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Session 4: Intentional Love

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Why does it seem so hard to be kind in today’s society?
Tolerance of others

Background

Jesus is journeying towards His appointed time in Jerusalem. Along the way, He continued to teach the basics of discipleship through discourse and parables. On one occasion, Jesus encountered a lawyer concerned about eternal life. In the dialogue that followed, Jesus told the powerful story of the Good Samaritan.

Who were the Samaritans?

The people of Samaria were of mixed Israelite and foreign descent, so the Jewish people did not accept them as part of the Jewish community. The Samaritans worshiped Yahweh and used a version of the Pentateuch as their Scripture, but they worshipped on Mount Gerizim, not in Jerusalem.
The hostilities between Jews and Samaritans dated all the way back to the late sixth-century bc. Thus the Samaritans were despised by Jews for both ethnic and religious reasons; there was mutual hatred by the Samaritans toward Jews.
The hostilities between Jews and Samaritans dated all the way back to the late sixth-century bc. Thus the Samaritans were despised by Jews for both ethnic and religious reasons; there was mutual hatred by the Samaritans toward Jews.
John 4:9 ESV
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
With a Samaritan playing the positive role—and a priest and Levite in negative roles—Jesus’ parable would have been shocking. It shows the extreme universality of the term “neighbor” and demonstrates the depths of mercy that should be extended to all people.

Our love for God is tied to our love for others

Let’s start with
Luke 10:25–28 ESV
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
What do you think of the words “to test” in verse 25?
The same word for test, ekpeirazo, used in
Luke 4:12 ESV
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
What about his question, “what shall I do?”
from the Greek word pue-el which connotes a physical action of making or doing something
clearly he “was thinking of some sort of salvation by works and had no understanding of divine grace”
10:25–29. Luke provided no background for this exchange. Apparently Jesus was teaching in a public setting when a lawyer (10:25a) (a scribe schooled in the law of Moses) asked Jesus a question, attempting to find a flaw in Jesus’ teaching (put Him to the test, 10:25a). While the question itself is a good one—what shall I do to inherit eternal life? (10:25b), clearly he “was thinking of some sort of salvation by works and had no understanding of divine grace” (Morris, Luke, 187). Jesus’ question in response was not intended to be evasive—What is written in the Law? (10:26a)—but meant to limit the discussion so as to eliminate from the outset fruitless exchanges and debates involving human speculations (cf. ). In His next question—How does it read to you?—Jesus was not asking for the lawyer’s own relativistic take on the law but was conducting a counter-test. There was a right and a wrong answer to this question. When the lawyer quoted (“love the Lord your God”) and (“love your neighbor as yourself”) (both cited in ), Jesus acknowledged that he had answered correctly (10:28a). However, Jesus’ quotation of —do this and you will live ()—brought home the devastating point that perfect obedience to the law was not possible. At this point the lawyer should have realized the inherent error of “works righteousness” implied in his opening question.
What do you think of Jesus answering a question with a question?
In His next question—How does it read to you?—Jesus was not asking for the lawyer’s own relativistic take on the law but was conducting a counter-test. There was a right and a wrong answer to this question. When the lawyer quoted (“love the Lord your God”) and (“love your neighbor as yourself”) (both cited in ), Jesus acknowledged that he had answered correctly (10:28a).
However, Jesus’ quotation of —do this and you will live ()—brought home the devastating point that perfect obedience to the law was not possible. At this point the lawyer should have realized the inherent error of “works righteousness” implied in his opening question.
Leviticus 18:5 ESV
5 You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.
Luke 10:28b ESV
28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
Tangent - Importance of bible study (topics, word study, etc). the word love in verse 27? Agape
To entrap Jesus in argumentation for the purpose of discrediting Him (see and note).
The question here is different than the one asked in Matthew’s similar account, but it may reflect the same thinking (see and note).
10:25. A man with excellent religious credentials stood among the crowd. He studied God’s law continually and interpreted it so the people would know how to obey it. He tried his best to obey the law himself. He helped administer justice within the Jewish system. People respected his expertise and his life. He had a question for Jesus. He thought it would reveal the weakness and falseness in Jesus’ teaching and lead people away from him back to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, the qualified religious leaders. God had given Israel an inheritance, namely the land of Israel. They had forfeited this inheritance through disobedience. Now they looked for a new inheritance, one that would last forever. The rabbis debated exactly what this inheritance was. The lawyer gave Jesus opportunity to provide a new definition.
10:26 Since He is conversing with a legal expert, Jesus appeals to the law.
meanings of love in NT Greek:
Storge - empathy type of love
10:27. True to his profession, the lawyer quoted Scripture. Interestingly, in and , Jesus quotes the same Scriptures (; ). Thus, both from the Jewish leaders’ viewpoint and from Jesus’ unique teaching, these Scriptures stand at the top of all other Old Testament teaching. Love God. Love neighbor. Then you will be and do what God expects in the Old Testament. Such love must not be half-hearted. It must be all-encompassing. Every part of you—thoughts, emotions, feelings, actions—must be controlled by love for God and for others.
10:28 These commands reflect the heart of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of God: love of God and love of neighbor.
Phileo - friendship, or brotherly love
10:28. For once Jesus agreed with a Jewish religious leader. Again, he emphasized the nature of this answer—not just an idea of the mind, but an action of one’s strength, a feeling of one’s soul, an emotion of one’s heart. Love must control the entire person.
Eros - romantic love
Agape - unconditional “God” like love

