Faith Over Fear | Hope Acts | Luke 10:25-37
Topic: Gospel Passage: Luke 10:25–10:37
Christopher Rich – June 7, 2020
Faith Over Fear
Hope Acts | Luke 10:25-37
Introduction | Hope cannot be contained
Good Morning Welcome to Mercy Fellowship where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. During this time a of Global pandemic and local lockdowns we are doing a series called, “Faith Over Fear” where we are pursuing peace can be found in the midst of panic.
Yet as this season has drug on the list of things we’re concerned about has grown in number and intensity. The news daily begins to look more and more like societal break down. Anger has supplanted empathy. I think we’d all be happier if our biggest concerns were murder hornets rather than the mayhem we see. We want comfort but we are instead confronted with world events or personal circumstance which are too overwhelming to process and which we are powerless to change. There is so much that has changed (positively and negatively) and there is so much that has remained the same again both positive and negative. How do we find hope and courage in broken world when God is not seen, heard, or felt? I want to bring us back to some key ideas we held on to when this season began. We need faith in what is true.
1: God is Good, Mighty, Loving, Wise, and is in control. He is not surprised by any of this, and He is not overwhelmed. He is active in world events and is engaged in your individual story.
2: We (you) are known and loved by God in Christ Jesus. He knows your circumstances, and has not forgotten His promises, so we have a hope that is imperishable, and one that cannot be taken away.
3: This is a challenging chapter, and while we do not know how long it is, we know it’s not the last chapter. The Story ends very well with Jesus return and reign making all things new with no sin, sickness, darkness, disease, or death. Our forever future is better than our present pain.
With those in mind we also need to be equipped and encouraged to endure this current season. As we process how we should respond to those around us and engage let make sure we’re seeking the wisdom and direction of Jesus to ensure we’re asking the right questions with the right motives to be transformed.
PART I |Merciless Motives |Luke 10:25-29
Luke10:25-28 |25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
“Behold,” means check this out. Luke wants us to pay attention to the details. There was a student of the law of God, but he has a motive when it comes to Jesus. He doesn’t start with humility, he is studying the bible and seeking religious knowledge to confirm his currently held personal beliefs. He wants to put Jesus to the test (so he is in the place of Judge) rather than looking to Jesus to see where he needs to grow, change, or repent. He comes at Jesus with a pretty common theological question for the time. What do I have to do to inherit eternal life, be promised forever flourishing with God and His people? It’s a very religious questions even as he asks it because it start with “what shall I do”… not “what has or will God do?” In short, he’s already the hero of his story, he’s already the one who is smarter than Jesus, he has stood up to challenge so he’s the center of attention, so in a sense he’s a bit narcissistic. Jesus always knows motives and shrewdly flips is back at him, even feeds his sense of religious superiority by asking. “What’s in the Bible? What’s your reading of the answer?” You’re smart, you tell me/us? What does a life look like that is worthy of inheriting eternal life? What should you do to have flourishing now and flourishing forever? It’s an important question. God has given His people a picture of what a life worthy of more life looks like. The lawyer answers with a common mash up quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 that boil down to Love God and Love People. Jesus in other accounts calls this the Great Commandment. We say this is kindergarten simple but grad school difficult. Simple love God and People, difficult because of the comprehensive nature of this teaching. Love God…. with your complete heart (Affection) your complete soul (worship/spirit), all of your strength (body/action/effort) and all of your mind (intellect and thoughts).
Love People… specifically your neighbor (other people) pretty well, or a little bit? No! as yourself! Which implies you know yourself AND you know them and are actively engage in their welfare as your own.
GOOD LUCK! No one is nailing this! There is so much here that should impact every aspect of life.
