39 Luke 10.25-37
Historical study has revealed that Karl Marx, the self-proclaimed defender of the working-class proletariat, never truly knew or had a friendship with a single member of the proletariat. So far as researchers know, he never set foot in a mill or a factory or a mine or any other industrial workplace in his whole life!
Living a self-conscious, Bohemian, intellectual lifestyle he knew poverty, but he always kept company with middle-class intellectuals like himself. When he and Friedrich Engels created the Communist League, he made sure that working-class socialists were eliminated from any positions of influence.
It is also clear that for all his endeavors to be the social benefactor of humankind, he disliked people and continuously fought with members of his family. Marx lived his life in an atmosphere of verbal violence, quarreling with everyone with whom he associated for any length of time. He worked hard at becoming middle-class, bourgeois.
What is the point of all this? All humans find it difficult to live up to what we espouse intellectually. Further, so often those who are the loudest proclaimers of certain ideas are often the biggest affront to those same ideas.
It is not uncommon to love the idea that you love people and are their benefactor rather than actually love people themselves
v And that is the type of person that we have before us today…
v In v. 25 we meet the Expert in Law
Ø A Lawyer
§ Stands up and he wants to test Jesus
· Could be simply asking an honest question, but…
Ø GK “ekpeirazo”
§ Means to test in a negative way, entrap, tempt
· Same word used in Lk 4:12 as Jesus’ answer to Satan’s 3rd temptation in wilderness
¨ To show your power and prove that you are God
Ø “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”
§ In other words…
· Don’t try to tempt or trap God
v This command still stands today
Ø And there is a very dangerous way we test our God?
§ Living a “Quid pro quo” type of faith
· I do this, God does that
¨ When we expect God to give us something because we have done something for God
Ø Illustration: Brian Zielinski
Ø The Lawyer asks a question not only with the wrong motivation…
§ But with the wrong understanding of the Law
· “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
¨ GK sentence structure more fluid that English (subject, verb, predicate)
Ø He asks literally…
§ By doing what, shall I inherit eternal life?
v Here the Lawyer is asking a works righteousness question
Ø What do I need to do
§ That is the temptation we all go through
A 16-year-old girl had been driving at night with friends, and she had backed into a light pole. The pole had broken off and then fallen forward, crashing down onto the car. A 12-year-old friend in the car had been severely injured; in fact, she was brain dead when she arrived at the hospital. Michael, the hospital Chaplin, walked with the 12-year-old's family as they went through the wrenching process of realizing the truth and allowing the life support to be removed.
The following morning, Michael visited the hospital room of the 16-year-old driver. Physically, she was recovering well, but emotionally, she was overcome knowing that her actions had killed her friend. "I'm going to be like a daughter to her parents," she told Michael. "I'm going to go over to their house every day and baby-sit for them. I'll wash dishes for them every night. I'll go over there every week and mow their lawn."
Michael gradually helped her realize the truth that no matter what she did, she could never replace their daughter. She could never do enough to make up for her actions. All she could do was ask for forgiveness and hope that the parents would find it in their hearts to forgive her.
The parents who lost their daughter, amazingly, did forgive this girl. She was set free from trying to pay back a debt she could never repay no matter what she did.
Ø The mistake that the lawyer makes is thinking like the 16 year old girl
§ That he can do something to earn eternal life
· He is asking Jesus what part of the law he must fulfill
Ø Just as the Lawyer must learn, so do we…
§ We can never do enough to make up for our actions
· You can never keep enough of the Law to earn salvation
¨ That was not the purpose of the Law
Ø The purpose of the Law was a way of life, not way to life
v Jesus responds to the Lawyer in a very Rabbinic way
Ø With a question
§ READ V. 26
v Very religious Jews at that time wore something called Phylacteries
Ø Explain phylacteries
§ Jesus probably pointed to the Phylacteries hanging from his left sleeve
· And asked his question
¨ And among the Scriptures in his Phylactery would be the heart of the Law
Ø Dt 6:4-5 & Lev 19:18
§ Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength
§ love your neighbor as yourself
Ø So the Lawyer simply gives the rote answer from the OT (v. 27)
§ To which Jesus replies…
· READ v. 28
¨ “You have answered correctly, do this and live.”