We fail to love when we are indifferent to others

Let’s move to
Luke 10:29–32 ESV
29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
Side Study: Jesus’ feeling for those in need (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ).
Fellow travelers soon happened on the situation. A priest, the highest of Jewish religious officials, hurriedly stepped to the other side of the road and continued on his important business, even though rabbinic law expected him to bury any corpse he discovered. Similarly, a Levite, who carried out the more mundane tasks of temple worship and operation, passed quickly by. No reason why, except not enough love for this “neighbor.”
It is the feeling and attitude of a master who cancels a servant’s massive debt (). This is true neighborly love—a love that goes beyond anything society or religious law expects and acts simply because of the extreme need of another.
Next we expect a member of the Jewish laity, the clergy having failed the love test. Instead, we get an unexpected Samaritan, one who in Jewish eyes had little reason to be in Jewish territory and who would be the last person to qualify as a neighbor to be loved. Such qualification is made from the lawyer’s worktable interpreting the law. From the dying man’s ditch, anyone who will offer first aid and emergency assistance qualifies as a loving neighbor. Thus, Jesus uttered shocking words for a Jewish audience grilled in legal interpretations and prejudiced judgments. The Samaritan had compassion—a Greek expression built on the word for a person’s inner parts, the seat of emotions and feelings. It expresses Jesus’ feeling for those in need (; ; ; ; ; ; ; ). It is the feeling and attitude of a master who cancels a servant’s massive debt (). This is true neighborly love—a love that goes beyond anything society or religious law expects and acts simply because of the extreme need of another.
What do you draw from verse 29?
10:29 The legal expert seeks to support his claim to be righteous (perhaps only in his own mind) and presses Jesus to define the term “neighbor.”
The legal expert’s question and his own answer in frame the parable of the Good Samaritan.
10:29. The leader tried to take the offense again and put Jesus on the defensive. One more trick question: Who is my neighbor? That is, how far does my love have to extend?
The lawyer was not ready to give up and so wishing to justify himself (10:29a) he evasively asked another question—And who is my neighbor? (10:29b). The lawyer was attempting to “limit the commandment” so as to make it possible for him to obey it sufficiently enough to merit eternal life.
Jesus exposed the fallacy of this tactic, and He answered the lawyers’ question in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
10:30 The road from Jerusalem and Jericho dropped roughly 3,500 feet over about 10 miles.
The setting (on the road traveling away from Jerusalem to Jericho), the indifferent characters (a priest and a Levite), and especially the hero of the story—a Samaritan—were all contrary to the expectations of a Jewish audience. Such a morality tale would be expected to have the characters moving toward Jerusalem, the initial audience would have expected that the respected religious leaders would be the heroes and the despised Samaritan a scoundrel.
Several important features of this parable (mostly lost on those who are familiar with its traditional title, if not its specific contents) would have been “contrary to expectation” for the initial audience. The setting (on the road traveling away from Jerusalem to Jericho), the indifferent characters (a priest and a Levite), and especially the hero of the story—a Samaritan—were all contrary to the expectations of a Jewish audience. Such a morality tale would be expected to have the characters moving toward Jerusalem, the initial audience would have expected that the respected religious leaders would be the heroes and the despised Samaritan a scoundrel.
Depicting these religious authorities as callous and unfeeling would no doubt have scandalized the audience. They would have bristled at the notion that these respected authorities could be so unsympathetic.
However, the appearance of the Samaritan, cast in the role of hero would have perplexed Jesus’ audience even more.
Although the hatred ran both ways, Jewish people thought “such people were unclean and were to be avoided”
10:31 Refers to a religious leader of Israel. Priests performed sacrifices, maintained the temple, and provided instruction.
Since the priest was leaving Jerusalem (and likely the temple), it is unlikely that he was concerned primarily with matters of ritual purity.

