Outstretched Arms - Living a Compassionate Life

Dave Jones April 19, 2008 Luke 20:25-37

 

Introductio

Who is your neighbor?  Many would answer those that live around us are our neighbors.  Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan teaches us that our neighbor is anyone who has a need which we are able to meet. 

Share story about Bill from page 106 in study guide

David Jeremiah makes the point that “Our love for God is displayed by how well we love people.”   We cannot say that everything is OK between me and God, if we do not love those around us.   By demonstrating our love in real and tangible ways. 

Read Luke 10: 25-37

 25And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  26And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"  27And 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."  28And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE." 29But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"  30Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.  31"And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  32"Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  33"But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  35"On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.'  36"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" 37And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

Let’s look at this story from the perspective of those involved.  First

  1. The Lawyer (Luke 10:25-29)

To the lawyer, love was a subject to explore.

He asked a very good question.  A question that was regularly debated among the religious rulers of the day.  A question about eternal life.  The problem is that he asked it with ulterior motives.  He was testing Jesus.  He was trying to engage Jesus in the debate.  A debate on the fine points of Jewish law concerning eternal life.

The lawyer knew the Old Testament as proven by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.  How did the lawyer respond?  Who is my neighbor?

Input: What does the lawyer’s answer reveal about his heart?

He did really care about Jesus’ answer.

V29 says he wanted to justify himself.

            Warren Wiersbe on this verse states:

Our Lord sent the man back to the Law, not because the Law saves us (Gal. 2:16, 21; 3:21), but because the Law shows us that we need to be saved. There can be no real conversion without conviction, and the Law is what God uses to convict sinners (Rom. 3:20).

The scribe gave the right answer, but he would not apply it personally to himself and admit his own lack of love for both God and his neighbor. So, instead of being justified by throwing himself on the mercy of God (Luke 18:9–14), he tried to justify himself and wriggle out of his predicament. He used the old debating tactic, “Define your terms! What do you mean by ‘neighbor’? Who is my neighbor?”

Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Lk 10:25

He was avoiding the real issue of love by trying to focus on the “legal” definition of neighbor. 

Instead of answering the lawyer’s question, Jesus told him a story.  Can you imagine sitting there watching this all take place.  I enjoy the scene in the passion play where Jesus confronts the Pharisees. It is very similar to this story.  They ask a question, then he tells a story or ask a question of His own.

Let’s look at verse 30 and the beginning of Jesus’ story:

Read verse 30

  1. The Thieves

To the thieves, Love was a soul to exploit.    

The story is about a man going from Jerusalem to Jericho and was attacked by thieves.  For these thieves, the stranger was not a neighbor, but a soul to exploit for their own gain. 

Jesus was painting a picture for the lawyer to see in his mind, a picture of who a neighbor is and what love in action looks like.

Now, look at verse 31 and see who else shows up…

Read verse 31

  1. The Priest

To the priest, love was a situation to evade. 

The first person on the scene is a priest.  Unfortunately, rather than showing real love, he chose to evade the situation.

An interesting note; in the commentaries I’ve read on this passage, there seems to be some disagreement as to the direction of the priest.   Some say he was on his way home to Jericho, others say on his way to Jerusalem to perform his priestly duties in the temple.  It actually doesn’t matter which direction he was going.  What is important was his reaction to the stranger lying on the side of the road.  The direction provides speculation for the possible excuses for doing nothing.  They had been serving all day in the temple and wanted to get home.  They couldn’t take the chance that he was dead and therefore become ceremonially unclean and therefore not able to perform any priestly duties.  This seems more likely.  He chose temple service above the life of a suffering human being.

  • Don’t get too pious yet…

Read verse 32

We see another religious leader…

  1. The Levite

To the Levite, love was someone to examine

 The King James version says that the Levite “… came and looked on him..”  But his response was the same as the Priest. 

These were the religious leaders of the community.  But they both demonstrate that religious work doesn’t make one religious and religious is not the same as righteousness. 

