Song “Ive got peace like a river”
Reading Luke 10v25-37
Luke is a gospel that emphasizes God's love for the poor, the disadvantaged, minorities, outcasts, sinners and lepers.
Jesus is approached by a legal expert in Biblical law who asks what a person must do to gain eternal life. Jesus asks the lawyer/theologian what he thinks the scriptures say. The theologian gives the answer, "love God, love your neighbour." Jesus replies "Indeed, do this and you will live." Yet, here lies the problem, doing God's law is no easy matter, and it does help if our neighbour belongs to a group of people we like/our group. So, the theologian asks Jesus "who is my neighbour?" Jesus doesn't actually answer the theologian's question (my neighbour is even my enemy), rather he illustrates in a parable what it means to love "your neighbour as yourself".
Jesus has entered Samaritan territory, we are told in Luke 9v52 and so we get the story of the “Good” Samaritan. The "going down" expresses movement from a high place to a low place, the low place being Jericho. The road drops 3,300 feet in 17 miles and was notorious for its hazards!
The priest does not stop because of a fear of the robbers, or fear of defilement from a corpse.
Oil was used on wounds as a liniment, while wine (alcohol) was used as an antiseptic.
The lawyer when asked by Jesus recognizes that the Samaritan has acted properly (but he can’t bring himself to say the word Samaritan.) The lawyer must see behind the Law, laws to love. Even non-Jews who demonstrate this kind of love can enter the kingdom. So what is Salvation?
Religious Jews (the legalists) of the day believed that by obedience to the law they were able to perfect their standing before God and thus guarantee their place in the kingdom. This religious Jew did not need a legal definition for "neighbour", he needed to act in a neighbourly way (with mercy) to inherit eternal life. The problem was he had never loved as the Samaritan had loved. Therefore, he stood under the condemnation of God and was in dire need of Gods mercy. Jesus deliberately shocks the lawyer by forcing him to consider the possibility that a foreigner might know more about the love of God than a devout Jew blinded by preoccupation with petty rules.
The story of the Good Samaritan is about not protecting just your own. It invites the question can a Samaritan be good?
The man who was beaten up was powerless. But his presence provoked a reaction, from the religious and from an outsider from another religion. The priest and the Levite were the good guys, regular church attenders, respected in the community. But the presence of the man beaten up showed a deeper side to them. They were superficial. Their religion was skin deep. Piety. Worst than that Jesus says they were people who were not a neighbour, they did not love their neighbour.
So what about us? Are we are people according to the words of Jesus who do not "Go and do likewise." Are we the the ones who pass by on the other side. Are we are the ones who are unwilling to be changed by the presence of people who challenge us? Where are we relative to the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbour as ourselves?
The sad part is that both the priest and the Levite "saw the man" and deliberately chose not to help him. I’m guessing we often all pass by on the other side.
If we don’t love our neighbour then we are like the man left for dead. We are dead and we leave others left for dead. We must be like the Good Samaritan, love our neighbour, and reflect Jesus' directive to "Go and do as he did." Jesus illustrates what it means to love "your neighbour as yourself", what it means to be neighbourly.
Jesus' extension of the obligation to love even our enemies gives it new, radical perspective. Our Christian faith calls us to the love of the Samaritan.
“First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist, then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me” Martin Niemoller (1892-1984)
We need to rediscover the Samaritans theology of kindness. This is wisdom to plan for the stranger. The theology of kindness creates a welcome environment, practical hospitality and signs we care. Gospel kindness feeds us physically or spiritually. True welcoming is more interested in the needs of the stranger. It’s entertaining angels unawares.
How many refugees has your country taken in 2022? In mine its less than 1%.
Jesus says go and do likewise.
The blessing of God be upon you.
The blessing of the Christ of Love
The blessing of the Spirit of Peace
Song “The Lord bless you”