Here is the notes from a sermon I gave at my church on 7/12/15.
There is a story about a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.
He only hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.’ As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as everyone did, seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.
He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, ‘Will I start to die right away’.
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her but he had chosen to save her anyway.
How much should we go out of our way to help someone in need? Should we only help people whom we know and love or be able to extend our help to other people also? Jesus agreed with a lawyer that one of the most important commandments is to love our neighbor. When confronted with a direct question “who is my neighbor?”; Jesus put this in a context that I don’t think the lawyer was expecting. Today we are going to go through the Parable of the Good Samaritan, so please open your Bibles to Luke 10:25-37, and we will discover ‘Who is my neighbor?’.
There is another topic I am going to touch briefly; Does God still heal today? This passage doesn’t deal directly with healing, but it helps to set a pathway by which we can talk about it. Since the middle of last year it seems like our church has been besieged with medical issues, whether it is cancer, diabetes, blindness or other ailments. With the surgeries, dialyses, radiation treatments and various other medical treatments our members have had to endure, it seems like God does not heal these days. Is that true? Today I would like to try to briefly answer that question.
Shall we pray?
Today’s passage starts out with a smart alek expert in the Hebrew law. He wanted to see if he could catch Jesus teaching something wrong. So he asked Jesus a question, V. 25, 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus wanted to get this expert to think, so he responded “26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”” In other words, “Hey smart guy, you have the Bible, what does it say about this?” All we have to do is take the time and read the Bible for ourselves to find out the answers.
But this expert wasn’t going to be shown up by Jesus, he had the perfect answer. 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 expert was probably thinking, “Ha, thought you would get me on that one, huh wise guy. I am smarter than you think.”
He was probably surprised to hear the response. 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” This was before Jesus was crucified, so the answer would be different today. But notice the last part of Jesus’ answer, “Do this and you will live.” It is not just enough to say that you are a believer; you must abide in Christ, live like Jesus, love like Jesus and do what is commanded. You love God by loving others; You serve God by serving others. (David Jeremiah). James talks about this in James 2:14-16 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” We can’t just be talking the talk; we need to be living the life.
But the expert in the law didn’t stop there. V.29 “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”” He was probably expecting for Jesus to give him a pat on the back for being such a good person in being knowledgeable about the word of God. He was a lawyer and he thought that he had Jesus on this point, because to the Jewish understanding a neighbor is another Jew, those of their own nation and religion. The Gentiles are excluded from this rule of being treated nicely: there is no obligation for a Jew to help a Gentile when they are in danger. But in dealing with people, should we be legalistic or use grace? I don’t think the lawyer was expecting the answer that Jesus gave. Like so much of Jesus’ teachings, He explained the answer using a story, which is the meat of our study. Since this story is stated so matter of factly it might have been something that had recently occurred so that the leader was familiar with it. Jesus is going to show him that our neighbor is the person who needs our kindness, and we should give it to them, no matter if they are from our own nation or religion.
- 30-35 30 In reply Jesus said: ““A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii 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.’”
Before I teach on being a good neighbor, let me bounce into a rabbit hole and talk about if God heals. We live in a fallen world; injuries, sickness, and disease are a normal part of what we have to live with. God lets it rain on the good and the bad. Whereas you can find some promises in the Bible that we won’t get sick, that looks like it was directed at a specific people or time. Just because we get sick or hurt doesn’t mean that we have failed God or that He is punishing us. I was born with a birth defect, does that mean that God punished me for something I did in my mother’s womb? In John 9, Jesus healed a man who was born blind, He told the disciples “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) Sickness, injury and diseases are a natural part of life in this fallen world. Since my wife’s cancer, articles about cancer catch my eye. I have read where experts think that more people will get cancer in the future. The farther we get away from the purity of creation, the time of Adam and Eve, the longer the time that sin’s corrupting powers are in the world, the more diseases can occur.
But does God heal? Absolutely! There are many passages in the Gospels and Acts showing God’s healing hands. These were given as proof that Jesus is the Son of God and they helped to birth the church. Does God still heal today? I have no doubt about it. I have heard too many testimonies of God’s miraculous healing.
