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Daily Thought - Samaritan Lessons For Witnessing With Christian Compassion

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. Jesus replied with a story: "A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. "By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. "Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ - Luke 10: 30-35 (NLT)

    The story of the good Samaritan. Rich with the lessons and teachings of God for us today as followers of Jesus Christ. Before examining what God is saying to us today through this parable, let us look at the background of how Jesus gets to the point of relating it. One day Jesus is approached by an expert in religious law, who asked Him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. This expert represents the religious spirit we see in the modern day churches. They are looking to justify themselves and their religious superiority. Scripture explains clearly that this question was not genuinely motivated but rather was an attempt to test Jesus. The Lord responds by asking him what he understands is required and the man correctly answers that he is to love the Lord with all of his heart, soul, strength and mind and his neighbor as himself. Not satisfied, the expert then presses the issue by asking who counts as his "neighbor." That brings us to the key verses; the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

    One of the primary lessons I see running through this story is the spirit of religion versus the spirit of God in relation to the lost. Too often we can become good at doing church but lose sight of the true Spirit of God. We become a social club for saints instead of an emergency room for the unsaved. Scripture tells us that the expert was seeking to "justify his actions." That is what religion does. It seeks to build itself and not the kingdom. It seeks to laud itself and not God. This is not why Jesus went to the cross. He died to take our place and the place of the other people we see every day on the outside of salvation looking in. When God reached down into the pit our lives were in it was all about us. Once we were placed upon the Rock however, it no longer is. It is about those people we see lying on the side of the road every day. Our lost family members. Our lost co-workers. Our lost friends. They are lying on the side of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. They are waiting for someone to stop.

    That is the first lesson we see. Jesus starts the parable by saying that a man was walking along the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. This was a known road of danger. People were routinely attacked, mugged and often killed. So why was this man choosing to walk the road that everyone knew was fraught with danger? Why do people every day reject the Lord to walk in this world despite the obvious and known dangers? That is what this road represents. It represents this dangerous and unforgiving world. There are bandits in the world beloved who seek to harm us every day we are apart from Christ. Some find themselves beaten and bloodied by drugs and alcohol. Others by anxiety and depression. Some by loneliness and disappointment.

    It is important to see what the world does to us before we come to Christ. First, the parable explains that the man was stripped of his clothes. The world humiliates us beloved. It strips us of our dignity and leaves us ashamed for the sin that separates us from our God. I have dealt with many people who essentially do not come to Christ because they do not feel worthy. None of us were worthy! You cannot wait until you become the perfect Christian before becoming a Christian. Secondly, the bandits of the world beat the man up. Isn't that how we felt the day we finally gave up our lives to the Lord? Beaten up. I remember practically crawling up to the altar to surrender. The world is relentless in its attacks upon us. It does not show any mercy. It leaves us beaten down. Thirdly however, it leaves us half dead - cast aside on the road. These bandits in the story essentially left this man for dead. Unless someone came along who would tend to him - he would certainly die. That is how the world operates with us before Christ as well. The world will humiliate us and beat us down. When it has us completely bound it will cast us aside on the road and leave us to die. But God.

    He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. - Psalm 147: 3 (NLT)

    Continuing in the parable, Jesus explains that "by chance" a priest came along. Before we explore the priest, i want to pause and notice the usage of the phrase, "by chance." Beloved, I believe that God leads us to people lying on the side of the road every day by chance. We do not see them because they are not as obvious as this man, lying in a pool of his own blood. But realize today that most people are bleeding internally from the abuses of this world and more importantly, they are heading towards an eternal separation from God unless someone stops and tends to them. Evangelism and witnessing are two different things. Not everyone is called to be an evangelist but we are all called to witness.

    So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. - 2Timothy 1: 8 (NLT)

    Please realize that of these I am the least. These are lessons for us all. I think we need to start praying for God to reveal to us who He wants us to stop and tend to during our day. Who can we share what Jesus has done for us? There is always someone, cast aside by the world, lying at the side of the road.

