Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Sunday Message Based on a Parable of the Good Samaritan

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He taught them many things by parables…. ” (Mark 4:2, Matt 13:3).

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Last week we talked about the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler and we discovered that this parable is about giving God what is right, not what is left. And who among us has not, at one time or another, entertained the idea that it is okay to skip worship just this once… until all of a sudden many Sundays have passed and we begin to wonder – “how did I get so lost?” Who among has not pretended at one time or another that we are so poor that the most we can afford to give is just a couple of dollars, instead of tithing.

The Parable of the Rich Young Ruler reminds us that our perception of wealth is tied to our spiritual well-being. The more we concentrate on our possessions, the more energy we spend to maintain them, the less time and energy we have left to maintain our relationship with God. It is true in our individual lives and it is true in our lives as a society. And then we are surprised that there are metal detectors in the schools, that there are shootings in movie theaters, that there are hate crimes on our streets and that our educational system is failing miserably.

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Today I want to talk about the Parable of the Good Samaritan. This Parable is found in the Gospel According to St. Luke, chapter 10, verses 25 -37. Before we turn our attention to God’s Word we need to understand who the Samaritans were at the time of Jesus. In order to understand this parable, we need to review some of the history and some of the geography of Israel.

{{ Explanation of History of Hebrew – Samaritan relations and geography / topography of the Holy Land

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Now, let’s turn our attention to the reading of God’s Word.

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Luke 10:25-37 NIV 2010  – The Parable of the Good Samaritan

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’; 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 was attacked by 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.”

Today’s parable is set up almost identically as the one that we looked at last week. Someone comes to Jesus and asks, “What must I do to be saved?”

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Listen to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” A much better question to ask is, “How must I live my life to please God?” The first question is focused on “I” and “ME”; the second question is focused on GOD. That is why our morning prayer card says, “I pray that I might live as your child today and always and honor you in all that I do.”

As a pastor I hear the first question that is focused on “ME” and “I” quite often, and so far every time that I was asked that question, the person was hoping to hear that he or she was doing just fine, that heaven was waiting patiently for their arrival many years from now and that they did not need to do anything at all. The person asking the question is hoping for an affirmation and they don’t want to hear anything other than “atta-boy” or “atta-girl,” and they definitely do not want to hear a challenge.

Jesus did not even try to teach the man anything in response to his question; he – Jesus – answered, “Dude, you know the answer. What do the Scriptures say you must do to be saved?” The Expert in the Law replied by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, which is a correct answer. So Jesus gave the guy an “atta-boy” and said something like “God Bless you… Go away…”

Wanting to JUSTIFY himself, wanting to show how smart he was, the man asked, “And who is my neighbor?” That question presented a teachable moment. It is in response to that question – “And who is my neighbor?” – that Jesus gave the man a challenge and he gave us the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

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At the time of Jesus, the word “Samaritan” had the connotation of “someone other than us,” or “someone who is less than us,” or “someone that we do not want to associate with.”

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Today, it is easy for us to look down our noses at the priest and Levite (a person who worked in the Temple in Jerusalem helping priests with their duties), but who among us has not seen a car broken down on the highway and drove by without stopping? Who among us has not heard a plea for help from a friend or a neighbor, and who among has not made the choice and decision NOT to help a friend in need because it would inconvenience us? And who among us was not surprised by help, or kind word, or a random act of kindness from someone we did not expect to help or to care?

The “Priest,” the “Levite,” and “the man beaten by the robbers” are part of our human condition, part of who we are, and all of us have been in the shoes of the priest, Levite and the man left to die on the side of the road. Some of us have been in the shoes of the Good Samaritan; helping people we do not trust and people who do not trust us. Those who were are usually transformed by that experience because very often we experience God’s Grace and presence in an encounter with our neighbors where we do not expect to find God.

Art is a lie that tells us something about the truth. In 2007, Krista Tippett, in one of her “Speaking of Faith” broadcasts titled No More Taking Sides on NPR, produced a two part series that focused on two women: one Palestinian and another Jewish. These two women distrusted each other in the beginning, but through this process the discovered how much they really had in common.

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The parable of the Good Samaritan asks us this question: Who is our “other?” Who are the people that we do not trust? Who are the people that we consider “less than” ourselves? What do we do to perpetuate the hurt and separation, and what can we do to bring healing and trust into the relationship?

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a challenge to understand our neighbors and to recognize that they have a point of view that makes sense from their perspective. To recognize that the reason we do not see eye-to-eye is because we are not recognizing how much we really have in common.

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We cannot bring our “enemies” to God. We cannot bring God to our “enemies.” Only when “they” trust that we have their best interests in our hearts, will our “others” be willing to hear our stories and understand what God means in our lives and what God can do in theirs.

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