Equipped to be a Neighbor

 

 

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Equipped to be a Neighbor, Equipped to Serve our Neighbors

Text: Luke 10:25-37

Dr. Alex Tang

 

Summary

As Christians, we are required to help our neighbors, whether they belong to the community of faith or not. We are not only required to just help them but to love them as well.

 

Text

 LK 10:25 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?" 30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of 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, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins 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."

 

Bible Exposition

Just before today’s text, Luke recorded that Jesus has sent out the 72 to declare the coming of the Kingdom of God. The 72 returned from their short mission trip excited with their experience. “Even demons submit to your name” (v.17). It was while Jesus was debriefing them that an expert in the law tried to trap Jesus with some questions.

   LK 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

  • Because Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God that is coming, the expert in law asked about eternal life.
  • The nature of the exchange as recorded by Luke indicate that this is not a normal teaching situation but a challenge to Jesus as a rabbi by one who be both knowledgeable in the law and proud of his intellectual prowess.

    LK 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

    LK 10:27 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.’ “

    LK 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

  • Jesus draws his attention to the Law. What did the law said about eternal life?
  • The lawyer answered the Shema (Deu. 6:5)- a passage that is fundamental to Jewish life and worship.
  • Then he added Lev.19:18. Jesus concurred with the lawyer’s answer about behavior that will lead to eternal life

 

    LK 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

  • Here the expert in the law begins to reveal his true intention.
  • The context of Lev.19:18 are to love your neighbor is to respect his honor and possessions. It is also assumed that the neighbor is a fellow Jew and also to ‘resident aliens’-non Jews who embraced the Jewish faith.
  • In the Second Temple Jewish, the word ‘neighbors’ does not extend to other people except Jews.
  • How far does this love reach?
  • In the rabbinic tradition, Jesus answered with a parable.

    LK 10:30 In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.

  • Jesus began with ‘a man’. He did not state the race of this man; the listeners cannot tell whether he is a friend or foe. Mugged and stripped of his clothes, he is simply a human being in need.
  • Jerusalem is located about 2,000 feet above sea level. Jericho is 800 feet above sea level. The man is traveling down the 17 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho. It is a mountainous treacherous road, with robbers.
  • Jesus’ listener will be familiar with the road.
  • He was robbed and left for dead on the road.
  • In the 12th century, the Crusader Order of Templar or Knights Templar was created to protect pilgrims traveling that route. In the 19th century, pilgrims were given an escort of Turkish soldiers.

 

31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

  • Came ----- saw ------ passed by on the other side.
  • Why they did not help is a mystery.
  • Some say that they are on the way to the Temple and do not wish to be defiled by a dead body which is unclean.
  • The text said, they are going down the same road which is away from Jerusalem. This means they have finished their temple duties and are going home.

 

32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

 

  • Came -----saw-------passed by the other side
  • The priest and Levite enjoy special status in the Jewish society because they are involved in the Temple. Most of them lived in Jericho which is a fertile area with plenty of water.
  • Priests are descendent of Aaron while Levites belong to the tribe of Levi, a tribe chosen by God to lead in His worship.

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, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins 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.'

 

  • Came -----saw------moved with compassion ------went to wounded man + care for him.
  • What will be shocking to the listeners is that the traveler is a Samaritan.
  • The Jews hated the Samaritans because they regard them as impure with a mockery of their religion. The Samaritans also hated the Jews. Samaria is located in present day Palestine. It separate Jewish Galilee in the north and Jewish Judea in the south. Those from the north traveling south will cross over to the other side of the Jordan River to avoid traveling through Samaria.
  • What distinguished this traveler was not that he is of noble birth and a spiritual leader or that he is an enemy. What distinguished him is that he is moved by compassion and did something.

 

    LK 10:36 "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

    LK 10:37 The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

    Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

  • Jesus did not answer the question ‘who is my neighbor?’ Instead he countered by asking ‘who was a neighbor to..’ which is active verb.
  • The expert is caught. He cannot bring himself to say the Samaritan, so he said the one who show mercy.
  • The priest, the Levite and the Samaritan followed the Law. Only the Samaritan acted out the law.
  • Here Jesus has revealed that our neighbor is not limited Jews on (the who have the Law) but to everyone who lived out the Law.
  • And Jesus asked his listener to do likewise. Compassion without action is nothing in God’s eyes.

