Are You the Samaritan?
What if we’ve been reading the “Parable of The Good Samaritan” all wrong? What if there’s a way to read it that will actually empower us instead of just making us feel overwhelmed?
Hey…2 quick things before we get into the message.
Firstly: Did you see this??
(Put up Land Sign slide)
Just went up on our land on Friday!
Are you getting excited?
We got a ways to go still…money still to come in…
But the hope is to break ground in the Spring
(Start with Baptism slide)
And secondly, I just wanted to say a word about baptism
Listen, baptism…is the outward symbol of your salvation.
It symbolizes that when you believed Jesus died in your place, and you committed to be his disciple…
That he WASHED your sins away.
That you were dead…buried…and He raised you up back to life…a NEW person.
And in the Bible…every believer (3x) is commanded…to get baptized.
It’s not something we do as babies.
The Bible teaches no such thing
Everyone who gets baptized in the Bible does so after they believe
And so God’s Word calls us to do just that.
I know a number of you are newer believers around here.
Others of you have just never been baptized AFTER you believed (like God commands)
Let me tell you, not only does God want you to do this…but it is SUCH a powerful experience. So powerful.
So walk out into the hallway after this service and sign-up.
Or better yet, do it now on your app.
Also, let me quickly address a question I’ve been getting A LOT as many more of you start having kids going into Elementary School.
Often, we get asked, “My child is 6, or 7, or 9, and they want to get baptized…should they?”
We don’t have a rule with that because the Bible doesn’t…and we’re not out to create rules that don’t exist in the Bible. J
So if you feel they genuinely believe and they really want to…obviously you can.
However, I will give you a principle from experience…not a rule…a principle.
Personally, I often highly encourage parents to WAIT until their kids are of Youth Group age…6th grade of higher….when their faith is more likely to become their own.
And here’s why:
I can’t tell you…how many people have come to me over the years (it’s multiple people every year)…and said:
“I was baptized when I was 7 or 9…and it meant nothing to me…and can I get rebaptized?”
And we always say no, because they Bible doesn’t teach that.
So, if you have young kids…my encouragement to you would be to wait until it’s more memorable to them
…but I’m not the Holy Spirit…so if you feel it’s right…and they have genuine faith…we will absolutely baptize them
WE WANT TO, BUT CAN’T SEEM TO
(Lost & Found Series Slide)
Okay, this morning as we continue in the Book of Luke, we’ve come to, what might be the most famous of Jesus’ parables.
At least among those outside of Christian circles.
It’s the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.”
A story of helping those in need.
And let me just address, right away, what just happened in some of your hearts.
Some of you…went, “Oh no…a message about serving and helping others in need”
“I know that I probably should do that, but I don’t, so I’m just going to feel bad through this message…and nothing’s going to change”
If that’s you…I want you to open your heart up to the God’s Word this morning as we read it.
Because I’m praying you see something new and fresh in this.
Something that will empower you to live in the way He’s created you to live.
And I want you to pray too that God will open up His Word to you this morning?
Let’s start reading
Jesus is going to be confronted by a religious teacher.
An “expert in the law”…that is “the law of Moses” in the OT
Let’s take a look:
(Luke 10:25-29) – NIV
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 and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
JUSTIFYING YOUR WAY OUT OF IT
Let’s pause for a minute here
Why does religious expert ask: “And…WHO is my neighbor?”
Well, Jesus told him that if He was going to go to heaven…He needs to be someone who loves God and loves His neighbor
Which, I’m sure, he feels the conviction of not loving very many of his neighbors
SO he says, “Yeah, but how would you define neighbor?”
Because remember, this guy is trying to “earn his way” to God.
It says He’s trying to JUSTIFY himself to God…
And when you’re trying to earn your way to God, often you want to create convenient rules that box God’s demands on your life into small areas that you’re conveniently already obeying.
“So the man wants Jesus to answer him by saying:
“Well, your neighbor is actually just your family …that’s your neighbor” (Oh, good, I already love them…surely I’m doing what God wants”)
People, us in included, treat God like this all the time.
