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Monday, January 18, 2010

Luke 10:25-37 The Good Samaritan

(Left- Good Samaritan- Rembrandt)
1/18/10 Martin Luther King Day

Luke 10:25-37

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' [c]; 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, 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."

C.H. Spurgeon abridged: Our first observation is that the world is very full of affliction. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers.” We are never secure from trouble it meets us around the family hearth and causes us to suffer or our family to suffer. Frequently the afflictions are not the fault of the sufferer- neither their vice or their folly causing it. This is the kind of distress which above all others demands Christian sympathy. There is a lot of distress caused by the wickedness of others. Second, we should see that there are many who never relieve affliction. Our Savior mentions two here, but he could have mentioned two dozen and still only one good Samaritan- for they are few in number. The priest and the Levite were brought to this spot by God’s providence. The wealthy are sent into our city on purpose that they may have compassion on the sick, the wounded, the poor, and the needy. God’s intent in endowing any person with more than they need is that they may have the delightful privilege of relieving want and woe, not just for excessive luxury or hoarding. Some would roll a stone over the mouth of the well when thirst is raging all around? Who dares to allow the sufferer to writhe in agony uncared for and the sick to moan into their graves unnursed. The priest and the Levite had been to worship- they had been near to God, but were not like Him. They were bound by their profession to have compassion, but they had multiple excuses. The priest was doubtless in a hurry to his wife and children for he had been away for a month on his tiring duty in Jerusalem. I never knew a person who refused to help the poor who didn’t have at least one admirable excuse. This parable gives a model for helping others. The Samaritan was not of the same faith as the Jew he helped. Yet he was a wounded man- bleeding and dying. The poor wounded man had no strength to be prejudiced or mean or to repay the one helping him. He was a total stranger too. He could have asked why he should help since he was rejected by his own people. Many make excuse saying the hurting should be helped only by their own people. He also models us the spirit in which he did his work. He asked no questions nor did he hesitate or sign some liability or compensation form. He also did so without any though of his own safety- as thieves could have also fallen upon him. Jesus also models the good Samaritan- except that our wounds are our own fault, and Jesus did suffer for helping us.

Thoughts: On this Martin Luther King Day- it perhaps is most important that we think of how we might love our neighbor. Jesus gave the concrete example in this story- and also in his life- of not ignoring those who are in need but sacrificing for the hurting neighbor. We are to care for those who look differently, believe differently, live differently. Any human being- rich or poor, Christian, unbeliever or someone who believes differently, deserves human love and respect. They are made in God’s image- they are our neighbors- and in God’s providence we are put here for such a time as this- to show love to them in God’s name. This is true in Haiti today- do not harden your hearts at the sadness (as the Levite and priest did). This is true of caring for the hurting around us. Look for a way to love your neighbor, and maybe even go out of your way to speak or help those who look or believe differently from you today. When Christians love- we follow in Christ’s footsteps. When we build walls to protect our faith and ourselves we are giving into the world’s ways and fears.

Prayer: Today, Lord, let me give myself away as the good Samaritan did, as you did. We pray for the people of Haiti. Give us wisdom to help them best. Give us eyes to see our hurting neighbor today.

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