We are commanded to love even when it is costly or inconvenient

Let’s finish with
10:33 Jews and Samaritans despised each other (see note on 9:52). For Jesus’ audience, the idea of a good Samaritan would have been a contradiction.
Luke 10:33–37 ESV
33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
10:34 To promote healing and prevent infection.
Did Jesus give the lawyer the complete answer to eternal life here?
10:35 This amount of money would have paid for roughly two months in the inn, which might indicate the severity of the beaten man’s condition.
He left him an opportunity to ponder who Jesus is and to accept or reject Him
10:36. Jesus had the lawyer set up for the obvious question: Who among the three was the loving neighbor?
Jesus concluded with a final question to the lawyer, one that he could not evade (10:36). The point of Jesus’ parable (in answer to the lawyer’s question, 10:29c) was this: anyone in need is my neighbor, anyone who helps another in need is my neighbor, and anyone who helps me is my neighbor.
Jesus indicated that one’s neighbor was anyone in need that an individual could help, and that the help that should be rendered must be lavish and extensive if one wishes “to justify himself” before God as this lawyer did. But the man would not be capable of always fulfilling the law at the level required, and would not be able to “justify himself” by keeping it. When it comes to works righteousness, God is a maximalist with respect to obeying the law. A minimalist approach, as assumed by the lawyer, is unacceptable to Him. For this reason, because of humankind’s inability to live the law, justification must be by grace through faith.
Luke 7:39–43 ESV
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
This is an impossible obligation for the lawyer, and for us. We cannot always keep the law because of our human condition; our heart and desires are mostly of self and selfishness.
Jesus’ response implies that all people are to be treated as neighbors—with mercy and compassion.
When left to our own, we do the wrong thing, failing to meet the law. We can hope that the lawyer saw this and came to the realization that there was nothing he could do to justify himself, that he needed a personal savior to atone for his lack of ability to save himself from his sins.
Thus, the lessons of the Parable of the Good Samaritan are three-fold: (1) we are to set aside our prejudice and show love and compassion for others. (2) Our neighbor is anyone we encounter; we are all creatures of the creator and we are to love all of mankind as Jesus has taught. (3) Keeping the law in its entirety with the intent to save ourselves is an impossible task; we need a savior, and this is Jesus.

Takeaways

10:37. The lawyer gave the only possible answer: the one who showed mercy to the traveler. Again, this Greek term is often applied to Jesus, who responds to calls for mercy (; ; ; ; ; cf. ). Jesus promised God’s mercy to those who show mercy (). So Jesus told the lawyer to go and show mercy like the Samaritan had done.

