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?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
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.’”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
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.’
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.”
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Why do you suppose the Lord tells this parable in response to a question about “how to inherit eternal life”? What do you think the connection here is?
- What does this teach us about belief and a life that matches that profession of belief?
- What is the relationship like between Jesus’s hearers and Samaritans? Why is that a significant feature of the story?
- What do we learn from the response of the religious leaders to a need that they excuse themselves from? What does that teach us about ourselves?
- What do we learn by the surprising response of the Samaritan?
- If the “bad guy” is actually the “good guy” in Jesus’ story, what are some lessons we can learn?
- A gospel-culture would be a place where our enemies could surprise us with displays of God’s goodness. Can you imagine your enemy being an instrument of God’s grace? What does that say about your understanding of the gospel?
*This is a transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
If you’re able to find a Bible. We’re going to be in Luke chapter ten today. Luke ten. And in the Bibles we have here, that’s on page 892. 892. I’m going to read the text and then we’ll pray and we’ll get to work. This is Luke, chapter ten, verses 25 through 37. It reads like this
On one occasion, an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus teacher. He asked, what must I do to inherit eternal life? What is written in the law? He replied, how do you read it? He answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. You’ve answered correctly. Jesus replied, do this and you will live. But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, and who is my neighbor? 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 and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So to a Levite when he came to the place and saw him pass by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 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. The next day he took out two Danarii 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. Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers, the expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise.
Let’s pray. Lord, as we’ve opened your word together, we’re praying that you, by your Spirit, through Your word, would speak to us. We’re praying, Lord, that you would help us to be a loving people, a people who are able to bless and serve others, our neighbors, and even those that are very different from us, the Lord, would you help us, please, in Jesus name, amen. Amen.
Interesting conversation. We’ve been doing a series called Gospel Culture. We’re thinking through how can we, as a church create an environment where people come in and they feel the good news of the gospel. They don’t just hear it, but they actually step in. And there’s a vibe about this place and about these relationships. And we’ve been working at this for multiple weeks now. And after service, I was actually talking to my father-in-law, and he was talking about his church experience and all the different places he’s been. And he said, man, this is something else?! What we’re doing here. [It’s} Pretty incredible. And he said, he mentioned this was part of his spiritual gifting – the gift of encouragement. He said, Wouldn’t it be wonderful to encourage the people in this? And I was like, yeah, that’s actually a really good idea. In fact, that little green book by Ray Ortland, that’s about gospel culture, that we give away around here. That pastor [Ray Ortlund] had a mentor of his say to him, ‘Why don’t you encourage the church for an entire year? What’s the worst that could happen? Don’t say anything that would be discouraging to them. Why don’t you just spend a solid year just encouraging people?’ And he’s like, ‘Right on!’ He did that, and it was a beautiful thing. So that was my intention on the front end of the week. I was like, I’m going to encourage our people. And then I got into the scripture and I got into the message that God gave me. And unfortunately, it is not encouraging. And I’m just warning you ahead of time so that we can be prepared for it. But I do think you guys are doing a lovely job. I do think that the relationships here are incredible, beautiful, and they are a picture of the gospel. I wonder if the reason why God keeps pushing on us is because he wants us to go deeper? He wants us to experience it even more. And I think that’s the way by which revival comes. So here we go.
Why it matters, what it is exactly and why it’s so radical. Why it matters, what it is exactly, and why it’s so radical.
