Proper 10 • Luke 10:25–37 • July 10, 2016
By David Peter
Provided here is a sermon digest based on the parable of the Good Samaritan. The reader is free to appropriate into a sermon that which is beneficial.
Focus: As those restored by Jesus, we love others by serving their needs despite the messiness and busyness of life.
Introduction: Anyone who seeks to learn the game of tennis knows that learning to serve is a most difficult task. This is true in tennis, and even more so in life. Life in Christ involves service. It means serving others. It happens on the path of everyday living. It is directed to those who we encounter on that path—our neighbors.
Setting: Through discussion Jesus agrees with a lawyer that the law is summed up as this: “You shall love the Lord your God . . . and your neighbor as yourself” (vv. 26–28). Then the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” (v. 29). To answer, Jesus tells a story.
Scene 1: Priest and Levite vv. 30–32
A man is traveling the winding road through the rocky desert. He is accosted by thugs who attack, assault, rob, and beat him. They leave him as if he were road kill. Later he is approached by two men:
A priest, fresh from leading worship at the temple, saw the bloodied fellow. If he were dead, to touch him would be taboo. The priest would experience ceremonial defilement and so lose his priestly prerogatives. This was too messy!
Illustration: A Sunday school teacher asks her students: What would you do if you were that priest? One answers: “I think I’d throw up.” Indeed, it’s messy! So the priest doesn’t get involved.
A Levite (religious worker) had kept very busy in religious activities. He cleaned the temple and synagogue. He maintained the holy furniture and vessels. He directed the choirs and musicians. He organized the sacred library. But when he saw the beaten man, he passed by. He was too busy!
Today Christian discipleship happens in the everyday journey of life, where opportunities to serve arise. But for us, to get involved is oftentimes:
Too messy: We hesitate to get involved with people’s problems: a coworker divorcing, a neighbor whose kids are unruly, a teen who looks odd, an old person with a house run down, a sick friend.
Too busy: To help and serve others takes time. We’ve got life scheduled to the minute. So we can’t fit the needs of others into our schedules. We’ve got other obligations and deadlines.
Illustration: Researchers at Princeton Seminary planted an actor who depicted himself as a sick vagrant. In one group only 10 percent stopped; 90 percent were “too hurried.” See the study here.
Scene 2: Samaritan vv. 33–35
Samaritans were the hated enemy of Jews, considered half-breeds, traitors, and heretics. So when Jesus introduces this character, quite likely the audience expected him to be a villain (that’s how Samaritans were commonly portrayed)—“Boo! Hiss!” Perhaps they expected the Samaritan to finish off the injured fellow.
Instead, the Samaritan “has compassion” (v. 33). He rescues the Jewish victim, serves him, and sacrifices for him so that he is cared for.
Having completed the story, Jesus asks the clinching question: “Which proved to be a neighbor?” The lawyer responded: “The one who showed mercy.” Jesus then directs, “Go do likewise” (vv. 36–37).
Law and Gospel Proclamation
To us Jesus also says, “Go and do likewise.” The problem is, we often don’t. The lives of others are too messy! Ours are too busy! We fail to serve. We fail to love our neighbors as ourselves.
But there is one in this account who does—not the fictional Samaritan, but the real-life narrator. Jesus came into this messy world and connected with messed up people—prostitutes, publicans, lepers. More than that, he connected with sinners. He was the “friend of sinners.” He served them—healed, forgave, and released them from the mess of sin and the peril of death.
Moreover, he serves us sinners! He heals, forgives, and releases us from our sin and its deadly consequences. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45).
This was Christ’s mission: he saw us in our need (dying in sin), loved us, and took on himself the mess of our sin. He was beaten and bloodied so that we might be rescued, so that we might live.
Now in response we join Christ’s mission, and serve in his name. We serve in the messiness and busyness of life. We serve because he first served us.
Illustration: A man once observed Mother Teresa cleaning the wounds of a leper. He turned away in revulsion and said, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” Teresa looked at him and replied, “Neither would I. But I would do it for Christ.” See more here.
We have been rescued by Christ. He gave his all that we might live. Thus we serve others in the messiness and busyness of life. We do it for Christ.