Ø That is the right answer, for then and now
§ Seems simple, but…
· Easier said than done
v He believes that his relationship with God is good
v It slowly dawns on the lawyer
Ø His shortcomings in treating his neighbor with love…
§ So he asks another question
· READ v. 29
v You see…
Ø The expert in the Law had a clear grasp of the Law’s central requirements
§ And he felt that he was doing a good job with the first
· But it is obvious that he did not feel the same way about the second
¨ Loving his neighbor
Ø He felt he fell a little short in this respect
Ø There are only three ways a person can react when that awareness dawns:
§ (1) We can acknowledge we are sinners and appeal to God for mercy.
¨ This is the correct response
¨ This is the response that God wants
¨ This is the response that the Law was intended to evoke
Ø A Romans 3:23 realization
§ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
· Drives us to our knees in repentance
§ (2) We can concentrate on the things we do well and pretend we do not fail in others
· Intentional Ignorance
¨ This is a recipe for disaster
Ø Turning a blind eye to our sins
§ Sin festers and spreads
In Oregon's Malheur National Forest, a fungus has spread across 2,200 acres, making it the largest living organism ever found. Known as the honey mushroom, it's been weaving its black shoestring filaments through the forest for an estimated 2,400 years, killing trees as it grows.
When you're on the ground, you don't notice it you just see dead trees in clusters. That is because it spreads underground through tree roots. And it all started from a single microscopic spore.
§ You see…
· When we practice intentional ignorance
· When we turn a blind eye toward sin…
¨ We give it the ability to fester and grow
Ø We may not see the results of it on the surface
Ø We may even believe that we have evaded its effect
§ But it is like the honey mushroom
· Growing under the surface
· Killing as it goes
¨ And it all starts from one tiny spore of a sin!
The third reaction we have when we feel like we are falling short is…
§ (3) We can cut the Law’s requirements down by reinterpreting them, so we can live up to what are essentially inferior standards.
· Lowering of the Law
· It’s this third approach the expert in Law took.
¨ To narrow the scope of the Law
Ø He wanted to define “neighbor” in such a way he could claim he had kept the commandment
· He sought to justify himself by claiming that “neighbor” means Israelite
¨ Common belief at the time
· Narrowing the scope of what God demands is a common strategy in order to justify oneself
¨ We do it, don’t we?! (Lower the Law)
Ø We categorize sins
§ Some more egregious than others
· Venial and Cardinal sin
· Adultery, murder much worst than gossip and lying
¨ Categorize even further…
¨ White lie and boldface lies
Ø We are harder on the more obvious sins
§ Drinking, drugs and smoking
Ø Yet easier on others
§ Lust, coveting
§ But we must remember what it says in Scripture…
· Some sin precedes you to the throne, others drag behind
¨ But both end up at the throne of judgment!
v Our temptation many times is to narrow the scope of the Law…
Ø But Jesus did just the opposite when he was here!
§ He actually expands it in the sermon on the mount (Matt 5:21-48)
§ “You have heard it said” section
· You have heard it said…
¨ Do not murder
Ø Widened to anger
· You have heard it said…
¨ Do not commit adultery
Ø Widened to lust
· You have heard it said…
¨ Eye for an eye (revenge)
Ø Widened to “turn the other cheek”
· You have heard it said…
¨ Love your neighbor, hate your enemy
Ø Widened to Love your enemy
v Christ leaves no room for the justification of our sin
Ø As he does not for the lawyer either
§ He tells him a parable
v The Parable
Ø READ v. 30-37
Ø Discuss parable here
§ Priest, Levite
· Probably stayed clear to remain ceremonially clean
¨ Leviticus = cannot touch a dead body
· By trying to keep the Law, they transgressed the whole 2nd table of the 10 commandments!