WHY IT MATTERS
Well, this teaching that the Lord is giving here, it matters because first off, it’s dealing with issues of salvation. It’s dealing with eternal life. Look again at the question that prompts this teaching. Verse 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? It’s one of the best questions that anyone could ever ask, regardless of the culture or the circumstances or the time or whatever. It’s one of those questions that every single human being ought to wrestle with. What do I need to inherit eternal life? So today we ought to be leaning in without killing the speakers. We ought to be leaning in thinking, what is this? I want to know. How could somebody experience eternal life? This is so important because the Bible tells us this life, this life is a vapor. It’s here for a moment, then it’s gone. It’s like a mist. It’s like step outside on a cool summer morning and you see the fog hanging over the land, and then all of a sudden the sun comes out and I don’t know what to do. Guys, I can move things if you want me to, but the sun comes out and then it’s just gone. And that’s how life is described. It’s a vapor that’s here for a moment and then it’s gone. But then you step into eternity and that just goes on permanently. It goes on and on and on forever and ever. So we want to know, okay, if this life, whether it’s 80 years or 100 years or just a few years, if it’s here for a moment and then gone, but we’re going to step into eternity, we want to know how would we do that? How would we step into and inherit eternal life? Well, the dialogue progresses and it’s interesting because the Lord basically says, I don’t know, what do you think? Now, he doesn’t say it exactly like that, but he questions Him. And he says, well, what is written in the law? How do you read it? You’ve got a Bible, you’re a lawyer, you’re an expert in the law of God. You’ve got a Bible. What do you find there? How do you read the Bible? How do you interpret the Bible? And he answered, love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. He’s able to boil down the essence of the Law, which is a lengthy document. I mean, you’ve got all kinds of stuff that would be considered law in the Scriptures. And he’s able to simplify it down to the essence: love God, love other people. And he’s correct. That’s what the Lord says passing Grade you are correct. In fact, the Lord Himself, one time when he was asked, what’s the greatest commandment? He gave the same answer, love God, love people. So he answers in that way and the Lord says, that is correct. You’ve answered correctly. Then he says, do this and you will live. So if you’re able to love God with everything that you’ve got and you’re able to love your neighbor as yourself, you have life. Now, what’s interesting is what I think the Lord is doing here. And I’m not going to bury the lead, I’m just going to say it up front. I think what he’s doing is he’s showing eternal life will be evidenced by the way that we treat other people, by whether or not we’re able to love other people in real time. I do not think that the Lord is teaching a lesson here where he says, if you want eternal life, you have to earn it, you have to perform it, you have to love other people. If you do that, then you got it [you achieved it]. He’s saying, no, it’s the other way around. If you have the divine life in you, it begins to show up in the way that you deal with other people. Let me show it to you from another place in Scripture, similar circumstances. Teacher of the Law a person who loves the scripture and the Lord is dealing with a group that’s in that camp in John, chapter five, and he says this you search the Scriptures diligently because you think that by them you possess eternal life. What you fail to understand is these very Scriptures. Jesus is saying, John 539, these very Scriptures testify about me, but you fail to come to me to receive eternal life. So Jesus has a category where he says the Bible is designed to lead people to faith in Christ. If you want eternal life, it is in Christ. It is belief in Him and what he has done. And the problem with that is none of us want to come to God on God’s terms. We want to come on our own terms. And so look at how the lawyer responds. He wanted to justify himself. He wanted to justify himself. God is saying, there’s a way to experience eternal life, but you have to receive it. You have to receive it as a gift of grace. Most of us want to come and show the record of our good deeds that say, look, I earned it myself. It’s like we’re on Pinterest and we’re looking around, we see these projects of righteousness and we go, I could do that. And this is my DIY self salvation project. I think I can do this. And we start to look at the Bible and we go, okay, well, what’s required of me? All right, I’m going to do that, I’m going to do that, I’m going to do that. I’m going to earn my way into the kingdom of heaven. That’s not how it works, though. So the lawyer wants to justify himself by his knowledge of Scripture and his willingness to perform it. And Jesus is saying, what you don’t understand is you can’t, you cannot do this. You cannot love God perfectly and love your neighbor as you ought to, because that, my friend, is divine. And the only way to do that sort of thing is to receive it as a gift of grace from God, to receive from Him what he’s willing to do in and through you. You can be righteous, but it is a righteousness that is gifted to you. The apostle Paul put it like this in the book of Romans, he said, the righteousness of God, which is doing the right thing, it would be loving God and loving other people. And he says, the righteousness of God has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify. The Bible’s been talking about this, but here’s what it is. Verse 22 of Romans three. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. So you believe in Jesus Christ and you receive that righteousness. So this teaching matters because we’re dealing with eternal life. And I hope that all of us in here are willing to kind of set aside our DIY self salvation project and we’re willing to take up the righteousness of christ that is imparted by faith in Him.