They failed to serve God by serving their fellow man.

  • Don’t get too pious yet…

There was one more person on the road.  A Samaritan…

Read verse 33

  1. The Samaritan

To the Samaritan, love was a sympathy to express.

Think about the lawyer at the beginning of the story.  What do you think his reaction would be at this point?  He could probably understand the Priest and Levite not helping, but to hear that a Samaritan was the hero!  That almost had to be a slap in the face!  The Samaritans were despised by the Jews. 

I would like to look at fours aspects of the love of the Samaritan.

  1. His Love Was Displayed by Compassion

Verse 33 says the Samaritan felt compassion.  He not only saw, he not only went over to look, he also acted.  Because he looked though the eyes of compassion.

  1. His Love Was Demonstrated by Contact

He reached out with his hands and demonstrated his compassion and love.  Look at the actions the  Samaritan took; cleaned and bandaged the wounds, put him on his own beast, took to a place to get rest, and stayed with him.

  1. His Love Was Delivered with Care

The lawyer’s words describe the Samaritan’s actions; “He … showed mercy on him.”  It was the Samaritan’s acts of kindness that stood out.  It was obvious who was the most caring among the three.

  1. His Love Was Documented By Cost

The Samaritan paid for the care of the stranger in many ways.  It cost him money, time, and interrupted schedule and even the energy spent to help.  There is always a price when we exercise love, but we have to determine if it is worth the cost.  But we need to put it in the perspective of what it cost God to demonstrate His love towards us!

When Jesus finished the story, He asked the lawyer who was a neighbor to the stranger.  The lawyer correctly answered the Samaritan.  Jesus told him to go and do likewise.

I would like to pause a moment and look at the three men and their responses and then ask the question how we can be like each of them at times.  Obviously we have two negative and examples and one positive.  But, we would be fooling ourselves, and even, dare I say it… lying, if we said we are never like the Priest or the Levite.

So let’s look at ways we can be like each. 

  • Quickly review the actions of each person.

Priest

Levite

Samaritan

 

 

 

This leads us to the final point about love and how it relates to us as Christians.

David Jeremiah uses the examples of the three men to develop three secrets about the kind of love that has compassion on a neighbor.

The Christian

To the Christian, Love is Something to Demonstrate.

  1. The Secret to Loving is Not Found in Religion

You don’t become a loving person by becoming a religious person.  It has been said that going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car!

The first three characters in the story; the Lawyer, Priest, and Levite were all religious.  But none of them were loving people.  They were more concerned with their own religiosity than they were about their neighbor.  We can get sucked into the same trap.  We cannot just sit around Truth and do nothing!   We cannot be like the lawyer and ignore the words, or Word, of God!  We need to be studying and living out God’s Word!!

  1. The Secret to Loving is Not Found in Rules

The lawyer was concerned with the letter of the law.  Define for me my neighbor!  Jesus changed the focus and the answer.  He defined what it meant to act like a neighbor. 

Jesus’ point is not, “Who qualifies to be loved.” Rather, it is, “Who qualifies to be a loving person?”  It is not defining our neighbor that makes us loving, it is whoever needs our help that qualifies us as a loving neighbor.

  1. The Secret to Loving is Found in a Relationship

Realistically, we cannot show love from a distance.  We have to get involved.  We have to get into a relationship with that person.  We cannot meet needs if we do not get to know the other person and therefore know their needs. 

Jesus came to the earth to meet our greatest need.  He dwelt among us (John 1:14), died on the cross, and rose again to give us eternal life.

Because Jesus has been a “good Samaritan” us we can be a loving neighbor to those in need.

So, who is your neighbor?

The last picture on the slide is of our neighbors. 

The circle shows the church as it looked in 2004.

Dave Jones

Dave works for human resources at Purdue University.  Dave and his wife, Becky, joined Faith in 1986.  He co-teaches the Ambassadors ABF as well as several FCI classes.