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Go and Do: The Jesus Side of the Street

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Go and Do: The Jesus Side of the Street

intro - talk about Gospel for year is John. We will begin to go through that next week.
Luke 10:25–37 NIV
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
----
Pray
[picofgoodsamaratin]
Our yearlong search for the work of Christ around us can only begin here, in this text. It begins here, not because we all know it, or because it is so understandable; we begin here, because in this moment of scripture, Jesus speaks through two millennia directly to us. He hits us right between the eyes with a truth that we confront seemingly daily.
I say that as a way to continue this idea from last week. You see, we all wake up, seemingly every day, and wonder - either to ourselves or even to others - what do I need to do to follow Christ? We all get to that point. We all ask ourselves that question. And really, if you aren’t taking stock, and asking yourself that question AT LEAST weekly, then you need to resolve to start now. I say that because it is only when we analyze and asses our spiritual condition and our response to the Holy Spirit that we can see if we are on the right track.
That means that we need to constantly look at our lives and ask God what lies at the heart of this mans question.
What do I need to do to be more like you?
[read]
That is what the man, likely a Pharisee, is really asking. And that is what we need to be asking! Whether we are, like this man, frustrated or testing Jesus, or we are genuinely lost and in need of His guidance, we need to daily seek out opportunities to sit and ask God, what do I need to do to be more like you?
As we said last week, that is where we as a church stand right now. Y’all, I can’t express to you the importance of this year, and our theme for it. For me, this is everything we need to be about. This is the way we need to live. We must look into our lives, and our church lives, and find those places when we don’t love God and love Neighbor because we aren’t paying attention, or are more concerned with trivial things. That single commandment of Jesus, that little piece of scripture that lays at the heart of this introduction to the parable and at the center of our own church identity, it should guide us to far bigger things than ourselves. Bigger things than social groups and corporate worship and power struggles.
But just like this man in our text, all too often, we get lost in the weeds of our own comfort. We get lost and then when we see need, or see our purpose, we ask some form of this same question:
Who is my neighbor?
Who am I supposed to love like I love God? Who am I supposed to offer myself to, just as I offer myself to God? Who am I supposed to serve?
[picofamirror]
All too often, our answer is someone who looks like us, or thinks like us, or are even our friends, or people who run in our own social circles, right? People who live on our side of town, and our side of the street. At the very least, they are people who we feel have cleared some invisible set of protocols that we have in our heads!
Maybe we don’t help people who we think might drink, or are on drugs. Maybe we don’t help people who have other habits we don’t like. Or people who have tattoos, or piercings. Maybe we need to make sure they at least have a job before we will help them. Whatever our set of rules, I can see us all - myself included - occasionally forgetting just what we are called to think and do in this life, choosing instead to pass by those who need us the most just because they don’t live on Jeff’s side of town, or on your side of the street.
I mean, it’s OK though right? We give to Lottie Moon, and Annie Armstrong, and here at church! We sacrifice a little to tithe, or we sacrifice our Sundays and maybe even our Wednesdays. We offer those things to God as a way to show Him that we are on His side! We are obedient!
Matthew 9:13 NIV
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
And right there, in the middle of all those things that we think qualify us as the ‘elect’ or the ‘righteous’, God reminds us all of our real job.
He demands mercy. He demands grace. He demands that we stop thinking that we can give our way into obedience with money alone. Church, just like this Pharisee in our text, we sometimes think we are justified by our obedience in one aspect of faith. But y’all, tithing is just tithing. It is our response of obedience and love for what we have been given by God. It is not, however, something that checks off a box that would allow us to go live unmerciful and unloving lives! And in fact, it isn’t even what God is ultimately after!
God demands mercy! But God knows that the only way to teach us to be merciful is to get us to love money less and people more! And more than just that, we have to love people more than our time, our station, our situations - more than anything apart from God!
[picofgoodsamaritan]
That is what this story is all about. That is why it is so valuable for us. Church we are all just like this Pharisee. We treat our ways, our customs and traditions, as being just as precious as God’s word and call in our lives. What is worse, we treat them as being more important than God’s people!
We are so busy walking along on our side of the street - following our own made up ways - that we rarely care to think about those on the other side, let alone try to reach out and help them! I mean after all, we gave at the office! We’re good!
We are just like these men passing on their own side of the street...
[summarize story]
[move everything towards the end of the story-]
[move everything towards the end of the story-]
I feel like all of us, at some point, face the tug of God’s Spirit in our souls. We face the unapologetic truth of what God expects from us. The obvious question of our Savior to this man, and in fact, to each and every one of us! Here in this text we get this picture, this reflection of our own situations and thoughts, and through that we get to hear our Savior ask us the same questions!
I feel like all of us, at some point, face the tug of God’s Spirit in our souls. We face the unapologetic truth of what God expects from us. The obvious question of our Savior to this man, and in fact, to each and every one of us! Here in this text we get this picture, this reflection of our own situations and thoughts, and through that we get to hear our Savior ask us the same questions!
Which one lived the right way? Which one thought like Jesus? Which one had God’s plan on the forefront of His mind? Which one should you try to live like?
