The Good Samaritan

October 16, 2016    Luke 10:25 42 The Good Samaritan    

 

    There certainly is a need for good Samaritans in the world today and we need to be a Good Samaritan.  Our works will be judged someday and we are responsible for the things that God has given to us.   It seems like there are many needs.  Perhaps it could be argued that more than ever there are needs today.   I think things were tough in WWI and WWII days.    Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice reports that Christians are being beheaded, enslaved and crucified.  He writes that 66% of Syrian Christians are decimated and Iraq’s Christians are 82% destroyed or displaced.     Bill Hybels reports that there are 85,000 refugees in Jordan behind barbed wire with open sewers and little food and water. 

    World Food Programs writes that there are 795 million undernourished people in the world today.  Action against Hunger Organization writes that 3.5 million children die every year from starvation and that is 9,589 children a day.  The need in the world is extraordinary and it will take sacrifice to meet the need.  If Christians won’t do it who will?  We have seen the destruction and deaths from hurricane Matthew these last few days.   We have seen on TV the flooding in the South.    There is so much we can do today such as pray, to provide food, to support our church and to send bibles to those who need and want bibles and many other things of course.   We should be thankful that there are so many opportunities to be a blessing to others.  I suppose we find it challenging to be thankful for the needs around us.    The sparrow does not fall to the ground without the father seeing it.  God cares about all those needs.   God cares about people. 

   Most people believe this is a parable but it is also believed that it may be a true story that Jesus tells.   Matthew 13 has 6 parables in it and the disciples ask Jesus why he spoke in parables.   Matt 13:10 – The disciples came to him and asked why do you speak to the people in parables?   He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.   Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.   Whoever does not have even what he has will be taken from him.    This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand which is a quote from Deuteronomy, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   In Isaiah scripture says you will be ever hearing but never understanding.  You will be ever seeing but never understanding. .  Just before this story Jesus turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.   For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

    Jesus told stories or parables to get his point across.   The parable of the Good Samaritan did not need to be explained.   Jesus did not explain all of the parables.     Typically Jesus had to explain the parables of the kingdom of heaven.    I believe the disciples understood this and therefore Jesus did not give any further teaching on it.   The parable explains itself.   Even the lawyer or scribe came to the right understanding.   The people got it.   Jesus blew this lawyer or scribe away.    It is one of those deals where the lawyer has been had and he just wants to go away.    The scribe or lawyer knew exactly what Jesus was saying.  There is so much wisdom and power in this that it just blows us away.   This just amazes me and I hope you can grasp what is happening here.      . 

         The start of the story is a scribe or lawyer asking Jesus a religious question, which was OK, but often the questions were designed to trap Jesus so they could find fault or black ball Jesus.    Jesus it seems to me always turned the tables on them and made them look like they got a lot of egg on their face.   In the end they would not ask him any more questions because Jesus always won and they always looked bad and often the people around loved it.   At the end of the Sermon on the Mount Matthew tells us that the people were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.  The most important aspect is that Jesus gets across the truth to everybody for all ages. 

   The lawyer stands up and tests Jesus by asking what the lawyer had to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus asks him what is written in the law and the lawyer answers love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your heart, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.     So far so good right?    Jesus says you have answered rightly do this and you will live.   And then the lawyer wants to justify himself and make himself look good so he says who is my neighbor?    Are we still asking the question today who is my neighbor?  And Jesus shares this parable. 

    Now the person traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is believed to be a Jew and he gets robbed and beat up.  Jericho is just north East of Jerusalem so one would assume the person traveling is Jewish.    A fellow Jew comes by who is a priest.   Now the lawyer does not think too much of the priest and probably has the attitude of what do you expect of a priest anyway.   Now the priest may have been going to the temple to do his duty and was thinking that people would be waiting on him to minister to them or he may have been going home after being on duty in the temple for a period of time and eager to be with his family.     We sure do not know.   He probably had the thought that others would soon pass by and help the man in the ditch.  The Levite is another priestly type and does the same thing.   The lawyer may be thinking that the next person in Jesus story is going to be (Wall Ah – Himself) a Pharisee or lawyer because he is willing to help a fellow Jew.

     But Jesus just blows him away.   It is a Samaritan.  Samaritans were hated by the Jews.   Two fellow Jews go by and leave this brother in the ditch and a Samaritan who was hated by the Jews and who were considered sworn enemies of the Jews comes by and helps him.  There is just no way that the Pharisee or lawyer would help a Samaritan.   He just would not do it.   