Does it take great faith to be healed? Kenneth Hagin is considered the Father of the Faith movement, said Every day, as a usual thing, no matter what else I’m reading, I’ll read something along the lines of faith and healing. I constantly feed along this line. [i] According to him, we need to think a lot about healing in order to have the great faith that sees God heal. If we don’t have great faith, we won’t see great healings happen. Is that true? I seriously doubt it. Jesus said “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt. 17:20) My faith is in a mighty God, not my own faith. Think about this, if you went ice fishing, would you rather have little faith in 4’ of ice, or a lot of faith in 2” of ice? If we step out on that ice with our own faith, we have our faith in the wrong thing, and we can easily fall through. God is the one who holds us secure; we should a little faith in the 4’, not our own faith, which is only 2” deep.
I touch this subject because we do not see in this particular passage of the Good Samaritan where Jesus rebukes the injured man because he had a lack of faith. The Good Samaritan took care of the wounds. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul does not tell Timothy that he needs more faith or to ‘rebuke Satan’ for your ailment, instead he says “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” The water back then was not pure; wine was healthier for the body to drink. So Paul told Timothy to take care of himself. God did not heal him physically from his stomach illnesses. If God didn’t heal Timothy of stomach illnesses during a time when God was performing mighty miracles, why should we expect Him to always heal us of our cancers and handicaps now? Timothy took care of himself so he was able to go forward to do God’s mighty work.
This does show that God heals us in different ways. Sometimes He gives us the strength and help to endure the ailment and still honor Him. God has promised to never let us go through any trial that we can’t endure. And what a testimony we can be to non-believers who see the strength and peace we have through our ailments when we can point them to Jesus and let them know that He is the reason we can make it through.
Just because God doesn’t always heal should not stop us from crying out to God and asking for the healings, because there are still promises in scripture that we will be healed. James 5:14-15a “14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well”. We can pray to God to heal us and ask others to pray for us, who knows, He just might. But our trust needs to be in God to bring us through all of our trials and tribulations. Now, out of the rabbit hole and back to the main message. Sorry this rabbit hole has not been like Alice in Wonderland, where everything is magical and turns out well. But we live in a real world, and we can trust that God will help us through all of our infirmities.
In the Parable of the Good Samaritan a good Jewish man was going from the city where the Temple was to another important town. People couldn’t zip on down the roads like they do these days. Travel then was slow, either by walking or on a mule. Travelers were vulnerable to thieves and robbers, especially when they were traveling alone. So this unfortunate individual was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was attacked by robbers. But they didn’t just take his money. Clothes were also more valuable back then, so they stripped him and beat him up. The unfortunate man was left half dead. There was no Highway Patrol going by to help him. He didn’t have a way or the means to get help.
But it was a busy road; maybe someone would walk by and help him. The first was a priest, a man with the high calling of God on his life. Someone whose responsibility it is to present the people before God and to make the animal sacrifices for people so their sins will be forgiven. These men were an important link for people to go through before God Almighty. This man of God had an opportunity to put feet to his faith, to show the love of God to this man who fell upon a hard time. The priest saw this Jewish man, who should be considered a neighbor; but instead of helping, the priest went to the other side of the road and kept walking. Maybe he was in a hurry to make it to the Temple, maybe he didn’t want to touch this man and become ‘unclean’ for a ceremony that he had to perform, maybe he thought it was someone else’s responsibility; who knows. But this important link between man and God didn’t give this wounded person the time of day; he just kept walking.
Then another man of God walked by who should have been a neighbor to the fallen man; this time it was a Levite. The Levites are God’s chosen helpers for the priests in their ministry at the altar and tabernacle. [ii] They were not as important as the priests; but nevertheless they were important people in the work of the Temple; some of them were the musicians. But again, this man of God completely ignored the injured man; he even went out of his way to cross to the opposite side of the road to avoid him.
Then a third man came by, a non-Jew; he was from Samaria. Even though Samaria was near Israel and the people there can trace some of their roots to being Jews, the Jews most despised and detested and would have no dealings with [iii] the people of Samaria.
