Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
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. 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. 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, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 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.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Over the course of this three-week series, we’re looking to Jesus’ teaching of “The Good Samaritan” and what it reveals to us about mercy. This week, we will look at the question behind the story and the conversation that prompted Jesus to make up this parable. As the lawyer wrestles with what it looks like to love his God supremely and love his neighbors as himself, we see that Christ’s mercy leaves no one in a gray area. The most unlikely of people have found faith in God because of other’s willingness to share their stories of grace and invite others in.
Last week, Zach encouraged us to read this story and allow it to affect us. Regardless of if you’ve had a chance to yet or not, read Luke 10: 25-37 right now. Do you believe that this simple story is capable of changing you or others? Has it changed you at all as you’ve been reading through it lately on your own or as we’ve been walking through it as a church?
The question that prompted the telling of “The Good Samaritan” is “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The lawyer is essentially asking “What did God build me for?” Have you ever asked yourself (or others) this? Have you spent time wrestling with what it may mean for you to be what God had in mind when he thought you up? What would it look like for you to start taking steps toward that?
To love your Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind means that nothing comes first. Many, if not all, of us squirm in our seat a little when this is talked about from the stage because it is an incredibly challenging thing to live up to. Zach shared a quote from Archbishop William Temple, who said “Your religion is what you do with your solitude.” With all the forgiveness and understanding you can offer yourself, address the question—when you don’t have to think of anything, what do you think of?
This particular parable stirs up a lot of talk about enemies. Last week, Zach explained the historical implications that would have set the stage for a Samaritan showing up on the scene as an assumed villain. Who is your enemy? Would you be able to acknowledge that your enemy is also your neighbor?
If the answer of what Jesus has built us for is to love our neighbors as ourselves, than our willingness to hear from, listen to, and know our neighbor is incredibly important. However, just as the lawyer in the passage asking “And who is my neighbor?”, we often attempt to draw a line of who neighbor actually entails. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we sometimes seek ways to limit the size of our neighborhood so that we can love those we want to love in a sacrificial way, and not concern ourselves much with others. Where do you the draw your line? How do you respond to the truth that, through this parable, Jesus redraws the boundaries of the neighborhood to include everyone?
Read John 4:4-42. The woman at the well encountered Jesus, and encountered grace, in such a way that she couldn’t help but share it. Because of her testimony, many of this woman’s neighbors placed their faith in Jesus. In this week’s sermon, we looked at information regarding our neighborhood—the greater Orlando area. At least a million people in our neighborhood don’t know that what they do with their lives matters to God, who are by the wayside. How can the story of the woman at the well impact how you address the reality of your own neighborhood? Who has God placed in your life that you can be extending an invitation to? What is it that sometimes holds you back from extending that invitation?
Read Luke 10: 21-24. When Luke was writing the exchange between Jesus and the lawyer, he was letting us know that the story he is about to tell will illustrate the previous point he had just made about childlike faith. What do you think it was that Luke wanted to illustrate about faith?
There are a handful of very practical next steps you can take coming out of this week’s sermon, and we hope you will. But the overarching call is to invite. To be a part of living out your faith in a way that invites others into the way of grace.
If you’re interested in how that may look in your work life, join us for our speaker series, At Work, Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. starting January 23rd. If the very idea of sharing your faith and inviting folks to church instills in you a debilitating fear, register for our Reconstructing Evangelism class and learn ways to approach the people in your life with the gospel.