The problem is…when your spirituality turns into simply checking the right boxes so you can go to heaven…
…you will rarely, if ever, be concerned about helping or serving other people.
Or, you’ll just do it here or there…to check a box…so you can justify yourself.
WE SHOULD BE LIKE THE GOOD SAMARITAN
But to Jesus…there is a true and better way
So, like a good teacher, he tells the man a story.
(Luke 10:30-37) – NIV
30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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.’
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 and do likewise.”
So the story starts with a priest walking by the dying man.
The priest is supposed to be the Godly person…
The one who’s supposed to do the right thing.
I think we could often be labeled as the priest in the story.
We’re followers of God.
The world should rightfully expect us to take care of those who need our help.
And yet, the priest, not only walks by…
But he literally crosses over to the other side of the road….so he won’t have to look the man in the eye…
The priest, and similarly the Levite (who was a temple worker), doesn’t a stop for a number of reasons.
If it turned out the man was actually dead…and they touched him…they would have become ritually impure…which would have meant that they would have had to turn around, go BACK to the temple in Jerusalem, and purify themselves for SEVEN days.
They decide they can’t take their chances that this guy is already dead…so their schedule then takes priority instead of the man.
Like our schedule does for many of us.
We say, all the time: “I don’t have time to serve others around me that have needs…
…my work schedule is crazy, my kids have soccer and dance…
We clutch the idol of our schedule…the idol of ourselves…
And we self-care ourselves to death…why others are facing death.
I just learned of 2 suicides in the past week or so…
One was a person I once knew quite well…
People are literally DYING of despair.
All while we have the gospel! The news that can save them!
We see them on the side of the road…in the peripheral vision of our lives…suffering…
But we walk by them, we walk by them, and we walk by them…WHY?
Because as Americans, the devil has us right where he wants us..
Clutching our idols of schedule and self…refusing to let go as we walk by dying people.
We also know that this particular road from Jerusalem to Jericho was very dangerous…
There were a number of caverns and caves…places for robbers to hide.
In those days, a part of that road from Jerusalem to Jericho was literally called “the pass of blood” because so many people were injured or killed there.
I think we miss this sometimes when we think about this story.
We sometimes like to imagine this story as… “It’s like…You’re out walking and you see a homeless person on the way back to your neighborhood…
But this story is more like, “you’re on vacation in NYC, get lost, end up in a dangerous neighborhood at 1am…and see someone lying on the side of the road”
To get out of your car to help…will be a risk to you.
And many of us don’t serve for that reason…because serving always comes with a risk.
Again, we clutch the idol of self…and in order to make sure we don’t risk…
any suffering on our part
any suffering I might I have to get to church early to serve
any suffering I might have to stay for an extra service if I teach the Bible in Children’s ministry…that would be too much suffering..
any suffering like…say you’re in middle school OR high school…and you know to talk to…or sit by someone else that no one notices…is going to cause you discomfort
So what we don’t do it…
So much of why we keep walking by people with needs…is simply because we don’t want to feel discomfort.
It’s the idol of self.
Yet, here comes the Samaritan.
Remember, for those of you that were here a few weeks ago…the Samaritans were HATED by the Jews. HATED.
Jesus picks a Samaritan in his story…on purpose.
He wants his Jewish listeners to feel convicted…to feel uncomfortable about their lack of compassion for people around them that have a need.
I want you to picture someone who’s very different than you.
Picture someone who’s opposite to you politically
Now make them a different race
Now a different socio-economic status than you
And now, let’s say they don’t believe in the one True God either
You have that person in your mind?
Now insert them in as the Samaritan in the story.
That’s exactly how the story would have felt to the original listeners.
Think about this: If Jesus came here…told you a story about someone who looks different than you in every possible way…YET…they helped the hurting person.
And then looked you in the eye, and said, “Go and do likewise”
What would you feel?
