The Power of Love

Public Reading: Luke 10:25-37

The Story

•    With four biographies about Jesus, a lot of the stories are repeated

a.    However, there are two unique stories in Luke that are very interesting
b.    We looked at the first one last week

i.    The sending out of the 70.
ii.    When coupled with the book of Acts we see the following theme

1.    Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom of God
2.    Sent out the 12 to do it
3.    Sent out the 70 to do it
4.    Peter did it after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension
5.    Paul did it
6.    We are to do it

c.    The second unique story follows the first

i.    The story of the Good Samaritan
ii.    I think there is a reason they are next to each other

•    The 72 is about going out in power

a.    Power to proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom
b.    Sometimes we can get so focused on signs and wonders we forget about the ‘rest of the story’

•    The story that follows is one focused on love and compassion

a.    Love… it normally considered weak and wishy-washy in our culture
b.    We talk about loving each other usually in the sense that we can each do what we want
c.    John Lennon talked about love

i.    “all you need is love”

d.    Let me tell you that we have under estimated the power of love

•    Love does NOT mean that you can do what you want

a.    It means that you love a person enough to tell them the truth
b.    It means that you call them out when they are wrong
c.    It means that you care so much about their welfare that you are willing to walk with them through the pain and sorrow of this life
d.    Love is a decision that powerful

•    John 3:16 shows the power of love:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

•    Love is why Jesus died on a cross

The Good Samaritan

•    With this in mind, let us turn to Luke 10:25-37
•    The Question

o    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

•    Expert in the law

o    He should have known the heart of God
o    “inherit eternal life”

*    He is not wanting to live forever
*    He is wanting to know what he must do to live in the kingdom to come, the time of the Messiah

•    Jesus

o    Turns it back on him to see what he would say

•    Lawyers Answers

o    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.’”
o    Quotes

*    Deut. 6:5
*    Lev. 19:18

•    Jesus agrees
•    The lawyer

o    Does not like it that vague
o    The view of love was also distorted them as well

*    It wasn’t enough to simply have a relationship with God and follow him
*    It wasn’t enough to love people has ourselves

o    He wanted bullet points – examples and definitions on who exactly was he supposed to “love”
o    He was most likely thinking about the Old Testament

*    Lev. 19:18 – “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
*    One’s neighbor might have been those “among your people”

•    Never mind that Lev 19:34 said to love the stranger among as yourself

*    Then there was Psalm 139:21-22 that talked about hating one’s enemies with ‘perfect hatred’
*    Which verse was one to follow?

•    Jesus tells a story

o    A man going down for Jerusalem to Jericho gets robbed, stripped naked and left on the road
o    A Priest came past

*    It is important to note that during the time of Jesus there was three classes of people servicing at the temple

•    Priests – they served for 2-weeks at a time

o    Many of them lived in Jericho and went to Jerusalem to work

•    Levities, who served as assistants to the priests
•    Jewish layman who helped with various aspects of the Temple

*    It is also important to note that the priests were a rich group.

•    In other words, the people listening to Jesus wouldn’t imagine a wealthy man walking 17 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho
•    He would have been riding a horse or a donkey
•    He might have even had people with him to protect him on the road
•    In other words, he had the means to transport the man to help

*    Yet “when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side”
*    What was going on?

•    Since the man was naked and unconscious, there were no ethnic markers meaning the priest did not know if he was a Jew, Roman, or Greek.

o    If the victim was a Jew, especially a law-abiding Jew, the priest would be responsible to reach out and help.
o    But he didn’t know…so what was his duty?

•    The victim could also be dead…

o    If the priest, who had just finished serving in the temple for 2-weeks, touched a dead person he would be ceremonially defiled
o    If defiled he would have to return to Jerusalem for a 7-day ceremonial purification rite

*    During this time, he couldn’t eat from or collect tithes
*    His family would be placed under the ban

•    And if he touched the victim and later the victim died, he would also be required to rend his robes

o    And robes were valuable property
o    Not to mention that he man may not even by a Jew…

•    So what was the priest to do?

o    What was his responsible under the law?

•    In the end, the priest decided that being ceremonial pure was more important than the risk of helping the victim

o    Then a Levite came along

*    Remember that Levites were assistants and helpers to the priest
*    This one most likely knew that there was a priest on the road to Jericho ahead of him

•    After all, they just finished serving in the temple together and were headed home

*    Since the priest set the precedent, the Levite could have passed with an easy conscience

•    Should a mere Levite upstage a priest?
•    What would happen if he showed up in Jericho that night with a wounded man that the priest passed by?

o    It would have been a HUGE insult to the priest!!!

o    The Samaritan

*    Remember how I told you about the 3 classes of people who served in the temple?

•    Well, the people listening to Jesus would have expected the 3rd person to be a Jewish layman

o    Sort of like the joke, “a priest, pastor and a rabbi walked into a bar…”

•    But Jesus switched things up…

o    Like ““a priest, pastor and a prostitute…”

•    It would have been good to have a Jewish man helping someone a priest and Levite passed by…but to have a Samaritan?! Unthinkable!

*    But this outsider saw the victim and had pity, compassion on him
*    Going up to him, he bandaged his wounds and poured oil and wine on the wounds

•    Where did he get the bandages?

o    Most likely it mean ripping his clothes

•    Oil and wine…

o    He was probably bringing home some groceries…

*    The Samaritan was using all his available resources (oil, wine, cloth, riding animal, time, money, energy)

“Yes, indeed, love that fails to give money as charity or as alms is common in the world, but heartfelt love that is free from the seeking of praise or honor and which is willing to endure distress, suffering, and loss, in the path of good works, such as is set forth in this parable, is extraordinarily rare.” – Abdallah Ibn al-Tayib al-Mashriqi, 11th century physician, monk and priest.

*    The Samaritan goes one step further

•    He takes the wounded man into Jericho and to an inn

o    Think about that for a moment…
o    This is like a Native American in the 1800’s caring a white man with arrows in his back into Dodge City
o    Or an Arab in Israel today caring a wounded Israeli into a Israeli controlled city

•    The Samaritan life is in danger…but he walks into the city and spends the night!!
•    He also pays for the room and board

o    If he didn’t, the inn keeper could have sold the victim into slavery to get his money back
o    But the Samaritan puts his own life on the line, if the money paid is not enough, then he would pay more

*    Or be sold into slavery himself

•    At the end of the story, Jesus ask the Lawyer a question

o    “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
o    The lawyer responses, “The one who had mercy on him.”

*    Notice that he could not bring himself to say “the Samaritan”

•    Here’s an important point

o    Jesus challenged the question of the lawyer
o    The lawyers question was “who is my neighbor?”

*    Who do I need to be nice too?
*    Who do I need to love?

o    A lot of times we use this story of the good Samaritan to enlarge our view of who is our neighbor

*     We use it to say that anyone who is need is out neighbor

o    Yet Jesus didn’t answer that question

*    He asked “Who became a neighbor?”

•    It is about how we look at ourselves
•    It is about changing ourselves

o    If it was only about ‘who’ is our neighbor then we can justify walking past them if we don’t have the available resources or skills or whatever

*    But the issue isn’t who we are care for, it is about us become a person who loves and is moved by compassion to help those in need

o   Jesus wants to change who we are – he is telling us that it is His Spirit inside of us that helps us be the neighbor.

*     I think this is why this story was placed right after the sending of the 70.

*    Like Jesus said

19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

*    Let us rejoice that we know Jesus and He knows us!!!

•    1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Source: “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies In The Gospels” by Kenneth Bailey

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