “law of mercy,” he “passed by on the other side” which means he rushed away.

The priest was most certainly riding because he was in the upper classes of society.  The poor walk.

Since, he moves to the other side, probably the priest did not actually see the robbery take place. How can he be sure the wounded man is a neighbor since he cannot be identified? If the person lying there is a non Jew the priest could be risking defilement, especially if the person were actually dead. If he defiles himself he can not collect, distribute, & eat tithes. His family & servants will suffer the consequences with him.

Priests were supposed to be ritually clean, exemplars of the law. There would be immediate shame & embarrassment suffered by them at the expense of the people & their peers for such defilement. Having just completed his mandatory two weeks of service, he would then need to return & stand at the Eastern Gate along with the rest of the unclean. Furthermore, in addition to the humiliation involved, the process of restoring ritual purity was time consuming & costly. It required finding, buying, & reducing a red heifer to ashes, & the ritual took a full week. The priest is in a predicament. Moreover, he cannot approach closer than four cubits to a dead man without being defiled, & he will have to overstep that boundary just to ascertain the condition of the wounded man.

Thought:  How many put their church & ceremony before the needs of the desperate men? 

32    The road spoken of here is a long one. It is very likely, according to those who have walked it, that a person traveling it, could see ahead of him a long way. The Levite, who is of a lower social class, may have been walking.   

The Levites, numbering 10,000, stood in lower rank than the priests, & took no part in the offering of sacrifice, they were entrusted solely with the performing of the Temple music & carrying out inferior duties.  They assisted in the maintenance of the temple services & order & formed the police force of the temple.  

He most probably saw the priest ahead of him & could have thought to himself, "If the priest may pass then so should I."

Perhaps he placed safety before compassion – thinking that the robbers were still lurking about.  Maybe he felt the man was too much bother; yet, like the priest, he, too, knew about the law of mercy. 

The point of the story seems to require that the priest & the Levite be without excuse.

33    The Samaritan is mentioned merely to show that he was a person from whom a Jew had no right to expect any help or relief, because of the on-going animosity between the two nations.

At this point in the story, the Samaritan comes upon the same scene. Before we consider his response to the injured traveler, we need to review a little concerning the relationship between the Jews & the Samaritans. When the Assyrians defeated Israel, they dispersed the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom among the Gentile nations. They also brought foreigners into the land of Israel to re-populate the land. The result was a half-breed race (half Jewish, half Gentile) that populated the Northern Kingdom of Israel from then on.

When the Babylonians took the southern kingdom of Judah captive, they did not intermingle the races but kept the Jews separate, & so “pure” Jews returned to Judah. The “Jews” of Judah came to disdain the half-breed Samaritans, & not without reason, since the Samaritans gave those who returned from their Babylonian captivity much grief & opposition as they attempted to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, its walls, & the temple (see Ezra 4:10, 17; Nehemiah 4:2).

You can imagine the response of the Jewish lawyer, when Jesus introduces the Good Samaritan into his story. Two Jews, holding the most esteemed religious positions in Israel, have deliberately ignored the needs of a helpless, half-dead robbery victim. Rather than to help him they simply chose to look the other way. & now, approaching the same crime scene, comes a Samaritan, the lowest possible rung on the Jewish social ladder. This Samaritan, unlike the priest & the Levite, has a reason for his journey. He is on a trip. If anyone could excuse himself from getting involved, it was this Samaritan. But when he saw the man lying by the road, he reacted in a very different manner. The Samaritan, unlike the two religious Jews, felt compassion for the victim.

"Took pity" implies a deep feeling of sympathy, a striking response that stands in contrast, not only to the attitude of the priest & the Levite, but also to the usual feelings of hostility between Jew & Samaritan. This pity is translated into sacrificial action.

The Good Samaritan placed compassion before everything: prejudice, opinion, work, time, energy & money.  He gave his heart, his compassion, his all in order to help the desperate man.

v     The injured man was a Jew.  Although the Samaritans & Jews despised each other, he saw the man as a fellow human who needed help. It was possible when the Jew recovered, he could curse the Samaritan for helping him.

34    Notice what the Samaritan did – he did more than he needed to do:

v     He went to him – reaching out personally to help.

v     He bandaged up his wounds & eased his pain

v     He poured oil & wine into his wound: he gave of his own goods.

Pouring in oil & wine - These, beaten together, appear to have been used formerly as a common medicine for fresh wounds. Bind up a fresh cut immediately in a soft rag or lint, moistened with pure olive oil, & the parts will heal by what is called the first intention, & more speedily than by any other means.

v     He set him on his own donkey: sacrificed his own comfort

v     He provided rooming for him: provided the basic necessities

v     He took care of him: nursed, looked after him personally.

