How Far Must I Take It? – (Luke 10)

The parable Jesus told about “the Good Samaritan” is probably the best known of all of His parables. Admittedly, most people probably don’t really know the story, but even those who wouldn’t know a Bible from the Encyclopedia Britannica at least know what people mean when they talk about someone acting as a “good Samaritan” today. It is such a great parable for many reasons, but perhaps it is so famous because it shows the best side of a person that maybe had reason not to act as they did.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story is told by Jesus to many who were present, but it was in answer to a certain lawyer’s questions. The context might make one wonder if this lawyer was one of “the seventy” who had just returned. But this was another time on the journey Jesus was on, and his attitude does not fit with those Jesus had just described as having their names “written in heaven.”

He had put Jesus to the test in verses 25-28, asking what the greatest commandment was when he already knew the answer, which he quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18: “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.” But then “desiring to justify himself,” he asks Jesus “who is my neighbor?”

What seems clear is that the lawyer wanted to apply the word neighbor in its most narrow sense. He certainly could not be expected to love everyone! But just how broadly should he apply it? This has given me pause to wonder how many times I have had this attitude myself. If I am to be truthful, it has happened many more times than I would like to admit.  That is the point Jesus was making to me, and others like me, in this parable.

English: Christ and the woman of Samaria at Ja...

English: Christ and the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s Well (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man “going down” from Jerusalem was obviously a Jew. The Jews and the Samaritans in those times did not get along well. Refer to the woman at the well in John 4:9, who asked Jesus “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” When the Israelites were taken captive by the Assyrians, the king brought foreigners from various places into the land, who inter-married with the Israelites that had been left behind (2 Kings 17:23-24). These Samaritans were considered “unclean,” and Jews would have nothing whatsoever to do with them.

The man from Jerusalem in the parable was beaten and robbed and left for dead. First a priest, and then a Levite pass this dying man on the side of the road without stopping. The Samaritan knew that this Jew (under other circumstances) might not give him the sweat from his brow even if he was dying of thirst. Yet he stopped, dressed his wounds, carried him to safety and went to considerable expense to see that he was cared for.

When Jesus told the lawyer “you go and do likewise,” He was speaking to me. That kind of love and care for even a stranger is what my Lord expects of me, and what, I know, I have not yet truly learned. But I am working on it. And just maybe with His help, I’ll get there.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Enhanced by Zemanta

Luke 10 – Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two

Most translations have the number as seventy-two in verse one and in verse 17, but some have it as seventy.  There are many old and reliable manuscripts that have it each way, and there is no effect on doctrine either way.  The laborers are those who proclaim the gospel, and their harvest is in gaining more laborers to further God’s kingdom.  “Peace” in verses 5-6 has a deeper meaning than we associate it with, and carries with it a blessing – in this case, the blessing of salvation (see also Luke 7:50, 8:48), but only if it is received (accepted). “Greet no one on the road” in verse 4 is most likely an expression of the urgency of the mission, as in 2 Kings 4:29 when Elisha sent his servant to the Shunammite’s son.  Likewise in verse 7, they are not to waste any time going from one household to another, but accept the hospitably provided because the laborer deserves his wages.  Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 9:14, and quotes it as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18.  In verses 10-16, those who do not receive them are rejecting Jesus, and so are rejecting the one who sent Him – God.

When they returned, they were filled with joy at the success of their mission, noting that “even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  Jesus may be speaking in verse 18 of a heavenly vision He saw while they were about their business, or of something more specific.  The message is that their use of the authority He had given to them had diminished the authority that Satan had.  In verse 21 of His prayer, he is thanking God that those who were children in His kingdom had been given these gifts of understanding, favoring them over those who are wise in their own eyes (Job 37:24). Verses 23-24 are a reminder of how long the prophets have been looking ahead to these times when the Messiah would come and work these wonders, yet these disciples have been blessed to see it with their own eyes!

Verse 25’s beginning with “lawyer stood up to put him to the test” suggests another occasion or location in which others were sitting while Jesus taught. He asks what he should do to inherit eternal life.  Note that Jesus does not tell him that being saved is a result of his own actions.  Rather he asks the counter-questions “What is written in the law?” and “how do you read it?”  The lawyer then quotes Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, which Jesus approves.  In verse 29, though, the lawyer is trying to define the meaning of “neighbor” in a narrow way, so that he can be justified in not treating most people with that sort of love and compassion.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus answers with in verses 30-35 is one of the most famous.  But it is much more than a simple story of a good-hearted man helping a stranded stranger on the side of the road – which is what most people associate with it.  It is the story of a man who was undoubtedly Jewish (traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho), who was beaten and left for dead by robbers (who could also have been Jewish).  He was passed by, and his dire situation ignored by first a Jewish priest, and then a Levite.  By definition, all would certainly be his kinsmen and his neighbors.  But the one who does help him is a Samaritan, a group of people that Jews had anything but love for, and the feeling was mutual (John 4:9).  Yet, the Samaritan not only had compassion and came to stop the bleeding and clean the wounds.  He then carried the man back to town to an inn, and stayed with him overnight, caring for him.  The next day, he gave the innkeeper his own money to look after him for a couple of days while he is gone, promising to stand good for any other expenses.

Being a compassionate neighbor in this case meant this Samaritan giving no small amount of time, effort and money to help someone in need, when that person most likely would have considered him an enemy.  So if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must truly love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Side note: Though the Bible does not tell us where the inn was, a site has been identified and associated with the parable, and has become a museum.  You can read about it in this article at BibleArchaeology.org.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.