Great Storyteller The Good Samaritan

The parables of Jesus are not nice, clear, convential stories. Anyone who thinks so hasn't read them. The parables of Jesus are crazy, confusing, and disorienting.

Jesus's parables are designed to disorient us from our convential assumptions so that he can lead us into the upside-down world of the Kingdom of God.


Preached - First “sermon” - 19.

I preached my first “sermon” if you can even call it that when I was 19. I’m not sure how many years that is… I guess 16 years. Which is crazy. Some of you are wondering why I still seem like such an amateur.

What’s strange is that I was probably the worst stage fright that you’ve ever seen.

My first experience was preaching a sermon to probably 20 mid-schoolers on a Sunday morning in this room. And I literally panicked and had my friend Teresa come up and tag-team the message with me because I was shaking so bad.

And now when I look back at my old messages and just wince.

Never preached - Good Samaritan.

But it dawned on me this past week as I was looking through my old sermons that I’ve never preached a sermon on the Good Samaritan. I love the story, it’s had a huge effect on my theology, and I had referenced it probably a couple hundred times in sermons, but I’ve never just focused in totally on the parable.

Over-familiar.

And I was thinking about why. B/C so much of the parable is just so in line with who I believe Jesus to be and who I’m becoming as a pastor.

And honestly I think the reason for it is that I’m sometimes a little shy to preach on something that I feel like has become over-familiar.

I mean, think about how familiar this story is.

Think about how many Hospitals we have called ‘Good Samaritan'. Social organizations called ‘Good samaritan’.

In our minds, the phrase ‘Good Samaritan’ brings about images of compassion and love.

And so I really think that’s one of the reasons that I end up steering around the parable when it comes to sermons, simply because we can go into it thinking ‘Yeah I already know that.'


Title: The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)

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.’” (Luke 10:27)

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28)

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

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. (Luke 10:30)

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31)

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. (Luke 10:33)

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. (Luke 10:34)

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.’ (Luke 10:35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)


I don’t think we really grasp how shocking this story is.

If you think about who his audience is, to tell a story about a Good Samaritan is deeply, deeply, shocking and offensive.

At this time, it was essentially an oxymoron.

If you’re unfamiliar with what an Oxymoron is, it’s essentially a figure of speech that appears to contract itself.

I googled some oxymorons that I thought were very funny that I thought you’d like:

  • Act Naturally
  • Pretty Ugly
  • Almost Exactly
  • Same Difference
  • Great Depression
  • Awfully Good
  • Only Choice
  • Larger Half

So to a jewish audience, saying ‘Good Samaritan’ would be essentially Oxymoronic.

Preachers has used phrases like:

Good Al-Quida member. I don’t think that’s a perfect analogy for a few pretty obvious reasons.

Just trying to think of a phrase that will make your skin crawl.

I want to spend a few minutes trying to communicate just how deep this hatred runs between the jews and the samaritans.

People think "racism"

Lots of people think that this is essentially about racism. And that’s IS true.

Essentially what you have is when the jewish people were in captivity, there were men and women who married and had kids with their captors and that was the beginning of the samaritans.

So they could be thought of a half-breeds.

The samaritans were a people who were related to the jews but with a different ethnicity. Their faith had come out of the jewish faith, but then in morphed and kinda changed into something else.

These were people who had a different ethnicity and a different religion.

Deep hostility. Possibly similar to Israelis & Palestinians.

Examples:

  • Jews called the Samaritans a ‘herd’, not a nation.
  • A common Jewish proverb was : “a piece of bread given by a Samaritan is more unclean than swine’s flesh.”
  • The worst insult that a Jew could use was to call someone a Samaritan. Ex John 8:48 angry Pharisees answered Jesus, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
  • There was an official jewish prayer in the synagog that asked God to not give forgiveness to the Samarians. That’s pretty strong hatred. “God forgive us, but not that guy!”
  • In 128 BC, the leader of Judaea, John Hyrcanus, completely destroyed the Samaritan capital.
  • A few years before Jesus told this story, - Some samaritans broke into the jewish temple and spread human feces all over it. I don’t know if you can imagine people from a different ethnicity and religion coming and doing that how that would make you feel.