Notice the time, energy & money involved in this.  Showing love to one’s neighbor is putting love into action. 

Love is not just an idea or a feeling toward God.  It is practical acts & commitment to help any who need help.  Love is an act of the will.

35  He put the man on "his own donkey" & paid the innkeeper out of his own pocket, with a promise to pay more if needed.

36  Here, Jesus' second counter question forces the "expert in the law" to voice his decision. In his question, Jesus does not focus on the Jewish victim, but on the Samaritan who made himself a neighbor.

What is Jesus teaching on love?  Love should not be limited by want or who you want to love.  How much & whom you love is up to you.

Furthermore, Jesus is emphasizing that love is demonstrated in action, in this case in an act of mercy.

It may be costly: cloth, wine, oil, transportation, money, & sacrifice of time.

37  The "expert" cannot avoid the meaning of the parable, though he apparently finds it impossible to say the word "Samaritan" in his reply.  Jesus now refers back to the original question, "What must I do?" by saying, "Go & do likewise."

This man needed to learn that God does not give the life of the kingdom on those who reject the command to love. Such rejection shows that they have not truly recognized how much they need the love of God themselves.

The lawyer now knew who his neighbor was: it was any person who needed mercy, whether a friend or just an acquaintance or even an enemy.  The lawyer was forced to admit this.  However, more than just confession was needed – love was needed! 

Why does Jesus twice tell this lawyer to “do” something in order to “inherit eternal life”? Why would Jesus tell a man to do something when He Himself taught that a man cannot be saved by his works?

Answer: because he is talking to a man who believes & teaches that a person is saved by his works, by his law keeping.

The answer of our Lord is this: “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength, & your neighbor as yourself.” Now we see why Jesus doesn’t go any farther with this man than he does; it is because this man first has to see the inadequacy of the law keeping system he embraces as the only means to obtaining eternal life. This man will not turn to Christ as the Messiah until he first turns from his dependence on law keeping to save him.   

This lawyer obviously saw himself as the authority, & Jesus as the back woods preacher.

Jesus is attempting to show this lawyer that the Jewish religious system of that day was completely bankrupt.   Jesus sought to show this self-confident lawyer that by his own definitions, law keeping was not the pathway to eternal life, because no one is able to live up to the demands of the law. In order for one to be saved by law keeping, he must fulfill every requirement of the law all of the time, & with his whole heart, soul, mind & strength. This was impossible, & so this lawyer should realize that the law can only condemn, but it cannot save.

This lawyer’s confidence in the law & his ability to keep it was at the heart of his resistance to Jesus Christ. He confronted Jesus because he perceived (correctly) that our Lord posed a threat to Judaism. This lawyer was unwilling to accept faith in the Lord Jesus as the way to eternal life because his whole life was devoted to the preservation & promotion of law keeping. Until this lawyer saw the bankruptcy of his religious system, he could not cast himself on Jesus for salvation by faith.

It is God’s grace & mercy that will save us!  And when we begin to understand the broad scope of God’s love & mercy for us, we will begin to more fully love God & others.

The story of the Good Samaritan teaches some very important lessons to law keepers, to those who wrongly supposed they can earn eternal life by doing good works. It teaches that those in the highest offices of Judaism are guilty of a lack of compassion, which is at the heart of what the law required:

What distinguishes between the two religious leaders & the Samaritan, is compassion.

When the two Jewish religious leaders saw the injured man, they seem to be repulsed, & they do everything they can to ignore & avoid him. The Samaritan, moved with compassion, does everything possible to minister to the needs of the injured victim.

There was a very fundamental difference between our Lord’s way of salvation & that of Judaism. Judaism’s way was the way of law keeping, impossible though it may be.  Self-righteousness is a subsidiary of legalism & the enemy of compassion & mercy.  Our Lord’s way was that of grace, through faith in the sacrificial death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Grace, on the other hand, is and the center of compassion.

Those who repent of their sins by the law can be saved, apart from good works, by trusting in the only One who has ever kept the whole law, the One who died to satisfy the death penalty which the law pronounced upon sinners. Jesus Christ is the only righteous man to have lived on this earth. He alone fulfilled the law perfectly & yet He took our sins upon Himself, bearing the curse of death which the law pronounced upon us & by trusting in His death, burial, & resurrection on our behalf, our sins are forgiven & we receive the free gift of eternal life.

Since this eternal life is not the result of our good works, but the result of God’s grace manifested in & through Jesus Christ, we have nothing to be proud of, no basis for feeling self-righteous.