 

(1)               Who are our neighbors?

We would say everybody. If we look serious and critically at our church activities and budget, about 90% or more of our time, effort and money is directed towards members of the church. Why is this so? Does this church exist only for its members?

MK 12:29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

We seem to have stopped somewhere. Love God and love ourselves. We are like the priest and the Levite. We have God and we have the church. We have a lifeboat mentality. Remember the movie Titanic? After the Titanic sank and the sea if filed with lifeboats. The lifeboats were full and they were pushing people off. Are we like that? Here we have our God. Here we are cozy and warm. And to hell with the rest of the world. Is that what this church is all about. I hope not. Because then we are like the priest and the Levite.

Our neighbors are all human beings – Christians or non-Christians

(2)               Jesus commands us to be neighbors and show mercy.

Jesus told his listeners who are his disciples, “Go and do likewise”. The true Law is knowledge with action. To be a neighbor is to show mercy. To love our neighbors is to show mercy and help them. To love and help our neighbors we must find out where they are and what their needs are.

a.      Discover their needs. (look around and see your neighbours)

Area to the front of the church

·        Prison and prisoners. Overcrowding. Bullying. Abuse of human rights.

·        Retarded children.

·        Spastic children.

·        Spiritual emptiness and need.

Area to the right of the church

·        Children from dysfunctional family

·        Single parents

·        Hospital and the sick.

·        Poverty

·        Old folks home

·        Orphanage

·        Loneliness

·        Mourning

Area to the left of the church

·        Emptiness

·        Addictions

Area behind the church

·        Living a life of delusion: money, sex, power

·        Emptiness

·        Victim of success.

Elsewhere

·        Natural disasters.

·        AIDS

·        Street children

b.      Find ways to fulfill their needs.

Often we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the needs and wondered whether we can make a difference. Question: How do you eat an elephant?  Answer: One piece at a time. So we too can make a difference, one person or ministry at a time.

 

What are some of the ways we can help?

  • Help a person or a family. Give tuition. Donate grocery. Be a friend. Offer scholarship.
  • Help in a group as a church project. Children’s ward. Visiting the sick. Old folks home. Orphanage.
  • Support local Christian initiative. Nias island- eastern side destroyed by Dec 26, 2004 tsunami and western part of island by Easter 2005 earthquake. Economy in shambles. Need 10 tons of rice monthly. Local orphanage needs support. Berkat orphanage.
  • Help in Christian social ministry-volunteer or donate money. Malaysian CARE. World Vision. Tear Fund. His Child. Habitat for Humanity.

 

(3)               God commands us to love our neighbors.

God not only tells us to show mercy or help our neighbors but also to love them. Here you might say, ‘Lord, I don’t mind helping them but do I have to love them too?’ Yes. Love your neighbors as yourself.

Have you every wondered at the selfless of certain people, like Mother Teresa who can give and give and give and not burn out. For some of us we help the poor because the Bible tells us to. But we get upset when they become unappreciative. When they become demanding. We get tired and give up after a while. Here we need to differentiate compassion and love.

Compassion can only get you so far and then the emotion dries up and you dry up. Love for the needy is what will carry you all the way. We are told to love God. God loves us. This love of us will flows through us to our neighbors. We can only really love our neighbors by the love of God. Only by the love of God can we love our neighbors. Not by our own compassion.

 

Concluding remarks

The parable of the Good Samaritan has been retold so many times that it has become jade. We need to look at it with fresh eyes and see what God wants to say to us. That’s the wonderful thing about a story or a parable. It has so many levels of means.

  • Are we the man who was mugged? (poor, poor me.)
  • Are we the priest who saw and passed by on the other side of the street? (I am a church leader, I am doing enough)
  • Are we the Levite who also saw and crossed the road? ( I am a Christian, I am already saved)
  • Are we the Samaritan who saw, had compassion and acted? (this man needs help)
  • Are we the expert in the Law who loved debate? (how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?)
  • Are we the listeners who are asked to obey? (now do it)

Jesus is the ultimate example of this parable. He regarded all of us as his neighbors. He has compassion on all of us. So he willing goes to die on the cross so that we can have eternal life.

       Came -------saw --------have compassion ------act

 

                                                                                                                                                       Soli Deo Gloria

 

               

"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  

 

     
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