We should feel convicted.
But many of us don’t.
Because we use the exact same tactic as Jesus’ opponent in this story in order to avoid sitting in the discomfort of conviction.
We say… “I don’t need to help those I see in need because I’m already doing enough.”
We shrink God’s amazing call on our lives…to the areas where we are already conveniently obeying
But are we truly doing what His disciples should be doing??
Think back to the exchange before Jesus told the parable.
It ought to make you put your theological thinking cap on.
Jesus tells the man that IF He loves God AND does good…He will be one of those who is granted eternal life in heaven.
This is really similar to the book of James that we went through in 2016.
James says, “Faith, without works (without good deeds) is dead.”
In other words…if you don’t love your neighbor, you don’t really have faith.
Loving your neighbor is a natural output of having legitimate faith.
And your neighbor, Jesus seems to say, is “anyone whose need you see that you can meet”
That’s your neighbor
Who is that in your life?
The challenge is…most American, Evangelical Christians seem to think that going to church is super important, reading your Bible…very important, praying…really important…
Serving those in need…optional…maybe it’s just for the “super spiritual”
I get that serving isn’t the most natural thing for many us, but a plain reading of Scripture oughta make us sweat.
God has much to say in the Old Testament about those who praise Him with their lips but don’t show it in their actions.
That’s called Hypocrisy.
Matthew 25 is another passage that ought make our knees shake
Jesus says that on judgment day, He will come back and separate the sheep from the goats…the real believers from the fake ones.
And do you know the evidence he gives for HOW He will be able to tell the difference between the real and fake believers in church?
He says, “The ones who came and fed me…and clothed me…and visited me in prison...they were the real believers”
And the people hear him say this…and they’re incredulous.
They say, “Jesus, we never even saw you in prison”
And he said, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me”
What does that mean??
He’s not saying that serving those in need is what gets you to heaven…
He’s saying that serving those who have a need is a key outworking of those who have true faith
Timothy Keller, whose thoughts I’m really indebted to on this passage, often explains it this way:
He says, Imagine there are 2 trees.
One tree is full of leaves and fruit.
The other is completely barren…no leaves or fruit.
Which tree is alive?
The one with the leaves & fruit.
Now, do the leaves and fruit give the tree life? Is that what makes it alive?
NO, but they REVEAL the tree actually has life.
And that’s what our deeds do.
They REVEAL our faith.
You can fake that you have faith to just about anyone…but you can’t fake out God.
I think Jesus uses the topic of serving those in need as his example because…
…while people will go through the motions to go to church and fake some sort of spirituality, way less people go out of their way to serve someone with a need.
Especially when it will cost them their time & money
Doing something like that…is often revealing of true faith
Keller also tells the true story of a an old woman who had no children and no husband, but was very wealthy.
Her only heir was a nephew.
But…she really didn’t know what kind of guy he was because whenever he was around her, he seemed really wonderful and warm…but she wasn’t sure because she had never seen him in his natural environment.
She didn’t want to leave her money to a scoundrel or a selfish person, so she dressed up as a homeless lady and sat on the steps of his townhouse to watch how he would treat her when he came out.
And when he came out, he treated her rudely and threatened her until she left.
And then she knew…who he really was.
HOW TO BECOME THE SAMARITAN
Now, let me stop for a second…because to many of us in the room…maybe most of us…this is deflating…or overwhelming…
Or some of you think: “All right…come on ‘self’…you’re going to have to try harder to serve other people in your life”
Maybe you’re already thinking of some people in your life that are hurting financially or physically…or maybe your brainstorming different organizations you could help
But you’re also thinking, “Yeah, but how am I actually going to have time for this….ugh…could be awful…ugh, I don’t even WANT to do this…but I should do this…”
“Ugh, dangit David stop making me feel guilty!”
Here’s the thing…IF you leave here, and treat this as “one more thing you have to do…”
It’ll last for about 3 days…and you won’t do it…or care about by the end of the week
And in that case…you’re really not all that different from the man questioning Jesus at the beginning.
