Are You a Good Neighbor?

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Luke 10:25-37 | February 12 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
February 12
Are You a Good Neighbor? | Luke 10:25-37
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Our Father in heaven, what a good prayer, and may they forget the channel, seeing only Him. So I pray that I might decrease and Christ would increase, that He would be uppermost in our hearts and in our minds, and You would give us all ears to hear what You have to say to us from this Word, the words of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Luke chapter 10, Luke chapter 10, verses 25 through 37. A story that for many of you will need no introduction and yet there is always, there are always new twists to the diamond, always new facets to see.

I was recollecting, and though I’ve certainly referenced this and written on it, I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan. So here we are. Aren’t you glad you came?

Follow along, beginning at verse 25.

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 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.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.””

“But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 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. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 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. 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.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.””

No doubt this is one of the most famous parables, if not the most famous parable, perhaps only rivaling Luke 15 and the prodigal son. Not only that, it’s one of the most famous stories anywhere in the Bible. In fact, probably one of the most famous stories ever told by anyone, anywhere, in the history of the world. Almost every Christian knows the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Even many non-Christians have heard of this story, or they use the term. I’ve seen it just two or three times in the past few months, some news story of some man who had no connection to a hurting person or a struggling child or a lost puppy and he went and helped them and he is labeled a Good Samaritan. If someone goes out of his way to help someone else, especially if that other person is a stranger to him, we say he or she, what a Good Samaritan. So we’re familiar with this story, most of us.

The challenge then is just the opposite with the sort of texts we’ve been going through in Leviticus, which seems strange and alien and on the face of it don’t make much sense. The challenge there is to open our eyes and realize, ah, there’s a lot going on here we didn’t see. The challenge with a text like this is just the opposite. It’s right here, go and do likewise, you should help people, let’s pray, just in time for kickoff.

But that’s not what we’re going to do. We may think we know this parable, and we do, but there are facets we haven’t seen before.

I want to divide this sermon into three parts. Number one, the question. Number two, the non-answer. And then number three, the exhortation.

So part number one, the question. There in in the first paragraph. The question is actually two questions, two parts. Likely, this lawyer knew what he was doing and the first question was probably leading up to the second question. The first question he asks has to do with eternal life. Now, lots of jokes about lawyers, and we have some in our church, we’re thankful for them. Not all the lawyers in the Bible are bad. This one does seem, however, to have a bit of a devious motive, a test. Now the word test isn’t always bad, but more often than not in the Gospels, to test Jesus is to try to trap Him, to try to put Him in a corner, or at least, most innocuously, to give Him a sort of theological stumper.

It’s probably not an honest question, as we’ll come to in verse 29, because his followup question tries to justify himself, something of a trap, “Can you give me the right answer, Jesus?” So he asks Him, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Notice what Jesus does, quite shrewdly. He puts the question right back at the lawyer. He says, “Hmm, what do you think? Tell Me. You’re a lawyer. You’re very smart, you’re very learned. How do you read it? What have you come up with?”

So the man gives a familiar answer. This was not an uncommon question. We see it in other parts in the Gospels and this is not an unfamiliar answer. This was right down the middle, mainstream, Jewish answer to this question about eternal life. So he says, Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with everything you’ve got.” And then Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus Himself says, in another part of the Gospels, that these two commandments summarize the whole law. So this man has answered well.

Jesus says to him, “That’s right, that’s right.” Slow golf clap, nicely done. But He does say something curious in verse 28: “Do this and you will live.”

There’s two different ways we can understand what Jesus is saying here. He may be simply echoing Old Testament language, “do this and live.” This is the way of God, this is how you live a life that’s pleasing to God. Or He may be one step ahead of the lawyer and so He tells him, “You’re right. That is the way to eternal life. That’s what you have to do.” But Jesus of course knows, “Now let me see you do it. Let me see how you can love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and might and how you love your neighbor as yourself. But you’re right. If you do this, oh, you’ll live. Show me a man who does those two things perfectly, flawlessly, constantly, and that man will inherit eternal life.” Knowing of course that there is no such person, other than the Lord Jesus Himself who could so fulfill the commandments of God perfectly.