The second reason why this matters is because it reveals the heart. As Luke is narrating here, he tells us the motivation that the lawyer was testing the Lord. If you look again at verse 25, he’s testing the Lord, and so he has no real intention of changing what he already believed. He comes to the Lord with a question, but the question is a pretense. He’s really just trying to figure out whether or not the Lord is going to say what he wants to hear. He’s testing the Lord, so the question is insincere, and he has no intention of actually obeying what the Lord might require of Him. Grant Osborne, one of the commentators, he says, “This lawyer is not considering following Jesus as a serious option. Even if Jesus were to come up with a stirring answer to his question.” That’s not his intent here. He has no desire to hear from the Lord and change his life. He’s simply asking the question to prove Himself right. I got thinking about it this week, and it really bugged me because I realized that has never gone away. It’s been a constant feature of humanity through all the ages. There are a lot of times where the Lord speaks, but we are so arrogant and so committed to our ways that even if God were to say it directly, we’d tell Him to go fly a kite. In the Old Testament. I was thinking about it. It’s in Jeremiah 44. The prophet comes to the people and he says, God is aware of the things that you’re doing, and he’s not happy about it. He’s warning them, he’s appealing to them, he’s trying to get them to change their ways. And he says, this is what’s going to happen if you persist in this. And in Jeremiah 44, verses 16 and following, they say, we don’t care. We’re going to do what we set out to do. We don’t care that you’re threatening judgment and all these [other things], we don’t even believe you. And they say, we’re going to double down on our idolatry, on our commitment to worshipping and serving things other than God. I was like, man, that is a bold move. But then we find it here in the New Testament as well. And I see it over and over again. And I began to think to myself, that situation persists even today. And I started to think about specific examples within our church and within myself, and I thought, you know what? There are some things that we are so committed to that could be out of step with what God actually wants. But even if a prophet spoke to us, or the word of God said it very directly, or the Lord Himself showed up, we wouldn’t obey it. We are so committed to our way that even if we were directly confronted by Jesus Himself, we would say, I don’t give a rip I’m going to do what I want to do. That, to me, is very, very scary. But this is important then, because we’re dealing with matters of eternity and we’re dealing with the condition of our heart. And one of the things that we have to acknowledge is if we’re going to receive from the Lord, we have to be open to his correction, to his instruction and to his way.
WHAT IT IS
Well, secondly, what is it exactly? What are we talking about when we think about neighbor love? Well, simply put, it’s meeting the needs of other people. Neighbor love is the willingness to look at the world and to see the needs that are out there and say, I’m going to move toward that, and I’m going to do what would be helpful for those individuals. Much can be said. In fact, much has been said by taking this parable and just looking at all the details of what care would entail. There’s an entire book called Ministries of Mercy. It’s a 200 page book on these verses here in verses 33 to 35. So there’s a lot that could be said, but all I want to do today is just do a flyover and give you the bullet points so we can think through, okay, what would it look like in general, and then why do we struggle to do this? So the first thing that we would say when it comes to neighbor love is neighbor love notices. Verse 33. So you’ve got a priest, sees the person who’s been mugged, robbed, left for dead, sees them, gets to the other side of the street, pieces out, you got a levite. Another religious leader sees the person, goes, okay, I’m excusing myself here. Goes to the other side. Verse 33 but a Samaritan, as he traveled, came to where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. Neighbor love, first of all, is observing what’s needed and allowing your heart to be moved toward it. It’s taking notice of the needs in the world around us. Secondly, it’s a willingness to meet physical needs. Verse 34 he went to him and bandaged his wound, pouring on oil and wine. This is medicinal stuff in the ancient Near East saying, you have been wounded by being mugged and I’m going to bandage you up. I’m going to meet your physical, medical needs. In this moment, he also offers transportation. He put the man on his own donkey and brought him to an end. I’m going to get you where you need to go. I’m going to inconvenience myself so that you could be helped in this situation. Verse 34, he brought him to the end and he took care of him. That’s significant. A lot of times when we find need, we’re willing to move toward it momentarily, but we’re quickly looking to pass it off and we’re saying, okay, I’ve done my part. Now somebody else’s problem. But in this case, the Samaritan, it seems to me, stayed with him for that moment and stayed and was willing to be a to perform that ministry of presence, to just be there, to be there in solidarity, which is what we often need. There’s a reality that when we are hurting and broken, sometimes the most profound thing that