Because God has been merciful & gracious to us, we can show mercy & compassion toward others. That is what Jesus is trying to help this lawyer to understand through the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Jesus wants us to demonstrate love for our neighbor in the real world, by showing compassion to one in need, as did the Good Samaritan.

The lawyer & all of us need to demonstrate love as we go about our daily affairs.  We need to help our neighbors – all those around us who are hurt & suffering.

We must learn to love lost people the way God does.

God has never made a person He didn’t love. Everybody matters to him. 

Whenever you don’t want to serve & help others, spend some time thinking about what Jesus did for you on the cross. 

The Bible says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all.” (2 Cor 5:14 – NIV) 

If you’ve been afraid to share Christ’s love with those around you, ask God to fill your heart with His love for them.

The Bible in 2 Peter 3:9 that “God does not want anyone to be lost, but he wants all people to change their hearts & lives.

As long as you know one person who doesn’t know Christ, you must keep praying for them, serving them in love, & sharing the Good News & his love in practical ways.

What are you willing to do so that the people you know will go to heaven? Invite them to church?  Good!  Share your story? That’s good, too!  Pray for them every day until they are saved?  Certainly, this is key & central – we should bathe everything in prayer.

What I’m suggesting is that along with these things – AND MY MESSAGE FOR THE THAI CHURCH – is that you should do works of compassion that demonstrate Christ’s love to others. 

Where?  Your mission field is all around you – right around you!  Please don’t miss the opportunities God is giving you.

The Bible says in Colossians 4:5:, “Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with them.”

โครงการสำแดงความรักของพระคริสต์

Projects - Practical Ways To Share Christ’s Love

v         เยี่ยมเยียนผู้ต้องขังในเรือนจำ -             Visit those in prison

v        เยี่ยมเยียนแม่ม่ายและเด็กกำพร้า – Visit widows & orphans (Kelly & Dawn in Khukhan)

v        ทำความสะอาดท้องถนนในหมู่บ้านที่อาศัยอยู่ _ Clean up outside your gate/street -

      (Need to be clean & take care of environment)

v        ช่วยเพื่อนบ้านทำความสะอาดและตัดหญ้าในสนาม

Clean up the neighbor’s yard & plant flowers (Bob Moffit story)

v        ช่วยเหลือและดูแลเพื่อนบ้านที่เจ็บป่วยในด้านอาหารการกินหรือพาพวกเขาไปพบแพทย์

Cook a meal for a sick neighbor or take them to the doctor

v        ช่วยเหลือผู้ไร้ที่อยู่อาศัย เช่น เลี้ยงอาหาร หรือไม่ก็ให้เสื้อกันหนาวกับพวกเขา เป็นต้น

Help a homeless person.  I.e.: prepare them a meal, give them a jacket, etc.

v             ช่วยเหลือเพื่อนบ้านที่กำลังซ่อมแซมหรือก่อสร้างบ้าน เช่น  ซ่อมแซมหลังคาบ้านใหม่ เป็นต้น

Help someone in your neighborhood with a building project.  I.e.: Put on a new roof

v        ชวนเด็กข้างบ้านมาเล่นเกมส์ กินขนมและเล่าเรื่องสั้นจากพระคัมภีร์ให้พวกเขาฟัง

Invite neighborhood children over to play games, a snack and tell a short Bible story

v        จัดแสดงดนตรีเพื่อบรรเลงให้กับคนพิการฟัง หรือไม่ก็เล่นกีฬากับพวกเขาก็ได้

v             Provide a concert for a group who may be (mentally) handicap – or play sports with them. (i.e.: mentally retarded bowling in Prescott, AZ)

v        ช่วยให้ผู้เสพติดยาและสุราเลิกพฤติกรรมการเสพติด

Help a drug addict or an alcoholic through withdraw from the drug/alcohol

ฯลฯ

Questions:  Is there anyone going to be in heaven because of you? Will anyone in heaven be able to say to you, “I want to thank you. I’m here because you cared enough about me to demonstrate Christ’s love to me in very real way!

Imagine the joy of greeting people in heaven whom you helped get there. The eternal salvation of a single soul is more important than anything else you will ever achieve in life. Only people are going to last forever!

The greatest single need in the church today is to know Jesus Christ through engaged, participatory encounter. 

When religion replaces the actual experience of the living Jesus, then we lose the very reality that religion itself describes as ultimate. 

The passionate, pursuing love of God must be proclaimed in season & out of season. 

We must emphasize the tenderness & mercy of God, who first loved us. 

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