I’m going to try something to give you an idea of just how controversial this is.

Westboro Baptist Church

I’m sure most of you know about Westboro Baptist Church. These are probably the most famous idiots in the world.

Their one gift to humanity is that almost everyone can agree that they are perverting Christianity and even humanity in it’s most basic sense. Everyone agrees.

They come from this tiny church, I think there’s 30 or 40 of them. Almost all born into these select few families. And more and more I’m seeing these kids grow up and LEAVE Westboro which I think is absolutely wonderful and super courageous.

Always - headlines - protest - funerals soldiers.

But it’s this tiny group of people who are always in the headlines because they go and they protest the funerals of soldiers and the whole idea there for them is that America has to many homosexuals that God curses us with war and allows our soldiers to be killers, etc.

Of course famously they picketed the 9/11 memorial event at the site of the twin towers with signs saying ‘Thank God for 9/11’, stuff like that. And it’s really hard to watch.

Of course with this last school shooting in Parkland, Florida they have since come out with the message ‘God Sent the Shooter’.

I few years back I watched a couple documentaries on them. And what’s amazing is that these people ARE talking about Jesus, they ARE quoting scriptures. They acknowledge that Jesus is Lord at least with their words.

So let’s pretend that these people are honestly trying to follow Jesus. I don’t think there’s a chance in hell of that being true, but let’s pretend.

And let’s say Jesus shows up in person to them and let’s say they really believe that it’s him and they’re there to listen. Again, not very likely.

And so he sits them down and he’s teaching them where they’ve gone wrong, and he’s trying to help them.

And then let’s imagine he tells them a form of this story about a couple of good, legalistic, fundamentalist Christians who kept all the rules, and never did anything sexually immoral. And then the climax of the story comes, and Jesus introduces the hero of the story which is like a member of the village people. And I don’t mean indigenous tribes. I mean the YMCA Village people. And he tells the story of the Village People band member who’s wearing chaps and a studded leather choker who comes and does the right thing.

I truly don’t believe that’s that big of a stretch.

Can you imagine how the people of Westboro would react to that?

Honestly. I think this is what Jesus is doing here. Finding the people that for his audience would get this guttural, instinctual repulsion, and making him the hero of the story.

BTW I hope he literally does that someday, I would really really like that.

So I don’t know who that is for you, who just gets the gut level repulsive response. Well imagine that people or that group of people being the hero in this story and you’re starting to get a glimpse of what Jesus is doing here.


The Story:

Ok, so to the story itself:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus.

Trick Jesus / trap w/ logic.

“Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)

Essentially this is a guy who’s wanting to trick Jesus and trap Jesus with a logic.

I want you to imagine someone coming up and asking YOU this question. “David, what must I do to get eternal life?”

Well as Jesus often does, he responds to the question with another question:

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26)

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.’” (Luke 10:27)

Good answer! I think in a lot of ways, this is a pretty good answer. I mean this is an expert of the law, so he knows the Old Testament, and he’s able to boil down to the Old Testament law to be about loving God and loving people. Which is actually pretty good!!!

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:28)

Jesus essentially says: “Bingo. You’ve got it."

Now here’s where things really take a turn :

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)

In other words: Who exactly do I need to love?

This is classic legalism. - Getting all hung up on the technicalities.

“Can you give me a list of my neighbors? So when I see them I’ll know I have to love those people.” “And so I can also know the non-neighbors, so I don’t have to help them.”

As funny as it sounds, I think we do this all the time, that Jesus says love your enemies and we think “Well clearly he doesn’t mean those people." - Always looking for loopholes and exceptions instead of just doing the obvious thing which is loving and serving everybody no matter what.


Break it down:

So let’s break it down:

The Setup

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. (Luke 10:30)

17 mile road - Jerusalem to Jericho. - (Map)

So in order to maybe help you understand this, there’s a 17 mile road from Jerusalem to Jericho. You can actually go walk (or preferably drive it)

And in Jesus’s day, it was a notoriously dangerous place. It’s named “The Way of Blood"

It’s full of places to hide.

In fact, there’s writings that describe it as the most dangerous road in the middle east.