somebody can offer us is their presence sitting with us and being with us. He offers financial support. Verse 35. The next day he took out two Danarii. That’s their form of money, and he gave them to the end keeper. He was willing to say, okay, I’m I’m going to do something here. I’m going to step up and meet a need financially. And then finally he offers long term care. If you look at verse 35 at the end there, he gave the money to the innkeeper and he said this, look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. So he’s not just meeting the need in the moment, but he’s thinking ahead of what will this take long term to see this person is brought back to health and restored to their life? So what is it exactly? It is meeting the needs of the people that we find. And Jesus then asks the question. Verse 36 which of the three priest, the Levite, the Samaritan, which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of Robert? Out of all the characters that Jesus painted in this story, which of the three acted with neighbor love? The answer is quite obvious. Verse 37. The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him, he had to acknowledge that the story was told in such a way that it was the Samaritan who expressed the mercy and the kindness of God. And so Jesus makes it clear. Verse 37 go and do likewise. The expectation is that those who’ve experienced the mercy of God will extend that mercy and that care to other people. Jesus makes this teaching a necessity. He makes it something that is very, very important for his followers to embrace. Go and do likewise. Are we willing to be the kind of community that sees a need and moves toward that need and meets that need? Not just theorizes, oh, we want to be a gospel culture, we want to care for each other, but actually takes action and moves toward those in love and kindness and care? Now, again, I’ve said this before, I want to underline it again. Jesus is not teaching that neighbor love is the way of salvation, that it is the way to achieve salvation. What I think he’s saying is actually backwards. He’s saying if you have eternal life, it shows up in how you live. If you have eternal life, you will begin to love like you’ve been loved. You’ll begin to serve like you’ve been served. You will extend mercy because you’ve received mercy. So the whole New Testament, I think, says that one message, that we don’t earn our salvation through doing good, through our DIY project, but we experience salvation through our faith in Christ, and then we live it out, which is why in the New Testament, people were so concerned that the followers of Christ would live like him. Let me show you a couple of different examples from the New Testament. James wrote a letter, and in it he talks about people having faith. And he’s like, It’s great that you have faith. I just get worried if your faith doesn’t do anything. And again, he’s not saying you can earn your salvation, but he’s saying your faith ought to do something. So James, chapter two, will also put it up on the screen. He says, Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it’s not accompanied by action, is dead. He’s saying if you have a faith that theoretically cares for people but doesn’t actually care for people, that faith is dead. Your faith, if it is living, if it’s vibrant, if it is true, will manifest in your concern for other people. Martin Luther, one of the reformers, he put it beautifully when he said this. He said, we are saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone. We’re saved by faith alone in what Christ has done for us. But that faith in Christ will result in a life that begins to look like Him in real time. So we are to love and serve and bless other people, because that is how God has dealt with us. All right, one more place in the New Testament. John, he wrote a bunch of letters. First John. Second John. Third John. He had a theme. And one of the themes that he addressed over and over again is this: God is love. Who he is, his characters, his nature, he is love. So to claim to have a relationship with God will necessarily mean you begin to love. Again, not in theory, but in real time. So he says it in chapter two and chapter three and chapter four and five of First John. He says it over and over again. I’m going to give you one sample. We’ll put it up on the screen here. He says, we know that we have passed from death to life. We know that we have experienced eternal life. Here’s how because we love each other. There’s the proof, there’s the evidence. We know that we’ve passed from death to life. Here’s how because we love each other. Then he flips it around. He says, but anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who does not love remains death. So church, family, as we consider what this is. It is a neighbor love that is required from us because we’ve experienced the love of God. And if we’re going to, say, claiming to follow Him and do the things that he wants us to do, then it better show up in the way that we live our lives, in our willingness to love and serve and bless other people. So we talk about a gospel culture around here. I’ll be honest. It’s an aspirational goal. It’s something we aspire to. But if we’re going to do it, it means we have to think through how do we live this out in real time? How do we move toward the needs in our community, move toward the needs of our neighbors that we find in desperate conditions and just take action and initiative because of the love of God flowing through us to others?