Takeaways

When we love God completely, we can then learn to love others compassionately.
Followers of Christ are not to look for ways to limit compassion but to increase them beyond measure.
That people are in bad situations because of poor choices does not eliminate the need for someone with compassion to help restore them.
Love is not a feeling; it is an action.
There was a lawyer who tested Jesus with the question: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The full account is recorded in . Jesus asked the lawyer to look in the law. The law commanded the hearer: love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.
Below is the commandment. First read it, and whisper or quietly mouth the last two words in brackets:
You shall 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 your neighbor [as yourself]. ()
Now reread the commandment and emphasize the last two words in brackets.
You shall 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 your neighbor [as yourself].
I was raised on this verse from childhood, but I did not hear the last two words until I was in my late thirties. Seeing the command to love myself in Scripture was the mandate or permission I needed to do so. Those of us socialized like Carolyn to take care of others, whether as firstborn of the family or because we were women, have a tendency to neglect ourselves. I also find this tendency in caregivers in ministry, because we have not realized the interconnectedness of the three loves: love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self.
Following the lawyer’s question and Jesus’ answer is the parable of the good Samaritan. A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was stripped and beaten by robbers. The poor sojourner was left for dead. A priest passed by without stopping, as did a Levite. But the least likely person to stop, a Samaritan, had pity and compassion for the beaten traveler and stopped to help. The Samaritan bandaged the wounds, pouring water and oil on them. The Samaritan enlisted the aid of an animal to transport the wounded to an inn. Then the Samaritan gave the innkeeper money to care for the wounded man.
How does this demonstrate love of self? you may ask. Travel with me farther into the narrative. The Samaritan left the wounded man with the innkeeper, finished his or her journey, and followed up with aftercare. The Samaritan not only paid the innkeeper but said that anything remaining as debt would be repaid upon the return visit. The Samaritan managed to care for the wounded man while finishing his or her own journey. By finishing the journey, the Samaritan exhibited self-care. By delegating the responsibilities in caring and relying on other professionals (i.e., the innkeeper), the Samaritan avoided compassion fatigue.
Women have traditionally been socialized to care for others; that is, their main purpose in life is to provide for others. Thus, growing up in the South, I had always imagined women like the Samaritan, leaning over the needy or wounded, frozen in a posture of care for others. Now I see women and men who are caregivers as the journeying Samaritan, who indeed stopped to care for the sufferer but who also finished the journey, thus engaging in self-care.
We often think of the ordained minister as the Samaritan, following in the ministry of Christ, whom many commentators see depicted in the good Samaritan parable. Whether ordained or lay, any of us who undertake pastoral care in Christ’s footsteps are susceptible to compassion fatigue. The parable in is timely because it illustrates the balance between self-care and care of others while giving us permission to distribute the load of caring with the “innkeepers” in our communities. It is out of love of God that we undertake this risky mission.
Situations utilizing “innkeepers” will be discussed more thoroughly in chapter 5. However, for our purposes here, some examples of “innkeepers” could include medical personnel, such as nurses and doctors, therapists, clinical psychologists, or facilitators of support groups such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Bosom Buddies, and Resolve. Innkeepers could be social workers, staff at halfway houses or rehabilitation centers, staff and trainers at domestic violence prevention programs, and volunteers and trained professionals at rape crisis centers or child abuse prevention programs. Innkeepers could be pastors or laity, such as Stephen Ministers. Innkeepers could be hospice personnel or volunteers for Meals on Wheels. The innkeepers are as varied as the “inns” that support us in our caregiving to individuals in need. Sometimes the inns will be a Christian location or institution. At times, God will use institutions or organizations that are inclusive of Christians but not limited to Christians. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous is a support network that makes Christians feel welcome but is open to other faith orientations as well. God will ask us to work as a team with these “inns” and “innkeepers” who are ecumenical or interfaith or nondenominational. As long as the suffering person can feel safe and respected and encouraged in his or her own profession of faith, we as Christians should welcome the opportunity to network with other professionals as innkeepers.
There is another possible way to interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and that is as a metaphor. In this interpretation the injured man is all men in their fallen condition of sin. The robbers are Satan attacking man with the intent of destroying their relationship with God. The lawyer is mankind without the true understanding of God and His Word. The priest is religion in an apostate condition. The Levite is legalism that instills prejudice into the hearts of believers. The Samaritan is Jesus who provides the way to spiritual health. Although this interpretation teaches good lessons, and the parallels between Jesus and the Samaritan are striking, this understanding draws attention to Jesus that does not appear to be intended in the text. Therefore, we must conclude that the teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is simply a lesson on what it means to love one’s neighbor.
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