I am sure the Samaritan recognized the injured person as a Jew, and knowing the history of his people and the Jews, could have easily been like the priest and Levite and just kept on walking. But he didn’t. Even though the priest and Levite hardened their hearts against one of their own people, the Samaritan didn’t, he softened his heart toward someone of another race. He had compassion on this Jew. He did not have an idle compassion like ‘I will pray for you to be healed’, but he had an active compassion and took action, even though it stretched him out of his comfort zone. He took out of his own possessions to bandage the man’s wounds, took of his own oil and wine to cleanse and sanitize the man’s wounds. He did all he could to prevent the pain and promote the healing of the man’s wounds. He then put the man on his own beast and took him to an inn. I am sure that this was quite inconvenient to the Samaritan; he could have traveled much farther down the road. The Samaritan even took the time to spend the night to take care of this stranger. The next day he gave the innkeeper two denarii, enough to provide for the man for a while and he told the innkeeper that he would reimburse him for any additional expenses the man needs when he returns. What great grace the Good Samaritan showed to the man who was in need.
The last two verses are Luke 10:36-37 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Jesus told this lawyer that he needs to be doing the same thing. To go out of his way to help those who are in need. To do it freely, with concern and compassion, even though he is not of your own nation. Not to think himself more righteous because of his position, but to be merciful and helpful to those who are in need. It is the duty of every one of us to assist, help and relieve those that are in distress and necessity, regardless of our position in the church. We might not have the financial ability to give a few days wages, but there are other ways that we can help out.
We can apply this parable in different ways, because our neighbors take many forms. Let’s look at a few. Hard times can hit anyone. It’s like in those old movies where someone is running from bad guys through the jungle when all of a sudden he gets into quicksand. Oftentimes a helpful person comes by at the right time to help him out. Accidents and diseases happen to the best of us. Look at some of the problems that some of our members have gone through lately; namely, a few are struggling with cancer. When we went through the worst of it, what a blessing it was for us that some people brought us meals. Not that anyone has ever complained about my cooking (may God rest their souls), but it was very helpful that I didn’t have to prepare a meal all the time, since my wife was sick and I had to perform more duties around the house. Not to mention it was also a financial help because of my wife being on disability. Right now the Gonzales’ are going through a similar time, and what a blessing it was last month when you all stepped up and gave a huge financial blessing. The continued meals being provided to them is also a huge help. Even just visiting and praying for the sick is a great encouragement. Lately we visited someone who is stuck in the hospital. His wife commented that it is an encouragement to see someone visit her husband.
It is great that we help those whom we know, because this more is in our comfort zone. But this passage doesn’t tell us to help out only our local neighbors, because that is just like only helping those of our own nation. God is calling us to use grace to stretch out beyond our comfort zone. The Good Samaritan used grace when he stretched out of his comfort zone to help a total stranger who was not of his own nation or religion. That would be like us driving down the road and we see an accident. It is easy for us to keep driving and not do anything. But this is a person in need; Jesus identified this person as our neighbor. Can we take the time to stop and help? Even if we don’t know first aid, we can at least stop, give comfort, make sure Emergency is called and maybe even offer to be a witness if we saw it happen. What a powerful testimony that can be to help a total stranger.
It’s also like several 19th century American Salvation Army women who showed God’s love by going into some dark neighborhoods with the compassion of Christ. They did house-house visitations, doing what needed to be done; scrubbing, drive out rats, bathe a dead baby and arrange for the funeral, deal with a drunken father. We shouldn’t shy away from the darker places where God’s love is needed most. Jesus went everywhere; touched lepers, entered graveyards to reach demoniacs, talked to despised Samaritans. His grace can reach the darkest places, and He will go with us and use us when we are obedient to follow Him there.
This parable talks about helping someone who was injured, but what about if we see someone caught in a sin? Should we be legalistic about it and accuse them of being in that sin in the first place so we do not help them because of their guilt; or should try to help them get out? Many are not open to change, but for those who are and will repent, we should try.
Take one of our recurring announcements, helping women in the sex slave trade. We think of prostitutes as women who choose to do evil by selling their bodies. Actually, most of them were coerced into it; they are victims, being trapped and exploited. Pimps usually get them started around age 12 because when the girls are young they are more easily controlled. Even though we may not want to have anything to do with a prostitute; could we show grace to one and not condemn them of their sin and give them the help they need to get out of this lifestyle?