THE RADICAL TEACHING
Finally, why is it so radical? Why is this teaching so radical? The reason why this was intended to be so encouraging and it ended up not is because the way the Lord told the story, he put people like me right in the crosshair. People like you? You’re here at a church on a Sunday morning because you probably care something about what the Bible has to say. You know something about what the Bible says. And he goes to this group of people, to this expert in the law. He says, you know the Bible, but you’re not living up to it. You know what the Scriptures say, but you’re failing to allow it to have its way in your life. So again, the context is a lawyer, an expert in the law, and when he tells the story, he uses a priest—a person who would know the Bible and use the Bible in their daily work, and a Levite, another religious individual, all these people who know the Bible, but what are they doing? They’re using the Bible in a way to excuse themselves from actually serving and loving the world as God has made it. They’re using their knowledge of Scripture in a way that actually reveals they’re out of step with God. So you can know something of the Bible. This is strong language, but I think I’m comfortable with it. Your knowledge of the Bible can be a liability in your ability to be faithful. You can be misusing Scripture to your own end, to justify yourself when you’re not recognizing that God is inviting you to something so much greater. And you’re misusing the Bible to try to make yourself the hero of every story and the one who’s in the right. And you’re looking down your nose at other people and you’re treating them with contempt. And that’s the problem that Jesus is trying to address here. We have the ability to use the Bible in a way that actually doesn’t do what God wants it to do. In the New Testament, Jesus dealt with a group of people and he said, Woe to you teachers of the law and pharisees, you hypocrites, you give a 10th of your spices, mint, dill and cumin, but you’ve neglected the more important matters of the law justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter without neglecting the former. He’s saying there’s a group of people who know the Bible and they’re doing some of the things that the Bible is telling them to do. The problem is they’re neglecting the more important thing, the things that would reveal that they actually understand the heart of God. And in the same way, I look at us and I look at my own heart and I recognize this is in me, that I can gravitate to the stuff that I find to be easy and the stuff that I prefer, the stuff that comes more naturally to me. And I can fail to perform the weightier matters of the law, which are justice, mercy and faithfulness. Simply put, I can fail to be a loving individual and I can use my knowledge of the Bible as my excuse. Well, that’s troubling, but it gets even worse for us. Here’s something that the parable does that a lot of times we just skip over. When Jesus tells the story and he develops the characters in it. It is very, very purposeful. And he could have done it like this. He could have said, there was a man who was robbed, he was mugged, beaten, left for dead. And he’s laying there on the side of the road and a priest comes by, sees him, walks around. A Levite comes by, sees him, walks around. And then another person comes by, but notices and moves towards this person and cares for them. And by the way, that person on the side of the road is a Samaritan. Dun, dun, dun, right? And we’d go, oh, I get it, I get it. We’re supposed to love our enemies. We’re supposed to be to meet their needs. We’re supposed to do something to bless them. He doesn’t do that. He flips the script. It’s not the Samaritan who’s receiving the care of the Jews, it’s the other way around. The man who is in a desperate condition is the Jewish man from Jerusalem to Jericho. The Jewish man goes down, he gets beaten, he gets left for dead, and his enemy is the one who shows up to care for him. I don’t think we get how radical this is, but Jesus is teaching us, if you really understand the way of the kingdom, there is a grace that is flowing downhill. And those who are members of the kingdom are willing to receive from God His goodness and his grace, even from the people that we would naturally despise. Now listen, if he would have done the parable a little bit differently, it would have just stoked our ego. And this is a lot of times how we actually do ministry. I’m not going to pick on anyone except. For myself in this regard, but a lot of ministry models are kind of founded on this air of superiority where we look at the world and we go, oh, they’re desperate. We put on our cape. I’m coming to fix this. And it’s stoking our pride and our arrogance. And we try to meet the needs of other people because we look down on them and we think, oh, they need us. They need me to show up to save the day. That’s not how the kingdom worked. There was a time where we went to Africa and we were at a children’s home. There was something like 70 kids there. They’re there all day. They do their schooling. They do all their activities in the evening. They have, like, a family devotional time. So because I’m there and a pastor, they’re like, why don’t you go ahead and give the teaching the whole time you’re here? So I am preparing to teach this group of kids and the adult leaders that are there, and I begin to think through the culture of what it’s like in Nairobi, Kenya, and the life of these kids in a children’s home. And I begin to think, I’m going to do a batch of lessons on law and grace, and I’m going to