Either way, the man certainly understands, whether Jesus is saying, “This is how you get to heaven” or saying “This is the path of the person on their way to heaven,” either way, the man recognizes immediately this is a difficult task.

So he follows up in verse 29. Here’s the second part of his question. Desiring to justify himself. So he must be thinking, “Okay, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength. Okay.” He thinks, perhaps rather foolishly, but “I can get that. Love God. Mmm, my heart is beating. I love God. The neighbor part, love my neighbor as myself. Well, that could seem a bit daunting. But let’s see if we can narrow this a bit. Jesus, who then is my neighbor?”

You see, whenever we need to justify ourselves, when we have to try to prove ourselves in some religious way, or prove ourselves to God, what do we do? You either have to exaggerate your ability or minimize your requirement. It’s the only way. Exaggerate what you can do or minimize what is required of you.

So he goes the second route, “Now who, Jesus, is my neighbor?” He may be thinking to himself, “I can love my family. Maybe I can even love my friends. Perhaps the people in the building next door to me. Maybe even my clan, my tribe, perhaps even my fellow Jews. Surely, it’s not going to get any larger than that. So, Jesus, You tell me. Who is my neighbor?” That’s the question.

Part two is the answer, or we can call it the non-answer because as we’ll see, Jesus decides to give him a different answer than the answer to the question that he asked. The details of the story are familiar to most of us, a Jewish man going down from Jerusalem. Jerusalem was at a high elevation and everywhere you went was going down. He went in this dangerous descent, down to Jericho. Of course, you don’t have well-lit roads and you don’t have police officers that are there helping you out. You are making this trip and where there are numerous twists and turns or caverns or dark places you could easily be attacked by robbers. There are many such evidences that this took place.

So it is a familiar situation. This man is beaten, bloodied on the road, and three men pass by. The first two obviously religious leaders in Israel – a priest then a Levites, they do nothing. Then here comes the Samaritan, a half-breed. Samaritans were considered ethnically and religiously dirty people, and here is ironically this half-breed of a man who stops to help the half-dead man in the street.

We’re so familiar with it, we know what’s coming, but it must have been a real shocker when Jesus first told the story. Priest, Levite, everyone knows what’s supposed to come next. It’s supposed to come, Israelite. Priest, Levite, regular member of the congregation. Pastor, elder, church member. Or pastor, elder, deacon. Everyone understands what’s coming next. Priest, uh-huh, Levite, uh-huh, and now the Israelite. Wait a minute. Did you say Samaritan?

You know just how disdainful they viewed the Samaritans if you just look back one chapter, chapter 9, a story that if it weren’t so tragic would be humorous. Verse 51: “When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of Him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for Him. But the people did not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem.”

Time out there. Remember part of the disagreement between the Jews and the Samaritans was where they should worship. That’s why they’re upset. He has His face set toward Jerusalem. Remember John chapter 4, the woman from Samaria, the woman at the well, she’s asking on which mountain, where does this worship take place. And Jesus says, “We want those who worship in spirit and truth.” The Samaritans said true worship was Mount Gerizim, and the Jews said it was on Jerusalem, Mount Zion. So that’s the issue here. No, no, no. Samaritans don’t want to hear it. You people, you got the wrong mountain in your BCO. You got the wrong thing.

But look what happens, verse 54: “And when his disciples James and John,” those rambunctious sons of thunder, “saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”

Like I said, if it weren’t so tragic, it would be humorous. James and John, I mean, I don’t know if Jesus had face palm emoji somewhere, but He must have just, “Guys, really. How long have you been with Me?” “Jesus, now, would now? We’ve been waiting. We just… Now. Now would be a good time to cook the Samaritans. Am I right? Am I right? Everyone? Am I right?” “No, no, no. We’re all going to the next town.”

But that’s how they viewed the Samaritans. They had a different mountain, they were thought to have been sellouts during the Jewish wars. During the Jewish wars, this intertestamental period, it was told that they denied being Jews and then betrayed their kinsmen. Josephus, the Jewish historian who later went over to the side of the Romans, details in several places the hatred between Jews and Samaritans.

One rabbi Eliezer is reported as saying, “He that eats the bread of Samaritans is like to one that eats the flesh of swine.” The Jewish book in the Apocrypha, Sirach, ends with Been Sirach saying, “Two nations my soul detests and the third is not even a people. Those who live in Seir and the Philistines, and the foolish people who live in Shechem.” Those were the Samaritans. Josephus recounting the Jewish wars, but the Maccabean wars. These were the conflicts between the Jews and the Samaritans.

It’s hard to recreate in our mind all the factors that made the Samaritans so despicable in their eyes. We know it as a bit of intellectual Bible exposition, but we don’t feel it. Some have coined this term, “Repugnant cultural other.” RCO. Not ROU, rodents of unusual size, those are different. But these are repugnant cultural other. RCO. It’s a label given to the sort of people that we all feel, the sort of person who’s of a different, a different tribe, a different, they wear a different jersey.

Now Jesus was not trying to excuse whatever theological errors the Samaritans had or whatever ethical errors or whatever personal sins. That’s what makes the reference so scandalous and someone might have wanted to say, but, but Jesus, what about… Well, He’s not going into an elaborate theology of the Samaritan way of worship, but He did obviously want to put a bad guy in the lead role as the good guy.

There have always been out groups and in groups. For the Jews, Samaritans were an out group. Now further out than that were the Gentiles, but these half-breeds, as they considered them, were an out group. This has happened in every human culture. It’s not to excuse the sin, it’s just to say it’s a fact of human nature, depending on where you are or where you are from or your ethnic group. Tragically, at times in American history it has been black people. In other countries it might be if you are non-Han Chinese or if you’re Arab or if you’re Jews, it’s always the case that there are some people that are looked upon as something less.

If you will permit just a small illustration from The Simpsons. I used to watch, I don’t anymore. Bart and Lisa are playing nicely outside during recess. Groundskeeper Willie, who is this very over-the-top, exaggerated Scotsman, Groundskeeper Willie, he talks like that, looks out and he says, “It’ll never last. Brothers and sisters are natural enemies, like Englishmen and Scots, like Welshmen and Scots, like Japanese and Scots, or Scots and other Scots. Darned Scots, they ruined Scotland.”

We can say that because we are Presbyterian and we have fighting Scots among us.

It may be if you’re in one part of the country that you would put as “the other” New Yorkers, or a lobbyist from Washington D.C. Or if you’re on the coast, it’s one of those people who live in flyover country and you might put there. And then a farmer from Kansas, a miner from West Virginia. Depending upon your political orientation, it might be that Jesus says, “and then someone walked up with one of those Ruth Bader Ginsberg t-shirts.” Or He might have said, “and then someone came up wearing a red MAGA hat.” If it was during the Civil War, He might say “General Lee and Stonewall Jackson passed by and a Yankee came.” Or “General Grant, General Sherman, and then Johnny Reb came.” Whoever your out group and the in group. A PCA pastor, a PCA elder, and a liberal Methodist.

Now you could personalize it. Think about the person in your life who you feel absolutely betrayed you. The group of people who have let you down. The sort of person, now you’re too nice to want to say it out loud, but you know there’s a sort of person, deep down you know they’re no good, they’re compromised, they absolutely cannot be trusted, and she or he may have a name or it may be just a group of people, or a certain identity block, but there they are. You feel it and you know it. If someone were to mention that group of people, you would immediately feel there’s nothing good with those folks.

These were the Samaritans.

Part of what Jesus is doing in trying to illustrate this command, “love your neighbor as yourself,” is not to say, “Well, of course, there’s two commands. One, first you have to love yourself and then love your neighbor as yourself.” Some people try to say that. That’s not what Jesus means, it’s not what Leviticus means with the command. Even if you have low self-esteem, even if you go through life and you feel like I’m a loser, no one likes me, still you want to be treated well. In fact, often times if you walk around with self-loathing, it may be because you have been treated so poorly or because you are so desperate to have people try to love you.

The point is we all love ourselves in that we all want to be treated fairly, justly. We want people to be kind to us. We hope that people will show compassion to us when we are in great need.

So some of what Jesus is doing is perhaps getting His listeners and getting us to ponder, “Listen, you may be on the other side of the road someday.”

Don’t we all read this story and we all put ourselves in those three men who pass by. Which one would I… Would I have been the priest, would I have been the Levites? Oh, I hope I would have been the Good Samaritan. We all put ourselves there in the protagonist, and that’s right. But I think Jesus also wants us to imagine, “What if you’re that man? What if you’re the one half-dead, beaten, bloodied, on the side of the road?”

We all think that we’ll be the one with the opportunity to help and be noble and save someone’s life, and I will surely do it. But live long enough and we all have the opportunity to be the person in the ditch, needing the help.

Jesus wants us to think “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you’re there, and you’re about to die you’re so beaten, you don’t care if it’s a Samaritan. You don’t care if it’s someone from the coast or flyover country. You don’t care how that person voted at that moment. You want them to help you not die. You want them to be a neighbor. We hope that people will show compassion to us. No one wants all of the travelers to pass by the other side of the road when you’re the one lying half-dead.

So Jesus wants us to ponder, “Will you treat others now like you would want to be treated in your time of need?” Or even more poignantly, “Would you allow yourself to be helped by your enemy?” It’s one thing to consider “I would be the noble one to go and help those who considered me their enemy.” Would you be willing to be helped by your enemy?

The lawyer, we understand, wants to define neighbor quite narrowly. But you notice that Jesus moves in the opposite direction. He asks the question, verse 29, “Who is my neighbor?” I said Jesus gives a nonanswer because He never answers that question. He never tells the man who is his neighbor. What He does is communicate don’t figure out who is my neighbor, concentrate on being the good neighbor.

As one author puts it, He moves neighbor from object to subject. Object of my compassion. Who is my neighbor? Who is the one that I need to love? Jesus said, “I’m not even going to go down that. I’m not even going to play that game with you. I’m not going to try to decide which person you need to show mercy to. I want you to see the sort of person you need to be. You need to flip it.”

Some people, it’s very sad when this happens, often happens to people who are most desperate for friends. Now I know sometimes you just, you move to a new place and it takes a long time, but sometimes intractably feel like I don’t have any friends and they’re always asking the question, “Do I have friends who are my friends? Why isn’t anyone my friend?” There’s a lot of reasons for that, but you’ve got to help people turn and say, “Well, I don’t know how people are mistreating you. They may very well be. But you’re going to have a very hard time getting friends just asking where are my friends? Why aren’t people treat… You need to flip it and say how can I be a friend?” The people who know how to be friends find it much easier to get friends.

So Jesus wants you to switch. The concept of neighbor cannot be precisely defined. It must, rather, be lived out. That’s the nonanswer.

Which leads finally, in verse 37, to the exhortation. Did you notice in these two paragraphs there’s a very definite pattern? Have you seen this before? Lawyer’s question, Jesus’ question, lawyer’s answer, Jesus’ command. It happens exactly the same way in both paragraphs. First paragraph, lawyer asks the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds with a question, “What do you think?” Lawyer gives an answer, “Love God, love my neighbor.” Jesus gives a command, “Go and do likewise.” Do it and you’ll live.

Same exact pattern in the second paragraph. The lawyer asks, “Who is my neighbor?” Now Jesus tells a story in the middle of it, but then Jesus asks the question and says, “What do you think? Who showed the man mercy?” Then the lawyer responds, he says, “The one who showed mercy. He was the neighbor.” Jesus finishes with a command, “That’s right. Now go do it.”

Lawyer question, Jesus question, lawyer answer, Jesus command. The exact same pattern in both halves of the passage.

Now as soon as we come to the end, “You go and do likewise.” Lots of problems come into our minds, at least they do in my mind, perhaps because I’ve always been the sort of person who feels, well, probably two reasons. One, the good, I think I’m a person who feels a strong sense of obligation. I was the kid in class that if the teacher asked if there are any questions, I was like, “Somebody should say something. Ask a question.” So I started having all sorts of questions about how this works out. Probably also honestly is I don’t have a heart that’s as compassionate as it should be.

So I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of questions come to my mind when Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.” I want to say, “But, Jesus, we know with our phones about a billion people in need. Do I have to care for all of them? What if the problems are not as simple as this one?”

So this man was, the need was urgent, clear, and immediate. The man had to something, the traveler, the Samaritan, or he would die. He only had to care for him for a short time and then he gave him two coins, which probably cared for him at the inn for maybe a couple of weeks, and then he went on.

