Follow Along

Get new posts by email:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Q&A with Jesus"

“Q&A with Jesus”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
March 21, 2010
Luke 10:25-37


Our passage for today includes one of the most world-famous parables of the Lord Jesus–the parable of the Good Samaritan.   The Good Samaritan.

I assume that almost everyone here knows the story well.  We’ve all heard it taught  in Sunday School Classes, Bible story books, and sermons–however, in 12 years of preaching here, this is my first time to ever preach this passage of holy Scripture.

The parable of the Good Samaritan appears only in the Gospel of Luke, and while I’ve preached occasional messages from Luke, this is our first time through the whole book together.

But everyone knows this story.  In fact, I think it will be very difficult for us to hear the story as if it was were the first time.  That’s always something I’m trying to get us to do when we approach familiar passages–read it as if it were the first time.  But this one is hard to approach that way.  It’s just really familiar.

But one thing that we often miss when we think about the parable of the Good Samaritan is the immediate context.  The conversation going on between an expert in the law and Jesus.

The parable appears in the middle of a back and forth, back and forth Q&A session between an expert in the law and the Lord Jesus.

And it’s actually that question & answer session that reveals to us what this parable is really about.

It’s actually about more than we usually think it is.

It’s about what we think it is about, but it’s also about more.

So, today, we’re going to call this passage, “Q&A with Jesus.”

And as we read it, I want you to notice who is asking and who is answering the questions.

Jesus has this way of turning someone else’s questions into questions for someone else.

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’”
Let’s stop there and set the stage.

We don’t know when this happened. Luke has decided that this story fits well right here.  But it happened at some point during Jesus’ ministry.

An “expert in the law”–a lawyer–asks Jesus a question.

Insert your favorite lawyer joke here!

Now, this guy was not a lawyer like we think of today.  This was, as the NIV indicates, an expert in the law–that is the Old Testament law.  We might think of him as a Bible scholar.  A professor of Bible.

And he asks Jesus a question.  It’s a good question; but is it an honest question?

Is this man seeking truth?  No.  Luke says that he “stood up to test Jesus.”  The King James translates that word “test” as “tempt.”  He was putting Jesus to the test.

And here’s his question, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Now, that’s interesting question, especially how he asks it.

He wants to know about inheriting eternal life.

How do you “inherit” something?  Well, normally, someone dies, and it is given to you because you are a part of that person’s family.

So, this man thinks that he’s in a family that were there is an inheritance to be expected and the inheritance is eternal life.

What family would that be?  God’s family.

Probably he assumes that eternal life is his birthright because he’s a Jew.

But...he also asks what he needs to DO to inherit.  What are the conditions for inheritance of eternal life?

That’s the question.  Who asked it?

A lawyer.

So, Jesus answers his question with a lawyer question of His own.  See that in verse 26.

“‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’”

Jesus often answers a question with a question.

“You’re a lawyer?  Well, what does the law say?”

So, whose turn is it to answer?  The expert, right?  And he knows his stuff.  V.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.'’”

The lawyer says Deuteronomy 6:5 says to love God.  And Leviticus 19 says to love your neighbor.  And that’s a summary of the law.  V.28


“‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’”

A+ Mister Lawyer Man! 

Want to know what to do?  Do this and you will live.

You DO know your Bible!

At others places in the Gospels, this is exactly how Jesus summarized the Old Testament. Love God with what?  All of your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

That’s just about all of you, right?

Love God with your whole being.  AND love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Now, notice, Jesus has answered the lawyer’s question from verse 25.

Q. Q. A. A.  Got it?

But the lawyer has a problem with his own answer.  The answer that Jesus has just affirmed.

What’s his problem?

He’s not sure that he can pull it off.

He wants to be justified, that is vindicated.  Seen as just and righteous.

He wants to inherit eternal life, but the terms, the conditions–that he himself has identified in the Old Testament seem – perilous?  Too steep?  Too high?

So, the lawyer asks a second question trying to get the first answer qualified and do-able.  V.29

“But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’”

He just skips the first commandment, what we call the Great Commandment–to love God.

And skips to the second that is like it to love your neighbor as yourself.

Just who is that?

How hard is this? What is the minimum standard here?

Who exactly is my neighbor?

Now, the phrase “love your neighbor as yourself” comes from Leviticus chapter 19.

And in Leviticus 19, “neighbor” is generally defined for the Jews as fellow Jews.  Their brothers according to the flesh.  The people that live around you and are like you.  You may not always like them they may be rich or poor but they are your people.  And they are nearby.  So God says that you need to love them.

And that’s probably what the expert in the law had in mind for an answer.

Is that how Jesus answers?

Does Jesus answer?

He tells a story.  V.30

“In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.  The next day he took out two silver coins 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.'  ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’  The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

Now, notice how Jesus did the Q&A thing to this man again!