try to give them as much grace as I possibly can. And I’m teaching these lessons, and I realize I’m getting a weird vibe from the actual person who lives there, who’s responsible for the children’s home, this Kenyan national. And I’m getting a weird vibe from them, and I start to pray about this, and I begin to realize, you know what I’m doing. I am stepping in thinking I know what’s best for them. I’m stepping into a situation as a visitor, and I’m thinking, I know what they need to hear. And so I’m going to adapt my message to be contrary to what they might normally hear, because I’m here to save the day. I’m here to be the one who’s the bringer of the good news in the form that I like. That, my friends, is incredibly arrogant, and I have had to repent of that because that is a misuse of the opportunity and the responsibility that I had in that moment. It would have been better to sit with them and to think through what would best serve your needs and for me to not come in with my agenda, but for the Holy Spirit to set the agenda that would be appropriate to that environment. You see, even the way that we serve can be self serving. Even the stuff that we do can actually be an attempt to justify ourselves. Barry Bridges, a guy who worked with navigators for a number of years before passing into Glory, he wrote a sentence that has stuck out to me for years. And what he’s getting at is the idea that I’m driving home now, and it’s this idea that even the best things that we do can actually be full of our own sinfulness and pride. He wrote like this. He said, even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the lamb. Even the most pure things that we do, the most beautiful things that we might do, including repenting over our sin, can still have sin in it, needing to be washed by the blood of the Lamb. What we’re being invited to do then, is to recognize that God’s grace is for the enemy. And we can receive from God only when we’re humble enough to get low. The Samaritan. If you don’t know the dynamic between Samaritans and Jews, you can easily just Google it and you can find out all kinds of things. All the stuff that we feel anxious about today, all the different division within our land, all those things were true of the relationship between Jews and Samaritans. So if you think about racism and you think about a Jew would be able to see a Samaritan because of their features, and they would see them and immediately they’d be filled with animosity one of them. And they would have a hatred there. That was an ethnic hatred. There would be political tension as well as they would both interpret the world with very different viewpoints of how to solve and what the solution might be for these different things. There was a religious tension as they would look at each other and the one group would say, we are in the right and you are wicked. There was a tension in that direction. When the Lord tells a story like this and he says, here’s what eternal life will look like in real-time, your natural enemy will be an instrument of God’s grace. And I’m just going to be honest, this is what gospel culture would look like. I’m not sure we’re ready to go there. I’m not sure we would have the courage to embrace the way of Christ in this regard. But I’m willing to try. I’m willing to suggest as a pastor, it would be worth it. It would be far more beautiful than us just kind of building our own camps and trying to justify ourselves and then trying to baptize all of our ideas saying, this is the way of the Lord. I’m willing to say, Why don’t we humble ourselves? Why don’t we get nice and low and trust that the grace of God can flow to us also? He can change us and he can revise us and he can make us more like his son, who, by the way, because of these teachings, people hated his guts so much they killed him. He was the one who was willing to say, I’m going to dine with the enemy. I’m going to sit with the sinners and the tax collectors – and all the religious folk are going to hate that. But he said, this is what it looks like this is the way of the kingdom as a church, I’m inviting us. Why don’t we step into that sort of culture? Why don’t we step into that sort of invitation that the Lord is saying? Why can’t we be the hands and feet of the Lord today, allowing the broken and the hurting and the enemy to come in and find relief because we recognize they might actually have what we need because we’re broken and hurting and needy. Gospel culture will be a beautiful thing if we are willing to embrace it. And I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. This is incredibly hard. But I believe that God, by His Spirit, is able to perform these things in us. May it be so.
Let’s pray. Lord, we ask for revival knowing that we can’t manufacture it. We’re asking that you would pour out Your spirit on these people. Lord, I ask that you would make us into a beautiful community that begins to look and act like Christ in the world. Lord, I pray that you would soften our hearts to our own sinfulness so that we would repent, and then we would repent of our repentance. But Lord, would you help us become a people who are so moved by the good news of the gospel that we begin to live it out in real time? [So that] We love and serve those who are different from us. We perform neighbor love in all of the ways that were required. And we recognize that even the enemy has a seat at Your table. Help us to move in that direction because we believe that’s beautiful, hard as it sounds, we believe that it would be a beautiful thing for us to embrace your gospel culture. We pray in your name. Amen.