He’s asking, “Yeah, what’s the least I have to do? But who’s really my neighbor? Show me what boxes to check”
That’s the same attitude as, “If I have to do it I will, but like how much do I have to do?”
“How do I have to obey God JUST ENOUGH to justify myself to Him? “
If your Christian faith looks like that…read the Book of Romans tonight in the Bible…you’re misunderstanding what it is.
So let’s ask this: Why did the Samaritan do it? Why did He serve?
The NIV translation that we read says, “He took pity” on the man in need.
I rarely need to comment on translations…but words change over time, right?
And pity, while it may have been good years ago…isn’t the perfect word here.
Most other translations now say, “The Samaritan had compassion (or deep) compassion on Him”
The Greek word (which is what it was originally written in) means to have compassion from all the way deep in your gut
That word is only used a few times in the NT
It’s used when Jesus saw the helpless crowds and had compassion on them
It’s used in the Prodigal Son story, when the father sees his sinful & lost son returning home, and he had so much COMPASSION…that he RAN to him
The Good Samaritan can serve someone in need because He’s moved by compassion
Okay, but how we YOU serve people in need like that?
How do we let ourselves be moved by compassion…and not obligation?
We stop reading the story as obligation and we start reading it in light of the Gospel.
I think lots of times when Christians read “The Good Samaritan,” they put themselves in the story as the Samaritan.
And we feel this pressure like we better pull ourselves up by the boot straps and try harder to be a good person…and imitate the good Smartian.
But ARE YOU THE SAMARITAN? Are you the Samaritan in the story?
Maybe you’re not.
Maybe we shouldn’t read it like that.
If you read it in light of the Gospel, you’d actually identify with the man who is bleeding and broken…without hope, and about to die…
You’d read it as one who was saved by the radical grace of another.
Imagine you were once that man on the road.
Imagine that you were on vacation somewhere…and robbers came by, beat you almost to the point of death…and took everything on you.
And then some stranger came by…and had deep compassion on you. They stopped, carried you to the hospital, and even paid your bill.
If that really happened in your life, and 6 months later, while you were out walking on the road…you saw someone else in the exact same predicament, would you stop?
100%. You would ABSOLUTELY stop.
Well, here’s the thing.
That DID happen in your life.
Spiritually, you were poor.
We brought nothing to God but our sin and rebellion.
We were basically dying on the side of the road.
And yet He had deep compassion on us…in immense love for you, Jesus stooped down and rescued you
When you TRULY understand the reality of that…you CAN NOT say… “Well, those needy people in my life should just help themselves and fix their own mess”
Because if Jesus would have left you to save yourself…you’d be dead.
Who is the Spirit nudging you to help today?
The Scottish Pastor Robert Murray M’Cheyne once was frustrated with all the excuses he heard from people on why they couldn’t help those in need, so he began to answer their objections with THE GOSPEL.
He remarked…if you all say “My money is my own.”
Understand that Christ might have said, “my blood is my own. My life is my own. Then, where would you have been?”
M’Chenye then said, “And if you say…’These people in need are undeserving.’”
Understand that Christ might have said, “These wicked rebels. Shall I lay my life down for these? But no, Christ left the 99 and came after the lost…us…He gave his blood for the underserving…us.
M’Cheyne continues…and basically says, “Some of you say, but what if I help them and they abuse it? They just take advantage of me?”
He says, “Christ might have said the same thing about you…but with far greater truth. Jesus knew thousands would trample his blood under their feet (and more would take his grace and not change their life)…and yet he gave his own blood”
If we’re going to find the compassion within us to serve those around us…it starts with remembering who we were.
We don’t become the Samaritan by imitating the Samaritan.
We become the Samaritan by first remembering that we were dying person on the side of the road.
And Jesus had compassion on us.
That’s how we change the world.
Moral obligation will change nothing.
But the Gospel inside of us…can change everything.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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