Ø The lawyer as well as the rest of the people listening probably were expecting an ordinary Jew would come to his aid
§ That would be an anti-establishment slap
· Which many would applaud
v But Jesus went where no one was expecting him to go
Ø A Samaritan
§ Today when we hear the word, we think of the famous good guy
· A Samaritan gives back a wallet with all its money intact
· A good Samaritan helps people in need
· We even name help agencies after them
¨ Samaritan’s purse
Ø But in Jesus’ day he was the notorious bad guy
§ Samaritans were considered irreligious half breeds
· 1000 years of hatred
¨ These were the Jews who divided the Kingdom after Solomon
¨ These were the Jews that intermarried during the Assyrian captivity
¨ These were the Jews that rejected all the Scriptures but the Pentateuch
¨ These were the Jews who set up a separate temple on Mt Gerizim
v But Jesus uses him for the hero of our story
Ø Stopping when no one else would
Ø Applying 1st century first aid
§ Olive oil to loosen the dried blood
§ Wine as an antiseptic
Ø Putting him on his donkey
Ø Taking him to a local Inn and caring for him
Ø Paying not only for his recovery time
§ 2 denarii paid for a 3 week stay
· But for anything else that might come up!
v This Parable certainly answers the Lawyer’s question resoundingly
Ø There is no narrow meaning of neighbor
§ Christ widens it to everyone being your neighbor
· You are responsible for loving everyone
¨ We can never say as Cain did…
Ø “Am I my brother’s keeper?
§ Because the answer is…Yes!
v But Jesus is getting at another deeper truth than loving your neighbor here
Ø The real issue that Jesus is getting at is the lawyer’s love for God
§ The truth of the matter is that…
· The Scripture’s call to love our neighbor as ourselves gives us a way of testing our relationship with God
¨ It is the barometer for our love for God
Ø Just as you could tell where Karl Marx’s heart really was…
§ So you can tell where a person’s heart really is toward God by how they treat their neighbor
v That is why Paul was able to write in Gal 5:14
Ø The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”
v Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps” is one of the most widely read Christian books in print
Ø If you have ever wondered where the “WWJD” slogan came from…
§ Right here
The book begins with the fictional pastor Henry Maxwell busily preparing a sermon on a Friday morning when he is interrupted by a shabbily dressed man asking for help.
Pastor Maxwell listens to the man and then excuses himself from helping because he has a sermon to write.
This Tramp comes to the service on Sunday and dies of a heart attack
But before he dies, he talks to the congregation about the sermon they have just heard and the songs they have just sung which talked about taking the cross of Jesus, giving their all for Jesus, acting like Jesus and following in Jesus’ footsteps.
Pastor Maxwell is so struck by these events and so convicted by his own actions toward the tramp that he makes a covenant before God to ask the question of every situation “What would Jesus Do?” for one full year and act on the answer. The book details out the revolutionary change that Pastor Maxwell and a few other go through as they honestly try to do what Jesus would do.
This book is credited with revolutionizing modern Christianity by re-energizing it for social action. Caring for your neighbor.
Ø You see…
§ We are to follow in our master’s footsteps
v In a few short weeks, we are going to celebrate the birth of Christ
Ø The reason for his birth was so that he could die…
§ Die for the sins of the world
· Not for the sins of the Jews…his neighbors
· Not for the sins of a select group
· Not for the sins of some and not others
¨ But for the whole world (Jn 3:16 ~ Love the world)
Ø Jesus showed mercy on the whole world
Ø Those were his neighbors
v And we should do the same
Ø We should follow in his footsteps
§ We actually should ask the question WWJD
· And then act mercifully toward all our neighbors
v This is not a call to perfection
Ø Only Jesus totally loved God and his neighbor as himself
Ø Only Jesus was consistently merciful to everyone who came his way
§ But it is a call to consider whether in our relationships there is evidence that we love God
· Are we merciful?
· Are we truly compassionate with others?
· Are we forgiving?
v You see… How we live with others is shorthand for how we are related to God
Ø May self-examination drive us to grace!
· NT often connects loving God with responses to others
¨ Jn 13:34-35; Gal 5:14; Col 1:3-5
¨ by to be a benefactor of the people was shown to be bogus by his elitist mentality
· Showing mercy to one’s neighbor
§ Greatest commandment
§ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind
Ø Jesus was really getting at the lawyer’s relationship with God through his relationship with people
§ Cannot look into anyone’s spiritual life, not measurable
· But how you treat people is measurable
¨ The barometer of your love for God can be discerned through your love for others
v Jesus believed the whole world was his neighbor and died for it!