This isn’t only in Jesus’s day, this road being a super dangerous place continues into the 18th and 19th centuries.


Scene 1

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31)

So the priest sees a man who’s nearly dead on the side of the road.

So the assumption here is that this priest lives in Jericho and goes everyday to Jerusalem to perform his priestly duties. And is likely heading back home.

And I think it’s probably fair to give this man a little benefit of the doubt. This appears to be a hard working man. We can assume he’s riding a donkey, and we can assume that he’s probably a pretty devout priest, riding on a donkey 17 miles each way to do his work.

And keep in mind what the job of a priest during this time was. Priestly duties include helping the poor, caring for the widow and the orphan. So this man, likely has spent all day doing good. And is on his way home.

I mean, have you guys ever spent a long day at work, and you just want to get home already?

So again, I don’t think this is a bad guy.

Also keep in mind that for a priest, they have a list a mile long about who and what they can touch. - What’s ‘clean’ and what’s ‘unclean'.

I mean if you can picture this guy who’s basically one foot in the grave already. From the other side of the road, you can’t tell if he’s dead or not. He didn't go c heck the pulse.

And so here’s the tension, if he comes within 6 feet of this man, and he turns out to be dead, then this man ‘unclean'. - So for over a week, he can’t do his priestly duties. - He has to go out, raise the money for a Red Heifer, kill it, burn it, use it’s ashes to purify himself. He won’t be able to receive tithes and offerings.

And so you can see all these arguments going on in this mans head. I mean, imagine if he goes over and he IS dead, how many people will be NOT be able to help at his job. Don’t the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the one? - You know what I mean?

I can just picture this priest saying “He looks dead to me."

And so I don’t think this is a bad guy, and I think that’s important. Because if you paint this priest as a just a horrible villain who’s saying ‘Ewww gross…’ Then you won’t be able to see yourself in him.

Which is the point here.

Jesus is intending for you to see yourself in this priest, who has done ENOUGH good for the day already.

Scene 2

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:32)

So this Levite was like a priest, but not as high level, so he’d still have basically the same concerns, but the punishments wouldn’t have been quite so strict if the man turned out to be dead.

This is how I picture this going down: The Levite sees the priest up ahead and he sees the priest, the head hauncho pass him by so he thinks “Well, if this pillar of our faith is passing him by, certainly I should do the same thing.”

I hope you can see yourself in that too.

That you read the radical teachings of Jesus but you let the evangelical leaders of our day by your moral compass.

Tricky: Politicians claim - Christians.

This gets especially tricky when politicians claim to be Christians. Where they are an elected official, and so we look to them for that, but they are in absolutely no way qualified to someone who explains or exemplifies how to be a Christian for us.

He sees his leader pass the man by, so he passes the man by as well.


Scene 3

(The Twist)

Controversial enough : Samaritan hurt / jew helps.

Let me say this: The story would still be controversial if it was a samaritan who gets nearly killed and a jew helps him. That would be controversial enough, but less so because at least the hero of the story is a jew.

But it is so much worse than that.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity (same word translated compassion) on him. (Luke 10:33)

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. (Luke 10:34)

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.’ (Luke 10:35)

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Luke 10:36)

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37)

So interesting : This is one of the few times in the parables of Jesus where Jesus gives this really clear instruction: Do and do likewise.

Westboro - Imitate village people.

So if you can go back to Westboro baptist church hearing this message about the Village People member doing the right thing, now Jesus is telling Westboro Baptist church do imitate the village people guy.

Is it still a mystery to you why people want to crucify Jesus?

I’ve told you this before but I think that’s one thing that has to be so frustrating for these people is that Jesus is always making their mortal enemies the heros in all his stories. I mean what if I did that?

Like what if I kept tell stories about corrupt Christians and good, moral, God honoring muslims. What would you do that?

Jesus keeps replacing legalistic systems with mercy.

What Jesus is doing is he keeps replacing the legalistic systems with mercy.

This story has become for a lot of us just so familiar that it’s not challenging.

And we have no problem with Samaritans.

But in the same way, we never see ourselves as the priest. Or as the Levite.


