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 the next three weeks, we’ll be looking to Jesus’ teaching of “The Good Samaritan” and what it reveals to us about mercy. While this particular parable may be fairly well-known amongst folks from all walks of life, it is helpful to hear this story in the way those who were listening to Jesus on that day heard it. This week, Teaching Minister Zach Van Dyke walks us through the parable, showing that grace always involves an exchange and showing mercy is inherent to what we’re all called to be a part of. Our mission is to invite as many people as we can into the way of grace, and accomplishing that mission starts with us.
This parable, if compared against other parables Jesus told in his time on earth, is a fairly popular one. The phrase “good Samaritan” has even made its way into our common vernacular. Why do you think that is? Why is this parable uniquely appealing to Christians and non-Christians alike?
Parables are simple stories that are meant to change how the listener thinks and acts. Jesus used parables as a primary form of teaching. Why do you think that is? What is it about parables that allow them to be an effective way to be taught? What is it that you think Jesus was teaching through this particular parable?
The victim in the story is essentially left for dead. He knew he needed help but he couldn’t do anything about it. Not only was he left in a state where he was incapable of helping himself, he couldn’t have asked for help from anyone either. Have you ever felt emotionally or spiritually that there is nothing you can do to help yourself? When was a time when you were aware that the state you were in was killing you, but there was nothing you could do about it?
Read Luke 10:25-31. When those listening to Jesus heard this story, this moment when the priest comes along would have been cause for celebration—an upswing in the story that will surely lead to its happy ending. The natural assumption here would be that this guy is going to show mercy because he is a man of God’s law and God’s law preaches mercy. Why is it especially a letdown that the priest, a man who is near to God, walks past the victim without showing grace? Have you ever experienced this with someone in your own life who you expected to show up and show grace that failed to? Or have you ever been aware that you yourself are near to God but not acting like him?
Charles Spurgeon once said “I never knew a man refuse help to the poor who failed to give at least admirable excuse.” It is likely that the priest had a plethora of good excuses for why he didn’t stop—why his response upon seeing this fallen man was to act as if it was someone else’s turn to do God’s work. Where was your attention turned when you read this part of the parable? Who is by the wayside in your life right now, needing some of your time, money, attention, or care? Do you have an excuse for not helping and does that excuse matter?
Read Luke 10: 32-35. The original hearers of this parable would have assumed the worst when a Samaritan came on the scene, and then been absolutely shocked to hear that this is the one who had mercy. Yet, by choosing a Samaritan, Jesus proves he isn’t scared of people who get religion or God wrong. Rather than being threatened by those who don’t get it or miss it, he continues to invite them and seek them. What would it look like for you to be Christ-like in this regard?
The Samaritan helped the man at great risk to himself. Zach preaches that the difference between the priest and Levite and the Samaritan is that the Samaritan was willing to make an exchange. He substitutes his time and money for someone else’s safety, getting filthy and bloody in the process. Grace always involves an exchange and every act of mercy involves a substitution. The Samaritan tells the innkeeper to charge him for any expense the man incurs. How does the generosity of this Samarian man reflect the ultimate generosity of Jesus on the cross? In what ways does Christ take on the expense of others and accept being charged for someone else’s debts?
Zach encouraged us to spend time sitting in this parable. Commit this week to reading these verses again and wrestling with their truths. Be mindful that, while what God has done for us is good news for the world, we first have to recognize that it is good news for ourselves. Spend time in prayer this week asking God to help you be a part of seeing to it that no one misses the grace of God, including yourself.