The Good Samaritan (1988)

The Good Samaritan        Sermon from November 12, 1988

Luke 10:27-35

One of the nice things about being in a Church which repeats the same scripture readings year after year is that we have the chance to increase our understanding of some of Christ’s teachings. We can grow in our knowledge of one aspect of what the Son of God taught. We dip deeper and deeper into the mind of Christ which indeed is a deep well which overflows into eternal life.

The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the best known parables which Jesus told. The implications of this story are accepted by religions which reject the Lordship and divine nature of Jesus Christ. There are several clear teachings from the story.

I would also like for you today to think more deeply into the story.

The lawyer who comes to Jesus, comes not to find eternal life but to test Jesus. The lawyer does indeed ask Jesus how to inherit eternal life, but he hopes that Jesus will say something wrong so that he can accuse Jesus of heresy.

Jesus embarrasses the lawyer. Jesus asks the lawyer, “What does the law say?” The lawyer answers, “To love God and to love the neighbor.”

Jesus then tell him to obey the law and he will have eternal life.

Now the lawyer is embarrassed. He knew the answer to his own question, but Jesus made it look like even the lawyer needs to learn something. But the lawyer was not seeking information from Jesus, but that is exactly how Jesus treated his question. He was made to look bad, so now he really presses Jesus. I can almost hear him say, “All right wise guy, so who is my neighbor?” His question carries with it the more devious statement, “Surely you are not telling me to love these Romans who are oppressing God’s people, or those despicable tax collectors, or those non-believing Samaritans?”

But Jesus indeed is calling us to shape ourselves into the image of God. Jesus is telling us to become compassionate and merciful as God is who bestows gifts even on the sinner. God calls us to be loving and merciful beings with hearts of compassion for the suffering and needy. We are to be willing to interrupt our lives, risk embarrassment, to share our blessings with those in need.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy.

To love our neighbors, means that we seek the good of our neighbors in the same way that we seek good for ourselves. Take all the zeal, all the ingenuity, all the perseverance which you use to get good for yourself, and seek your neighbor’s well being.

Do you seek to satisfy your own hunger? Then with similar urgency feed your neighbor. Do you try to keep us with the latest fashions? Then equally seek to clothe the naked. In your own home, do you strive to keep up with the Joneses? Then also seek to provide shelter for your homeless neighbor. To you seek out companionship and social gatherings so you wont be lonely? Then visit the sick and imprisoned to meet their needs. Do I seek to be happy, popular or successful? Then as a Christian, I should apply myself to helping others be happy, well liked and successes.

Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others. Loves seeks its happiness in the happiness of others.

As Jesus told the lawyer, “You go and do likewise.”

Amen.

(see DESIRING GOD, by John Piper, pp 252-257)

Loving God means Entering into Communion with Him

 “He who loves God consciously in his heart is known by God, for to the degree that he receives the love of God consciously in his soul, he truly enters into God’s love. From that time on, such a man never loses an intense longing for the illumination of spiritual knowledge, until he senses its strength in his bones and no longer knows himself, but is completely transformed by the love of God. He is both present in this life and not present in it; still dwelling in the body, he yet  departs from it, as through love he ceaselessly journeys towards God in his soul. His heart now burns constantly with the fire of love and clings to God with an irresistible longing, since he has once and for all transcended self-love in his love for God. As St. Paul writes: ‘If we go out of ourselves, it is because of God; if we are restrained, it is for your sake’ (2 Cor. 5:13)

When a man begins to perceive the love of God in all its richness, he begins also to love his neighbor with spiritual  perception. This is the love of which all the scriptures speak. Friendship after the flesh is very easily destroyed on some slight pretext, since it is not held firm by spiritual perception. But when a person is spiritually awakened, even if something irritates him, the bond of love is not dissolved; rekindling himself with the warmth of the love of God, he quickly recovers himself and with great joy seeks his neighbor’s love, even though he has been gravely wronged or insulted by him. For the sweetness of God completely consumes the bitterness of the quarrel.

No one can love God consciously in his heart unless he has first feared Him with all his heart. Through the action of fear the soul is purified and, as it were, made malleable and so it becomes awakened to the action of love.”    (St. Diadochos of Photiki, The Philokalia, VOL 1, pgs. 256-257)