     I am sure Jesus was angry with the attitude the lawyer displayed.   Jesus said at one point give to those that can’t give back to you.  The leaders would serve and give to each other because they believed that it would all even out in the end.  Whatever was given would be given back.   That is a calculated giving.  That is a giving with an expectation of a return.   Jesus asks him who was the neighbor.   Jesus did not answer his question.   He asked the lawyer who the neighbor was.     It was a Samaritan who was considered to be the enemy of the Jew who was in the ditch.    The moral of the story is be a neighbor to your enemy or those in need or those you do not like.    The lawyer wanted to justify himself and make himself look good.    We tend to down play God’s holiness and exalt or build up our righteousness and that is just what the lawyer is doing.   He is not pleading for mercy - he is exalting himself and Jesus drops him back into reality.    I believe with all my heart that the lawyer knew that Jesus just destroyed him and Jesus never answered his question.   He laid it out in such a way that the lawyer answered his own question.    Jesus says in effect you are responsible for all people even those you do not like.   

    Can you picture yourself in the shoes of the Samaritan?   Mr. Samaritan is walking down the road and he spots this Jew in the ditch.  The Jew is bleeding and dirty.  It is clear that someone has beaten him up.  Because of his condition he can’t get out of the ditch.  He thinks to himself the Jews hate me.  They see me as a second class citizen.   This Jew would probably never help me.  But I feel sorry for this man.   He needs some help.  We do not know how much money this Samaritan had.  He had some money.   He figures I will probably never see this man again.  I do not know him and he does not know me.  He probably does not think well I could take that money and buy myself something I have wanted.  I could do something nice for my family.  I suspect that he has to make a living and this will not only cost him some money but some time.  This despised Samaritan has compassion on him and helps him.  He is a compassionate man.  It is nice to have a passion like that.  He had a passion to help others.  He did not look at all of his money was for his own self pleasure.  It is good when a person gives of himself to something greater than himself or herself.   He loved his neighbor as himself.    

    How would we put or relate this parable of the Good Samaritan in today’s environment?   A family of disheveled and unkempt individuals was stranded by the side of a major road on a Sunday morning.   They were in obvious distress.   The mother was sitting on a tattered suitcase, hair uncombed, clothes in disarray, with a glazed look in her eyes, holding a smelly, poorly clad, crying baby.  The father was unshaved dressed in coveralls, a look of despair on his face as he tried to corral 2 other youngsters.   Beside them was a run-down old car that had obviously just given up the ghost.  You can finish the story. 

   Or perhaps it is someone with the hood of the car up but it is a Mercedes Benz.  And they are in trouble and your somewhere where cell phones are not working.  It is snowing so it is cold and would you pull over and offer the rich person a helping hand.  Now granted you have to be careful today who you seek to help.  Or perhaps it is a Politian that you recognize them and do not like them.  Would you stop?  

    If Jesus were teaching that in Germany in 1940 or after the war what he would he say?  If Jesus told this in Germany then it would be a German in the ditch and the Jew who came to help.    What would Jesus say 50 years ago in Alabama?   What is Jesus saying in this passage?   God cares for people.   All people are important.  If you were in the ditch today and Jesus spoke this who would Jesus have said came by to help out?   What kind of person do we not like?   Would it be a minority person?  Would it be someone with a sinful sexual life style?   Would it be a Politian or a used car salesperson?    I think Jesus speaks to our prejudice.     I think Jesus speaks that we are responsible for others around us.  In Genesis 4 the Lord asks Cain where is your brother Abel?  Cain replies I don’t know.   Am I my brother’s keeper?   I guess Cain thought he could lie to God and get away with it.  That did not work too well.   There is a sense that Jesus speaks to Cain in this story just like Jesus speaks to us today. 

    Sometimes we do not see the need.   Tracy pointed out a young person to me this week that lives outdoors but I normally do not see people who live out doors.  Sometimes you see people pan handling on the corner but you do not know exactly what the situation is.  We know there is a need with our youth today.  Mark Hayward said in July 2016 in the Union leader that the latest report card on New Hampshire children found that while few Granite State children struggle in poverty compared to the country as a whole, the state ranks among the worst in the country when it comes to teen abuse of drugs and alcohol. The findings are in the 2015 Kids Count Data Book, an annual ranking of child well-being in the 50 states compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Overall, New Hampshire ranked second in the country in child well-being, behind only Minnesota. The Data Book, which relies on Census data, reported that the percentage of children living in poverty fell from 16 percent in 2012 to 10 percent in 2013.  But the state was tied for last place with six other states in the percentage of teens — 7 percent — who misuse drugs or alcohol. The other states are neighboring Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming.

    As we consider this story today lets be reminded that Jesus calls his people to action.  Let’s be reminded that as a church we want to help and minister to young people and let’s be in prayer that God would do great things through this youth center.   It all begins with prayer.  Let’s ask God for a passion for young people.  Let’s be praying for the young people in this church. 

    Isaiah 58 is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?     Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?    Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.     Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.    If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.    The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.