Did you catch that?

Who is answering by the end?  The lawyer is, right?

Jesus answers the lawyer’s question–what was his question?  “Who is my neighbor?”  He answers the lawyer’s question–with a story that ends in a question.

“Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor [in the Leviticus 19 sense of the word] to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The lawyer answers, “The one who had mercy on him.”

And that’s the answer for the lawyer.  “Go and do likewise.”

Now, what is this Q&A all about?

What are we supposed to see and feel and think and do because of this exchange between Jesus and this expert in the law?

What is this Q&A and its story about a Good Samaritan all about?

Let me suggest three things this morning.

#1.  HYPOCRISY.

Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.  It’s play-acting.

It’s being a hypocrite–someone who wears a mask.

Jesus’ story has two hypocrites in it.

Who are they?  The priest and the Levite.

Now, that’s the first surprise of Jesus’ story.  The story doesn’t start out with a surprise.  Look again at verse 30.

“...Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.” 


This part of the story was not surprising.

The Jericho road was treacherous.

It dropped from 2600 feet above sea level to 825 feet above sea level.  That’s a 1775 foot grade from top to bottom.  Very steep.

And very rocky.  There were all kinds of caves along it, and robbers and thieves and what we would call “terrorists” lived along it and often ambushed travelers.

This man was beaten, stripped, and left half head.

And then, v.31 “A priest happened to be going down the same road...”

Now, put in your thinking caps.  What do you think was the response of Jesus’ first listeners to the appearance of the priest?

Would they have said “Yea!” or “Boo!?”

“Yea!” right?  Here’s the good guy with the white hat to rescue the hurting guy.

V.31 “...and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.”  What?

Well, maybe he had somewhere he had to be?  That sounds lame.
Maybe he was worried about ritual uncleanness?  Well, there were exceptions for helping people.  And he’s all alone, who’s he afraid of getting unclean?
And this man needs help!

It doesn’t say why the priest walked by.  But he was clearly in the wrong.

But, verse 32, here comes someone else.  A Levite.  Another son of Levi, not a son of Aaron, but a temple helper, to be sure.  He’s a good guy.

“Yea!  A Levite!”  V.32

“So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.”

What?  Why?

Jesus didn’t say. But he clearly was in the wrong.

These guys in Jesus’ story were hypocrites.

They talked a good fight, but they didn’t have any fight in them.

They had the position of ministry but they weren’t ministers.

They weren’t real.

Hypocrisy.

It is possible to look like a Christian and talk like a Christian and not be a Christian.

It is possible, unfortunately too frequently, to be a false Christian.

Jesus was warning the expert in the law against hypocrisy.

He didn’t really want to know the answer.  He wanted to test Jesus.

He wasn’t really ready to submit to whatever he found in the Scriptures. He wanted to be known as a Bible Scholar.

He didn’t want to love his neighbor.  He wanted to know how much he had to do to seem like he really loved his neighbor.  He wanted to know just how loving he really had to be.

Hypocrisy.

It’s a major problem.  Because hypocrites can get away with an awful lot because they please other people.

But Jesus is interested in reality not hypocrisy.

Jesus is interested in consistency not hypocrisy.

Jesus wants us to live out our faith.

To walk the walk, not just to talk the talk.

How are you doing in this area? 

I’m glad that you call yourself a Christ-follower.  But are you really following Christ? 
Or is it just an elaborate show?

I’m sure that the priest and the Levite looked for all appearances like they loved God.

But we know if we love God if we love others.

Jesus wants us to be real.

We know we really love God if we love others.

And not just the lovable ones.

That brings us to the second thing this Q&A with Jesus was all about.
           
#2.  COMPASSION.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is obviously about compassion–and compassion for those we would rather not give our mercy to.

When Jesus got to v.33 in His story, I think the audience was shocked!

They probably see that priest and Levite were foils for what is to come.

They were the unexpected bad guys in story.

So the crowd was probably ready for a regular kind of guy to step forward to be the real hero.  Maybe not a priest or a Levite, instead a regular kind of Jewish guy.

Maybe a poor guy.  But a Jewish guy.  A neighbor being a neighbor.

But Jesus blasts that away.

He says (v.33), “But a Samaritan...” What would the crowd have done then?

“Boo!  Hiss! Spit!”

These guys were unclean. They were seen as traitors and heretics and all but enemies of the Jews.  Half-breeds and unclean and bad guys all of ‘em.

It’s like for some of us saying “But a Muslim...”
Or “But a homosexual...”
Or fill in the blank with a kind of person that you might have trouble showing compassion to.

And that person is seen as showing compassion to one of your kind.

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

He had compassion.

And his compassion was active.  Look at how active this Samaritan becomes in verses 34 and 35.