Luke 10:37 NIV
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
THE ONE WHO HAD MERCY! THE ONE WHO HAD GRACE! THE ONE WHO THOUGHT ABOUT THE NEEDS OF SOMEONE ELSE FIRST! THE ONE THAT WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE SOMETHING - IF NOT EVERYTHING - FOR SOMEONE ELSE! THE ONE WHO WALKED ON THE JESUS SIDE OF THE STREET, AND FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS! NOT QUESTIONING WHY THE TRAVELER WAS ROBBED, OR WHY HE WOULD GET IN THAT POSITION TO BEGIN WITH, BUT INSTEAD TO START THE RELATIONSHIP FROM THAT MOMENT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO POUR LOVE AND HOPE AND LIFE INTO THIS MAN, IN THE HOPES THAT HE WOULD SEE GOD! AND AFTER SEEING GOD, CHURCH, HE WOULD DO JUST WHAT YOU AND I ARE TOLD BY JESUS IN THIS VERY TEXT TO DO!
Luke 10:37 NIV
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
The one who just did his job.
Go and do that.
Jesus tells us to go and do likewise. Have mercy on others. Go and talk. Go and listen. Go and empathize. Go and comfort. Go and help. Go and heal. Go and love. Go and be the very image of Jesus for someone! Go and invest everything you have in those fields, in those pearls of God’s creation! Go and do that, church, and you will be rich indeed! Rich in love, and grace, and mercy, and in fact, rich in the very spirit of God!
And what is more, you will be walking in the footsteps of the Master, proving your love and obedience through your care for His creation.
[picofthreemarbles]
I want to close with a practical story of what that looks like. A story that shows how little it takes to make a difference in the lives of God’s people. And really, to show that it is those same little things - those moments when we show our willingness to think of others first - those things make all the difference in this world. It is those things that we must learn to go and do first.
During the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community, I used to stop by Mr. Miller's roadside stand for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively. One particular day Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for me. I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to me. "Hello Barry, how are you today?" "H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank 'ya. Jus' admirin' them peas ...sure look good." "They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?" "Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time." "Good. Anything I can help you with?" "No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas." "Would you like to take some home?" "No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with." "Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?" "All I got's my prize marble here." Is that right? Let me see it." "Here 'tis. She's a dandy." "I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?" "Not 'zackley .... but, almost." "Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble." "Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller." Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps." I left the stand, smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys and their bartering. Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon our arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could. Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts ... very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes. Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and mentioned the story she had told me about the marbles. Eyes glistening she took my hand and led me to the casket. "Those three young men, who just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size... they came to pay their debt. "We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho." With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.
I want to close with a story of what that looks like. A story that shows how little it takes to make a difference in the lives of God’s people.
It was during the waning years of the depression in a small southeastern Idaho community, there was a young fella who used to stop by a roadside stand, Mr. Miller's roadside stand. He would stop there for farm-fresh produce as the season made it available. Food and money were still extremely scarce and bartering was used, extensively. One particular day, Mr. Miller was bagging some early potatoes for him. Then he noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. He paid for his potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. You see, he was a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, He couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller and the ragged boy next to him.
[pichere]
"Hello Barry, how are you today?"
"H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank 'ya. Jus' admirin' them peas...sure look good."
"They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?"
"Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time."
"Good. Anything I can help you with?"
"No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas."
"Would you like to take some home?"
"No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with."
"Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?"
"All I got's my prize marble here."
“Is that right? Let me see it."
"Here 'tis. She's a dandy."
"I can see that. Hmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?"
"Not 'zackley...but, almost."
"Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble."
"Sure will. Thanks, Mr. Miller."
Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help this young man. With a smile she said: "There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, perhaps."
The young man left the stand. left the smiling to himself, impressed with this man. Several years went by each more rapid than the previous one. Until one day this young man went to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while he was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his viewing that evening and knowing his friends wanted to go, he agreed to accompany them. Upon their arrival at the mortuary they fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort they could.
Ahead of them in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts - very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing smiling and composed, by her husband's casket. Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary, awkwardly, wiping his eyes.
This young man’s turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. He told her who he was and mentioned the story she had told him about the marbles those many years ago. Her eyes glistening she took his hand and led him to the casket. "Those three young men, who just left, were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim "traded" them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size, they came to pay their debt."
“We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world," she confided, "but, right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho." With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three, magnificently shiny, red marbles.
That is what walking on the Jesus side of the street looks like church. Whatever you do for the least of these - the poor, the addict, the hurting, the homeless, the destitute, the drunkard - the people who at the heart of everything are EXACTLY like you and me. Whatever you do for those, you do for God Himself.
So go and do.
Micah 6:8 NIV
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
It isn’t always glitzy. It doesn’t even take that much. But church, walking on the Jesus side of the street means that our thoughts are always with others. Our actions are for them. Our intentions are for their good. We are always looking out for them, and trying to find ways to care for them.
No matter where they are from. No matter how they got into the situation they are in. Mercy and grace trump all of that. No matter the cost.
Go and do likewise. Go and show God’s love for this world. Go and do mercy, do justice, walk humbly with God. Stop pushing aside His real call for us all and surrender everything for Him, and for others. Give your life away, and find your life in Him and His light and life in others.
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