3 Points

1. True generosity is displayed in the interruptions.

Your charity: 1. Church - Volunteering / Giving

1. Is in the context of ‘church’.

This church does a lot of good for our local community.

We have a ministry here called loveABQ where the whole mission is simply to love and serve the less fortunate in our community. And when you give to this church, either financially or with your time, you in a very real way are responding to a parable like this.

Or if you think about volunteering. Right now there’s people just down this hallway who are watching the children of families they may not even know. And I think that’s a beautiful and very practical way of responding to this.

2. Outside the church

Entire outlet - serving hurting people - few hours church

Little bit like priest?

If you’re entire outlet for serving hurting people is what you do for these few hours a week that you’re at church, don’t you think that’s a little bit like the priest?

I already gave at the temple, now leave me alone. - I already gave in the offering, so I’m good.

I think the priest was caring for people in the predicable, reliable way. I think the question of this parable in a lot of ways is this: “What are you gonna do with the interruptions?

My wife can tell you, every time I preach, I want to go and hibernate for at least 24 hours. It’s draining. And I don’t want to do anything for good for anybody until at least tuesday.


2. You're only as wise as you are merciful.

I think sometimes the world can become so complicated. And preachers like me, forgive us, can make Christianity so complicated, and we miss the fact that what we’re called to is really pretty simple.

That the ‘eternal life’ that this parable calls us to is unbelievably simply, yet in a lot of ways pretty painful.

That we’re recipients of this extravagant generosity, and it’s that same generosity that we’ve called to live in in our everyday lives.

And in whatever way our belief system leads us into extravagant generosity, I think we’re on the right track. But the moment our belief system pulls us away from extravagant generosity, we’ve taken the wrong path.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

I am ALL FOR going to seminary, I DID. I’m all for getting your degree, I did. But at the end of the day the end goal of the Christian faith is amazing love for God and extravagant, unconditional generosity toward others.

We live in a culture that is so gosh darn complicated. All these social issues, all these political issues. And when something crazy happens like what happened at that high school in Florida this past week.

And so many conversations and people yelling, and in a way it leaves the Christian asking the question: “What am I to do?”

“If people are hurting, then you help them.”

No qualifications, no ifs, no ands, no buts. No “as long as they meet me half way”

Jesus didn’t. He took all the steps.

Who is my neighbor? Any human being who is in need.


(Prepare - Communion)

3. By caring for the needy, we care for Jesus.

We pray this every week in the prayer for the poor: That when we care for the hurting, we care for Jesus himself.

And that’s not something I made up, we see this over and over in scripture that how we care for the less fortunate, ultimately is how you treat Jesus himself.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:3)

I can tell you from personal experience, if you need to see the eyes of Jesus, go look into the eyes of someone who needs help.

Krampus / JJ Carmen Rocky

I remember this past Christian we got an email from a guest who came to the church and basically just tore us a new one b/c we had a Christian tree in the foyer. He literally said something about Krampus. I didn’t even realize that was a thing, just a weird scary movie. But basically he was accusing us of Satan worship. So I’m bugged.

So that night, me and Jordan for dinner drive through McDonalds. As we do. Don’t judge. And we end up seeing this couple that we’ve developed a relationship with sitting outside the McDonalds. JJ and Carmen, and their dog Rocky. They’re homeless and Jordan and I buy them dinner maybe about once a month. Just whenever we see them around. And so I got out of my car, and it’s freezing, and we know what they want from McDonalds. JJ wants nuggets and fries and Carmen wants pancakes and hot chocolate. So we bring them their food and I just chat with them for probably 30 seconds. Tell them Jesus loves them, all that. And leave. And it was just amazing what it did to the condition of my soul. The Krampus email, just melted off me.

Caring for needy - Meet - Jesus - pure.

I think some people don't understand Jesus because they've never spent any time with hurting people.

Matthew 25:34-45

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, (Matthew 25:35)

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (Matthew 25:36)

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? (Matthew 25:37)

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (Matthew 25:38)

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (Matthew 25:39)

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, (Matthew 25:42)

I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ (Matthew 25:43)

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ (Matthew 25:44)

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:45)