Going Deeper 7-12-19

The Gospel reading for Pentecost 5...
Luke 10:25-37   Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.  "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law?  What do you read there?"  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 given the right answer; do this, and you will live."  But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"  Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, 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 while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them.  Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?"  He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Jesus did and said a lot of surprising, even radical, things.  This story would have to be among the most shocking of them all.  But for us to understand why this is so radical we need to understand the level of hatred and prejudice that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. 

Even though they shared a common ancestry back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enough had happened to cause civil wars and religious bickering to mark most of their history in the land.  United for a brief period under Kings David and Solomon, things rapidly deteriorated... to the point that at the time of Jesus the Jews called Samaritans "dogs" and kept their distance as much as possible.  As we heard in a recent Gospel reading, even Jesus' own disciples thought it would be appropriate to call down fire from heaven to destroy a Samaritan town that was not hospitable to them.

So, for Jesus to tell a story casting a positive-- even superior-- light on a 'good' Samaritan certainly shocked not only the lawyer who initiated the conversation but any Jew (or Samaritan, for that matter) who heard it.  

And there is more in the story that is shocking.  Jesus is teaching that absolutely anyone who is in need is to be considered a neighbor for whom we are responsible.  Also, the compassionate Samaritan displays a radical generosity... 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.'   What?!  No limits?!

How is it possible for us to be able to practice this kind of radical love and generosity?  With the lawyer, we must first admit and confess that it is not possible... at least not until we experience the profound grace, love, and generosity of Jesus upon our own life.  It is only when we are filled with His Spirit that we can begin to practice this radical kind of compassionate servanthood.  

This is why we call, urge, admonish, encourage, and instruct one another to continue to be transformed as children of God.

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."