But does Jesus want us to go into the town and find the people who are hurting and then set up programs? Does that work? What about, Jesus, aren’t there some spheres of obligation? Some concentric circles of moral proximity? Don’t I have a first obligation to my family, then to my church, then maybe to my denomination, to other Christians, to my local community, to the nation, to the world? How does this apply to churches or to charities or to government programs or international relations? I can easily think of a lot of questions, Jesus. This doesn’t seem very practical.

We have to realize Jesus is not trying to give a comprehensive moral philosophy. That’s not how parables work. He’s not saying, “Now here’s my ethics textbook. Here’s the way you should think about all of your community charitable acts and your deaconal work and your international relations or NGOs.”

We know He doesn’t expect His disciples to be engaged in nonstop, never-ending acts of service because of the story that comes next, Martha and Mary. In fact, there’s a reason that chapter 10 ends with Martha and Mary because the beginning of chapter 10 Jesus sends out the 72. They go out and they cast out demons and they preach and they see Satan fall like lightning. This is the best short-term mission trip ever. Then Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, cross the road, go and do likewise.

Then we end with Mary and Martha. Of course, Martha was busy, busy, busy, all the preparations. She was upset that her sister wasn’t helping and Jesus said, “No, Mary has chosen the one thing that is necessary. She has chosen the good portion.” The example of Mary shows us that sometimes the good portion is to take a break from the acts of service, to step away from the flurry of activity, simply sit at the feet of Jesus.

It’s as if Luke 10 means to communicate you can cast out demons, you can preach in My name, you can see Satan fall like lightning, you can heal the wounds of the sick and the injured, you can do all of this, but if you don’t love Me, if you don’t learn from Me, if you don’t put Me first, then you’ve missed the point.

So we know from the very context here Jesus isn’t saying, “This is your new summons, 24/7.” No, the parable is not meant to be an exhausting burden. Yet, let’s not so do what the lawyer himself wanted to do, which was put a limit and some safeguards that we rob the story of its power, of its shocking, scandalizing, upsetting power. It’s supposed to surprise us, it’s supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. It’s supposed to open our eyes to all the ways we would much prefer to play it safe.

So certainly it’s not a comprehensive moral philosophy or answer every ethical question. The point is what Jesus says – to act.

Let me give you four questions. I find these very challenging in my own life, in my own heart.

Number one. Are you willing to give of your money? This man gave something of his money to help. Notice, this wasn’t to the synagogue. Are you willing to give your money to help people? When no one knows about it. When you don’t even have a 501(c)(3) to send you one of those forms that you’re getting in the mail before you do your taxes that says this is a charitable contribution, you can deduct this from your tax burden. Would you just give because there’s a need and you can help?

Second question. Are you willing to give of your time? I don’t know about you. If I’m honest, I’d rather give my money than my time. Both can feel in short supply, but you can make more money, at least try to. You can’t make more time. You can’t get any more time. Nobody here has any more hours in a day than anybody else. It’s totally inelastic, our supply of time. That’s precious to us. But the man gave of his time.

Third question. This one cuts to my heart, maybe yours. Are you willing to be interrupted? Now, I know, I know. If you’re always interrupted and you never have priorities you’ll never get the thing… Of course, of course. Are you ever willing to be interrupted? I do, I just, I hate to think that I might be walking by and, of course they didn’t have watches, but might say, “Oh, wow, I got a schedule to keep. But you know what I’m going to do? I’m a runner. I’m going to run ahead. I’m going to find somebody as soon as I can. I’m going to send somebody. Hold on, buddy! Send somebody back to look after you.” Are you willing to be interrupted to help someone, because when people have urgent needs, it’s never convenient. You don’t just have a block of time to go wait with somebody at the hospital, to go attend to this person right in front of you.

I know it’s not the same as parenting, but is there some relationship here, parents? Your kids constantly have needs. It never feels like the right time. It’s the life of a parent to be willing to be interrupted.