“He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on [soothing] oil and [disinfecting] wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey [so he walked!], took him to an inn and took care of him [still active!].  The next day he took out two silver coins 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.'”

Active compassion!

And costly compassion.  Any time there is genuine compassion it costs someone something.

I never realized till this week how costly that compassion was.

Do you know how many days’ stay the Samaritan paid for the injured man?

At the poor man’s rate, these 2 denarii were worth about 24 days in the inn.  That’s almost a month’s worth of room and board.

Costly compassion!

And Jesus says, (v.36) “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law is trapped.  He can’t bring himself to say “Samaritan,” but he does say, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Compassion is merciful.  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Be compassionate.

Jesus wants us to be caring.

He says, “Go and do likewise.”

Now, that doesn’t mean that we all need to find people who have been robbed and then put them up for month in an inn.

It does mean that we need to see the pain and problems of other people and CARE.

And do something because of it!

To be active and generous and merciful.

“Go and do likewise.”

And not just for “our kind” of people. 

The example of this Samaritan was of a hated person being loving.

How much more should loving people love those who are hated?

This rules out racism of every kind.

Jesus HATES racism!

Jesus HATES those who hate based on skin color, ethnic differences, and so on.

This kind of compassion is how Jesus loves, too.

In the previous chapter, who gave Jesus the most opposition?

It was some Samaritans, wasn’t it?  The disciples wanted to toast them, remember?

Who does Jesus turn around and use as an example?  A Good Samaritan.

Jesus us want us to be CARING.

The expert in the law didn’t really want to let his heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

He just wanted to know what rules to follow so save his own skin.

He was not compassionate.  And that’s why he got this story.

How are you and I doing at being compassionate?

Would someone call you a Good Samaritan?

This last week, Pastor Lee Hebel died.  Lee was a leader in our ministerium and a friend.  He was also actually my 4th cousin once removed.  We have a common ancestor named George Mitchell from Mitchell Gap in Perry County, Pennsylvania.

Lee was a Good Samaritan.  Lee had great compassion for hurting people.

It’s because of him that our ministerium provides travel assistance to people who get stuck on Route 80.  A night in the motel, a tank of gas, a meal at the truckstop.

It’s because of Lee that we provide some fuel assistance for families in the West Branch Area that run out of home heating oil.

Lee had a good Samaritan heart for people.  He was compassionate.

How are you doing at caring about people?

Are you just concerned about yourself or are you caring for others?

I know that we have a compassionate church.  That’s why we can send money to Haiti and elsewhere around the world.

But is there more that we need to be doing on an individual level?

This Samaritan didn’t have to do what he did.

The Priest didn’t do it. The Levite didn’t do it.

He could have just done a little.  But he was active, generous, and merciful.

Jesus is saying to us, “Go and do likewise.”

But there is more to this story, isn’t there?

It’s not just about hypocrisy and compassion, is it?

What about all of the Q&A?

Did this man get an answer to his questions?

What was the lawyer’s first question about?

Eternal life.

This Q&A with Jesus is all about:

#3.  SALVATION.


Q.  “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

A.  “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.”

A.  “Do this and you will live.”

Q.  How does that make you feel?

How are you and I doing at the one?

Anyone here love the Lord your God with everything in you?
Anyone here love your neighbor like you love yourself?

Consistently?  Righteously?  Perfectly?

I don’t know about you, but if I were in this lawyer’s shoes, I would have been looking for a loophole, too.

“Who is my neighbor?”  “How loving do I have to be?”

I would have asked about loving God, too.

“How much do I have to love Him?”

With all of my heart, soul, strength, and mind?  How about MOST of my heart, soul, strength, and mind?

How about a much as I can muster?

I don’t know about you, but this standard drives me to desperation.

I realize when I hear these commands that I cannot DO something to inherit eternal life.

It’s impossible.  I won’t be able to DO it!

I need someone to do it for me!

I need a Savior.

And that’s exactly what Jesus is.

Next week starts Passion Week when the church remembers the suffering and death of Jesus Christ for sinners like you and me.

Jesus didn’t die for good people.

He died for lost people like you and me.

He died for people who couldn’t DO it for themselves.

He died to save His people from their sins.

Jesus wants us to be saved.

By putting our trust in Him and in Him alone.

The expert in the law wanted (v.29) to “justify himself.”

But that impossible.

To be saved, we need to be justified by God Himself.

And that’s how Jesus saves.  He justifies us by His blood. 

Are you saved?

You can’t do it on your own.  You can’t be good enough on your own.

You can’t be saved by acting the part of the Good Samaritan.

You need a Savior to rescue you.

If you have not yet trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so now.

You’ll never regret it.

And if you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, be so grateful that He did what He did FOR YOU.

He died so that you may live.

_________________________
Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus



0 comments: