March 23, 2014

Following Requires Sacrifice

Passage: Luke 10:25-37
Service Type:

Bible Text: Luke 10:25-37 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: 40 days of Abiding
A learned lawyer in Old Testament law asked Jesus a question that revealed the lawyer’s profound ignorance about central issues of the faith — eternal life and the basic command to love one’s neighbor. Jesus responded with the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is not only a call to help those in need, it is a warning not to become self-centered or arrogant in our religiosity.
Luke 10:25-28 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. Teacher, he asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, what is written in the law? What do you read there? 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
This expert in the law correctly understood that the law demanded total devotion to God and love for one’s neighbor. To “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” means that every area of a person’s life should be focused on God. Nothing must be held back.
The word for love in Greek is agapao, referring to totally unselfish love, a love of which human beings are capable only with the help of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit helps us love him, as we ought. While God wants his people to obey him, he also wants their love.
The heart (kardia) is the center of emotions, desires, and affections.
The soul (psuche) is a person’s “being” and uniqueness.
The strength (ischus) refers to the drive or will.
The mind (dianoia) is the center of the intellect.
These words are not used to divide up the human personality, but to show that love must be
complete — the whole person must do the loving.
To love God in this way is to fulfill completely all the commandments regarding one’s vertical
relationship. But there are horizontal relationships — among people for another command
from the law says to love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore we cannot maintain a good
vertical relationship with God without also caring for his or her neighbor. The word “neighbor”
refers to fellow human beings in general.
Luke 10:29-32 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, And who is my neighbor? Jesus
replied, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers,
who stripped him, 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.
This priest served in the temple and probably offered sacrifices. That he was also “going down”
means that he was traveling away from Jerusalem, presumably having finished his duties. The
same goes for the Levite, another person who served in the temple. Priests were authorized to
perform the sacrifices. Levites were set apart to help the priests. They did the work of elders,
deacons, custodians, assistants, musicians, movers, and repairmen.
Worship in the temple could not have taken place without the combined efforts of the priests and Levites. The Old Testament law demanded good deeds and caring for those who were hurt. Jesus’ story highlights the shortcomings of the priest and the Levite because they were especially required to provide care.
The Samaritan was extremely generous, and Jesus highlighted his helpful actions. Generosity inspired by God does more than cook the meal; it lights the candles and says grace; it prays God’s blessing on each one present and passes the food; it draws people into convivial conversation and clears the table; it washes the dishes. Generosity prompts that when you see a job to do, you give it your all; do it with all the joy God has put in your heart.
Luke 10:33-34 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, took him to an inn and took care of him
It is important to note that at this time Jews and Samaritans hated each other deeply. Jesus described all that the Samaritan did for this man: He took pity, bandaged his wounds (perhaps with strips of cloth from his own clothing), put the man on his own donkey (meaning that he had to walk), took him to an inn and took care of him. The wine would have been used as a disinfectant and the oil as a soothing lotion.
Luke 10:35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two pieces of silver and told him to take care of the man. If his bill runs higher than that, he said, I’ll pay the difference the next time I am here
He wanted the wounded man to have no worries and to be looked after carefully.
Luke 10:36-37 Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits? Jesus asked. The man replied, the one who showed him mercy. Then Jesus said, yes, now go and do the same.
Jesus questioned the expert in the law, asking him who had been a neighbor to the wounded man — in essence, forcing the legal expert to answer his own question, “Who is my neighbor?” (10:29) and which of these three — that is, the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan — had kept the law?
The priest and the Levite loved themselves more than their neighbor; they loved keeping the letter of the law over loving a person in need. In so doing, they broke the law. The legal expert had no choice but to answer that the man who was a neighbor to the wounded man was the one who showed him mercy — the Samaritan. The Samaritan traveler and the Jewish man were far apart in distance and spiritual heritage, but the Samaritan had loved his neighbor far better than the hurt man’s own religious leaders. Jesus taught that love is shown by action, and that at times it is costly.
Discussion Questions:
Jesus often taught using parables, or stories, to illustrate truths of the kingdom of God. What is it about parables that make them effective teaching tools even today?
The expert in the law genuinely wanted to know Jesus’ thoughts on inheriting eternal life, even going so far as to ask “who is my neighbor”. Why do you suppose Jesus answered with a parable instead of restating the law?
The expert understood the law correctly, yet what was he missing?
The Lord wants us to love him with our whole person…heart, soul, strength, mind. How do you think this can be accomplished effectively?
The man in the parable that was robbed, beaten and left for dead could reasonably have expected aid from two of his religious leaders, yet he was ignored by both. Why do you think the Levite and the priest did not stop and help?
The Samaritan was cited as a true neighbor to the man in need; he gave physical aid, transportation, and even paid the bills. How does this relate to the original question about inheriting eternal life?
Jesus taught that love is shown by action, and that at times it is costly. What does this mean to you? Give an example.
Do you feel that vertical (God) or horizontal (others) relationships are more difficult, personally? Why?
How does loving our neighbor impact our relationship with God? Give an example.
The Samaritan sacrificed much to care for his neighbor. What sacrifices might we expect today in loving others? What about in caring for others who are difficult to love?

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