Jesus affirms what is true. This comprehensive love of God and people IS what is required for life now and forever. This guy has the right answer. You can know the right answer to the questions and still not be right. Jesus doesn’t say “know this” and live he says “do this” and you will live. Due to the comprehensive nature of all this “doing” any level of honest self-reflection should lead to some really humble follow up questions. Like “How can I do this? What if I’ve already failed? What will happen to me if I don’t? Is there mercy and grace? Is this even possible? The lawyer should be asking these questions or at least considering how he’s done at the “doing” to think of his status with God. Quit while he’s behind. For sure he should not continue to debate with Jesus, because no one wins when they debate Jesus. Jesus always wins. But he can’t help himself. He thinks he’s got a point of contention he can bring out that will show he’s doing really well at life. Sometimes we cautiously assume or apply motives, but here it’s so clear, “desiring to justify himself”. He hears the commands of God and thinks to himself I think I’m pretty close to perfect especially if I can clarify to apply the commands of God to my own standards. So in a truly cringe-worthy moment he asks “and who is my neighbor?” Really!! That’s your question! It assumes you’ve gotten the “Love God with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind” down, yeah I’ve got that and now you’re asking “and who do I have to love so that I can receive life from and with God?” That is a religious question… what do I have to do to get from God. A gospel questions is not “who do I have to love so God will be pleased with me and bless me” a gospel question is “who do I get to love because God, in Christ, loves me, is pleased with me, and has blessed me?” Jesus should rightly light this guy up, but instead He graciously gives him and us a story.
PART II |Mercy Acts | Luke 10:30-35
Luke 10:29-35 | 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
We all know this story to some level, it’s become ubiquitous in our culture to the point it is synonymous with helping others in need but there is so much more to it that and in fact the biggest point isn’t even to “help”. James Montgomery Boice points out there are 4 classes of people in this story that ends up encompassing nearly all of human experience. Victim, victimizers, indifferent, and concerned. I think you could also say, the oppressed, oppressors, the apathic, and the active. Let’s look at each.
The Man (Victim, Oppressed) – The man is assumed to be an Israelite, but really it doesn’t matter that much for the story. The point is he is alone navigating a difficult journey. Jerusalem to Jericho was a 17 mile challenging path with substantial elevation change. It was known to be infested with robbers who would prey on weary travelers especially when they were alone. The man is attacked, he has his valuables taken, his dignity robbed, harm done to him, nearly his whole life taken, and he is left to die. This guy didn’t do anything to deserve this so he is the victim of what anyone can clearly see is injustice. It’s wrong.
The Robbers (Victimizers, Oppressors) – As Jesus tells the story all he has to do is say “trip to Jerusalem to Jericho” and people know “that’s dangerous”. It’s a known place people suffer injustice. There are people along that journey who take the opportunity to inflict others and enrich themselves because of the inherent isolation and cover (systemic oppression) this part of the world affords. Without remorse they use, take, and abuse others, with no concern for the carnage they cause or leave. There is evil in society, no question.
The Priest and Levite (Indifferent, Apathetic) – In the wake of clear injustice of clear wrong there are two types of responses given by three people. Jesus intentionally chooses who shows up to the scene and how they respond. The first two are the Priest and the Levite. The Priest is the religious leader he is the one who is to be a mediator between a Holy God and broken world. There were many wealthy Priest in Jericho, they would go up to Jerusalem to preform religious ceremonies where they had to be “ritually clean” The man is described as “half-dead” IF he was dead and the priest came in contact with a corpse the priest would be Unclean (they wouldn’t even get within a shadow) and unable to fulfill his duties. However, Jesus says the priest was “going down” the road so he’s been to Jerusalem, already done his “duty” to deal with sin and serve people. Now on the way down he sees the “half-dead” man at a distance he has a choice. Get close and investigate, determine if the guy needs help or not the “rule of mercy” would say he need to help if he was clearly alive. That could be messy, inconvenient, difficult, and clearly disruptive. However, by avoiding and going on the other side he could at worst pretend he was dead or at best assume it. The Levite is upper class, privileged among the tribes, religious, he comes along and does the same thing, avoids, disengages, both sees pain, denies it’s existence or are indifferent and apathic. It’s not my problem.