There are other sinful lifestyles that people could get caught up in; homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, drug addiction. We don’t know the background of the person as to why they got into any of these sins. It might be because of what someone else did to them that to put them into this place, not that they willingly rebelled into that lifestyle. Everyone has different reasons as to why they have gotten into the sin. I read an article earlier this year of a man who had a sex change operation to become a woman, but later wanted to be a man but the surgery couldn’t be reversed. Come to find out, he had a grandma who wanted a girl. So when he was with that grandma, she would dress him in a pink dress. Also when he was a child, he was sexually abused by an adult male. So he thought that this is what he is. Could we look beyond the stereotypes and our own preconceptions to take the time and try help our neighbor to get out of a sinful lifestyle like one of these? I don’t mean just talk to them about it once, but spend time with them to help them out of it, even though it will take some of our precious time, because they might have been in this sinful situation for a long time, it will take time to dig themselves out. We need to give grace and time to help them to overcome their problem. Think of being like the first responders in an emergency. The police are like the legalists, they are there cordoning off the area, finding out what happened and who is at fault. The paramedics are like those who have grace, they don’t care who is at fault. They just care to stop the bleeding, check for any broken bones and get the needy into the ambulance so they can get healed up. We need to use God’s grace to look beyond the sin; we need to look to help the person. Jesus said (Luke 4:31b-32) “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” I realize that it’s not politically correct to try to help with some of these. With the recent Supreme Court decision it might even become against the law. But they need God’s help too.
We shouldn’t judge a person of their sin and our own preconceptions of it; because when we judge somebody it makes us blind to our own evil and to the grace that we should give others because we received God’s grace. We don’t have their particular sin that we regard as evil, but we lie, we gossip, we are gluttons; it’s all the same in God’s sight. We should have love and compassion toward other people who are struggling with sin. One of the Great Commandments is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mt. 22:39) Would you want help if you are struggling? Jesus also said that as you love me, you should love others. St. Francis of Assisi once said Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love. Some things that 1 Cor. 13 teaches us about love: (4) Love is patient, love is kind (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. When we are helping others in need we need to be patient in helping those who want help, giving kindness along the way, because it can be difficult to change; we need to stretch out in trust, trusting that God will make a permanent change in their lives; we should persevere, because sometimes that change in another person takes a long time and they might slip a few times along the way.
Even Christians can sometimes fall back into sin. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t saved, just that temptation’s pull has drawn them back in and they need a neighbor to come along beside them to restore them. Mind you, taking a chance about anybody truly repenting is not without risk; Christian and non-Christian. Sometimes grace can be extended to some people who time shows are still involved in the sin, and it can come back to bite you. Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, dealt with some leaders who sinned but he tried to restore them back to their positions. Come to find out, they were still committing the sins; so this came back to hurt him. But Pastor Chuck has said about his experiences, “But I will tell you this, if I’m going to err, I want to err on the side of grace rather than on the side of judgement.” [iv] That is the way we should all want to be. If someone has repented of their sin, err on the side of grace and help to try to restore them, not judge them because that could push them away from fellowship and away from God. After all, Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Mt 5:7)
Our neighbors are not only Christians, but they are non-Christians. We should also have friends who are not Christians. We are the light of the world; how are we shining that light to a dark world if we are not spending time with non-Christians? As we are with non-Christians, it can open up another way to love our neighbor; fulfill the Great Commission, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). How much more can we love someone than to share with them the life changing Gospel of Jesus, so that they also can enjoy eternity with us?
This is by no means a list of the only ways that we can extend ourselves to others as neighbors. Let God show you other ways how you can reach out to help people, using your abilities. Show your good Godly character by extending yourself out to others who are in need. And whatever you are doing to help someone, be all there, always put in your best effort. Don’t do anything halfway; those you are ministering to will notice.
I close with this quote by Charles Spurgeon. A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/luke/10.html http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/smiths-bible-dictionary/samaria.html\ Notes from Human Trafficking Seminar, 4/18/15, Organized by Open Arms Pregnancy Center
Calvary Chapel Distinctives,
The Foundational Principles of the Calvary Chapel Movement, by Chuck Smith
Quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Charles Spurgeon, Jim Elliot
Bible League Devotional, Sink Free, 3/19/14
Turning Point daily devotional; A Dark and Dirty World; 7/7/15
[i] God’s Medicine, Kenneth E. Hagin, pg. 24
[iv] Calvary Chapel Distinctives, The Foundational Principles of the Calvary Chapel Movement, by Chuck Smith, pg. 25