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’ve been looking to Jesus’ teaching of “The Good Samaritan” and what it reveals to us about mercy. This week we will look specifically to what it is that the Samaritan does and how his actions are a reflection of what being “on mission” means. The Samaritan looks, meets the need in front of him, and then he gives until he feels the burden. The Samaritan’s actions help us to see that mercy is the meeting of felt needs through deeds, not simply a means to the end of evangelism. Word and deed are equally necessary as we carry out our purpose of bringing the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
One of the specific challenges we’ve been given during this series is to read Luke 10:25-37 and to sit with this story, allowing room for God to use it to change us. How has that gone for you? Is it easy for you to look to Scripture expectantly and with openness toward being shaped by it?
The first thing we see the Samaritan do is look. This is an important element of the parable, as looking is the key to being a good neighbor as opposed to a bad one. However, in this distraction-filled world, it is easy to fall into a habit of avoidance rather than looking. What does this look like for you? When have you been aware that you’re more comfortable looking away from a person and their problems than facing them?
Read John 3:16. Every time Jesus looked at a person, he was reminded of his mission, and this verse was his mission. Even if you’re not sure of what it could look like, or if it’s just recently been stirring in you, what kind of mission do you feel like God has placed in you? What needs do you see that you may be uniquely created to meet?
Zach mentions this week that, as Christians, we don’t have an excuse for not knowing what is happening in the world around us. Our biblical knowledge can and should be applied to the world we live in. What does it mean to you that Jesus came not just to take us to heaven one day, but to make on earth as it is in heaven? What role do you play in that?
There is some tension around the second thing the Samaritan did, meeting the need in front of him. For some of us, that can stir a feeling that we may help in a hurtful way, but Jesus says if you see a need in front of you that you can meet, meet it. Why is it sometimes easy for us to avoid the expressed-need of someone else?
Last week we talked a lot about the power and importance of invitation, and this week there was a shift toward deeds, especially as we saw the Samaritan meet the need in front of him. Most people feel a bend in one direction—revealing the gospel through proclamation or through service. Which do you feel you’re more wired up to do? How can you embrace the truth that both are of vital importance?
The Samaritan took the man by the wayside to an inn and spent two days of wages, which is a significant amount. He gave up time and energy, staying up all night to take care of this man. Wherever the Samaritan was headed that day, he didn’t arrive. He gave until he felt the burden of giving. Have you ever experienced giving like this—whether as the giver or the receiver? How do you bear your neighbor’s burdens?
While the Samaritan’s tangible actions—look, meet the immediate need, give until the burden was felt—are universal, they will look different for each of us. God has fashioned each of our heart’s to meet a need in this broken and hurting world. As this series comes to a close and we continue in our season of teaching “On Mission,” the challenge is to start prayerfully considering what need God is leading you toward addressing. Take time this week with God asking him to reveal what it is he would have you tackle. Then carve out some time to share what’s being revealed to you with your friends, family, Connect group, book club, or whatever type of community you’re a part of that would be willing to cheer you on. God can and will do immeasurably more than we could hope or ask for in our city and world through you