    Now onto the priest. We must recognize who Jesus is telling this parable to; a religious expert of the law. So the first person that comes along is a priest from the Temple. For us today, this represents the leadership within the church. Sometimes we tend to only seek individual lessons but there are lessons for us collectively as a body as well. The priest represents the church and what does the church leadership do? Not only did he not stop to help the man but as soon as he sees him - he crosses to the other side of the road to pass by him. Many commentators have said that this priest knew the law that said he would become unclean for seven days of he came into contact with a dead body. As a priest he had religious responsibilities. He had temple responsibilities. He had responsibilities that he created within his religion. What is the lesson here? We need to be very careful as religious leaders to not let our religious responsibilities keep us from doing the will of God. Too many churches are building a building at the sake of the kingdom. More concerned with not missing a service than with stopping to help the unsaved. Sure there may be outreach activities disguising more entertainment as evangelism but those lying in a pool of their own blood are left on the side of the road. It isn't about the next play we can put on or the next program we can start up. It is about this one simple man who desperately needs to be tended to because he is apart from God. The church needs to cast aside its formalities, cross back to the correct side of the road, and be the church.

    Second, Jesus says that temple assistant comes along next. We are the temple assistants in this parable. We too can have the same religious tendencies. The tendency to come close to those who desperately need God but to then walk right on by. Maybe we fancy ourselves too busy. The business of religion is geared these days to take up our time. Our skills and giftings are analyzed within the construct of church growth theories. Then we are given assignments within the church; ministries. Soon we can be so busy within our doing church that we walk by those God puts in our path. Maybe we can allow our religiosity to separate us from the very people we are supposed to witness to. There sometimes can be a level of smug pride amongst Christian circles fueled on by a desire to feel better about our own sin issues. The church is very good at looking outside at the world in judgment instead of internally at ourselves.

    It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. - 1Corinthians 5: 12 (NLT)

    Our focus on the world is supposed to be centered on Jesus, not religion. Instead we tend to look down on "sinners" forgetting we are no better, just saved by the grace of God.
    The third person who walks across this man in the parable is a "despised Samaritan." Jesus knew that the listener would be aghast at the notion of a Samaritan as the hero. To the Jews, the Samaritans were half-breeds. They were indeed despised. Yet contained within the story of the Samaritan reaction is how we are supposed to behave as Christians towards those who are unsaved in the world. The first thing is that when the Samaritan saw this man he immediately had compassion for him and the state he was in. That is how we are to approach those in the world too. Unfortunately, too often we have disdain for those in the world, especially those caught up in some of the more egregious sins and lifestyles. We are supposed to see them as this beaten and bloodied man; left for dead. We are supposed to have compassion on them; as Jesus always did:

    Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. - Mark 6:34 (NLT)

    Beloved, that is how the people are we come across every single day. They are sheep without a shepherd. They need to see Jesus in us and hear Jesus from us. We need to get past this false sense of righteousness we can become enamored with and start to see people as this mugged man, lying on the side of the road and have compassion upon him.

    Next the parable tells us that the Samaritan tended to his wounds and bandaged him. For us this means that we need to address the problem by acknowledging their wounds. Quoting Scripture to them or discussing Revelation is not going to help. Remember, the Bible teaches us that the things of God are foolishness to them. We need to meet them at their place of greatest need and express what Jesus has done in our lives. Nothing convinces people like a satisfied customer! Next we see the Samaritan puts the man on his own donkey and takes him to an inn where he continues to tend to him. What does this mean to us? It means we have to follow up sometimes. Too often we try and do quick and dirty witnessing and feel that we have done our duty. Now, if it is someone we do not know, that is one thing but more often than not we can certainly follow up and continue to show this person the love of Christ. I remember the person who witnessed to me at first. She would not relent for two years! Not in a badgering way, not in a reproachful or judgmental way. Only with the love of Christ. Remember - this is the plan of Jesus:

    So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." - John 13: 34-35 (NLT)

    Lastly, the Good Samaritan paid for the innkeeper costs and promised to cover any additional expense. In other words - it cost him something. Sometimes we can think that we can say a few words, maybe give a profound Scripture and walk away feeling good about ourselves. Like we have done our Christian duty. But if it gets too close to our personal life we can back off. If it requires something from us, time or resources, we can be less than Christian in our help. What does God say about this type of faith?

    What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, "Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well"—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. - James 2: 14-17 (NLT)

    Christianity is about people; specifically lost people. God has chosen the church as His vehicle to deliver the Gospel to all the peoples of this world. That is the Gospel. Not our sense of superiority. Not our sense of religiosity. Jesus tells this story to an expert in religious law who was seeking to justify himself. He also tells this story to us today to remind the church of the pitfalls of being an expert in anything other than the compassion of a God with endless grace. We need to strive to stop crossing over to the other side and instead meet the people God places in our lives where they are at. No matter how wounded they are from this harsh world. No matter the blood. No matter the cost. No matter what.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - October 22, 2012

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