How about a fourth question. Are you eager to show mercy or eager to limit who deserves mercy? Of course, the way you put it there, “deserves mercy” neuters mercy of what it is in the first place. You can’t give mercy if someone is deserving of mercy. Mercy is by definition undeserved. Why should a Samaritan help a Jew? Why should a Jew want to be helped by a Samaritan? What are you eager to find? To try to limit and constrain or eager to give and to show compassion?

The parable of the Good Samaritan is the narrative equivalent to Paul’s command in Galatians 6:10 to do good to all people as you have opportunity. You can’t do good to all people all the time, but as you have opportunity, Paul said, they’re going to be there, will you have the open heart and the open eyes to see it when it’s in front of you? Not every need will be presented as dramatically as this one, or as much ought as a man half-dead lying alone on the side of the road, but wherever there is that need right in front of us, surely Jesus’ story tells us we must not let someone’s race or ethnicity or gender or political allegiance stop us from being the neighbor that Christ calls us to be.

Darrell Bock says in his commentary, “The issue is not who we may or may not serve, but serving where need exists. We are not to seek to limit who are neighbors might be, rather we are to be a neighbor to those whose needs we can meet.” We are to be a neighbor to those whose needs we can meet.

There’s one final way of understanding this parable. The most obvious point is this concluding exhortation in verse 37, “You go and do likewise.” We don’t want to rob the main point. Jesus said, “You go be the neighbor that you would want someone to be to you.” That’s the point.

But, or and, we are right to see another connection. Look at the first half of verse 37. He said, asking him which of these three do you think proved to be the neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers. He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Who is the good neighbor? No, Patrick Mahomes, it’s not State Farm ultimately. The good neighbor is the one who shows mercy.

Interestingly, the early church fathers in looking at this passage, typically gave it a Christological interpretation. That is, they focused less on the concluding imperative, “You go and do likewise,” and focused more on the Christological fulfillment of this parable. If you just orient your mind to it, it’s not hard to see. We are the men and women going down the road to Jericho. The fathers would say, “We have been beaten up by sin, flesh, and the devil. The law of Moses, isn’t that represented by the priests and the Levites? Are powerless to save.”

Now we don’t want to go far and make elaborate analogies as some of the, or allegories rather, some of the church fathers did, but surely we’re right to see some of this theological connection. After all, didn’t the man ask, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus, as He always is, several steps ahead of anyone who wants to trap Him, knows right where He’s bringing this man. “Oh, what must you do to inherit eternal life? Well, very simple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself. Who’s your neighbor? Well, it cannot be limited. You must be the neighbor to everyone who has needs. Now you go and do likewise. You wanted to know how to do it. You just have to obey the law of Moses.”

What does Jesus show then in the parable? Who is unable to save the man in his great plight? It’s precisely those chief representatives of the law of Moses. The priest, the Levite. They cannot save. The law of Moses, the commands, the sacrifices, in themselves cannot save. But Jesus is the good neighbor. Jesus is the one hated, despised, thought to be that repugnant cultural other. Is not Jesus the one who binds up our wounds, gives us new life? Even if you want to make the connection with verse 35 where Jesus promises to come back.

So this has everything to do with the parable we saw last week, that Dave did such wonderful job handling. You will be the sort of people who show mercy when you know how much mercy you have received. After all, what prompted this lawyer to ask his question in the first place? It was what Jesus said in chapter 10, verse 22 – ““All things have been handed over to Me by My Father and no one knows the Son except the Father or who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Then turning to the disciples He said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.””

Jesus has just laid down, here’s the path to the Father. It’s by the Son. Prompts the man to stand up in verse 25 and put Him to the test. Let’s try this in a different track, Jesus.

So while we do not want to make the Good Samaritan something less than a story about being a good neighbor to those in need, it is more than that. We are the ones who were half-dead, more than that, completely dead in sin on the side of the road, needing one who was Himself esteemed as nothing, had no countenance upon Him that we should desire Him, that we should be attracted to Him, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He crossed the road He did not have to cross that He might come and show mercy to those who deserved anything but.

So as we have received mercy from the ultimate good neighbor, so Christ compels us and give us His Spirit that we may go forth and do likewise.

Let’s pray. O God of mercy, God of might, we thank You for Your loving kindness to us. May we never lose sight of Your mercies. Call us out, cast us out that we might share this love and show this mercy to others. In Jesus we pray. Amen.