Bible Studies for Life
with Rick Henson
Sunday, September 23
The story of the good Samaritan teaches that love is far more than a feeling. Genuine love includes action. In early March, I was scheduled to write the Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Record for three months. I had submitted one when I had to have emergency heart surgery. I was out of commission for three months, but never missed a singe Baptist Record article. I missed none, because Tony Martin, Assistant Editor, heard about my situation and wrote the remaining twelve articles for me. For Tony, this was far more than just his job. He helped me, his friend, in my time of need. Tony saw my need and acted. Thank you, Tony.
In Luke 10, Jesus told about a man in need. Luke 10:30 reads, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead,” (KJV). The man truly was in need. If no one acted, he surely would die. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was treacherous, dropping over 800 feet in elevation in fifteen miles, with many places for thieves to hide and attack. Just north of there was the valley of the shadow of death, an actual dangerous place in the wilderness. This man was in trouble.
The story continues: “And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise, a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side, Luke 10:31-32, (KJV). Two supposedly holy men passed by one at a time. Each decided not to act. According to Old Testament law, if he were dead, they would each be ceremonially unclean until sundown, so neither wished to be inconvenienced by touching a dead body, possibly. While the beaten and robbed man was going to Jericho, these two men could have been going the opposite direction to Jerusalem to the Temple. How inconvenient!
Jesus told this story to a lawyer, one was an expert in the Old Testament law, who wished to justify himself. He asked in Luke 10: 29, “Who is my neighbor?” The legalistic Jews argued much about this question. They came up with an arbitrary distance, so that anyone past that boundary was not their responsibility. Jesus’ answer to him blew up their arbitrary boundary with a boundary of genuine love in action.
Clearly the Levite and Priest lived nowhere near the beaten and robbed man. So they were absolved, in their minds, from obeying the text that demanded, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Far too many of us ask what the least is we can do to help someone else. Peter asked how many times he had to forgive one who wronged him. He wanted limits, but Jesus took away those limits. His answer was for more than imagined by Peter, (Matthew 18:22, KJV).
Jesus surprised the lawyer with the rest of the story. Luke 10:33-35 reads, “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee,’” (KJV).
The Jews despised the Samaritans, considering them half-breeds who had betrayed Israel. Yet it was a Samaritan who helped the man in trouble. The lawyer was so surprised that Jesus asked him which of the three, the Levite, the Priest, or the Samaritan, was a neighbor to the man beaten, he would not even say the word Samaritan. He answered, “The one who showed mercy to him,” (Luke 10:37 KJV). The Levite and the Priest knew the word of God, but it did not change their actions. The Samaritan sacrificed for the man in trouble, though He did not know him. True neighborly love, from the actions of the good Samaritan, include seeing the need, feeling compassion for the person in need, and action to help. Luke 10:33 reads, “he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him,” (KJV). Who is your neighbor?
Henson is a member of Meadow Grove Church, Brandon.