If this parable was modern the priest would be a pastor, one who is more concerned with right theology then right action. (to be clear both are important!) Just preach the Gospel don’t get your hands dirty with the outcome of injustice. The Levite, upper class good Christian American citizen. Both you should expect to care, to act, to engage, but instead their actions (or lack of) are inditements. If challenged they might both say “We weren’t the robbers that beat, stole, and dehumanized this guy!” yeah but you didn’t help either. They we both callous legalist more concerned with using scripture and the law to prevent their involvement rather than propelling them to intervene to bring mercy and justice. If you’re the lawyer you saying, “yeah but is that my neighbor? I am responsible to help?” These people are prideful in their personal piety, but ineffective at empathy, entering into the suffering another and addressing the outcome of injustice they didn’t cause but saw. Again, Jesus doesn’t make sloppy parables, He is laser targeting any concept of national patriotism draped in religious justification and self-righteousness. This is difficult for us to process.
The Samaritan (concerned, active) – Typically rabbinic parables the Israelite would be hero. By choosing this next person Jesus is challenging the hearers (and His, Jesus was Jewish) national pride. Jews and Samaritans had no love lost between them. Historically both of their literature held the other in contempt. There was open hostility, no trust or affection. Our Bibles (and our vernacular) say “Good Samaritan” in the heading, for those listening to Jesus there were would have been no concept of a “Good Samaritan” There was racial hostility because historically they were a mix of Assyrian invaders and remaining Hebrew interlopers. There was religious tension because when the Jews returned from Babylonian exile to rebuild the temple they rebuffed the Samaritan’s offer to help so the Samaritans built their own competing temple. So pick this one however is the most challenging for you to identity with, is this a Muslim illegal immigrant?
He doesn’t hashtag or send thoughts and prayers, He acts. He sees the man (I see you!) and stops what he’s doing, filled with mercy and compassion. His compassion drives him to action. He gets close to the suffering enough to know the extent of the injuries and begins in hopeful engagement for restoration. He uses oil and wine (valuable) to clean and treat wounds. He stops the bleeding by bounding up the open wounds. This would make him intimately aware of depth and type each wound. He picks him up (get’s dirty) and puts him on his animal, he would then take a posture of servant (lowering himself) by leading the animal by foot to the end of the journey. He brings the victim, the oppressed, to a place of refuge and continues care. He then pays the bill in advance and promises to cover any other charges on his return. In this case it’s not the insider and the privileged that shows concern it’s an outsider with all the reasons in the world to walk right on by after generations of built up hostility. Instead he engages with injustice even when it’s inconvenient at great personal cost to bring new life and renewal where there was death and injustice.
PART III |Mercy Motivates | Luke 10:36-38
10:36-38| 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Jesus has changed the question from “who is my neighbor, that I have to love so I can receive”. To “what does it look like to be a loving neighbor who gives mercy and compassion?” Jesus point should be crystal clear, Christian acts of loving mercy cuts across races, nations, and religions. Yet even the lawyer can’t say “the Samaritan” only the “one who showed mercy”. Jesus said, Go and think likewise, no DO, Likewise. I don’t want to easily let us off the hook but we also can’t think we’re going to just do better. We to know we are loved. You are not truly capable of loving other people unless you know how much you’re loved.
So who are you in the story? Are you the lawyer seeking to self-justify? Repent and rest in Jesus work in your place. Are you the oppressed or the oppressor? Apathetic or active? Are you the victim the receive the mercy of Jesus and be renewed? Truth is you can be and likely are many in different ways. But the one thing none of us is, is the hero. That role is exclusively for Jesus. Think who is the most like Jesus? The Samaritan! Jesus sees us in our suffering and has compassion and mercy for us. Jesus comes to us in our places of suffering, in the ditch, in our places of greatest need and near death. Jesus cleans and binds our wounds, triages what is causing us to bleed, closes the wounds. Jesus picks us up and carries us to where we cannot go ourselves. Jesus takes us to a place of refuge and care. Jesus pays the costly bill for our restoration with his own blood on the cross. Jesus ensures our renewal and our recovery by giving us the Holy Spirit. And Jesus promises His return where He will reign with Justice and mercy. So we can “go and do likewise” not trying to fulfill the law and earn life and favor from God. We can actively engage with injustice and mercy because we have already received the mercy, grace, justice and love of God when we Trust Jesus.
More in Faith Over Fear
May 18, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Humbles | Philippians 2:3-11
May 10, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Unites | Philippians 1:27-2:4
May 3, 2020Faith Over Fear | Hope Frees | Philippians 1:12-26